Oppressed oppressors: make America great like it was before The Homosexuals…

Face the Nation did a segment this weekend where they interviewed some Trump supporters and it was… special: Trump supporter tells CBS: He will make America great again like it was before ‘the homosexuals’. We’ll come back to the bit that made it into the headline. I’m just continually confused by people like these (and a whole bunch of my rightwing relatives), who keep insisting that Trump is the Christian candidate. Insisting that Trump is going to lead the country to a place of morality (with the corollary claim that the country is deeply immoral now).

So they want to elect a serial philandering racist tax cheat who scams retirees out of their Social Security checks with a fake university, breaks contracts and refuses to pay his bills without a hint of remorse, and brags about walking into dressing rooms filled with naked fifteen-year-olds.

I just don’t quite understand how anyone can make a statement like the woman in the Face the Nation video can even talk with a straight face about a time “before abortions and the homosexuals.”

Humans have been performing abortions since ancient times. There’s a section of the old testament (that gets mistranslated rather hilariously), which instructs husbands who believe their pregnant wives have been unfaithful to take the women to the temple so that the rabbis can abort the baby, for instance. Abortion was happening in the U.S. at an alarming rate in the 1950s and 1960s when it was illegal, for instance: 200,000 to 1.2 million per year, resulting in as many as 5,000 American women dying annually as a direct result of unsafe abortions.

And queer people have been around for as long as there have been people. And humans are not the only species on the planet with queer members.

What she and people like her really mean, of course, is not a time before queer people existed, but a time when queer people weren’t treated as human. When we could be fired, thrown in jail, and so on just because of who we loved. When there were arcane laws that made it illegal for a bartender to knowingly serve alcohol to more than one homosexual (yes, the laws actually said it was okay to have one fag in your bar at a time, but no more!).

But it wasn’t just that queers were beaten to death with impunity and subject to jail time and fines for who they loved. In many states and towns it was literally illegal for women to wear pants in public or for men to wear a dress (one of those laws in a town in New Jersey wasn’t overturned until 2014, by the way!). And the laws were usually pretty vague. It was a crime to appear “in public a clothing not belonging to his or her sex.” Which makes me wonder about the sort of suit jacket thing the woman in that video is wearing, no?

Remember it was also illegal in most states for a woman to refuse sex to her husband until such laws began to be repealed in the 1970s. Note: even if a couple were in the midst of a divorce, legally separated, and the husband broke into the home the wife was staying in and forced himself on her, she couldn’t charge him with rape. Heck, under current law some states there has to be proof of physical violence of an aggravated level before it can be called rape.

And it was a time when it was illegal in many places for people of different races to marry.

And these things are all related. There are reasons that abortion rulings were referenced in early court cases about sodomy laws. Ultimately, laws about abortion, homosexuality, marriage, and even how people dress are all about making sure that some people’s bodies (women, racial minorities, religious minorities) are under the control of other people (white Anglo Saxon Protestant men). In that time before The Homosexuals, America was not a place where woman could dress as they wished, where woman could kiss or refuse to kiss who they wished, or where anyone outside of very narrow definitions or situations could love or get intimate with another consenting adult.

It wasn’t a better time for anyone who wasn’t a straight, cisgender, white guy… or a person considered under their protection (control).

Friday Links (bad hombres edition)

For those times when just acting like a dick isn't enough, now you can smell like one.

For those times when just acting like a dick isn’t enough, now you can smell like one.

It’s a Friday! And it’s the third Friday in October! Halloween is sooooooo close!

I’m still trying to recover from the cold/flu thing, so I haven’t had much energy to do anything other than work.

Anyway, here are links to some of the interesting things I read on the web this week, sorted into various topic areas.

Links of the Week

Why I Was a Teenage Hoarder. “only some compulsive hoarding is comprised of the need to acquire; many hoarders are driven only by the need to retain.”

“They Were Taken Alive, We Want Them Back Alive!” (Artists for Empathy, Part 2).

This Week in Restoring Our Faith in Humanity

City says liens against Pulse nightclub property will be nixed.

This week in mildly unnerving

Hospital Ward Gripped by Mysterious Hallucinations Quarantined After Five Fall Ill.

This week in Comments, Trolls, and Wankers

A third of pro-Trump tweets are generated by bots.

Twitter’s troll problem likely killed Disney’s bid.

Anti-Semitic Posts, Many From Trump Supporters, Surge on Twitter.

This Week in Difficult to Classify

The white flight of Derek Black: one man’s journey out of White Supremacy.

Voices From Wells Fargo: ‘I Thought I Was Having a Heart Attack’.

News for queers and our allies:

The most important gay rights case since marriage equality was won.

LBGT Students Are Not Safe at School.

New survey finds more U.S. cities protecting LGBTQ rights.


Hillary Clinton: “It is important that we not reverse marriage equality”.

Thousands of Men to Be Pardoned for Gay Sex, Once a Crime in Britain.

The Gay Film That Survived the Nazis Is Premiering in NYC.


5 Ways to Deal With a Psychopath.

A possible ninth planet may be the reason for a tilt in our solar system.

Radio galaxies: the mysterious, secretive “beasts” of the Universe.

Biggest map of giant voids and clusters in the universe solves major cosmological puzzle.

‘Extremely rare’ ancient swordfish fossils unearthed in outback Queensland.

Science Fiction, Fantasy and Speculation!

Mary W. Shelley: Life After the Monster.

GeekGirlCon Seattle 2016.

This week in Writing

Ann Leckie: On Blacklisting.

This Week in Tech

Samsung Issues Takedown On Video Of Grand Theft Auto 5 Mod Turning Galaxy Note 7 Into A Weapon.

