So… Coming Out Day

I’ve got mixed feelings about Coming Out Day. On the one hand, I understand it’s importance, the necessity for some to have this day. On the other, I almost feel like there’s a pressure to be out and proud or use the day as a springboard to come out if you’re not already.

What I don’t think a lot of people realize is that coming out, being out and staying out is a privilege. It’s brave, it’s costly but it’s a privilege. Being out is also dangerous for some of us. While it would be nice to come out of the closet, blowing the door off the hinges, having everything be awesome and nice… it’s often not the case.

Too many people, especially young people are told they are not worthy of human decency, love, affection because of their orientation. Too many are cast out from their homes, their lives torn apart for taking that step. For being true to themselves.

Too often our youth are driven to suicide, too often people don’t come out for fear of losing everything. Home, job, children, even their lives. It’s not easy to come out and have life just go on as it had been. Some people are forthright in their confusion, their disdain, anger, feelings of betrayal.

Others may slowly creep out of your life, unsure how to deal with you now that you’ve broken their nice little assumptions of you. Then there’s the hostility, the threats, the danger that the person you know isn’t who you thought they were. The way in which they avoid you, hurt you, make remarks that cut all the deeper because they know you have taken that leap to be open and honest with everyone in your life.

Coming out is a process that shifts with each time you do it. Each time you give that piece of yourself up to outer scrutiny. If you come out, it’ll be done many, many times for the rest of your life. There’s always new people, new situations, new reasons, ways to fling open that door again.

But there’s the flip side to all of this. For a lot of people, they just can’t come out. It will mean death, it will mean loss of all. There’s some people who don’t’ give a damn about being out. It’s their life, their business and no one needs to know.

I can respect that, and I can also respect those that have to come out. To be who you are in all ways to everyone around you. Neither way is wrong, or right or perfect, or deserving of ire.

Lastly, and this is something I want people to really remember. You don’t owe it to anyone to come out. You don’t owe the world, your family, your friends, anyone but you a reason to be out.

If you never tell a soul about your partner, never correct pronouns when someone asks about your husband or wife, it’s all good. 

We all have the right to live our lives as we see fit. It’s not a competition, no one gets a fucking prize for being out nor do we get black marks for keeping our lives to ourselves.

So if you are using today to come out, I salute you. I am proud of you and I honor your bravery in doing so.

If you are pondering your orientation, thinking about today and using it as a way to come to terms with who you are, again…my hat’s off to you and I wish you well on your journey to wherever you land.

If today is a day that makes you cringe and hate the world and it’s ideas, I understand and hope it passes quickly and quietly for you.

If someone takes the risk to come out to you today, be a good friend. Don’t talk over them, just listen, don’t offer condolences, say it’s a phase, turn them away or tell them to get right with DEITY. It doesn’t work that way.

Don’t take someone’s act of bravery and turn into a moment to earn brownie points, or show just how tolerant you are.

Shut up, listen and when they are done talking? Give them a hug and thank them for taking that risk. Thank them for their bravery and their trust in you.

Lastly some resources for you:

National Coming Out Day – Wikipedia Article

National Coming Out Day Facebook Page

On Respecting the Boundaries of your Bisexual Friends (from my ‘grown up blog’)

Human Rights Campaign Straight Ally “Coming Out Day Guide” 

HRC’s Coming Out Day resource page

We Got Your Back Project

On “Oh You Sexy Geek Girls & Self Objectification”

Ok, so I’ve read this article, really sat down and parsed it out, shared it on my Tumblr after a FB friend posted a link to it and I can’t get behind it.  This person doesn’t seem to be a member of the cosplaying community, is painting every woman who does cosplay with the same brush of wanting to garner straight male gaze with their attire, and couches it in academic sounding terms for the appearance of legitimacy.

It doesn’t consider those who do cosplay for the love of costuming, the challenge of getting a difficult concept right, showing off the fruits of your labor to those who can appreciate the work and craftsmanship that goes into cosplay.

