May 17th is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, and just in case you’re wondering about the title of this post, it’s the name of a song by Fisk Jubilee Singers from 1837. You can listen to it here or at the end of this post where I’ll embed it and make it easy for everyone.
The title of this post pretty much does what it says on the tin. It is no less apt from my contribution to the Hop Against Homophobia, Bi- and Transphobia this year.
I live in the Deep South of the USA, like this place bleeds Red, White and Blue ‘MURICA. You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a church or a Walmart.
I came out during the ever so delightful period I was told under no uncertain terms I was not welcome in the House of God, and I had a first class ticket to Hell. That’s okay. I’m bringing the marshmallows. But now things have changed, or are changing. Churches are getting more progressive and seeing indeed love is love.
In my area? Not so much. There are six churches on my street alone and all of their signage gets pretty depressing sometimes.
I write for Dreamspinner Press, and their mainstream line DSP Publications. I write books with gay protagonists. Sometimes they kiss. Sometimes parts touch. Most of the time they’re punching bad guys in the face and there’s a fuckton of explosions.
Despite all that, I co-exist just ducky with my fellow Southerners. I am a transplant from the North, and quite proud of it. For those of you from elsewhere in the world, I am what is called a Yankee. In the South, because I am a permanent resident, I am a Damned Yankee. During the US Civil War, the South lost, the North won. And I have many of the older generation of Southerners that like to remind me of that bitterly.
I am very proud of what I do. And everyone I meet is always very excited to know an author. An international bestselling one at that! In their excitement, because I’m three seconds away from making a sale, they ask me what I write. I tell them straight up. Why hide it?
Surprisingly, most reactions have been positive. Or in awe that LGBTQ+ books are a thing.
Then you get the phrase we all dread. You know the one. The one that goes:
“Well, I was raised a Christian…”
My first reaction for many years had been, “Uh oh. ABORT! ABORT!”
I’d politely slink away only for them to follow at my heels and try to forcibly convert me on the spot.
Now, my reaction is to stare them right in the eye and say, “And?”
You’d be surprised how that stops a person cold. I don’t bother to challenge them with facts of homosexuality not being mentioned in the Bible. Or the details about shellfish, or mixed fibers, or slavery, and so on. Why throw the rhetoric back at them? Why stir the fire and challenge their world view? I am no less qualified to challenge them then they are to challenge me. Neither of us are going to budge. And that’s okay. In fact, I find faith quite beautiful, and a lot of my characters have some form of faith in their fictional worlds.
So. I get:
“Well, I was raised a Christian…”
And my response:
“And water’s wet and stars twinkle. And?”
Just last Saturday, I got the spiel twice in one day. You heard me.
I got “The Conversation” in the middle of shopping at Office Depot.
There I was, actually printing a copy of Chasing Sunrise for revisions. A woman in line in front of me asks me how I’m doing. I respond “Good.” and smile and nod. Do the kindly thing. That is it.
And BAM. She put a pamphlet in my hand and is giving me the sales pitch and offers the formal invite to her church and finding God.
In. Office. Depot.
Later that afternoon at a birthday party, the host introduces me to one of his friends. The host and I were in a critique group together and is very proud and supportive of what I do. In fact, Pawn Takes Rook, my very first book is dedicated to him.
And then the friend goes….yup. You guessed it. That candied phrase.
Why does it have to matter? It’s a double standard. Why is it Mormons can come to my door (with a very clear no soliciting sign) and want to spread the word of their Savior, and I can’t go door to door and spread the word of the LGBT community?
Oh. Right. In the US there’s that pesky freedom of religion thing which basically any religious party uses as an exemption from everything.
Case in point. Absolutely unprompted, I can get the sermon in Panera Bread while eating lunch.
I can get approached in a bookstore.
Even while my car is stopped at the light.
All of them. All of them happened.
Is this really necessary? Really?
I’d like to think I’m a good person. I know right from wrong. I don’t kill babies. I dote on my cats and have my vet on speed dial every time one of them sneezes. My vet also thinks I’m a wee overprotective. I’m a very positive person. Does this make me any less “good?”
Is it a good person that comes up to you while you are trying to check out in an office supply store and tries to convince you to come to their church the next morning?
Is it a good person that approaches you at a restaurant while you have food in your face and tell you how the Lord saved them from drinking and drugs?
If anything, my first thought is I don’t even know their names, and they could likely be ax murders. I just want to be able to buy my pens and my lunch without being harassed because I…somehow look like someone that looks like they need saving. It’s my hair probably. It’s three colors. It’s always my hair. I can tell you stories about airport security.
Like I can’t randomly walk up to J. Random stranger and tell them how awesome dudes being in love is and push my books into their hands. Or give them the whole sales pitch. That’s plain rude.
It is rude. Didn’t anyone teach them Do Onto Others As They Would Do To You?
Oh. Wait. They do. Only they Do Onto Others fully expecting the reciprocation part.
So when someone gets all excited to ooooh aaah know an author and they’re three seconds away from buying my books on their phones, they ask what do I write.
“Well, I was raised a—”
“And? My parents tell me the Mothership left me behind.”
“And so are my books. I’m sure you’ll like them.”
“You’re pretty cool.”
“Thanks. I think you’re pretty cool too.”
And now, I leave you with some Old-Time Religion. Grab your hymnals and sing along. Yes, sir.
One lucky winner will walk away with a loverly $10.00 USD DSP Gift Certificate!
And you say, how do I enter to win such a remarkable prize?
And I say unto thee, since I’m sharing a song, share with me a song that you particularly like and why. If you can find it on YouTube, drop in the link in the comments.
Also please, please leave me your email address! I want to be able to find you!
The winner will be chosen on May 24th!