HAHAT Blog Tour, Rhys Ford

Rotgut Gin: A Sinner’s Gin Ficlet by Rhys Ford for the Hop Against Homophobia, Bi- and Transphobia

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Support for the LGBT community and the HAHBAT tour continues today with a special look back at Miki, Damie, and the Sinner’s Gin boys. I’m so honored to be able to share this with you, so enjoy! And then be sure to check out the giveaway below.

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Rotgut Gin by Rhys Ford

Four damned sinners went into the rain
Strings bleeding red, soaking up their pain.
Sky fell apart, piercing their souls,
Night closed down, shadows filling the holes.
One woke up, And then there were two
Sun came back out, the sky black and blue
Too bright to be warm, too sharp to be kind,
Missing twin shadows, by the two left behind.

— Four Sinners Gone Walking

 

“Get the fuck in, Damie!” Johnny screamed out of the driver’s window, tapping the brakes of their van to slow the vehicle down enough for Damien to jump in through the open back doors.

Miki lost his grip on an amp, catching it before it skidded out of the back. Damie was a foot behind the van, his jeans down low on his hips, a peek of hair caught on the scrunched elastic of his underwear. He nearly lost his jeans, letting one hand go to grab at Miki’s fingers. His undone fly flapped back and Damie stumbled.

The alley was tight, jogging left suddenly, and Damien nearly hit the wall with the turn. Screaming at Johnny, Damie looked over his shoulder, ducking to avoid a dumpster lid. “Don’t stop! I’ll catch up!”

“Brake!” Miki shouted back at Johnny. “Fucking stop the damned van for a fucking minute.”

Johnny chanced a look over his shoulder. “Don’t got a fucking minute, Sinjun!”

Dave pounded at the back of the front passenger seat, urging Damie on. Something boomed from the alley behind them and one of the back doors lost a window, scattering glass in Damie’s path.

“Shit!” Johnny’s New York accent broke, going guttural and hot. “Hold on!”

Johnny hit the brakes, smoking up the van’s tires. Caught off guard, Damie slammed into the back deck, cutting him across his stomach. Grabbing Damie’s shirt, Miki hauled him in, reaching down to snag at Damie’s falling jeans and giving a good yank.

“Go! Go!” Miki screamed towards the front of the van. Johnny hit the gas and the van doors slammed shut, narrowly missing Damie’s bare feet. Panting in the cramped space behind their equipment, Damie heaved a sigh of relief and shot Miki a cocky grin.

“Fuck, that’s what being a rock star is.” He crowed between gasps. Miki guessed he would have said more if the next shotgun blast hadn’t taken out the other rear window, deafening them all for a moment.

They were all panting, frightened down to their core. Damie’d disappeared for what felt like only a minute after they’d finished packing the van up, then the shouting began—the oh-so-familiar-yelling of Damien being caught with his pants down and screwing with someone else’s lover.

And as they usually did, Johnny started the van up and gunned the engine, ready to leave another town in their dust.

“Do we have to go back?” Dave shoved at his long hair, trying to get his silken mane under control. His sloe-dark eyes were narrowed, concern beetling his eyebrows in.

“Why the fuck would we want to go back to that?” Johnny gave their drummer a filthy look. “Are you trying to get us killed?”

“We got Damie. But if he was with a guy… then he’s going to be in trouble. We just can’t leave him there.” Dave turned around, leaning between the two front chairs. “Was it about you being with a guy? Did we leave someone back there to deal with this by himself? Do we have to go back, Damie?”

Damien’s cocky grin faded, swept away by a bit of remorse and guilt. “Shit. Yeah. Yeah, we do.”

§§§§§

They found the young man—barely out of boyhood—lying in a puddle of his own blood. His face’d been worked over, his ribs pounded on but thankfully, he wasn’t riddled with holes. He’d run his shoes off, or perhaps one of his attackers took them. Either way, his feet were bare and muddy.

Johnny’d circled the van around, back to where Damie’d been with the slender blond, cutting the headlights when they spotted a group of large guys, laughing and slapping one another on the back. The van grew very quiet, and Miki’s stomach churned from fear. He spotted the young man first, curled up into a ball against a dumpster. Damie was out of the van before Johnny could throw it into park, and Miki followed hot on his heels, unsure about what to do.

