Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Being Other

This was intended to be another post related to Queer Romance Month, but I’ve gone kind of way off topic on this one. It’s turned out not to be so much about being queer as it’s about being “other”. I've mentally debated about whether or not to post it for over a week now, but here it is anyway...

There are a lot of different kinds of people who society treats as “other”. I fall into a couple of those groups.

I’ve mentioned on this blog before, that I have a few health issues. While my M.E. has never seen my completely confined to a wheelchair, there have been a lot of times when I’ve needed to use one when I leave the house.

As anyone who’s ever used a wheelchair knows, people treat you differently once you’re in a chair. You become invisible enough for people to walk into, or for them to accidentally hit you in the head with their hand bag when they turn around. But at the same time, you become someone other people want to keep their distance from—as if there is some suspicion that you might be contagious. Physical contact stops. People who would normally pause to chat suddenly cross the road to avoid you.

Several years ago, my parents and I went to see a show called La Cage Aux Folles. For those who don’t know it—it’s a fantastic musical. One of the main characters is Alvin who performs as a drag artist called Zaza. A lot of the show takes place in a night club and a fair number of the cast are drag performers in big elaborate costumes.

I went in my wheelchair. In this particular theatre, the wheelchair spaces were at the end of the fourth row from the stage.

In one part of this particular version of the show, the actors came down from the stage and moved along the end isles, shaking hands with the people sitting in the end seats.

I don’t know if the actors were gay or straight, if they identified in any way as queer, or if they’d ever done drag apart from in that particular show. What I do know is that, even when they saw the wheelchair, every one of those performers shook my hand—no hesitation.

I remember thinking—maybe these performers with their elaborate costumes and their huge drag queen wigs—maybe they know what it’s like for people to across the road to avoid them too. Maybe they get how much that hurts. Maybe that’s why they don’t do it to other people.

We were coming at it from very different places, but those performers and I were both “other” and that in itself can be a way to connect with people.

Now, I’m not saying that wheelchairs = queerness. Or that any minority who is seen as “other” should identify as queer.

But, I do think, in a good version of the world, people who are queer and people who are “other” in other ways should be on the same side.

Sometimes it does happen like that.

In America, you see mixed-race heterosexual couples marching in favour of same sex marriage because 60 years ago, their marriage would have been illegal too.

When same sex marriage was being debated in the UK, a straight Jewish man was interviewed on TV and he said he was in favour of it, because Jewish people and people in same sex relationships have both been discriminated against for far too long - and often by the same people.

I’ve found BDSM clubs are far more likely to be aware of the need for disabled access than vanilla venues are.

But sometimes the world gets screwed up and things go the other way.

You get signs like “don’t equate my skin with your sin”.

You get people who fight for women's rights who will only accept the existence of cis gendered women.

You get dating apps where a lot of gay men look for “straight acting” dates — where “no blacks, no Asians” is a common statement. So are comments like “no fats, no femmes” or “no HIV+”.

Go on a dating app for women who like women and you’ll see a lot of lesbians stating “bi women, don’t bother”.

In London Pride this year, bi people marching in the parade were heckled—by gay and lesbian people marching in the same parade.

Sometimes people are so focused on being angry that the world treats them as if they are “other”, they don’t realise that they’re doing exactly the same thing to other groups of people.

But those times when you connect—there’s so much power in that, so much humanity in that. If we can find a way to focus our energy on that, just think what the world would be like.

Imagine a world where no one ever crossed the road to avoid anyone just because they were different. It would be a nice world, wouldn’t it?

I think, in its own way Queer Romance Month is calling for that kind of world. I'm happy to be on the same side of the street as everyone involved in it.

You can read all the posts so far here.

And my post here.

P.S. In case you’re wondering, I have no idea how long this current run of over-sharing on my part will last either. I’ll probably go back to blogging once every blue moon at some point.

In the meantime, there’s more random over-sharing in an interview, and a giveaway, here.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Queer Romance Month

(The thoughts I’m trying to express in this blog are kind of still in development. Apologies in advance for anything that sounds wonky as a result.)

This month is Queer Romance Month.

Queer has always felt like an awkward word to me. When someone first mentioned the event to me, I’ll admit that my first thought was that I wished that the queer population had picked a different name to unite under. I’m not talking about the people who organised this particular event here (who, by the way, have turned out to be some of the loveliest people I’ve met in a long time). I mean decades ago. I’ve felt this way about the word for a long time.

Why call ourselves queer – a word that means odd and different?

You see, I’m not odd and I’m not different. Well, okay, I might be both things but neither has anything to do with me being bisexual. That’s always felt like the most natural thing in the world to me.

I get the theory of reclaiming words, but this particular word isn’t one that’s ever been used against me as an individual. I’m not sure it’s my place to reclaim it.

But, since, the generally accepted definition of queer encompasses everyone who isn’t heterosexual or cisgender, I also accept that I’m part of it. When people talk about queer people, they’re talking about people like me.

(As a side note, there are people like Julie Bindel (feminist lesbian journalist/activist) who reckon that queer actually refers to anyone who likes kinky sex. This definition amuses the hell out of me because I’m sure she meant it as an insult, but I find it completely impossible to see kinky as a bad thing. I’m very happy to be part of that group too!)

Anyway, I signed up to write a blog post for Queer Romance Month. I’ve done a couple of theme of the month/week/whatever events before. They generally follow a familiar pattern and the posts usually revolve around each author’s latest release.

