This week on my blog, we’re trying something a little different. In honor of LGBT Pride month, I am among a great group of panelists who will be hosting a month long discussion about Pride, LGBT Youth, Allies, and more. Our panelists are a diverse group of readers, writers, and supporters of gay fiction, including Larry Benjamin, Rick Bettencourt, Brandilyn Carpenter, Rob Colton, Andrew Q Gordon, Lane Hayes, Debbie McGowan, and Brandon Shire. Each week, two people will answer two questions related LGBT pride, rights, and related topics. We will also be giveaway free copies of eBooks by our participating authors and a Amazon gift card. You can enter on the RC below. There are special entries for each week of June, so don't miss out on those.
Please join in the discussion in the comments. You can gain entries into the giveaway, but more importantly, you can be part of a important and fun discussion. Though only 2 panelists will be posting each week, we will all be joining the discussion. Please visit this week's other guest panelist, Lane Hayes.
This Week's Discussion
Marriage equality has been achieved in 19 states and DC and 11 more have had their bans overturned in court and are on appeal. How do you think Marriage Equality has affected the LGBT community.
Rick: I'm one of very few gay men who can say they have actually had two gay marriages. My first one wound up in a "gay" divorce—and even featured in the NY Times. A few years later I met Chris and we were married, in Massachusetts, in 2012. We have since moved to Florida and are now dealing with the consequences of our marriage not being recognized.
In my first marriage, we had been together several years. Like many relationships—gay and straight—we had our problems. But at the time, gay marriage was so new that there was talk of it being repealed—some things never change. So, we decided to get married and try to work on “us” later, before the courts ruled it illegal. While it may have been a mistake, being able to marry allowed us to bring things together in order to break it apart, at least legally. Like so many unrecognized relationships, there’s a lack of lawfulness that can hurt the couple. For instance, look at how many couples (gay or straight) marry for the health insurance and/or so other benefits. Without the protection of marriage, many people can get hurt.
Being able to marry provides legitimacy, not only, in the eyes of society, but it also gives validity to the feelings of the couple.
What are gay activists/allies getting right? What are they getting wrong?
Rick: I live in a pretty conservative area. Living alongside a bunch of religious Republicans doesn’t really bother me. In fact, I think I fit in just fine. Don’t revoke my gay card but I kind of like my conservative neighbors even though I don’t agree with them on every issue. I try to respect and understand their point of view.
My husband and I are considered “the boys” by our neighbors. Some know we are a couple—we have a one bedroom, for God’s sake!—and others barely care. I suppose there are a few who talk behind our backs—think we’re going to hell in hand basket—but we don’t seek them out, and nor do they of us.
Our area is filled with Romney-stickered cars that take our neighbors to church every Sunday. Yet I don’t think these people care about our gay marriage. In fact, lately we’ve been going to church with them. Mixing in is a great way to show them that we’re not the evil mongers that some paint us out to be.
I may be a bit of an anomaly but I kind of like living around people who are different than I am. I could live in the Village, San Fran or Provincetown but—no offense—after a few days there, I have enough gay energy in me to light up Las Vegas.
Maybe I’m not a good gay: I don’t regularly frequent gay bars. I don’t make it a point to travel to gay destinations and when I shop, if the business is gay-friendly great but I don’t go out of my way. In fact, I kind of like being around people who are different than me—straight people. Sure, it’s nice to regroup with the gay pack now and again but most of my friends and family are heterosexual—and I like them that way.
A lot of us gay folk don’t live in the big cities or those towns that even make a blip on the gaydar—and I think that’s great. Those off-the-beaten-path towns are where we need to be who we are even more.
My little “meet the moderates in the middle” approach may not be as brazen as those that came before us—fighting for our rights at Stonewall, for instance— or by being the first of openly gay NFL player. But there’s a place for us moderates who are quietly gay wherever we go. In fact, I would argue that temperance can sometimes speak volumes over the Johnny Weirs who parade about Russia in black leather pants, wedge-heeled boots and a wrap of salt and pepper-tinged fur.