It also assumes that all female “sexy” cosplayers are straight and angling for hetero male approval/attentions. Or that all these women are doing it to show off their bodies in some attempt to titillate or again garner straight male gaze/approval. 

As a gamer, and a geek I found it offensive on behalf of people who do cosplay. A friend of mine who is really into it took serious offense at the article because it assumes that she (as someone who has cosplayed Isabela from DA II and Trish from the Devil May Cry series) is putting on that costume strictly to garner male attention and approval. No she does it because she loves the costuming, the challenge of putting it together and because she wants to do it for her own pleasure, not to get some dude’s (unwanted) gaze

It also made me think of another friends post (on Tumblr) who dressed up for her self, because she was having a day of I wanna wear this for me. A coworker then turned it into C must have a date/is interested in someone in her class/has a crush. Because clearly you can’t just dress nicely for YOURSELF, instead you must be doing it to get some man’s attention. 

Yeah that article just doesn’t sit right with me.I will definitely reference it at my WisCon panel next weekend.

Review: Throne of the Crescent Moon

Throne of the Crescent Moon
Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Excellent showing for Saladin Ahmed’s fantasy. I got sucked into the characters and invested in them. Raseed bas Raseed especially won me over. Zamia, our Badawi tribeswoman, augh all the feels for her character. I think that The Good Doctor needs to settle down, relax and leave the adventuring to men like his Dervish assistant. I can’t wait for book 2 and hopefully more Ghul hunting with this cast of characters.

View all my reviews

Savage Reality (Repost from Neo Prodigy on Livejournal)

“Bisexual activists like to complain that they’re the most oppressed because (1) it’s a contest, and (2) it’s a good excuse. If they can argue—and unfortunately, they can—that lots of gay people are mean to them (some gay people don’t want to date them, some gay people doubt they exist) and straight people are mean to them (some straight people don’t want to date them, some straight people doubt they exist), then bisexual people aren’t to blame for the bisexual closet. Everyone else is.

“I’m sorry, bisexual activists, but you’re doing it all wrong. Instead of berating me for my alleged bi-phobia—and if I’m the enemy, you’re in real trouble—berate your closeted compatriots. If they all came out tomorrow, you could put an end to bi-phobia, take over the LGBT movement, and kick my ass out of it.”

Dan Savage,

In regards to your comments on bisexuals, I only have this to say: THANK YOU!

Yes, thank you for personifiying everything that is fucked up about the LGBTQ community with your nonstop racism, transphobia, biphobia and pure unadulterated bitchassness and making it easier for me to have a reference to point to. Thank you for being the guy who villifies rape survivors and still manages to get a pass for it. That way I can stop pretending like I would piss on you if you were burning in hell, kinda like how you can stop pretending that you care about black people.

More than Phelps, more than the Westboro Baptist Church, assholes like you are the reason why it doesn’t get better for queer people. Because as you have continuously proven, you’re more of a threat to us than they are. At least they don’t prop themselves up to be allies.

And biphobia will only end when everyone comes out of the closet? REALLY SAVAGE?!!!! REALLY?!!!!!! Because being a visible minority ALWAYS goes over so well in this society. I’ve been out and proud as a visible Negro. We see how well that’s worked for me and mine for the past 400+ years in this country alone. We’ve also seen how well that’s worked for those who are visibly out. Ask Emille Griffith, Lawrence King, Duanna Johnson and Matthew Shepard and all the other heroes and heroines what being visible gets you.

But you are right about one thing Savage, you do represent the LGBTQ community. In fact, you personify everything that is the LGBTQ community. Because one would be a fool to think you are the only one with this fucked up mindset. In fact, this is why I always state that while I’ll advocate for queer rights, I’ve got no use for the LGBTQ community. Because otherwise, the LGBTQ community would’ve marched and protested against you the way they attacked black folks during the Prop 8 fallout, even though white people were the reason for Prop 8 passing. But no, all we’ll get is excuses and hemming and hawwing and defenses about how speshul Savage’s ass is.