This time my post ended up being a more personal post than I intended and focusing on my memory of a particular event from a few years ago. I have one of the world’s worst memories. If something happened more than twenty minutes ago, the chances are I won’t remember exactly who said what, where and when. But the emotions in my post – they are as true and as accurate as anything can be.

That’s what seems to be marking this event out as different to the ones I’ve taken part in previously. A lot of people are posting from the heart. Personal stories are being told and for me this event had become about something more important than selling books. (And trust me, when a writer says something is more important than books things are getting serious!)

I said at the start that of this post that I’m not fond of the word queer. There’s always been an exception to that. I’ve always thought it works well when people are expressing anger with the world.

There’s a T-shirt that says: “Not gay as in happy, but queer as in fuck you!” There were banners that were once popular at pride rallies which said: “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it.” Those work for me.

I think this is because queer doesn’t feel like a statement of fact, like gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. It’s more like a statement of pride and an unwillingness to let society break you when they force you into a mould.

As I’ve read more posts in and about the Queer Romance event, my thoughts on the word have changed and expanded. It still works as a statement of resistance, but it’s become a real statement of community for me too.

Maybe it is an awkward word, but it’s awkward like a hug between people who don’t know each other that well, but who still feel the need to embrace each other and hold on tight.

As a bisexual woman, I don’t often feel entirely welcome in the LGBT community, or in the M/M romance community if I’m honest. But the queer community, maybe that’s different. It feels like a community that says – if the world thinks you’re weird, that’s okay. We’re weird too. Come and be weird with us. We can be weird together.

There’s power in that. There’s a wonderful sense of acceptance in that. And there’s love in that.

The tag line for Queer Romance Month is “Love is Love”. I think the people involved in this event are all doing it right.

Please do click on the logo below and check out all the posts on the Queer Romance Month website.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

October News Letter

Hello Everyone!

I'm not the best of bloggers, but it's been a crazily long time, even for me!

On the plus side, I do have lots of news.

First of all - things about October...

Did you know that October is Queer Romance Month? People will be blogging, doing giveaways and other cool things will be happening. Click on the pick below to find out more.

My post will be going up on the 11th of October.

Blog Badge 1

In October we're also celebrating Amber Quill's 12th Anniversary!

Go to their home page, scroll to the bottom and sign up to their newsletter. There'll be lots of special offers going on!

If you're a writer it's also worth noting that Amber Quill is now open to submissions. I've written 17 stories for them and found them really lovely to work with.

At the same time, we're celebrating Riptide's 3rd Anniversary!

As one of the first three novellas published in 2013 Once a Brat is going to be on sale for $1.49 during October. Also, O Come All Ye Kinky - a holiday anthology which includes His Very Last Chance is part of a permanent price drop to $5.99.

For writers, Riptide are also now open to submissions. I've only written 2 stories for them but that was pure bad timing on my part - I started working with them just before my health got worse. They're great to work with.

Last but not least, during October I'm also going to be the Author of the Month at Boy Meet Boy Reviews. They'll be reviewing some of my books, hosting a giveaway as well as interviewing me later on in the month. There's also something to do with unicorns!


Moving on to writing and publishing news...

I'm still working away on Axel's Pup. I'm part way through the second draft and love these guys more than ever. Release date is still up in the air. I don't want to rush the last few laps and ruin it, so I'm taking whatever time it needs to take.

However, in between finishing the first draft of Axel's Pup and starting the second draft, I did throw myself into a couple of quick little projects.

There will be two new short stories appearing in November.

One is a free short story - a follow up to Worth a Shot. It catches up with Tony and Donovan a little while after the end of Shot. That one will appear on Amber Kell's blog on November 2nd as part of her birthday bash. It was really nice to reconnect with these guys and see how they were getting on.

The second project is scheduled to be released by Resplendence Publishing on November 12th as part of their gems line. It's a M/M, BDSM, office romance called Hard at Work.

The cover will be coming soon, but I have a working blurb for it now:

Jake likes to think he’s a nice guy. He’s a kind and considerate boyfriend. He’s a firm but fair dom. He doesn’t let himself get stressed out without good cause. But every guy has his breaking point.

Jake’s been hiding an inappropriate erection from his boss for the last three hours. Enough is enough. It’s all Jake’s boyfriend, Danny’s, fault. Danny better have a good explanation, because Jake wants to hear it—right now!


On to other news...

A couple of people have asked about Duck! and Magpie. Once I finish Axel's Pup, I'll be working on follow up novellas to each Avian book, and I'll be releasing the new editions alongside them next year. I didn't intend for them to be out of print and unavailable for as long as they have. I'm really greateful for everyone's patience.

On a related note - pirating. If you see Duck! for sale anywhere and it's labelled as a tranlated or an illistrated version of it, it's an illegal, pirated book. I've never authorised translations or illistrated copies of this title, either in ebook or print book form. If you do see anything like this, please don't buy it.


And finally, for those who are following the ongoing health saga. Specialists have been seen. I don't have a tumour where they thought I might have a tumour, so that's something. (Although, to be honest, that diagnosis would have likely come with better treatment options than my current diagnois of severe ME and fibromyalgia, so a big part of me was hoping they'd find something!)

Also, after about 16 months of refusing to take any medication (because the cocktail I was on before inspired some really horiffic side effects) I finally caved and I'm back on some strong painkillers. I'm less fogged up with pain, thinking more clearly and on some days I actually resemble a functional human being! Hopefully this will mean writing will happen more quickly now :)


And, I think that's it for now.

If you're on twitter, feel free to say hi. I'm @KimDareAuthor.