Samsung sets up airport kiosks for last-minute Galaxy Note 7 exchanges.


This Week in Inclusion

There were enough women outlaws in the old west to justify an entire nonfiction comic series.

This week in Topics Most People Can’t Be Rational About

First criminal case filed from Washington state’s two year old background check law.

Culture war news:

After Pulse, coalition wants to drive change on gun laws.

GOP State Lawmakers Sign Brief Opposing Same-Sex Benefits.

Outrageous! Felony Charges Given to Journalist Filming Anti-Pipeline Protest.

How Trump Took Hate Groups Mainstream.

Louisiana attorney general wins court victory in fight against gay rights order.

Memo For The NY Times – The US Has Inequality, Not Child Poverty.

‘Calm down, dear’: how bishops talk down to gay people – by leading bishop.

Hyperpartisan Facebook Pages Are Publishing False And Misleading Information At An Alarming Rate.

This Week Regarding the Lying Liar:

Keep America Great!

Keep America Great!

Burning Down the House.

How Trump’s Casino Bankruptcies Screwed His Workers out of Millions in Retirement Saving.

Trump Incorrectly Blames Clinton Campaign For Rally Violence.

Hillary Clinton’s 3 debate performances left the Trump campaign in ruins.

This week in Politics:

‘Rigged?’ Western PA Republican circulates fake meme about online voting in PA.

Miami Herald recommends Patrick Murphy for U.S. Senate.

Inequality Defines the American Election.

Why Was There No LGBT Question in the Debates?

RNC Warns Against Poll Watching, Citing Decades-Old Court Decree.

The American Public Overwhelmingly Sides with Clinton over Trump on Immigration Policy and Politics.

This Week in Racism

How Interracial Romance ‘Loving’ Became the Most Relevant Movie This Election Season. Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton star in the true-life story of Richard and Mildred Loving, a Virginia couple arrested in 1958 for marrying.

New report details Trump-inspired surge in anti-Semitism.

This Week in Hate Crimes

‘Walking while trans’ can be a death sentence in the U.S..

This Week in Misogyny

The silver lining of Trump’s misogyny? More men are decrying his ways.

‘I refuse to be victimized anymore’: Former WA first lady on sexual harassment.


Think It’s #NotAllMen? These 4 Facts Prove You’re Just Plain Wrong.


Bhumibol, a King of the People, Leaves Them to the Generals.

Things I wrote:

Amazing and heart-wrenching: Cracked explains this election so accurately it hurts.

Judging or policing, or maybe just taking note.

False dichotomies: talking weather, mostly.

Trust the reader to keep up.


Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Sneak Peek:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

BAD HOMBRES, NASTY WOMEN (ft. “Weird Al” Yankovic):

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Cher: I Got You Bae:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Trust the reader to keep up

“The older I grow, the less important the comma becomes. Let the reader catch his own breath.” —Elizabeth Clarkson Zwart

“The older I grow, the less important the comma becomes. Let the reader catch his own breath.” —Elizabeth Clarkson Zwart

I don’t like expository dumps.

An expository dump (or info dump) is a “a very large amount of information supplied all at once, expecially as background information in a narrative.” That’s a rather academic definition, and like most language definitions, it contains subjective terms. Exposition is simply text that explains something. Narratives need a certain amount of exposition to work. What I object to is large chunks of explanation that stops the action of the story. For example, a few years ago I wrote about a fantasy novel I stopped reading because the third or fourth chapter of the book consisted entirely of one character lecturing another about the history of the world. That’s sloppy writing, at best.

I don’t have anything against exposition, per se. There’s a lot of expository writing in some of my favorite novels. Just earlier this week, for instance, I was reading in Nisi Shawl’s novel, Everfair (which is a non-eurocentric steampunk novel, so far), a description of a small train. The description gave us some hints of how the fictional world’s technology differs from our own history, gave us a sense of not just the look of one of the supporting characters, but his personality, and also had hints about the social strata of the country which the viewpoint character was visiting. But this wasn’t a long passage. It was only two paragraphs. And rather than prattling on for pages about the history of the country, it gave us a few tidbits of information from which we could infer more. And it isn’t just description. Something is happening: a supporting character is arriving to some anticipation of the viewpoint character.

In my own writing you will find very little exposition. To me, the heart of any story are the triumphs, failures, hopes, and fears of the characters moving through it. Yes, I’ve done a lot of world building. If you ask, I can go on an length about all sorts of things in the history of the fictional world where my fantasy novels are set. I have to know all of that stuff to tell stories. But most readers are interested only in a fraction of it.

No one wants to read a scene in which one character prattles on about how ten years ago when the previous emperor died, a group of traitorous nobles assassinated several of the heirs in an attempt to grab the throne for themselves, including the motives of each of the conspirators, who died and who survived. When it was important to the plot I’m writing now, I had one character mention “the succession crisis in the capitol year ago.” There was another point where that history was relevant to the reason one character was hostile to another, and was able to have just a few lines of the argument between those characters give a few more details. But those lines also moved the plot point that was happening right that moment along, and gave the reader some insight into the personalities of the two arguers (as well as a couple of other characters who were trying to get them to stop arguing and deal with the problem at hand).

I do that because I trust that readers are smart enough to put pieces together and build their own picture of the world. I don’t need the reader to visualize exactly how the stitching on a character’s clothing looks, or the precise shape of the filigree on a particular piece of furniture, or to keep track of which pillows are round and which are square in order to follow the story.