Nowadays America sees homosexuality differently than just five years ago. Why? Surely because of those liberals who have fought for our rights but also because of Tom and Bob who quietly raise their son in suburban America; and Mary and Ellen who are just an ordinary couple trying to make a living in a straight town.
We’ve come a long way. And we can go a lot further by being who we are, meeting in the middle and embracing the differences of those who are not like us. Doesn’t that sound an awful lot like what we’ve been asking of them?
As more and more fence-sitters come to their senses and realize being gay is just as ordinary as having green eyes or being left-handed–and we respect their traditionalist views, we’ll show conservatives that being gay is normal.
Today's gay activist is just a regular Dick or Jane.
About our Panelists
Larry Benjamin: Bronx-born wordsmith Larry Benjamin, is the author of the gay novels, Unbroken, and What Binds Us and the short story collection Damaged Angels. Larry will be hosting the discussion starting 9 June 2014 Twitter: @WriterLarry Website: http://www.larrybenjamin.com
Rick Bettencourt: Rick Bettencourt is the author of NOT SURE BOYS, PAINTING WITH WINE and TIM ON BROADWAY. Rick hates to cook, and can often be seen eating out. He lives in the Tampa Bay area, with his husband and their dog, Bandit. Rick will be hosting the discussion starting 23 June 2014 Twitter: @rbettenc Website: http://rickbettencourt.wordpress.com/
Brandilyn Carpenter: Brandilyn is the odd duck in this group. She owns an LGBTQ fiction focused review blog, Prism Book Alliance, and is the married mother of 3 young children. She is an advocate for equal rights and tirelessly promotes the gay fiction genre. Brandilyn will be hosting the discussion starting 16 June 2014 Twitter: @BrandilynRC Website: http://www.prismbookalliance.com
Rob Colton: Rob Colton is a software developer by day, and avid reader of romance novels at night. A romantic at heart, he loves stories that feature big, burly men who find true love and happy endings. Rob will be hosting the discussion starting 16 June 2014 Twitter: @robcub32 Website: http://robcolton.com/
Andrew Q Gordon: Andrew Q. Gordon lives in the DC Metro area with his husband and 2 year old daughter. While he enjoys most types of fiction, his current works include MM Fantasy, Paranormal and Contemporary Fiction. Andrew will be hosting the discussion starting 2 June 2014 Twitter: @AndrewQGordon Website: http://andrewqgordon.com/
Lane Hayes: Lane Hayes is a M/M author, 2013 Rainbow Award finalist for her first release Better Than Good, designer, reader, lover of chocolate, red wine & clever people. Lane will be hosting the discussion starting 23 June 2014 Twitter: @LaneHayes3 Website: http://lanehayes.wordpress.com/
Debbie McGowan: Debbie McGowan is based in Lancashire, England. She writes character-driven fiction, runs an independent publishing company, and lectures in social science. Sometimes she sleeps, too! Debbie will be hosting the discussion starting 2 June 2014 Twitter: @writerdebmcg Website: http://www.debbiemcgowan.co.uk
Brandon Shire: Brandon Shire writes fiction about human intimacy and interactions. He loves chocolate and is a staunch advocate for homeless LGBT youth. Brandon will be hosting the discussion starting 9 June 2014 Twitter: @thebrandonshire Website: http://brandonshire.com
GiveawayPrizes (4 winners):
- $ 10 Amazon GC, eBook Listening to Dust by Brandon Shire, & eBook Not Sure Boys by Rick Bettencourt
- $ 10 Amazon GC, eBook Painting with Wine by Rick Bettencourt, & eBook from Andrew Q Gordon's backlist
- $ 10 Amazon GC, eBook Unbroken by Larry Benjamin, & eBook Champagne by Debbie McGowen
- $ 10 Amazon GC, eBook from Rob Colton's backlist, & eBook from Lane Hayes' backlist