It was a shitty eighteenth birthday for Miki, but he’d woken that morning knowing he was free. He didn’t have to look over his shoulder for Vega anymore, and it’d been months since he’d last run from the law. The state of California no longer owned his ass, could no longer pimp it out to some asshole with a kink for little boys and the money to satiate it.

Miki St. John was finally fucking free.

It’d been a day spent hauling around equipment and singing his throat raw for three sets. Their celebration backstage had been shots of Jack and a Hostess cupcake with a candle in it. There’d been other cupcakes, but that one with the candle had a layer of frosting on it and rainbow sprinkles. He’d sucked out the crème inside and left the cake and frosting for Damien, chasing the sweet down with a burn of whiskey.

The young man lying on the alley’s cement ground didn’t look much older than Miki.

“Shit, I’ve taken worse,” Miki muttered under his breath.

The other three didn’t understand—no, Damie understood—but Johnny and Dave were brought up in a land of white picket fences, backyard BBQs and Sunday dinners. They’d swam in pools in the summer and went begging for candy in the fall when they were still young, cute and fit into store-bought superhero costumes.

“Let’s get him in the van,” Dave said, unbuckling his seat belt. “We need to get him some help.”

“He’s not dead.” Miki pointed out. The other two merely looked at him, twin blank stares he didn’t want to counter with his brand of common sense. “Good thing, right? Let me get some towels. Rug back here’s fucked up enough without getting blood on it.”

There was an argument, mostly from the young man about going to the hospital. He didn’t want to. Damie, Johnny and Dave insisted. He shoved at them, shouting for them to mind their own business. Told them to fuck off and die, to leave him alone, but the three packed him up carefully and laid him into the van’s rear seats.

If there was one thing Sinner’s Gin was good at, it was packing stuff up and carting it off.

Even if the it was a young man who fought them all the way in.

The hospital stank of dead skin and alcohol, a taint of fake lemon added in for extra zest. An ER nurse gave them the hairy eyeball when they came in, asking if the blond guy slung over Johnny and Damie’s shoulders was impaired in any way.

His missing front teeth and a burbling moan of pain pushed her into action, and the blond was gone before Miki could blink. He’d slunk outside to wait, thinking the others would stay. They didn’t. Instead, they shadowed Miki’s steps, lurking outside of the ER, a murder of crows waiting to see if their victim of circumstance survived.

“How much money do we have?” Damien asked Dave, lighting a clove he’d stolen from Miki. They all hunkered around the van, pulled up as close to the smoking area as possible and stared at the emergency room doors. “I don’t know shit about him. Suppose he needs help?”

“For his bill?” Dave made a face. “I don’t know if we have that much.”

“You’re asking us to fork over hotel room money for a kid you fucked and left?” Johnny stepped away from the canister of sand he’d just stubbed a Chesterfield into. The three of them sat silent, staring at their bassist. Johnny sighed, flinging his hands up in the air to surrender. “Seriously, you’re bi. Can’t you fuck women when we’re in places like this? Bad enough we’ve got to worry about jealous boyfriends. You fuck a guy? And we’re sitting there running from assholes who want to kill you because you like to suck dick.”

“Do we got the money or not?” Damien ignored Johnny, pressing in on Dave.

“I don’t know.” Their drummer was the smartest with cash. Miki knew he couldn’t do it, manage their finances. He was barely useful grabbing snacks when they gassed up. “Maybe. Depends on how much.”

“And don’t get on my case, Johnny. Those fucking assholes back there came at us screaming about faggots and homos. Don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know they wanted to bash some heads in. I went one way, he went the other. I told him to follow me.” Damie turned and Miki caught the glitter in his blue eyes. His brother was either going to cry or lose his temper. It was fifty-fifty. Tears won and he blinked furiously, thinning his lips out as he met Miki’s gaze. “It’ll be okay, Sinjun. He wasn’t that bad. Not like…”

“Yeah, I’ve seen worse.” Miki’d been worse. Lost teeth were nothing. The guy’s chest wasn’t whistling every time he breathed, and he hadn’t choked on his own tongue or blood. As beatings went, it was one he’d walk away from. “Fucking crappy, though. Shouldn’t have to bleed just because you’re—”

“It’s a shitty part of town. You’re going to get the shit kicked out of you just for being there,” Damien spat. “They could have fucked with anyone. They just happened to choose us.”