If I wanted to tell the story of the succession crisis, I would make the crisis itself the story. I’d pick one of the characters involved as my protagonist and tell the tale. But if it’s backstory, we don’t need all the details. Sure, it’s handy to know that in the present timeline, one particular vampire-like character was one of the failed conspirators who was cursed by someone who loved one of the murdered heirs (hey, it’s a fantasy universe, why can’t we have a good curse every now and then?). That tells you how the character wound up an evil parasitic undead, and gives you some hints as to how trustworthy he is going to be to his alleged allies in the current story. It may also help the reader understand his motives at later points in the tale. But I was able to convey that in a couple of lines of dialog and keep moving on with the current tale.

Not everyone is as comfortable without all the details as I am. I understand that. And there’s a part of me that always worries that I haven’t given readers enough clues. So sometimes I do something like write a whole chapter worth of flashback, which I read and re-read and argue with myself about whether it’s really needed and do I really want pull the reader out of the current story.

And eventually I usually figure out that if I tweaked some dialog over here, and add a small scene where two characters who weren’t aware of the past events find some of the aftermath, and realize that yes, I should trust the reader to figure it out and move those flashbacks over into my big file of background information that the reader is never going to see.

Because part of trusting the story is trusting the reader to not just to follow it. I want the reader caught up in the story I’m telling right now. I want the reader turning the pages as quickly as they can, breathlessly asking, “And then what happens?”

False dichotomies: talking weather, mostly

I love autumn. (source: travelization.net)

I love autumn. (source: travelization.net)

I love autumn. I love the leaves changing colors, the final blooms on lots of flowers, fruit forming on trees, cool drizzly mornings… not to mention decorating for Halloween, planning for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and other fun things.

I don’t like hot weather. Most anyone who knows me knows that. And I also really dislike snow: specifically having to slog through snow, deal with the way many drivers behave in snow (and how some seem to think that snow and ice give them permission to ignore pedestrians altogether), ice-slippery walkways, and so forth. And twice every year, when one of the other of those disliked kinds of weather are happening, and I say something about it, someone (whether it be a reader of my blog, some random twitter commenter, or even a long time friend), will exclaim in utter disbelief. “How can you not love winter? I thought you hated hot weather!?” Or, “How can you complain about this warm weather when you were bitching about snow six months ago?”

It’s like they think it is a binary: you are allowed to hate either heat or cold, and if you dislike one you must love the other. That’s nonsense. What I hear when they decry my supposed inconsistency is, “Why are you objecting to being stabbed in the heart? I thought you despised poison!”

I grew up in the central Rocky Mountains, which is ski country, and where snow season runs from mid-October to mid-May. Every memory I have of going trick-or-treating on Halloween as a child involved wearing snow boots or galoshes, a heavy coat and gloves. Sometimes we skipped whole blocks of houses because the snowplow had been through to clear the street, and the sidewalk was completely blocked by an eight-foot-tall pile of snow, ice, and slush embedded with copious amounts of gravel and asphalt.

Those big plow-drifts were a favorite source of snowball-material for the kinds of bullies that I was always the target of. So while it would be an exaggeration to say that snowball fights are triggering for me, the imagery evoked by alluding to snowball fights is never pleasant for me.

My point is, I have experienced snow. I have literally, as a child, walked to school in minus-fifteen degree weather. If I never have to be in snow again I’ll be perfectly happy.

Yet, I love Christmas and specifically decorating for Christmas. You will see snow-speckled ornaments on many of my trees. I can sing more harmony parts to “Let It Snow” “Sleighride” and “Winter Wonderland” than you can shake a stick at. I’m able to separate my dislike of trudging through snow from actual fun activities one can have in such weather.

Similarly, with hot weather one problem I have is that I come from a long line of pale-pink-bluish freckled people. My skin does not know how to tan. It knows three hues: the pale pink with blue highlights, searing bright red covered with blisters, then when that peels off, pale pink-bluish with orange freckles. Also, I come from a long line of people who develop sun-induced skin cancers (and have even had a small one myself!), so I’m under doctor’s orders to stay out of the sun. Plus, my body just doesn’t deal with high temperatures. I just want to sleep through the hot parts of the day, but day jobs aren’t conducive to that, so I’m cranky, listless, and miserable when it gets hot.

Knowing about how much I hate heat waves and snow, it really should be no surprise how much I love autumn weather. That doesn’t mean that I don’t find some things about the transitions of autumn occasionally inconvenient, annoying, or just startling. Most years, for instance, I don’t switch from my medium-weight jacket to my coat when I ought. I’ll wear the medium jacket for a few weeks and everything is fine. Then one day during the walk home from work, it will be way colder than it had been in the morning, and I’ll wish I’d switched to my heavy coat.

A bit over a week ago I was walking home from work and turned a corner, and was startled at how dark the sidewalk was. When I’d left the office, it had seemed to still be full daylight. The sun was actually at the horizon, but since the first bit of my walk is between tall buildings, I didn’t actually see the sun setting. Yeah, I knew how late it was, and I know that sunset gets a minute or two earlier every day during the fall, but I was thinking about other things (listening to an audiobook, as I recall). Over the course of the walk the sun sank slowly, the light very gradually getting dimmer. By the time I was nearly home, it wasn’t really dark out, yet, but the sky was definitely closer to indigo than azure. And the particular section of street I was turning onto, just a few blocks from home, has a lot of trees on it plus to the west were a pair of taller condominium complexes, casting long shadows over the whole street. It still wasn’t dark, but it was a significant change walking into those shadows, particularly when my mind was in another time and place because of the audiobook.

