You know, I could never really put my finger on what it was about M/M romance that irks me so bad. This has nothing to do with writing.
But it has everything to do with the fighting.
I’ve thought about it. I’ve wandered around it. I’ve left it alone and let it slide. And then something else happens and suddenly there it is, once more.
Gay people have been around since Ancient Greece, Alexander, Rome, during the dark ages, the Renaissance – I mean, Michelangelo? Hello?! The reformation, the age of reason, the gilded age, industrialization, the great depression, the Civil War, Walt Whitman, WW1, WW2 – Alan Turing – the forties, fifties, sixties, seventies, AIDS – and despite it all – we’ve survived. Somehow.
We are a nebulous people.
We have no place to call home. No ethnicity. No physical characteristics that set us apart from another. We don’t come from some region of the world. We are everywhere. Alive. Thriving.
But we are a people and as a people we are as diverse in personality and philosophy, theology or lack thereof as everyone else.
We have created culture, we’ve destroyed civilizations, we’ve conquered the world, we’ve been conquered by it. We’ve been taken lovers by Kings (King James comes to mind), and have created the most exquisite art when commissioned by Popes, we’ve saved the world, and did you’re hair before your wedding. We’ve operated on you, taught you, flown you across the sky, and buried your body.
Nebulous we may be but we are as old as time itself.
And we do not need you to survive.
I think this genre has had good intentions but I think it’s colonized us – or has attempted to.
It uses paternalism, the same paternalism used against women and minorities going back forever – to shoe horn us, or to create this static border around us, and define what is in fact so nebulous about us.
Like you know better than we do about who we are. America, Western civilization, and the modern world is but a glimmer of the time in which we’ve existed.
It’s like you’re trying to save us. Not only from the world at large. But from ourselves.
And in that, you drag out of every single corner of society anything with the word ‘gay’ on it and prop it up for the entire world to see, and embrace, and to hell with you if you don’t.
I resent that.
How dare you?
I have within me, the same amount of majesty, the same artistic inclination, or warring battle cries as any and all races, classes, and groups of people my gender, or otherwise.
‘Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto’ – I am human, nothing human can be alien to me.
Stop telling us we’re wrong.
Stop telling us, no.
Stop telling us to be quiet.
Stop arguing with us about things that concern us unless you’re arguing to protect an investment and if you really want to argue on that premise – then we’ve walked into slave owner mentality.
My brother James Baldwin said back in the day, I ain’t your negro.
Well, I ain’t your homo.
I am not, nor are my brothers, some poor pitiful homos that must be protectively pressed against your bosom.
Just like any healthy relationship out there, the dynamics of and definitions of need and want are important.
I want you in my life – as an equal.
But I don’t need you in my life to exist.
The statement of, “We want gay men to have happy endings.” is a kind and virtuous one.
But we’ve had endings. All of them.
And we will again.
You’ll give birth to us. We are your children. We will survive.
Last Day of blog tour. It’s hard with everything going on right now to give a shit about book sales and book reviews etc as our country worships at the altar of our lady of perpetual bullshit.
However, I do want to give a shout out to Lily for being amazing and for taking care of this.
All the people in my life that encouraged me to keep going with this. You’re in my heart. Thank you very very very very very much.
All the blog spots that hosted me.
It means a lot.
I know we’re kind of in a funky place right now – especially gay guys being shut out of publication.
Your life, your love, your road, your sex, your pain, your passion, your faith, your lack of faith, your hopes, your families, your marriages, your failures, your triumphs, your lives, your deaths, your spirits, and all that comes before you and will come after you – are important. You are important. You’re a thread woven into the tapestry of life, without you there would be a lot of color missing from the tableau.
Don’t be discouraged. Self pub if you have to.
You’re stories are important. They should be told. Popularity isn’t the standard.
Feedback isn’t the standard.
Ability is – talent is – hard work is – if this is what you burn to do. If this is what you feel you were meant to do, male or female, gay straight or whatever, you should follow that.
Don’t let people talk shit to you. Don’t let anyone put you down.
Aspire to the art. Aspire to make yourself better at your craft than the book prior.
Stay humble to those who have been supportive of you.
Take criticism with a grain of salt.
Don’t argue anymore. Don’t get into fights over trivial things because people will always try and distract you by raising the bar.
You’re enough. Be enough.
That’s all anyone can ask.
Thanks to everyone who spent their hard earned money on this book. I am so thankful to you. Without your support – I couldn’t go on. I love connecting with you, I love meeting with you in mutual understanding, and giving you a break from the crazy. Thanks for ‘getting me’ and my work.
See y’all soon.
This is Africa, birthplace of humankind — high heat shimmering high grasses, — where, this day, along a dried dirt road a tiny, pigtailed girl successfully shook loose her mother’s handhold. Women of the village, traversing that same slender highway, often paused to talk, often let go that link to the future, and let their children go. The child’s dewy, delighted eye, caught, and settled on some gossamer glow of color, and she wanted to get a closer look. On a tree branch in the high grasses, a vision lingered long enough to ensure its own capture. The village daughter knew better; generations of elders had instilled the caution: Avoid the brush without the guidance of an adult. But her curiosity, insatiable as the appetite of a lion, she stepped forward along the dusty road and crept slowly like the wild felines her father showed her as he drove the family in the Range Rover through the wildlife preserve where he worked.