They were in a shitty part of town. But then, they were always in shitty parts of every town they found gigs. They’d come a long way from playing at street gigs and sidestages. They were headlining at small clubs, building up their name, and selling CDs out of a cardboard box. Motel rooms were a luxury at times, sometimes eating a meal sitting down was a celebration.

Gas was their first priority, followed by strings and the occasional roll of duct tape. What none of them was saying out loud was they couldn’t afford to pay for the blond’s medical bills. Not if they were going to make it to their next gig.

Sitting in the van’s side door well, Miki shook out a kretek from his dwindling pack. Damien’d practically chain smoked the black cigarettes since they’d parked the van, waiting for something—someone—to show up for the young man they’d brought in.

He didn’t like hospitals. There were too many questions and too little sympathy. It would have been better if one of them were actually inside, but Miki knew if he brought it up, it was as good as volunteering to go in.

“What the fuck are we doing here, D?” Johnny reached past Miki to get to the cooler they stashed behind the rear seats. “We should be gone already. We got him here.”

Everything else in the van’d been pulled out to make room for their equipment, and the Econoline was barely big enough to hold everything, but they’d made room for a small rolling ice chest, packing it with cheap soda and water bottles. An ice slurry dripped off of a bottle Johnny pulled out, a cold wet dribble finding the back of Miki’s neck.

“Hey, fucking watch it. Shit, that’s cold.” He shoved at Johnny, a light reproach. The lean bassist retaliated, shoving the bottle against Miki’s throat before dancing away. “Fucker.”

“Close the lid,” Dave drawled. “But yeah, Damie, what do you want us to do here? It’s nearly morning and—”

A sleek, champagne gold sedan pulled into the parking lot, finding a space near the entrance. Its brake lights were still on, but the car’s passenger, a middle-aged blonde woman, hurriedly got out, leaving the door open. She rushed across the crosswalk and was through the ER’s sliding doors before the driver, a tall man with silvering brown hair, got out. He checked out the band, dismissing them with a turn of his shoulder before closing the passenger side door. Following the woman slowly, he didn’t glance back as he set the car’s alarm.

“Betcha that’s for the guy. He’s the only one in ER, right?” Johnny cracked open his water, playing with the lid.

“You should go check, D,” Miki said softly. Damien shot him a look and Miki glared right back. “It could have been you in there. Or worse. And then we’d be scrambling for the money for sure. Go the fuck in and take care of it.”

“In a little bit,” Damien muttered, pacing across the van. “Fuck. This is… so screwed up.”

“Here’s my question. The two of you are gay. You love him. Shit, you two always share the same bed in the hotel room, leaving me with this Cajun asshole.” Johnny jerked at Dave.

“I’m not Cajun. That’s like my saying you’re from Jersey,” Dave interjected.

“Yeah, whatever. Somewhere down there with sweet tea and bugs the size of our fucking van. The thing is, you’ve got Miki. Why the hell don’t the two of you just become fuck buddies, and we don’t have to worry about this kind of shit anymore?”

A part of Miki’s brain threw up, spreading its sour bile through his body. Gagging at the thought of putting his mouth anywhere near Damien’s cock, Miki scraped at his tongue with his teeth. Reaching into the still open cooler, Miki scooped out a handful of ice and flung it at Johnny, pelting his face and chest.

“Hey!” He couldn’t dodge the second handful, catching most of it down the front of his neck. “Cut it out!”

“You do know we’re brothers, right?” Damien leaned against a light post, taking another drag from his clove. “It’d be like me fucking you just ‘cause you’ve got a dick and asshole. Not going to happen.”

“I’m not gay.” Johnny muttered, warding Miki off with a spread of his hands in front of him. “And you’re damned fucking right that’s not going to happen. You’d stick your dick into a dead possum if you thought you’d get off.”