I literally stopped for a moment, startled at the sudden dimness. It only took a millisecond to realize that I just hadn’t been paying attention to the deepening twilight and the shadows. But it was the starkest reminder I’d had that sunset was getting a lot earlier than it has been. Sometimes it only takes a well-timed turn to throw a gradual change into stark contrast.

When I mentioned to a friend how early sunset was getting, they responded with a bit of a shrug. They weren’t blowing me off, but it felt that way. To be fair, I didn’t give them all the context of how I hit that mark.

But it reminds me that we aren’t all paying attention to the same things. I’ve been watching the slow but very steady embrace of racist, xenophobic, sectarian bigotry by leaders of the Republican Party for the last 36 years. I have called out and warned about the consequences of encouraging voters to blame people with different accents, skin color, religious beliefs, et cetera for the real economic pain that people feel. I have been decrying the stagnation and then contraction of wages, while giving bigger and bigger tax cuts to the wealth. I’ve been pointing out the dangers of dismantling labor unions, giving corporations more and more legal rights. I’ve been watching the slow slide. I’ve been trying to tell friends and acquaintances that the Republican politicians are the very people picking their pockets while placing the blame on immigrants, brown people, queers asking for equal rights, and so forth.

So I am well aware that voting for Romney was voting for all the same bigotry and economic inequality that Trump embodies. Just as voting for McCain was, and voting for Bush, and so on. I have been watching the gradual shift, well aware that it is the exact same policies the Reagan espoused, just less subtle and coded. So when lifelong Republicans are reacting with horror to Trump, yeah, I’ve been pretty dismissive, telling people they had to be blind or delusional not to have seen this coming; not to have seen that they have brought it on themselves (and the rest of us).

When in fact, they just weren’t paying attention to the some things I was.

It doesn’t change the fact that, yeah, they made this bed. But I shouldn’t be quite so mean they it has taken them longer to notice at least some of the hate and ignorance.

We’ve taken a turn into shadows and muck that that have been gathering and deepening for decades. Now that a few of you have seen it, would you mind grabbing a shovel, and helping those of use trying to clear a path back to the light?

Judging or policing, or maybe just taking note

“Forgiveness is created by the restitution of the abuser; of the wrongdoer. It is not something to be squeeeeeezed out of the victim in a further act of conscience-corrupting abuse.” —Stefan Molyneux

“Forgiveness is created by the restitution of the abuser; of the wrongdoer. It is not something to be squeeeeeezed out of the victim in a further act of conscience-corrupting abuse.” —Stefan Molyneux

Several very different sub-communities I am connected with were doing a lot of sub-tweeting about events only one of which I had in-depth knowledge of. Coincidentally, these three very different situations involving very different people were prompting these other friends and acquaintances to talk about the nature of forgiveness, acts of kindness extended to one’s enemies, and questioning people’s motives. And while all the comments were sincere and thoughtful, the very nature of both trying to compress a complex thought into one or a few 140-character statements without also explicitly talking about the situation that prompted the comment, meant people were painting with broad strokes. Forgiveness, kindness, and trust are very complicated things, obviously, but I need to tease out some nuance here in at least a couple of the comments.

I’ve been wrestling with not just the concept of forgiveness, but also other people’s expectations about forgiveness, for most of my life. When I was a kid living with my physically abusive father, and utterly dependent on him for everything, I was often told that it was my duty to forgive him. That was only in the rare cases where people agreed there was anything to forgive. Most often I received the message that I was the only one to blame for the abuse I received. But those people who at least were willing to admit that beating resulting in fractures, complex concussion, major gashes, and other things requiring medical intervention might be taking things a little too far, still insisted that I needed to forgive him. He just got carried away, they would say. His motive was parental.

In my teens, when I no longer had to live with him, the messages changed slightly. I needed to forgive him in order to let go of my resentment, which would poison me. This line gets trotted out a lot–the notion that it isn’t a matter of whether the other person deserves forgiveness, but that not forgiving them hurts the wronged person.


There is nothing wrong, immature, or unhealthy about declining to extend forgiveness. Particularly if the person who wronged you has shown no remorse, never apologized, and never made any attempt at making amends. And especially so if they refuse to admit that the events ever even happened.

The sequence of events is:

1. Apologize
2. Repent (not the same thing as apologizing)
3. Make amends
4. Ask for forgiveness

The person who committed the wrong needs to complete the first three steps before going to step 4.

Yes, hanging on to hatred and resentment can be corrosive. But contrary to the cliches, you can let go of all the anger without actually forgiving the person. You can make the decision that you’re not going to let them haunt your every waking moment. But letting go doesn’t mean you literally forget. You’re supposed to learn from experiences, right? That includes learning to recognize the signs of a similar situation later on. You can remember without being bitter. Letting go requires neither forgetting nor forgiving.

You don’t want to know about the knock-down-drag-out level arguments I was pressed into by one of my aunts because I wouldn’t agree with her that my dad deserved my forgiveness. There were similar arguments some years later about other abusive relatives and their refusal to take responsibility for the harm they had caused. The sticking point with this aunt wasn’t really about any psychological poison festering around inside me. The real issue was that my refusal to forgive implied, to her, that I disapproved of her decision to forgive the person. It didn’t matter that I said, “You can forgive them for anything they did to you that you wish, for any reason. I’m not judging you. But you’re the one that keeps asking me to also forgive them. If they ever ask me for forgiveness, I’ll consider it.”

What I didn’t say is that if the offender had asked whether I would have given it. Since Dad went to his grave denying anything he’d ever done to us hadn’t been deserved, we’ll never know.