Enticed by the African spectrum, the infinite shades of her world glowed with a life that turned the wheel of colors or the crayons she was learning to use in school. And she wanted to know them all. Creeping on her tiptoes, her blue pigtail holders imitated the wings of the orange and brown winged creature she was stalking. As the sun warmed her neck, her amber colored eyes never let go of the sight of the Monarch Butterfly, just broken free of its chrysalis, gently folded and unfolded its wings before her. Her feet kicked up dust particles that gently lifted on the hot winds of the Sub-Saharan world.
She could not suppress a squeal of delighted awe as the butterfly flicked from its tiny legs the moisture, marking its rebirth as a new creature. A new creature too beautiful to endure a lifespan longer than a few short weeks.
The little girl who would later go on to paint this scene as she remembered it in class. Her dark ebony skin naturally absorbed the heat around her and sweat formed on her upper lip as she inched ever closer to begin a chain reaction, with that little creature, beyond even the vast imagination of Africa. For if she did, she would freeze until her mother came and snatch her up wondering at the child’s melancholy and fear. Closer and closer she tip toed until she reached the tree. The tree’s ragged trunk supported her effort to reach almost beyond her real ability; she stretched on her tiptoes, craning her tiny neck toward the slow-fanning wings she so wondered at. And the new monarch, slowly turned toward the straining hand.
Unafraid of the world around it just yet, the butterfly regarded her with almost the same curiosity as the little girl lavished upon it. It flapped its wings once hard enough to lift from the branch and, to the child’s delight, alighted upon her nose. The tiny little legs lightly tickled the bridge of her nose as she let go of the tree’s support. She slid from the tree, and, safely grounded again, she held her arms out phoenix-like, shaking her hands up and down in excitement. Plumes of powdered dust rose from her jubilation. The squeal of absolute delight erupted from her as she clapped her hands, startling her mother who turned to witness The field behind her daughter lift off the ground in a flutter of the orange and brown. WINGS DROPPED LIKE WINDBLOWN PAGES. The young girl whispered in wonder as the one perched on her nose joined the others in migration as they lifted to sail upon the winds.
Mid-African morning. Sun burning hotter. Three women, born of the earth, witness the infinite effect as one movement of nature’s awesome grandeur gives way to another. As a stone cast into a pool of still water sends ripples outward, so this unnamed shower from the African plain rises heavenward, displaces wind and dust and meets droplets of moisture in the atmosphere, a reenactment older than the ages. There is a place in the heavens where dust and water meet to dance upon the cooler winds in a thinner atmosphere. Here is a darker inflection of beauty not bestowed upon the earth, a wonder not born of flesh, nor of earthy tones — browns, reds, and oranges — of a little girl’s world. It flashes a cooler spectrum of hues — whites, grays, darkening blues.
This display of beauty stands in stark contrast to the gentleness of Gaia. It traverses the great gulf span between continents, but the awe of its majesty remains the same; the earth bends its knee and bows its head to this awesome power. A child, this child a son, born of parched wind, bears the dust in its heart to spend itself upon the earth in remembrance of whence it came. And like any child born of nobility, it would bestowed a title as countless other of its kind have been given, a title as old as the earth itself:
(Photo by: Vadim Kaipov)
The whole concept absolutely makes me insane. Especially being a queer man. If I follow writer’s advice and write what I know – or if I follow the advice of the late, great Nina Simone and reflect my world in my work – then I what I write is going to be triggering in its entirety. Which – in a genre of queer books – written for, by, and about so said queer people – adding trigger warnings to content because it may bother straight people is insulting to me. I want you bothered by it. I want you hurt with me. Add in all of the pseudo-religiousness of genre fiction where the ‘rules’ become dogma and you dare not break them lest ye risk the ire of a certain group of readers – I find all of this the height of privilege. How dare you insist that not only do I write a book inside the box of m/m romance which has overtaken anything in the queer lit category, perfectly fashioned toward your sensabilites but then I must slap a warning label for you on it so that you’re senses aren’t offended should I deviate outside of these rules established long before queer lit came around? They would be selling ice cream in hell first before that ever happened. Hubris. Add on top the tacky people who would use these things to insert awful content the way people use *banned by Amazon* as a way to sell trash under the guise of censorship.
At the end of the day my darlings, there isn’t enough money in the world that would make up for trading myself in for your comfort. You don’t want to be triggered – I didn’t want to have to go through the things in my life that would perhaps trigger you in a book that I feel compelled to write about because it’s my truth! Knowing that there is some poor fucked up soul out there just like mine that needs to hear that the shit they went through hasn’t thrown them into the void of loneliness like real mental health issues often do.
I understand is the most powerful phrase in the English language.
This entire genre is so rife with these dogooders that lock you in and hold you at ransom, or filled with straight privileged people who want to know all the FUN stuff surrounding gay people and will accept certain bad things in a book if it furthers a plot point that I honestly have to say I regret ever walking into it.
I don’t understand why gay people put up with this. Why do we allow ourselves to be reduced for the comfort of others? Don’t we do that enough with our families? Haven’t we had to do this at our jobs? Where your other family members are married but you’re ‘married?’
It’s intellectual cowardice. It’s intellectual veganism where your empathy has replaced your biological need for sustenance at the cost of life sustaining nutrients.
It’s Pseudo- intellectualism.
At the end of the day – its fucking homophobia from people who are allying us to death.
My brothers are being rounded up and murdered in Chechnya. I’m triggered. Are you?