And to all of you white folks (and a few token sellouts) who still give him the time of day, FUCK YOU TOO. I mean what the hell else does this guy have to do to prove what a piece of shit he is? But of course he’s enabled because he knows he can get away with it. Trust, this is some white privilege through and through. Because let POC, specifically a black man, spew a portion of the bile Savage has spewed and they would’ve been lynched by white folks queer and straight alike.

And this is the asshole, we’re supposed to entrust with at-risk suicidal youth? REALLY? REALLY?

Yeah ask me again why it doesn’t get better.

Next up: we host Dennis Upkins for a spell on his Hollowstone book tour

I’m very happy to host the most excellent Dennis Upkins, author of the soon to be released Hollowstone. He breezed through the windy city during a stop on his book tour. Hollowstone is due out on 17 June 2011.

Q: Now, it’s great to see more POC authors and queer authors getting their work out and into the hands of readers who often feel left out of the literary mix. Hollowstone looks to address a lot of those needs. However, as a fan who is often left out of the mainstream media I wanted to know what else you might have planned to fill the gaps in for folks who aren’t seeing themselves reflected in the media they purchase?

A: I was talking to a good friend of mine about this, another professional writer, and we both discussed how we’re always looking for areas of opportunity to improve as far as being progressive and inclusive goes. While Hollowstone runs the gamut in tackling many facets of bigotry and institutional oppression, with Empyrea (the recently finished novel I’m currently editing), I come at representation of marginalized people from a completely different angle. Empyrea features a queer POC as the main protagonist, features multiple women of color in prominent roles.

It shows a loving interracial family in a matter of fact manner. Empyrea essentially illustrates what a world devoid of racism, misogyny, homophobia (as least as we know it) could look like. And while Empyrea is breaking a lot of ground, I’ve already got sequels planned and I’m looking for ways to step my game up. In the sequels, I know I will have a heroine who is a trans woman, lesbian characters and a disabled character. Each of them have important storylines, fleshed out roles, and treated with respect. The next novel I’ve got planned after Empyrea is a superhero story which features a teenage black girl and a gay man as the co-protagonists. Both characters have stories that are worth sharing. I’m constantly striving for ways to improve representation in my works because I believe everyone has a story worth telling.

Q: I know you’ve mentioned it on your blog, but I’m curious about who would be cast in a Hollowstone movie? Do you think the movie would suffer from white washing such as the reported casting options for a remake of Akira? Would you rather Hollowstone remain a book if your only option was to have a movie cast in the majorities image rather than how they are depicted in the book?

A: In regards to dreamcasting, I think this post sums it up: http://neo-prodigy.livejournal.com/954523.html Do I think the movie would suffer from white washing? That would always be a risk, a huge one in fact. It would really depend on the players involved, how much money would be riding on it and chance. For that matter, a publisher could’ve tried to whitewash the story, and we’ve seen this crap happen far too often. Luckily I was blessed to find a home with a good publisher (Parker Publishing) that was welcoming of Hollowstone as is. I give props to Neil Gaiman and Ursula K. Le Guin who have both been outspoken in standing tall against allowing their characters to be whitewashed and I would like to think if presented with the choice, I would make the same decision. Because Hollowstone tackles too many important issues to allow such crap to happen.

Q: If you could make the literary world over in an image that would included fair and equal representation for everyone, how would you do that with your authorial powers?

A: I guess pretty much what I’m doing now. Writing stories that celebrate marginalized people. Supporting works with my money that celebrate equal and fair representation of everyone and promoting and working with other marginalized creators to see their work make it to the public.

Q: We already talked a bit about being marginalized and invisible in mainstream media. As a queer man and POC, did frustration with that marginalization and invisibility have anything to do with Hollowstone’s creation?