The word “policing” gets thrown around whenever someone expresses disappointment, disapproval, or simply confusion about another person’s decision to extend forgiveness. Policing is a real thing, and it can be infuriating. My aunt was trying to police my feelings; for years at random moments she would ask me if I had ever forgiven my dad, and when I said I hadn’t (or in later years, when I told her to stop bringing it up) she would get upset. She would plead. She would argue insistently. She would predict dire consequences.

Certainly I’ve seen other examples of policing: when people send angry tirades asking how dare you continue to be friends with so-and-so or how could you give that group a second chance, for example. When people actively try to coerce you into reacting to the situation or person the way they want, that is policing.

You know what isn’t policing? Not agreeing with you is not policing you. Choosing not to extend the same level of trust/forgiveness/kindness as you is not policing you. Telling other people that I am not forgiving the person or group or institution you have decided to is not policing you. Telling you directly that you’re a better person than me, because I just can’t do it is not policing you. Even asking you why, if I don’t think get abusive or coercive, isn’t policing you.

And if the person you are forgiving is, in my opinion, so toxic and dangerous that I don’t want to have anything to do with them, and you spend so much time with this person I find harmful that when I limit my exposure to the toxic person, I wind up spending less time with you? As long as I am not also trying to coerce you into not spending time with the toxic person, that’s not policing you either. That’s just me taking care of myself.

People are entitled to a modicum of respect until they act in a way the shows otherwise. People who have already wronged me (or people that I love, or entire communities, et cetera), have to to make amends as one of the steps toward earning my respect back. I’m not obligated to forgive them even then. While I will respect and defend your right to be more magnanimous than me and forgive someone I can’t, that doesn’t obligate me to approve.

Friendship may be magic, but it isn’t transitive… and neither is forgiveness.

Amazing and heart-wrenching: Cracked explains this election so accurately it hurts

How the 2012 election went by county (source: Mark Newman / University of Michigan). It looks as if Romney should have run, until you realize that more the 60 percent of the population of the entire country lives in those tiny blue area.

How the 2012 election went by county (source: Mark Newman / University of Michigan). It looks as if Romney should have won, until you realize that more the 60 percent of the population of the entire country lives in those tiny blue areas.

I read a few stories yesterday, long after my weekly Friday Links post went up, which I was thinking about for a Weekend Update post, which has also become almost a weekly tradition here. But then this morning, while I was trying to get awake enough to check my blood sugar and take my morning meds, I saw an old friend had retweeted: “Probably the very best thing to read to understand Trump’s popularity, is this Cracked (!) piece. Amazing:” How Half Of America Lost Its F**king Mind. The article is amazing.

Go read it.

Go read it now.

I’ll wait.

If I had seen this article (which Cracked published on Wednesday) earlier, it would have been the link of the week, no question. I’ve written previously on this blog about several of the things that David Wong, the author of the piece, pulls together, but all of the pieces of the puzzle hadn’t quite come into focus for me in this way before. There are a couple of teeny quibbles I have with the article. He lumps the suburbs in with cities in most of the article, for instance, while one of his few citations of statistics (that 62% of the population lives in the cities) ignores that fact that cities plus suburbs actually add up to 80% of the country’s population.

But all of them really are just quibbles.

For me, the most frustrating part of the perception gap he describes has been trying to bite my tongue as people I love—in some cases the very people who taught me to love my neighbors and try to understand other people—aren’t just voting for Trump, but they are absolutely convinced that voting for him is the most Christian and reasonable thing to do. Sometimes in the same breath that they say they are so, so sorry that my queer self and my husband didn’t drive a couple hundred miles to attend their Independence Day barbecue, they talk about how marriage equality and letting trans people use public restrooms are literally causing an Apocalypse.

And they really don’t understand why I don’t feel safe in their community!

Don’t message me saying all those things I listed are wrong. I know they’re wrong. Or rather, I think they’re wrong, because I now live in a blue county and work for a blue industry. I know the Good Old Days of the past were built on slavery and segregation, I know that entire categories of humanity experienced religion only as a boot on their neck. I know that those “traditional families” involved millions of women trapped in kitchens and bad marriages. I know gays lived in fear and abortions were back-alley affairs.

I know the changes were for the best.

Try telling that to anybody who lives in Trump country.

I have tried to explain that the Good Old Days were only good for some people. I have tried to explain that Black Lives Matter is not a movement bent on killing white cops. I have tried to explain that the rate of violent crime is actually lower here in the city than where they live. I have tried to explain that gender inequality is real. I have tried to explain that gay bashing isn’t something that only lunatics do, but something they are themselves doing verbally to me all the time.

And they can’t hear it. They can’t see it.

They blame Obama for their economic troubles because things got really bad after the 2008 Great Recession started. They don’t care that it started while Bush was president, to them the hurt came after Obama was elected, so it’s obviously his fault. They also believe it’s all his fault because of all the insane, often racially-motivated misinformation they receive from the only news sources they think they can trust. They honestly don’t believe that any of the facts they are relying on are actually racist distortions, so they get very angry when we characterize a lot of the blatantly racist memes that they regurgitate as bigoted.

Even putting the pieces together the way Wong does, however, I couldn’t understand how in the case of my specific relatives, they don’t experience pain from the cognitive dissonance of telling me how much they love Michael and I—specifically that they realize we are truly meant to be together—but they also think that the Supreme Court ruling making our marriage legal throughout the land is a literal attack out of hell?

I guess, using Wong’s analogies, they see us as the cute supporting characters among the elites of the Capitol City in the Hunger Games? We’re sympathetic and they will shed a tear over our corpses when the revolution comes, but they have every intention of storming the city, hurling the bricks and firing whatever weapons they have, because it’s the only way to save their way of life?