“I’m not attracted to you either. You don’t make my dick hard, Johnny. Sinjun doesn’t either. And that’s not how we are.” Damie took one last draw on his cigarette, then tossed it into the butt canister. “I’m going to go in and see if they came for… shit, I don’t even know his name. I’ll be right back.”

Dave tsked at Johnny as Damie jogged across the parking lot and into the ER. “I love you, man, but sometimes you’re really fucking stupid.”

“It was a fucking good question.” Johnny shook out his t-shirt, partially melted ice cubes dropping out of its depths. “Shit, Sinjun. I’m soaked here.”

“Should be glad I didn’t pitch a fucking can at your head.” Miki leaned back on his hands, his bony shoulder blades pressed into the back seat’s side. “People aren’t just holes, J. Not like you screw every chick you see just because she’s there.”

“Not that they’d have him,” Dave pointed out, his honey smooth baritone hot with sarcasm.

“It just would be… Jesus, fucking guys after the show doesn’t always end too good. How many fucking times are we going to be shoving gig money in our pockets and hauling ass out of town because Damie’s got his dick sucked behind the club? One day someone bigger and faster’s going to get a hold of him, and we’re going to be missing our lead fucking guitarist.”

“Won’t always be like that.” The Southerner pulled an elastic tie off of his bony wrist. Scraping his hair back into a ponytail, he secured it tight against his scalp. “Maybe one day we’ll even see Sinjun here hooked up with someone.”

“Not bloody fucking likely,” Miki snorted. “That kind of shit? Not going to happen for me. Can you imagine the loser who’d have to put up with my shit? Damie barely does and he fucking loves me like a brother. That’s brother, J. Siblings. Whatever other fucking seven-dollar word you can come up with, that’ll be it.”

“It just… I get scared sometimes, you know?” Johnny’s voice dropped, a raspy whisper painted with skyscrapers and big apples. “You guys are like… pieces of me. It’d fucking kill me if we lost one. You know?”

“Yeah, I know,” Miki murmured. He was the youngest of their band, the baby in a pack of kick-ass musicians. There was never going to be a time when he didn’t wake up astonished he was a part of them—that he fit into their pieces and parts as if they’d been made for him. Even in the middle of their arguing, it was a comfort. He knew he could say anything, do anything and they’d be right there with him.

No matter what.

“Someday, no one’s going to give a shit about Damie or anyone else sticking their dick into whomever they want to. Or… whatever there is to stick or suck.” Dave ruffled Miki’s hair, then snagged himself a Coke, closing the lid afterwards. “Someday people are going to start minding their own shit, caring for the person next to them instead of trying to tear them down. And yeah, Sinjun, one day you’re going to find someone who’ll want to wake up next to you—hopefully without Damien in the same bed—and that guy’s going to love you. Just you. You’ll see.”

“Right,” Miki sneered.

“I’ll bet you a shot of rotgut moonshine on it,” Dave said, saluting Miki. “Hell, I’d bet both of you on it. One day, when you wake up and find yourself in the middle of a family situation, you come by my place with some bathtub gin, and we’ll get drunk off the ‘shine. All of us.”

§§§§§

It was cold and wet in Cypress Park. Miki shivered despite the thick wool of his black peacoat, stepping out of the GTO as Damien angled the car’s tires against the grade. Retrieving a small package from the back, Miki met his brother’s gaze across the seats.

“You ready?” Damien’s question held too much weight, too many barbs sharp enough to hook down into Miki’s soul. “Took you this long to do this. We can come back when it’s warmer if you want.”

“No, I owe him, you know?” The paper bag crinkled loudly as he adjusted it over the glass jar inside. “Let’s do this.”

The walk was a long one for Miki and his knee, especially in the cold. They climbed up a rise to where a pair of angels stretched their wings and arms up to Heaven, their breath misting around their heads. The statues were elegant, sweet-faced and barefooted, marble twins seeking serenity under San Francisco’s stormy grey skies. Flowers, teddy bears and other tokens were strewn about the memorial’s large circular base and the bronze plaque set into the front was worn around the edges from rubbings.

Miki didn’t need to read the names written there. The memorial had been his idea, and he’d been thankful for the families’ gift of two handfuls of ashes so a piece of the men he’d loved could be where they’d all become one. He needed something to anchor them to him, needed a place to go to when he wanted to talk out his misery. From the scatter of things around the base of the statue, a lot of other people felt the exact same way.

“Notice there’s not one for me.” Damien teased. “Only two angels. But then, of the three of us? I’m the furthest thing from an angel we’ve got.”

“I wasn’t ready for you to be dead,” Miki replied softly. “And apparently, you weren’t fucking ready for it either. So shut the fuck up and help me do this.”

The mason jar lid was hard to get off but Miki got it loose. The liquid inside was mostly clear, but a bit of vanilla bean they’d tossed in there for good measure floated at the bottom, sienna specks clinging to the edges. Despite the fragrant addition, the gin stank of regret and sin.

“You got them?” Miki held the bottle carefully.

“Yeah, but pretty sure you could just dump out a bit. Careful, though. That shit’s going to eat right through the fucking marble.” Damien dug four shot glasses out of his jacket pockets. Holding them upright, he hissed when Miki sloshed a bit of the liquid on his fingers. “I’m…meeeelting. Seriously, this shit smells like jet fuel.”

“Fucker. Stop that.” Miki took two of the shot glasses and set them at the angels’ feet, patting at the base before pulling back. Grasping the one Damien passed him, he lifted it up towards the plaque. “This took too damned long, Dave, but I had to learn how to fucking make moonshine. And then it had to be good enough to at least choke down.

“You were right. About a guy. About Kane. You were always fucking right, and I hope right now you’re out there laughing your fucking ass off because of it.” Miki blinked away his tears. “But maybe, one day…soon… we won’t have to worry about two boys kissing or two girls holding hands. Maybe soon. Kiss Johnny for us. Because that’ll piss him off.”

“Amen.” Raising his glass, Damien muttered.“To the two who left us behind.”

“Fuckers.” Miki grinned, then downed his shot, choking as he swallowed. “Fucking hell, bastard knew this was going to burn going down. That’s why he did it, I’m sure.”

“Eating crow hurts, Sinjun. Hurts like hell.” Damien pulled his brother into a tight hug, and Miki clung just as tightly back, cut open from the bet he’d made. “Just like this fucking gin you’ve made.”

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!rhys_ford_headshotAbout the Author: Rhys Ford was born and raised in Hawai’i then wandered off to see the world. After chewing through a pile of books, a lot of odd food, and a stray boyfriend or two, Rhys eventually landed in San Diego, which is a very nice place but seriously needs more rain.

Rhys admits to sharing the house with three cats of varying degrees of black fur and a ginger cairn terrorist. Rhys is also enslaved to the upkeep a 1979 Pontiac Firebird, a Toshiba laptop, and an overworked red coffee maker.

My Blog | Facebook | Twitter

And at the Starbucks down the street. No really, they’re 24/7. And a drive-thru. It’s like heaven.

My books can be purchased, folded and first chapters read at Dreamspinner Press.

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Giveaways

As a special thanks to all of you for following along on the Hop Against Homophobia, Bi- and Transphobia, The Novel Approach is offering the chance at a couple of ways to win some great prizes. In case you missed the first giveaway, you can find that HERE.

For today’s giveaway, The Novel Approach is offering one reader the chance to win an e-title from Rhys Ford’s Backlist (Winner’s Choice), or an e-copy of her June 5, 2015 release Murder and Mayhem (to be delivered upon release), as well as a $25 Gift Card at Dreamspinner Press. Just click the Rafflecopter Widget to enter.

Good luck!

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HAHABT 2015

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HAHAT Blog Tour

The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia 2015

HAHABT 2015Welcome to The Novel Approach. I’m so glad you’ve made us a stop on your tour of HAHBAT participating blogs this year. If you’ve followed TNA for any amount of time at all, you’ll know I don’t blog much (if ever). While I do have opinions on far too many things, I also understand that sometimes it’s just as well to keep those opinions to myself. The site isn’t set up to be my personal platform, nor is it a forum to court controversy, but, as Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” And that’s why The Novel Approach participates each year in the Hop Against Homophobia, Bi- and Transphobia—because to be silent in the face of discrimination is akin to condoning it.

Before I begin, please let me start by saying that what I’ve written this year has no small amount of anger and frustration behind it—not only from the standpoint of a parent but from that of a human being as well. And while I’m going to talk religion, this article has nothing at all to do with the broad-brush disparagement of anyone’s faith. I was born, baptized, and raised a churched child, and though I stopped participating in an organized religion many years ago, that doesn’t mean I ceased to be my own brand of spiritual person. There are still certain tenets I learned as a child and believe in wholeheartedly, none of them having to do with following any one God, per se, but simply having to do with making every effort to be a decent person. And while I happily acknowledge there are churches that have become more inclusive and forward-thinking in recent years, it can’t be denied there is still a great deal of difficulty for some individuals in delineating the difference between living biblically and living only the certain parts of the Bible it’s convenient to obey, and only when the idea suits, while ignoring the rest. And that’s my issue, the one I’m discussing today—not religion but the ways in which some people choose to practice it while claiming the mantle of righteousness.

As I aged out of my parental-influenced mindset of allegiance to and belief in a single, omnipotent, omnipresent God, and began to examine and question the conflicting messages within biblical doctrine, as well as discovering a disappointing hypocrisy between The Word and my reality, it altered the way I view the world and the way I’m raising my children. There was an op/ed published not long ago in the LA Times titled “How Secular Family Values Stack Up” (See also: “Americans Becoming More Secular”). In brief, these articles introduce the emergence of a growing segment of the American population, the Nones, the name that’s been assigned to those of us who don’t believe in or practice any one organized faith. They are people like my husband and I, perhaps you too, who believe it’s possible to live a moral and grounded life based on, among other things, the ethic of reciprocity—treating others the way you wish to be treated. In Christianity it’s called the Golden Rule, though that term wasn’t coined until the 1670s, and is a maxim found in almost every known religion, in one form or another. The words may be different, but the meaning of them is the same—respect in others the sense of Self you want others to respect in you.

Again, let me reiterate that I am not opening this up as a forum to condemn anyone’s faith, nor to belittle those who believe. Even we Nones can credit the foundation of our children’s moral teachings to some form of theology—thou shalt not kill, steal; judge not lest ye be judged; let he who is without sin cast the first stone—those are valuable points on every moral compass, are lessons I learned myself as a churched child, and though my own children aren’t learning those lessons in a Sunday school classroom or in a church pew, they are still being taught them because these things are imperative to a positive and productive life. Where we Nones are diverging from the path of organized religion, however, is that rather than believing in these ideals because it’s what we’re taught we must believe and obey in order to fit into the definition of any given religion, we’re independently incorporating these principles into a framework of ideals which includes humanism: def. – a system of values and beliefs that is based on the idea that people are basically good and that problems can be solved using reason instead of religion. – Source: Merriam-Webster.

As my own family grew, and my children grew older, I became more attuned to the inherent failing in the mindset of the blindly faithful: there is a danger that exists in the practice of parents who raise their children in an environment that diminishes and dismisses other’s beliefs and ideals and individuality, where parents allow what they’ve been taught to believe on blind faith to supersede compassion and decency and common sense. The sad truth is that as long as there is a single throwaway child, as long as there is a single Leelah Alcorn who is taught they are an abomination because it’s been preached from the pulpit without rational or tangible supporting evidence to uphold it, we, as parents and as a society, have failed on a scale that cannot be excused or overlooked. As adults, as parents, and as human beings, it is our single greatest offense—the failure to champion our children in the face of hatred—and is inexcusable to me that these same parents will fight for the rights of the unborn but not for the life of a child, their own child, who has been brought into the world and so desperately needs wisdom, courage, strength, and understanding. When we become parents, we don’t do so under certain conditions. There is no template that guarantees our children will be a perfect amalgamation of our DNA which dictates they will look, act, behave, think, or become a clone of us. It is, however, a perfect amalgamation of ignorance and dogmatic acceptance of learned prejudice which will continue to overwhelm the reality that children are not taught gender or sexuality by their parents, society, or religion. And it is this ignorance on the part of parents which will continue to foster the belief in too many children that the only way they can be heard is to silence their own voices. Because what speaks louder to our own parental narcissism than an LGBT child who would rather take his or her own life than to live with parents whose love and acceptance comes with conditions?

I don’t rage often, but this… this makes me want to rage for the loss and abandonment of every one of those children because, if we want to get down to the hair-splitting truth, it breaks one of the Ten Commandments: Thou shalt not steal. When a child is robbed of his or her chance at a future, when a child’s identity is stolen from them without regard for that child as an individual, when a child’s dignity is stripped from them simply because of their biological design, we have not only robbed that child of their humanity but have robbed the world of the positive impact they might have made one day. It places greater value on the rhetoric than it does on the life of that child, and it is an utter betrayal of what we accept as our duty when we create and bring a life into being—not to forsake that child. We cannot bring children into this world and then punish them for being who they were born to be. This isn’t religion. It’s not spirituality. It’s not morality. This is the soul-withering defeat of common sense. Sexuality is biology, it’s not ideology, and it is one of the most indefensible moral failures a parent can commit: to choose the dogma over their own flesh and blood. I cannot, for the life of me, understand how allowing a child to die because they don’t fit into the religious definition of normal or acceptable can be called faith. As far as I’m concerned, this is one of the greatest sins any human being can perpetuate—the sin of bringing a child into the world, then abandoning that child when all they need is to be loved and accepted and understood.

Herein lies the problem and why I personally could no longer place my own faith in any one God—the faith that only one Faith is the right one, which leaves little room for hearts and minds to be open to other possibilities. So, as Dr. King said, we who want to spread a message of tolerance and understanding should never be silent. The Hop Against Homophobia, Bi- and Transphobia, while it is, perhaps, a bit of preaching to the choir, it is also important. LGBT friendly blogs and authors and readers are the vast majority of the participants and audience, but if even one –phobe sees a post during this tour, they will know we won’t be silent in our support of love and equality. Even if we don’t change a heart that says it knows Jesus but practices nothing in the way of “do unto others as you would have others do unto you,” we still must speak. I was taught, in all my years of Sunday schooling and churching, that Jesus Is Love, but sadly, that message has been lost in translation by some who show a stunning penchant for hate and intolerance. This is the reason I left the church all those years ago—because the message began to conflict with my own understanding of the world I wanted to live in.

Call me a godless liberal, call me a bleeding heart. I’m an adult and can take it. But don’t believe for a moment that my children, who are being raised by Nones, will ever fear they are unwanted, unloved, or unheard, and never because of who they happen to fall in love with some day. There is no religious designation—Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, or any other spiritual practice—that should supersede our commitment to our children. Leelah Alcorn’s voice has been silenced, but her message is still being heard loud and clear around the world. I only wish she were here to see there are plenty of parents who’d have loved and accepted her for who she was.

There is an outcry today that there’s a war on Christianity in this country. Trust me, I’m from Indiana, I know all about the hue and cry. My counterargument to these accusations is simply this: a resounding no, the war in this country is not on religion, the war is on intolerance and discrimination. If a religion permits or encourages its followers to be intolerant bigots, then yes, welcome to the trenches, my friend, there may be tough times ahead. But one need look no further than the ballot initiative in California that calls for murdering homosexuals, or the lawsuit filed in Nebraska against homosexuals on behalf of God and His son Jesus Christ, or the RFRA bill so recently signed into law here in Indiana, giving businesses the right to discriminate indiscriminately, to conclude the real war being waged these days isn’t against religion, it’s against common sense and compassion and simple human decency.

Dividers

Giveaways

Boy Meets BoyTo mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia, and to celebrate its message of acceptance and inclusion, I want to give one of you the chance to win a book that brings my message home: the message of acceptance and inclusion.

David Levithan’s singular novel Boy Meets Boy was published in 2003, but its message is timeless. The story takes place in a town and at a school where Paul, the story’s narrator, and every other LGBT kid knows it’s okay to be exactly who they are. It may sound like a fantasy, but I believe it’s a message that needs to be heard by everyone, adults and kids alike, and is a reality every child deserves. Not to mention the fact it’s an utterly charming and disarming novel.

To one entrant, I’m offering the chance to win an e-copy of Boy Meets Boy but because I also want you to listen to the absolutely stellar audio performance of the book by Nicholas Robideau and the Full Cast Family, I’m offering a 3 month Audible gift membership (a $45 value) to one winner.**

Just click on the Rafflecopter widget to enter.

Good luck!

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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Guest Contributor, HAHAT Blog Tour, Jaime Samms

Our HAHAT 2014 Blog Tour Concludes Today With Jaime Samms And A Giveaway


8f412-hahat2b2014The Novel Approach would like to extend a final thank you to everyone who has followed along, commented, and participated in any way in the Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

A very special thank you goes to B. Addler, Kade Boehme, and to Jaime Samms for allowing us to share their stories with all of you.

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED
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Dreamspinner Press, HAHAT Blog Tour, Kade Boehme

HAHAT 2014 Continues With A Guest Post By Kade Boehme And A Giveaway


Please welcome our second contributor to The Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia, Kade Boehme. Kade shares a very personal story about his own coming out with us today, and there’s also another chance to win a $20 Gift Card for Dreamspinner Press (the first can be found HERE – Deadline Midnight PT 5/21/14).

THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED.

And now, here’s Kade:
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Aleksandr Voinov, Brita Addams, Cara Dee, Con Riley, GayRomLit, HAHAT Blog Tour, Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia, Jaime Samms, Jeremy Scott Blaustein, Kade Boehme, L. Dean Pace-Frech, L.A. Witt, Leta Blake, Rhys Ford, Rick R. Reed, Sarah Granger, Sneak Peek, Suki Fleet, Susan Mac Nicol

Here’s A Sneak Peek At A Busy Week!


Hi, everyone, I hope you’ve all had a great week. We’ve got loads of good stuff coming up in the week ahead, including a couple more guest posts to celebrate the Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia and another Countdown to GayRomLit guest visit. Watch for some great articles, interviews, giveaways, and reviews.

But first, I have an introduction to make. As all of you know by now, the LGBT reviewing community is about to lose one of its staunchest supporters, Becky Condit. Mrs. Condit Reads Books will be closing its virtual doors on May 31, 2014, and though it will be a great loss, The Novel Approach is making an equally great gain. Jules Lovestoread will be joining our crew, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to have her with us, so, without further ado, here’s a little intro to our very own Jules:

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week, A.J. Corza, Bey Deckard, Chase Potter, Devon McCormack, HAHAT Blog Tour, Hunter Frost, JP Kenwood, K.C. Wells, Max Vos

Here’s A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week


Hi, everyone, and welcome back! We’ve got more great guests and interviews coming up, and we’re also playing host, for our third consecutive year, to the Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia. If you’ve never followed along on this tour before, make sure to check out the list of all the participating authors/bloggers/publishers. It’s an informative and uplifting experience. Add to that some more giveaways and reviews, and it’s shaping up to be a great time.

Here’s the complete rundown on what we’ve got on tap for the week ahead.

MondayJP Kenwood kicks off the week with her historical novel Dominus, as well as an interview and giveaway

TuesdayKC Wells is our guest today on the Love Lessons Learned Blog Tour. She sat down to answer a few questions for us, so make sure to stay tuned for that, as well as a tour-wide giveaway

WednesdayMax Vos stops in on his V Unit Blog Tour, and there’ll also be a tour-wide giveaway for you

A.J. Corza’s back today with another installment of Got You Covered

ThursdayDevon McCormack is dropping by to do give us the lowdown on his book Clipped, and he’s offering a giveaway

FridayChase Potter is our guest on the blog tour for his new book The Race for Second, and there’s a giveaway

SaturdayThe Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia kicks off with a special guest post from my friend B. Addler, who talks about something that’s not in the tour title but is no less prevalent, Biphobia

Hunter Frost is also with us today to talk about her story in Torquere Press’ upcoming Men in Uniform anthology, and she’ll also be offering a giveaway

SundayBey Deckard is our guest today with an interview that makes me want to hoist the Jolly Roger and parlay on the poop deck! I dunno… it sounded good. Bey’s also offering a giveaway of his book Caged: Love and Treachery on the High Seas, so stay tuned

And that rounds out the week ahead. Until next week, happy reading!

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