A: Not really. At least not consciously or directly. I didn’t intentionally set out to write a story that was in reaction to being marginalized or invisible in mainstream media. But as the story developed, took on a life of its own, and continued to evolve, it did exactly that. But it had more to do with the fact that much of Hollowstone is based on personal experiences and things I’ve witnessed first hand. The marginalized issues was something I struggled with. It felt like walking a tight rope. Do you tip your toe in the pool of social justice issues and risk making your characters cliches who only exist to whine about racism or homophobia or do you go all out, balls to the walls, and show it all unapologetically and let the story share its truth. And why does it always have to be about racism/homophobia with gay and black characters. I wrestled with these choices and then finally I just had to tell myself, frak it. Truth is truth, no matter how inconvenient it is, and as Noah states in the opening of the novel, there are some stories that just must be told.

Q: If you could fix one thing in fandom (Take your pick; comics, movies, books, all of the above) which one would you fix or is it too broken to fix?

A: I would say all of the above, if for no other reason than they all intersect. I’m not sure if fandom is too broken to fix but I definitely think something drastic is going to have to happen, a massive overhaul to fix things. At minimum, marginalized peeps are going to have to double their efforts in creating their own spaces, their own media, supporting one another and boycotting those that denigrate them. At most, the industry is going to have to fall and be rebuilt before things can improve. Or something else unexpected can occur. I think it’s a matter of staying vigilant about these issues and continue to press forward even if fandom is hellbent on backsliding in regards to progress.

Q: If any of your characters from Hollowstone could write a post for the We Got Your Back Project, who would submit their story and what would they say?

A: WOW! This has to be one of the most powerful questions I’ve received. You know the We Got Your Back Project is near and dear to my heart, and some of the characters would definitely have a lot to say.

Noah– He would definitely discuss his experiences with knowing Ryan, Neely, and another gay character who is revealed in the story. He would discuss his experiences in trying to be a straight ally and would urge other allies to be proactive in supporting their queer brothers and sisters based on the folks who impacted his life.

Neely– She would discuss her experiences being a bisexual teen, growing up in a conservative environment, and how it isn’t easy to be out and proud, in spite of what society would have you believe. She would also point out that if it wasn’t for her older brother—who loved, protected, and accepted her as God intended her to be—she probably wouldn’t be here today. She would probably say why support and love is vital, especially in light of all the hatred and bigotry LGBTQs endure on a day to day.

Ryan– Ryan’s story would be the most powerful. Because he goes through a lot in the story. And his story is a sobering reminder why it doesn’t always get better and that in fact, it rarely does. And if his story doesn’t move people to take an active role in fighting bigotry and hatred, nothing will.

Q: Do you think that Hollowstone and books like it will finally get POC authors out of the “African American Author” purgatory books by black authors are often dropped into regardless of the books subject matter?

A: Your guess is as good as mine. If authors like Octavia Butler and L.A. Banks haven’t clued society in that our work is universal just like white authors, I don’t know if society will ever learn. As POC authors, all we can do is do what we can and just hope and pray for the best.

Q: Lastly, will we get to see more of the Hollowstone cast in future novels? Will we get to follow them as they develop or will they remain in the world built in Hollowstone?

A: You know, the thought of doing a sequel, even a trilogy, crossed my mind more than once. It was an idea I toyed around with and even debated with myself. Then I realized that the characters in Hollowstone get so much closure, not to mention the fact that the novel ends in a very unique way, that to do a sequel would probably be a disservice to the characters and the story. If you can ever exit on a high note, that’s the way to do it. That being said…in the superhero story I’m outlining, one of the central characters will make an appearance and something about their fate that was all but promised in Hollowstone, gets confirmed in the superhero novel. So stay tuned.

Denny, thank you so much for stopping by during your book tour and we’ll be sure to give Hollowstone a review once its out! If all of that didn’t convince you to buy Hollowstone, here’s 12 reasons to order it! You can order Hollowstone directly from the publisher or from Amazon.com