Then, as I was writing the paragraphs above and re-reading Wong’s article, I had an epiphany. Wong does a good job of using the imagery and cultural shorthand of The Hunger Games, but I think he missed another important touchstone. I saw it the third time I read this bit:

In a city, you can plausibly aspire to start a band, or become an actor, or get a medical degree. You can actually have dreams. In a small town, there may be no venues for performing arts aside from country music bars and churches. There may only be two doctors in town — aspiring to that job means waiting for one of them to retire or die. You open the classifieds and all of the job listings will be for fast food or convenience stores. The “downtown” is just the corpses of mom and pop stores left shattered in Walmart’s blast crater, the “suburbs” are trailer parks. There are parts of these towns that look post-apocalyptic.

I’m telling you, the hopelessness eats you alive.

Downtown is just the corpses of mom and pop stores… just the corpses of mom and pop…

Economically, to them, the world as become The Walking Dead.

Everywhere they look they see the shambling, murderous horde searching for more living flesh to consume. We, the liberal elite city dwellers with our city jobs and smart phones and environmentally friendly cars (if we haven’t already gone carless), are already infected. Maybe we don’t look like walking corpses, yet, but they know what we’re going to turn into eventually. They don’t like what’s going to happen to us, but they fear even more it happening to them, and to their children who haven’t already been infected.

Yeah… now I’m getting a clearer picture.

Friday Links (smart cuttlefish edition)

cugvfbzueaam-drIt’s a Friday! And it’s the second Friday in October! Tomorrow is the third Saturday, though, so we’ll be hosting Writers’ Night, which means it’s even closer to Jack O’Lantern time that it seems!

This has been a weird week. Started out absolutely wonderful with Geek Girl Con last weekend, then back to work for extra special busy-ness (always the case when you take time off), and then a bunch of us at the office all came down sick in the middle of the week. A bit over 24 hours after the first symptoms hit me, I seem to be over it. But it means that I didn’t do as much reading this week as usual, so this week’s list of links is a bit shorter than usual.

Anyway, here are links to some of the interesting things I read on the web this week, sorted into various topic areas.

Links of the Week

Hillary’s Honorary Gay Nephew On Why She’s The Right Woman For The Job. Hot sauce on eggs to keep you healthy ^_^

News for queers and our allies:

Republican Texas Judge Officiates Gay Wedding, Comes Out As A Democrat.

Drunk History Recaps the Stonewall Riots and Honors Marsha P. Johnson.

Iconic Gay Magazine XY Returns For A New Generation.


Decades-Old Mystery Put To Rest: Why Are There X’s In The Desert?

Earth-like planets in solar system ‘habitable zones’ to be photographed for 1st time.

High blood pressure drugs impact depression, bipolar disorder.

Researchers are trying to figure out how to change your brain so you can learn like a kid again.

Physicists just witnessed quasiparticles forming for the first time ever.

Cuttlefish Can Count to Five.

The GOP’s Denial of Science Primed Them for the Illogic of Trump.

Anti-Vaxx Group Wants to Know Why Study They Funded Shows No Link Between Vaccines and Autism.

Try Not to Cry While Watching Earth Rise From the Moon in HD.

The bones in the Smithsonian’s ‘whale warehouse’ are relics of a lost world.

Why many ‘deadly’ gene mutations are turning out to be harmless..

Science Fiction, Fantasy and Speculation!

The H Word: The Darkest, Truest Mirrors.

GeekGirlCon panel highlights how there’s no age limit on being a fangirl.

Costumes of GeekGirlCon 2016.

GeekGirlCon: What the rest of the tech industry can learn from women in games.

This week in Writing

Bob Dylan Awarded Nobel Prize in Literature.

Reactions to Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize: Shock, elation and concern for Philip Roth. If you’re the kind of person who thinks Philip Roth has been robbed every time that the committee handed out the Nobel Prize in literature to anyone else, I can’t help you.

This Week in History

What We Lose When We Don’t Teach LGBTQ History In Schools.

Culture war news:

The White House Must Be Exorcised Of Bisexual Native American Demons, Says Christian Write. Exorcised? No, sounds like the start of a great party!

North Carolina governor and wife ‘shunned’ over HB2 – even by friends.

Religion is the “Biggest Bully in the Room,” Says Gay Writer.

Suspended Anti-gay Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore asked to clean out office, turn over keys.

Liberty University students protest association with Trump.

This week in so-called Christians

If Donald Trump has done anything, he has snuffed out the Religious Right. The author of this op-ed is the president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. And while his comments about the hypocrisy of some of his co-religionist is correct, he isn’t quite right about why young people are fleeing the church.

Pew Research Center: Why America’s ‘nones’ left religion behind.

This is the last spastic breath from the Religious Right before its overdue death.

Strong evangelical support for Donald Trump this election year has baffled many inside and outside of Christian conservative circles.

This week in rape culture

Donald and Billy on the Bus.”Such has it always been: powerful men sorting women’s bodies into property and trash and “good” guys, average guys, guys you know, guys you love, guys on the “Today” show, going along with it. Snickering.” “But here is the thing, the big thing, that Paul D. Ryan and Reince Priebus and Mike Pence and all the spineless Billy Bushes of the world (and plenty of progressive men too, for that matter) don’t understand: Most of you are no better than Mr. Trump; you are just more subtle.”

This Week Regarding the Lying Liar:

Trump Warns Of Dark Conspiracy By Clinton, Media, And International Banks.

Read the New York Times’ response to Donald Trump’s lawyers. It really is good!

A Timeline of Donald Trump’s Creepiness While He Owned Miss Universe.

