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International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia

May 17, 2013

Gay Couple

Today is the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia. There’s a blog hop going on among authors and publishers for this event – and I’m not actually part of it. (Life got a bit complex and I just missed the chance to sign up officially. I put a link for you at the bottom of the post.) But I still wanted to write something today. And if you read down, there is a prize drawing for one of my books as well.

This day is a mix of the good and the bad. The good – that we’ve come far enough with acceptance of the LGBTQ community that discrimination is seen and not universally ignored or condoned, and that we have an international event for acceptance. The bad – that this day is necessary because those phobias, the fear and hate directed toward anyone “other” than mainstream heterosexual, is still so strong we need every resource to fight it.

We’re making progress, mind by mind, and place by place. Just this week, Minnesota Democratic Governor Mark Dayton signed same-sex marriage into law. Couples can begin marrying in Minnesota August 1. The bill was passed by the state senate and house, just six months after voters rejected a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

Minnesota become the twelfth state in the United States to extend marriage to same-sex couples. As a Minnesotan, I’m proud of that (and may need to do a Mac & Tony short story after the fact… or maybe Simon and Paul should get married.) But the fight continues. And all of us can do our part, by writing, speaking, standing up.

The other day, I was in the grocery store parking lot and a nicely-dressed man came up to me. He pointed at my bumper stickers (things like “Celebrate Diversity” in rainbow colors, and “Vote No to Bigotry”) He told me he wanted to give me God’s word, and help me see how sinful being queer is and turn me to Jesus. In the past, I would usually say something inadequate like “Go away.” Because talking to people is not my thing. Writing, definitely. Talking, not so much.

But this time I managed to say, “I know a lesbian couple, both veterinarians, together twenty years and raising two special needs teens. I think God approves.”

He spouted something else about Jesus. I told him, “I think Jesus would rather see you helping animals and children than talking about hate in His name.”

He got very affronted about me telling him what Jesus would want. And I managed to just laugh and walk away. Did I change his mind? No. But maybe the cart boy, who paused to listen, heard being gay accepted and defended. Maybe that will make a bit of difference, if we repeat it over and over, publicly and widely. The tide is turning here. We can all help it move forward.

I sometimes get the boost of seeing that happen with my writing. I got a review of Lies and Consequences recently that said, “I read the summary and saw that the two main characters are gay. Since LGBT rights are an issue right now I thought it’d be a good idea to read the book, it’s an issue I don’t no a lot about…The characters are so in depth, after finishing I started to think about my opinion on LGBT rights because I didn’t have one before. This book caused me to look at an important issue in the world. I’ve decided that they should have the same rights as anyone else, I wouldn’t have an opinion at all if It wasn’t for the fact that I stumbled upon this book.” So a free story that I put out helped move someone’s opinion toward equal rights. That is so cool, and such an affirmation of the power of fiction to shape opinions. It’s not why I write – I write for love of the stories and to share them with other people. But it’s one hell of a great side effect.

So I’m going to link to the official Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia 2013 . (Although they may be having link problems – if so, you can do a search and find a lot of the blogs that way – there are many free books and prizes being awarded.)

And for those who made it down to here, I’m going to do a drawing from comments here and on my Goodreads blog, for one advance copy of Sole Support Sole Suppor cover. Post a comment now through midnight Friday May 24th, and I’ll draw a winner on Saturday May 25th, ten days before the official release on June 4th.

So comment and then go out, look around and read the posts, and see what everyone else is doing today. Celebrate community and combat ignorance and prejudice. Shine a light on love of all kinds.


ETA – the winner of the advance copy of Sole Support is Debra (message 5) on my Goodreads blog.

26 Comments leave one →
  1. Issa permalink
    May 17, 2013 12:37 pm

    Wow Kaje, I can’t imagine being approached out of blue like that. And you handled it perfectly, much better than I think I would have.

    Love the cover of the new book. There’s just something about a guy with glasses. Please count me in the drawing.

    • May 17, 2013 1:04 pm

      I didn’t handle it well the first time, or the second. This is the Midwest, an odd mix of tolerance and evangelicalism, so folks are nice but you get the occasional one trying to make you right with their view of God. The first two times I just muttered something, and then afterward when I was alone did that whole “this is what I should have said, this is what I wish I’d said” bit. So I was ready and practiced this time. I’m just freaking pleased that I managed to say it, because I’m pretty shy. But GRL and blogging have helped me a lot to actually open my mouth to strangers.

  2. May 17, 2013 12:53 pm

    I think people’s attitudes and opinions are being changed in a positive way because we have access to more positive literature about being gay. It’s unfortunate for people like Kristopher Sharp in Houston who are still facing such vicious bigotry, If we all can just do one small thing like making a supportive statement to these unaccepting people, I think our world would be a much nicer place to live in. You rock Kaje and so do your books.

    • May 17, 2013 1:08 pm

      Thank you. Yeah, the need is still obviously there, to make prejudice unacceptable. There was just a bad gay-bashing incident in New York too. I don’t think we’ll ever totally succeed (there’s still racism 60 years after Little Rock and the Civil Rights era) but we have room for a lot more progress. And I think we have the momentum in this country. Time magazine did an article saying as much in April, and that’s a pretty mainstream publication. Every bit helps.

  3. Louise permalink
    May 17, 2013 1:48 pm

    I enjoyed the bloghop last year as it introduced me to other fabulous authors out there. Yep, a long way to go still but so great to see progress little by little. I have my “Str8 against H8” bumper sticker but no one’s approached me yet. πŸ™‚ Not sure how I would handle it what with being incredibly shy and socially awkward. But living 10 minutes from San Francisco has it benefits in finding other like-minded liberals. πŸ™‚

    • May 17, 2013 2:02 pm

      So far all I’ve had is “Can I tell you about the word of God and why being gay is a sin?” kinds of approaches. Prejudice but not blatant hate/anger. And this was the first time I’ve had the nerve to speak up like that, with more than two words. I’m pretty shy too.

  4. May 17, 2013 1:55 pm

    As part of the LGBTQ community I’ve had my share of unpleasant encounters including death threats. Just a few months ago, we had to keep an eye on our manager at work since there had been a rash of gay beatings in our area. We wouldn’t let him walk to his car alone. Unfortunately I think my state will be one of the very last to ever allow gay marriage when there is so much bigoted hate driven by so-called Christians. I’m glad they have a day like today to help raise awareness. I truly hope it helps.

    • May 17, 2013 1:59 pm

      That’s really tough. And sad. But the younger generation is so much more accepting that change will come I believe, even in the most prejudiced places. At least in this country. There are others where women’s rights are still non-existent, and all kinds of human respect and dignity face an uphill battle. But in the US, 80% of the under-29 age group poll in favor of gay marriage. That’s hopeful. What state are you in?

    • June 10, 2013 6:52 pm

      I’m not American and in out thoughts USA is a symbol of the progress. Individuals who hate and beat people because they are different and in the name of “god”is a shame for every country.

  5. May 17, 2013 2:57 pm

    Recently I’ve been seeing variations around the internet of “Do you really believe that God will judge someone for loving a person of the same sex, but will not judge you for hating someone you’ve never met?” and that has become my standard response. Incidentally, I’m pagan and bisexual, so I’ve been known to take flak for both, sometimes at the same time. Luckily I live in New England, where every state (now that Rhode Island has joined the party) has passed Marriage Equality and things just seem to keep looking up.

    • May 17, 2013 3:15 pm

      I like that response – short and true. πŸ˜€

    • June 10, 2013 6:57 pm

      Good way to reply them!! Sadly the fanatics are not much thinking ones, so I doubt any reasonable thinking can get in their heads.

  6. Barbara permalink
    May 17, 2013 9:52 pm

    Today is my 21st anniversary. I met my partner in college and have been with her more than half my life. We had hoped to celebrate by getting married, but we are still waiting for gay marriage to be legal in Illinois. We live in a tolerant bubble and rarely face intolerance directly, but it is important to remember that there is still work to be done.

    I recently discovered your writing and enjoy your characters and dialogue. I am happy to find your blog and learn that you are a great person as well. Keep fighting the good fight!

    • May 17, 2013 10:23 pm

      I hope it happens for you soon. And big congratulations on your anniversary. My husband and I just had our 27th, and if there’s any justice, you’ll get that legal recognition long before yours.

  7. Silence permalink
    May 19, 2013 6:24 am

    nice post. As you say a step in the right direction but there is still a way to go.

  8. Sam permalink
    May 19, 2013 4:46 pm

    My first m/m book was “Like the Taste of Summer” and it opened another genre in books and the issue of homophobia. I have never seen homophobia or bullying in the suburbs of Houston, where I live, so it never entered my life until a recent church retreat I went to.I am shy and since I have never heard comments like that and they sound so wrong and shocking coming out of such devoted Christian Catholics that just talked about the unconditional love of God. I can only hope that next time, I am able to say something for others and for myself.

    • May 19, 2013 7:46 pm

      That is really cool for me to hear that a book of mine opened up a genre for you πŸ™‚ I hope you’re finding a lot of good books to read.

      It’s great that there are places and groups where homophobia isn’t an issue (although sometimes it’s because no one LGBT dares to be out.) Speaking up is hard, especially for us shy types. I had to practice for this situation, and it took three tries to say something (and even then, I managed about half of my planned rational argument.) But every time we don’t just let it slide, that helps. Best of luck to you.

  9. Tyler permalink
    May 19, 2013 10:26 pm

    Thank you for the awareness your helping raise and the great stories you right!! πŸ™‚

  10. Rita permalink
    May 20, 2013 2:14 pm

    I’m saddened and shocked to hear of the above examples, as in the UK, I don’t think people are so opinionated about anyone different. I have never heard an adverse comment about the LGBT group in my life. You may think I’m being idealistic, but I work near Soho, the gayest bit of London and no-one bats an eye at the various couples you see holding hands, kissing and being touchy-feely. I’ve even seen a couple of guys in leather and studs on a packed Saturday night tube, unashamedly holding hands and leaning on each other, with the odd little peck on the lips. They were just doing what hubby and I do, and not one person round seemed embarrassed or angry, and there were several parents with youngish kids around. No-one stared, no one said anything nasty, and my hubby who was sat right next to them felt totally comfortable with them. I remember feeling really good that Londoners can be decent, open-minded and accepting.

    Yes, the UK politicians who are pro gay-marriage are today having a fight to get the bill through parliament, but I honestly think that most of us in this country are ‘live and let live’, which I’m grateful for. I can’t imagine having that kind of hate spewed at someone, but I certainly know who I’d defend if I ever came across it. I love the messages that come across in your books, Kaje, and in books by authors such as Sue Brown and Lisa Worrall. I am ‘out and proud’ to be reading them on my Kindle, openly, even on packed tubes where anyone can be reading over my shoulder. I am sure that people next to me can see what I’m reading, but I’d defend my choice and the messages within, any day. Please keep writing, but a little quicker if you can!

    Oh, and please enter me into the draw, thanks! Kind regards, Rita

    • May 20, 2013 4:31 pm

      I’m really glad to hear of more and more places where this is the case, where LGBT is just a part of life and people are accepting. I love thinking that there are kids being raised to absolutely consider this the norm.

      I think, listening to some of the current gay marriage debate, that there are clearly places in the UK where that’s not entirely the case. There’s some pretty vehement opposition going on. But I think we are past the tipping point in most western countries, where the majority of people (although sometimes a slim majority) favor equality. And as the generational shift continues, I think we’re going to see those numbers changing even faster.

      And it’s cool that you are supporting gay rights in public too – when we work together, we will make progress faster.

  11. Isa permalink
    May 23, 2013 11:14 pm

    The younger generation does think differently then we do, just as we think differently than our parents. My teenage niece has no problems voicing her opinions on gay marriage (she approves). A very close friend of the family is gay and she has known him for 10 years. He is like an older brother/uncle to her and is engaged to be married. My three year old neice won’t remember the fight to legalize gay marriage. She’ll grow up wondering what the fuss was all about and hopefully long before she is a teenager it will be legal across the country.

    • May 23, 2013 11:21 pm

      I hope the next generation really does grow up to wonder what all the fuss was about. And good for your older niece for being clear in her support.

  12. Becca permalink
    May 24, 2013 2:13 am

    I also live in London, and I think it is a tolerent city, but what do I know? I wouldn’t be the target of prejudice. I think it is easy to believe that everyone around you shares your beliefs when they seem so self-evident to you.

    BUt the world is changing for the better, so we can only hope.

    • May 24, 2013 9:33 am

      No city is a uniform monolith, but I’m betting there are big areas of tolerance in London. Most big cities now have areas where everyone pretty much lets other people live their own way. And we’re expanding πŸ˜€ Someone once called M/M romance the fifth column of gay rights – stealthily converting straight readers to tolerance, acceptance and then championship of LGBT acceptance. I like that idea.

  13. June 10, 2013 6:55 pm

    You cope with this hateful individual well. I won’t have this patience. I’ve ever though this religion is “satanic” (if I should use their terms) and the only thing it caused and still cause is hate, pain, desperation and death. Disguised as “love”, of course.

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