Lynley Wayne

Guest Post: On Being Kind by Lynley Wayne

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This is a post I have started several times in the past. I start it and then I talk myself out of posting it and yet, this same issue seems to pop up again and again. I guess you could say it’s more a bunch of smaller issues that are part of a larger whole. Each time it happens I become more and more disheartened with social media, with the gay romance writing community, and with people in general.

I started writing gay romance, not because I wasn’t good enough to break into straight romance—although I’ve been accused of that in the past—but because I believe wholeheartedly in equality. I believe that it is a human right to be able to love whomever we want. That love is one of those things that is precious and should be celebrated.

I believe in treating people with respect; in accepting people for who they are, quirks and all. I believe that we are all different for a reason and each and every one of us can learn something valuable from those who appear so different at a glance.

At its core, the gay romance community is supposed to be a group of people who support equality and inclusivity. After all, we are a band of misfits and outcasts, most of us. Are we not? Of all people, we should know how it feels to be treated unkindly, to be judged at a glance, and to be hated for something outside of our control. If those things do not make us more compassionate, then the bullies, the haters, the ones who want nothing more than to remind us that we are different, they win.

With the growth and acceptance of the gay romance genre and the LGBTI community, I think we forget how far we’ve come and how far we have yet to go. So when I see things like authors bullying reviewers because they didn’t like the review they got, or reviewers writing hateful reviews that are less about the books and more about the writers, or the never-ending debate about whether or not women can write gay romance, or authors taking advantage of readers, bloggers, or other authors, those things make me sad. I haven’t been a part of this community that long and yet I have seen all of those things multiple times. It’s like there’s a cycle to them, one that needs to be stopped.

Each time you sit down at the computer, or pick up your tablet or smart phone, you need to remember that there is a real live, flesh and blood, human being on the other side of that screen. One that has feelings, feeling that can be hurt. Whoever wrote the rhyme, “Sticks and stone may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” They were wrong. Bones heal and with time we forget the pain of that break. Words, however, they never really go away. Once said, an unkind word can haunt us for the rest of our lives, becoming part of that internal voice telling us that we are not good enough, smart enough, skinny enough, pretty enough, just…ENOUGH. Words can do more damage than anything else.

They can also heal. They can change the world. They can repair bridges and foster friendships.

As a group of avid readers, and of writers, you’d think the power of words would be obvious. That, we, of all people, would be more careful with the things we say.

Even as a writer, I don’t always say things the right way. Sometimes it takes me many, many drafts before I get it right. I like having the screen between the world and me. Not because I’m shy or anything, but because I often say things without thinking and I know I have inadvertently injured people in the past. This screen allows for me to be more thoughtful of my words, to edit myself in a way I can’t do in person.

As I stated at the beginning of this post, I have gone back and forth about posting this online, more times than you can know. I worry that in doing so some people may feel like I am calling them out, when the truth is, I’m not. I’m not pointing fingers or referring to one specific incident. If you feel that I am, then I apologize, because that is not my intent.

The reason I decided to go ahead and write this post was because it is only when we bring things into the light and examine them honestly that we have a chance of changing who we can become. By acknowledging and making a conscious effort to be better, to do better is the only way we can grow. Keeping your head down and pretending that everything is fine, does nothing but perpetuate a society of bullies.

I refuse to be silent any longer. So I’m standing up and saying, “I know we can do better.”

~Lynley

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9 thoughts on “Guest Post: On Being Kind by Lynley Wayne

  1. Lynley, another really great post. It’s amazing how easily people forget about simple human kindness. Ex. My husband and I were at our usual Starbucks this AM with friends. A man maybe in his late sixties or so who should know better but doesn’t I suppose because of the times in which we were raised–the 1950 and 60s–, yells out. “Hey, girls!” Somehow this hit a nerve, obviously a vestige from the past, an insult or a moment when I was made to feel less than human as a gay man. I said to a good friend sitting across from me, “I hate that.” Then he said something that made me even more disconcerted: “He doesn’t really mean any harm.” How many times do people apologize for others’ bad behavior, and try to normalize something that was anything but normal? And even worse: I didn’t say a damn thing to the speaker. What does that say about me? Paul

    Liked by 3 people

    • lynleywayne says:

      First, let me say, I’m sorry that happened to you. I am always baffled when people excuse racist, sexist, homophobia, or any other kind of poor behavior in the older generations. They say things like, “Well, it’s just the way they grew up.” or “They come from different times.” Neither of which makes it okay or is a reason to condone the behavior. They act as if being older means they are unintelligent and unable to change. I do not believe that to be the case. If they have said something for seventy years, something they heard growing up, and no one has ever said, “Do you realize that by saying what you just said, that you are in essence saying that I am somehow less than,” then they might not realize the damage they can do or are doing. I wrote a post about this last year.

      Here’s the address if you want to check it out. http://www.lynleywayne.com/blog/2014/6/30/the-power-of-words

      I know I can’t change the world, but it doesn’t mean I will stop trying to make it a better place.

      Like

  2. I hope things do get better in our genre, Lynley. And I think maybe Paul just hit on the only way they will – by speaking up. I see a lot of rudeness, and I never say anything (anymore) and that is wrong. I will try to do better, and be braver, from now on :)
    Thank you for a nice post <3

    Liked by 1 person

    • lynleywayne says:

      Amelia,

      I think if we all make a conscious effort to help one another, to be more mindful of the words we use, then it would make us stronger as a community. This is my wish. To me, community means people working together for a greater goal. But in order to work well together, we as individuals, have to learn to be kinder to one another, to step back and at least try to see things from the other persons point of view. I admit, I am not always great at doing that, especially when it is a subject that might be personal to me. I am human after all, but I try and that’s all I can do. It’s all any of us can do.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed one day and saw a status update from one of my friends about how people have become too PC, and I thought, “Huh, really?” Because, if anything, I’d have thought the opposite to be true. The anonymity of the computer screen has given license to people to be less so than we’ve been since the term Politically Correct came into being. If people were “too PC” these days, we wouldn’t have had to make up the term “cyber bullying”. If people were “too PC”, we wouldn’t be seeing racism and homophobia and religious persecution being perpetrated every day not only on the internet but in person as well, as Paul just experienced.

    What he may have meant is that people have become too silent in the face of Political Incorrectness, which is something I can agree with.

    There’s no such thing as being too kind, but there is very much such a thing as being too unkind.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. lynleywayne says:

    Lisa, I couldn’t agree more. Maybe we should start a kindness campaign. Do you think we could get enough of the gay romance community involved to take up an entire month with posts on kindness?

    Like

  5. I think everyone needs to take responsibility for their words: parents, teachers, co-workers, authors, reviewers, children… anyone who puts words into the world. I lived in China long enough to despise being censored… however there is a responsibility filter I think we should put our words through.
    This is a video that shows you the power our words have:
    https://showyou.com/v/y-XjJQBjWYDTs/as-a-male-this-is-the-first-tampon-commercial?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=timeline

    Great post!
    Hugs, Z.

    Liked by 1 person

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