How Trump’s Squirming Supporters Tried to Spin the New York Times Report.

Why My East Texas Neighbors are Voting for Trump: It’s not because they’re stupid rednecks. Well… The difference between willfully ignorant and stupid is an awful thin line…

Trump, the GOP, and the Fall. “But note well: Donald Trump is not a black swan, an unforeseen event erupting upon an unsuspecting Republican Party. He is the end result of conscious and deliberate choices by the GOP, going back decades, to demonize its opponents, to polarize and obstruct, to pursue policies that enfeeble the political weal and to yoke the bigot and the ignorant to their wagon and to drive them by dangling carrots that they only ever intended to feed to the rich.”

This week in Politics:

Christie Now Faces Official Misconduct Complaint Over Bridgegate.

Why it matters: Outcome of presidential race has implications for LGBT rights.

Married Republican apologises for sexting teenage boy.

Hillary Clinton is proposing a policy to tackle deep poverty.

Things I wrote:

Geek Girl Con.

Come Out and Celebrate!

Little things can make or break your story.


Thriller Parody – Sofonda Cox:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

HRC Celebrates National Coming Out Day 2016:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)


(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

103 Years of Drag Queen Fashion | Vanity Fair:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Randy Newman – Putin (Official Audio):

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Years & Years – Meteorite (Official Video):

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Little things can make or break your story

“The best writing is re-writing.” — e.b. white

“The best writing is re-writing.” — e.b. white

The other night I assembled an Aviation cocktail for the first time. It’s a drink my friend, Jared, likes, so I texted him a picture of my first attempt. It’s made with gin, maraschino liqueur, crème de violette and lemon juice. I’d followed a recipe out of a bar book. When I commented that it didn’t taste as good as I remembered, he suggested his own recipe, which differed from the book very slightly. Specifically, he suggested 1/2 and ounce of lemon juice rather than 3/4 as the book. That was the only difference.

I tried it, and that tiny change made an major difference in the taste. And not in the way I had expected. The drink tasted slightly less sweet with a bit less lemon. Two of the ingredients are very sweet, whereas lemon juice is generally more tart, so I don’t know if it was just a contrast change in the mix or what, but the tiny adjustment made a big improvement.

I’ve been struggling with the revision of my novel, The Trickster Apocalypse for a while. After working on the first draft for a long time, regularly reading chapters to my monthly Writers’ group, I had revised and assembled the whole thing, and gotten three people to agree to read it all the way through. There had been some common comments from all of them regarding some frustration with the protagonists or inconsistencies in their characterization.

So I’ve been re-reading and revising. I recently shared two new scenes and one heavily revised one with two of the readers and my group, and there was a consensus that these little revisions changed their perception of the main plot and one subplot significantly.

I’ve described the novel as “a light fantasy in an epic fantasy wrapper using anthropomorphic tropes to tell how reluctant and unlikely heroes try to avert a prophesied apocalypse.” As a light fantasy, certain things happen in the story because they’re funny. It was easy, especially when I was working on the first draft and reading it to others in a serialized fashion, to pepper in jokes throughout. People laughed when they read the scenes, so that seemed like a good thing, right?

But when someone read the whole thing in un-serialized circumstances, a couple of the jokes late in the book subverted the emotional arc of at least one of the protagonists. It’s not that I can’t have jokes late in the book, but I can’t show one character’s emotional journey from reluctant to get involved to taking a stand in a big showdown if I keep showing ways that he is trying to dodge responsibility. A scene that would have been funny and in character in chapter four doesn’t work in chapter seventeen, after the reader has watched the character start growing beyond that.

The scene is funny, which is good in a light fantasy, but any scene in a novel needs to either advance the plot, establish or resolve a conflict, illuminate a character, show how a character has changed, reveal new information to the reader, or hit an important emotional beat. It’s not that the scene has to go, but every scene, particularly jokes about the protagonist’s character need to move the things forward, not back.

I should have realized during an earlier revision phase a couple of these developments were actually throwbacks to earlier versions of the character. I didn’t in part because in a couple of cases the jokes were working so well, I wanted to keep them in. When people repeat the classic writing advice to “kill your darlings,” it isn’t because your favorite lines or sequences are always bad, it’s because that sometimes, because some bit is a favorite, it blinds us from noticing that it’s wrong for this scene or this stage of the story.

Removing a single misplaced joke can change the taste of the entire tale.

Come Out and Celebrate!

“Keep Calm and Be Proud of Who You Are.”

“Keep Calm and Be Proud of Who You Are.”

Today is National Coming Out Day. If Ray were still alive, it would also be the day we’d be celebrating the twenty-third anniversary of our commitment ceremony (he promised to stay with me for the rest of his life, and he did).

I’ve written more than once about why I think it is important for all Queer people (by which I mean people who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, Genderqueer, Nonbinary, Pansexual, Genderfluid, Questioning, Polyamorous and their Allies) to be out about who they are. Because it can be dangerous to come out (kill the gays laws exist in many parts of the world, while here in the U.S. about 40% of homeless teens are children who were kicked out of their house by their parents for being queer or being suspected of being queer), there are some people who probably shouldn’t be out until their situation changes. But being in the closet is harmful in many ways. Studies and history has shown that the fastest way to get other people (and society at large) to accept and support queers is when queer people come out.

The more straight people who actually know queer people, the more minds are opened.

So, in case somehow it isn’t clear: I’m queer. Specifically, I’m a gay man married to a bisexual man.

Being in the closet takes an incredible emotional toll which affects your physical health as well. When you’re in the closet, you’re living in constant fear of rejection. Particularly if, like me, you grew up in a fundamentalist religious family and community. The fear of losing people you love—people who you have depended on—can be debilitating. The constant anxiety of what people’s reactions will be corrodes your soul.

The thing is, staying in the closet is no guarantee against that rejection. Someday someone is going to figure it out, not at a time when you’ve picked and prepared yourself.

Coming out was hard, and there was drama (oh, was there drama). I put up with all the wailing and the angry letters (28-page handwritten letter from one aunt outlining all of the words and topics I would not be allowed to bring up around her, explaining several times that if I brought my partner to visit we would not even be allowed to call each other honey, et cetera). But while many reacted badly to begin with, it wasn’t everyone. Another one of my aunts was the first to call to tell me she loved and supported me. She made it clear to folks on her side of the family that if they had a problem with me being gay, they would have a bigger problem with her.

If and when there is drama about your coming out, you have to treat said drama as your parents (or whoever) throwing a tantrum. They are trying to force you to pretend to be someone you aren’t for their convenience. And just as when a child throws a tantrum, you can’t reward that bad behavior. Dan Savage, the sex advice columnist and gay activist, puts it this way: the only leverage adult queer people have over parents and other family members is our presence in their lives. We shouldn’t fear losing them, they should fear losing us.

It took a few years for some of my family members to come around. I remain grateful that my mom and one set of grandparents did so before my first partner, Ray, died. He had only a short period of time of feeling welcomed into the family. Now, years later, my husband Michael isn’t just welcomed, I’m pretty sure some of them like him more than they do me. And I can hardly blame them!

A few of my relatives never became accepting before they died, and it was their loss.

There will be some surprises. Some people who you were certain before you came out would never accept you will become your biggest defenders. Some people who you thought might understand will disown you and go to their grave without reaching out. You will definitely learn which people really love you, and which only love the idea of who they think you ought to be.

The thing is, being loved for who you are, instead of the illusionary non-queer person you pretended to be, is wonderful. The sooner you are able to find those people the better. And remember the wisdom of Dr. Seuss: “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

And being out doesn’t just free you. Being out frees others.

HRC Celebrates National Coming Out Day 2016:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

What We Lose When We Don’t Teach LGBTQ History In Schools.

Geek Girl Con

S0, my hubby and I are attending our first GeekGirlCon, which is held at the Washington State Convention Center. It’s a sci fi con, dedicated to welcoming and celebrating girls, women, young women in geek/sci fi/fantasy culture.

And it’s fun!

First impression while we were in line to get our badges was that the crowd is much more like a pony con than a traditional sf/f convention. Fewer guys. A lot more kids. Not that there aren’t a lot of guys of all ages, here, but we’re in the minority. Which is the point, and not at all a bad thing.

There’s a Do It Yourself Science area that’s set up for kids to sit down and do science projects. Every time I’ve walked by today, it’s been pretty full. I first learned about it a couple months back when the GeekGirlCon mailing list sent out a link for people to donate to pay for the supplies and such in the area. You know I jumped on that. We need more science-literate people in future generations!

I’m writing this blog post in Introvert Alley, which is a room the set up for people to have a quiet, dark place to retreat to if you need it. It’s nice. I can still hear the con outside, but we’re clearly in another space. I had to adjust the brightness of my iPad screen several times before it felt right in here. Now I wish every con had someplace like this. When I feel the need for this sort of thing at some cons, I just head back to our hotel room. But since this place is about a fifteen minute drive from our house, and downtown hotels are never cheap, we don’t have that option.

The Exhibitor Hall (or dealer’s den) is huge. We did one long methodical sweep through it, only stopping at a couple of booths. I was pulled to one by a 1954 Hermes 3000 typewriter. The author whose table it was at, Eva L Elasigue, had typed some poetry on it. We geeked out about manual typewriters a bit, then I asked her about her book. She said it was mythic space opera, “think, Les Mis meets Cowboy Bebop.” No, I’m one of those queer boys who hates Les Mis. I know, sorry, it’s just too grim for me. But I understand the pathos and appeal it has for a lot of people. And I absolutely love Cowboy Bebop. And Cowboy Bebop’s noir-ish vibe certainly could go well with a Les Mis sensibility. So, as I told her, based on the pitch alone I had to buy the book: Bones of Starlight: Fire On All Sides.

We hadn’t walked far from her table when we hit one of those traffic jams that happen in crowed dealer’s rooms, so I opened the book, and read a few sentences. Yeah, I could totally hear a Cowboy Bebop soundtrack playing as I read. I got through the rest of the first page in starts and stops every time we had to wait while walking. I like it already and have high hopes for the rest of the book.

I’m seen several people I know, but other than Joi, it’s all been from a distance through the crowd, so haven’t talked to any of them, yet.

Michael reminded me that he hadn’t eaten before we left, so we tried to walk to a restaurant 600 feet away, but I managed to get turned around and go the wrong direction for at least that far before I figured out where we were. We’d exited the convention center from a side I’ve never been on before, and thanks to some construction projects happening outside (I think for the new light rail station), I couldn’t see any landmarks I recognized until we’d gone a block and a half the wrong way. We got to the place eventually, and the way we both inhaled our meals, clearly he wasn’t the only one who needed to eat.

I had trouble finding the room the next panel I wanted to see was in. By the time we did, the room was full with a guard at the door telling people the room was full. But the next panel I want to see is there, so I now know where it is and I can go get there early. I hope.

When I do check twitter, I’m trying to just skim over all the deplorable stuff. I much prefer the bright future I see on display here to the rationalization and rape apologetics that the Republicans are trying to pass off as political discourse this week.

%d bloggers like this: