Archive for the ‘life’ Category

Let’s show a reader some love.

Friday, July 28th, 2017

Recently, I received a comment (copy/pasted below) from a Jascian reader that broke my heart. They live in a place where buying gay-themed books (physical or digital) could get them into a lot of trouble, so they can only read stories that are posted online. While I do intend to update Jascian as soon as I can, realistically that could take a while. So I’m asking for suggestions from you. Gay male love stories (centered around love, not just sex) that don’t have to be downloaded in order to be read. I know there are a lot of really, really great stories posted online for free, and I’d very much like to show this reader that we as a community care.

 

Please post your suggestions in the comment section of my home blog (not tumblr, twitter, or Good Reads) to make them easier to access. Whatever platform you’re reading this on should have a link to it, but just in case: http://rowanmcbride.com/blog/?p=391 . They didn’t ask for any of this, but if it were me a story suggestion, or a few words of personal encouragement, would go a long way.

 

Thank you. And thank you to w. brown for writing to me.

__________________________________

From w. brown:

 

This is harking back to antiquity and another topic but the theme is timeless and I don’t see it on the index.

 

I’d give anything to read the continuation of the story, The Jascian’s Toy.

 

I live in a country with an oppressive attitude toward LGBT, a country where nobody is out because being out would mean the end of your career, eviction from your home, the loss of most if not all your friends because people would be desperate to show that the contamination of association with a gay had not wiped off on them. Gays who have been discovered while they’re doing military service have been killed because it gets them out of barracks nobody would want to share with them. Gay bars are a hopeless dream here. There are covert meeting places but they can be dangerous and at the best are little better than a meat market. You might meet a guy you like but just as likely meet one that you need to hide from later and there’s isn’t any time to linger over finding somebody compatible. It’s the luck of a hasty draw that determines who your partner is.

 

Buying a book from abroad would be impossible because it never would clear customs. I would even be afraid of getting anything by email since I don’t know if surveillance would extend to it, or to transactions needed to obtain it. The only source I have to read LGBT material is sites like this, of authors who have generously shared their work in public because I still have anonymous access to some PCs at my workplace. This story in particular has been a godsend since it is a masterpiece, and an abiding consolation that I can resort to without growing tired of it. It is the thing I always turn to when I feel discouraged. I can feel there is a happy ending lurking in it and that Gavin will find a way of showing Blake where his true happiness may lie, and Blake will quietly continue to improve the plight of lessers by urging Gavin to employ His power sympathetically. But it is more than just a beautiful romantic tale, the great adventure of the the love between The Ideal Giant and a human. It makes me feel that there is more to live for than the life I see around me. Every time I read it I want to be a better person, one like Blake, although I cannot be as brave as he is but I think that I could be as brave as I am on my best day.

 

Please, Mr McBride, do not forget about this life-changing story and that it is crying out for completion. Even the occasional addition of a chapter would be such a blessing.

Some Like Janice

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

I had a lot of misunderstandings as a kid. But I think that those misunderstandings happened because I was already wired differently and didn’t know it.

For example: Janice, the Muppet from The Electric Mayhem. I met her when I was around…six, maybe? When I saw her I thought she was a man in woman’s clothing, and I never mentioned that “fact” to anyone because I assumed everyone knew it. Janice was a natural part of my world. As I got older my view of her became more complex, but she was always Janice. It wasn’t until my first year in college someone decided to “correct” me, and they were pretty cruel about it as they set out the canon material that stated in no uncertain terms she was a woman. At the time I didn’t understand why it hurt so much, because I didn’t understand what was going on inside of me at all well.

Then there’s “Some Like it Hot.” A movie I saw when I was very young and remains one of my all-time favorites. When I was a kid, I didn’t understand it was a comedy. Sure, it had some truly hilarious scenes, but for me it was always about the love stories. Joe/Josephine (played by Tony Curtis), who was all about hooking up with Sugar (played by Marilyn Monroe), and Jerry/Daphne (Jack Lemmon) who suddenly won the attentions of Osgood Fielding III (Joe E. Brown).

I loved Daphne. So, so much. While Joe pretty clearly disliked dressing and acting like a woman, the lines were much more blurred with Daphne. Even with something as basic as picking out feminine names for themselves. At first, Joe and Jerry decide on Josephine and Geraldine, but at the last second, Jerry blurts out that her name is Daphne, earning a look of confused consternation from Joe. When Joe grabs her for explanation, Daphne replies:

Daphne: Well, I never did like the name Geraldine.

Names are important. Especially when you’re picking out your own. I never liked the name my parents picked out for me, and for a long time I felt guilty about it. That scene, that one little line, gave me permission to think about what I might like to be called instead, and that whatever I chose didn’t necessarily have to be a retooled version of what I had.

And then there are the scenes with Osgood. They are funny, and I laugh every time I watch them, but for a long time I didn’t understand they were meant to be *gags.* I thought their relationship was like any other romcom relationship, and I adored it. Especially their final scene, which is also the final scene in the movie:

Osgood: I called Mama. She was so happy she cried. She wants you to have her wedding gown. It’s white lace.

Daphne: Yeah Osgood, I can’t get married in your mother’s dress. [nervous laughter] She and I… Well we’re not build the same way.

Osgood: We can have it altered.

Daphne: Oh no you don’t! Osgood, I’m gonna level with you. We can’t get married at all.

Osgood: Why not?

Daphne: Well, in the first place, I’m not a natural blonde.

Osgood: Doesn’t matter.

Daphne: I smoke! I smoke all the time!

Osgood: I don’t care.

Daphne: Well, I have a terrible past. For three years now, I’ve been living with a saxophone player.

Osgood: I forgive you.

Daphne: I can never have children!

Osgood: We can adopt some.

Daphne: But you don’t understand, Osgood! Ohh…

[Daphne pulls off xyr wig]

Daphne: [In a much deeper voice] I’m a man!

Osgood: [shrugs] Well, nobody’s perfect!

See? See? Osgood loves Daphne for who she is. The stuff on the outside doesn’t matter to him. That means there’s hope for me, right? I mean… right?

I didn’t know it was supposed to be a gag. And now I choose to believe it wasn’t. I choose to believe that Osgood and Daphne got married and that Janice is far more complex than her bio on Wikipedia would have me imagine.

The scene I quoted above is my favorite scene in “Some Like It Hot,” as well as one of my favorite scenes of all time. Not just because it’s funny and that last line gave me such a terrific happily ever after, but because through that entire exchange, where Daphne’s desperately trying to convince Osgood that they can’t get married, she never once says “I don’t love you” or “I don’t want to be with you.” In the grand scheme of things, none of the other reasons matter, and Osgood happily has an answer to each one until we get to his “nobody’s perfect!” line. Daphne has no response to that, and the last moments of the film show her confused and taken aback, in a “Holy shit, is this really an option?” kind of way. It was a revelation for her.

It was a revelation for me.

And that, right there, is why we need more movies/shows/cartoons/comics/books that tell gender queer and trans* stories. Because I was lucky enough to meet Janice and Daphne and take them to heart, but how many other kids who were just like me didn’t have the luxury of accidently misinterpreting what they saw on TV? How many children had the “truth” of those characters explained to them long before they were old enough to build their own truths, their own stories?

How many kids never had a chance to discover that a third option even exists?

I think we’ve come a long way since the day I met Janice. Networks like Hub are airing shows like SheZow that I couldn’t have imagined existing even five years ago.

I’d like to see more shows I couldn’t imagine when I was a child. Because I could imagine a *lot.* We all could, even if we weren’t aware. Some liked Joe. Some liked Kermit. Some liked Daphne. Some liked Janice.

Some still do.

_______________________________

Note: This post is part of the NER LGBT Pride Blog Fest. It lasts all June, and there are a lot of authors posting interesting articles this month. The site is also giving away its own prizes, so if you’d like to read and enter, go to http://naughtyeditionreviews.com/ and please check it out.

I am giving away an e-copy of Paul’s Dream, as well as a never-before-seen expanded print of the cover designed by the fabulous Anne Cain.



Nice, yeah? I’ll sign it if you want. 😉

To enter, all you have to do is join my newsletter (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/rowan_mcbride) and post a comment with your email address below. If you’re already a member of the newsletter–no worries. All you have to do is post here.

I’ll announce the winner July 1st. Good luck. XD

A Breath of Fresh Air

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

When I was in college, I met a guy who we’ll call Mike. Oddly enough, most of my friends from that era would end up coming out in one form or another after graduation, which brings up interesting questions on how we’d come together as a group in the first place. But Mike was my first friend who was out before I even met him.

At first, he was a friend of a friend. But we’d talk, and it was cool. I didn’t yet have a word for how I identified, and being around him was a breath of fresh air for reasons I wouldn’t understand until years later.

My college had a movie night. It was a very small, rural town and the two big weekly events for students were movies on Wednesdays and dancing on Saturdays. Most of us would go and catch a movie every. single. week. This particular time was no different. I went with my usual group of friends, which now included Mike because he was a friend of a friend. I don’t remember what was playing. I only remember that one of the main characters was gay.

And there’s a reason I remember that detail and nothing else.

Five minutes into the movie, there were snickers all through the theater. Five minutes after that, I started hearing things like “Oh, he’s totally a friend of Dorothy’s,” and “He’s light on his toes,” and “What a cake walker.” I frowned, wondering what the hell they were talking about. I’d lived overseas most of my life, and at that point I wasn’t at all familiar with the vast array of slurs that existed in the guise of almost-normal sentences in America*. But then words like “fag” began to filter through and I started to get the context.

I glanced at Mike, who somehow in the seating shuffle had ended up next to me. His jaw was tight, every muscle in his body had gone rigid. He kept his gaze locked on that movie screen.

I had no idea what to do. At nineteen, who does?

So I did the only thing I could think of. I leaned close to him and asked if he wanted to go outside.

His whole body slumped against the seat. He took a deep, shuddering breath and nodded. Without another word, we got up and walked out of the theater.

Once outdoors, we wandered aimlessly for a while. Quiet. Listening to fall leaves rustling on the wind. He apologized for ruining my night. I said I liked being there with him better and it was the jerks in the theater that had ruined the movie. He apologized again. I asked why because I was dense like that back then. He smiled and started to talk about other things. I listened.

That’s all we did. I don’t know how long we were out there—for damned sure past the length of the movie. And somewhere over the course of the night we went from being two people with a friend in common to actual friends.

A while back, Anderson Cooper did a special on bullying. It turns out, as much as bullying often induces a complex mob mentality within groups, intervening is just as contagious. All it takes is one intervener to get the ball rolling. A person witnesses the intervention, learns from it, and steps in when a similar situation pops up. More people witness, more people intervene. Even in the case of the person being bullied—if someone intervenes on their behalf, that person is much more likely to become an intervener as a result, developing a sense of empowerment that not only makes them want to change their own situation, but everyone else’s situations as well.

That is amazing for so many reasons. It’s also amazing because almost every bully interviewed in that special admitted to being bullied at some point in their lives, sometimes continuously. We repeat the behaviors we’re taught, and we go to great lengths to survive the culture we are in. Intervening not only helps victims, it changes society by creating a culture where the goal is not to survive, but to thrive.

Often it doesn’t take much. A word. A hand. A little quiet attention. It doesn’t matter so much what you do, as much that you do something that diverges from the tactics that bullies use.

Today is the International Day Against Homophobia. It makes me think about that night at the movie theater so many years ago, and how stepping out into the open air changed two people. It makes me think about how utterly terrified I was to come out to my own family and friends, then again to my readers. Both those times, I thought about Mike, who often told me his horror stories, but also shared how he loved and how he was loved, and how—even beyond that—he loved himself. I took a deep breath. And it was better.

That’s the power of intervention. It doesn’t always succeed, but it always, always makes a difference. So be an intervener. Change the world in big and little and amazing ways. Start today. Make things better now.

Listen. Tell your own stories. When something happens to your friend (or someone who could use a friend), speak up, step in. Give them a safe space. A breath of fresh air.


*I’m not saying other countries don’t have the same sorts of slurs. I grew up a military brat, so while I lived overseas, I wasn’t immersed in those cultures because I lived on base. At the same time, I was far away from the States and didn’t experience American culture as many Americans might experience it. An odd little bubble that wasn’t without bullies, but had its own culture and vocabulary.


I’d very much like to hear your stories and experiences on both acceptance and non-acceptance, so please feel free to comment below.



Hop Against HomophobiaThis post is a part of the Hop Against Homophobia. Click here to see what many other writers are sharing on the subject. I’m also giving away a copy of Want Me in a drawing open to anyone eighteen years and older. To enter, send an email with “hop” in the subject to mcbride_rowan@yahoo.com (mcbride_rowan at yahoo dot com) with your name and snail mail addy in the body. Drawing closes at 11:59PM CST on May 20th, and the winner will be notified via email the morning of the 21st. The winner’s initials will also be posted on this blog that day.International Day Against Homophobia

Help a Fab Editor

Friday, April 27th, 2012

My editor at Loose Id, Raven McKnight, is ill and is currently trying to get her health insurance to do right by her.  She’s a total fighter, but fighting requires being able to sit up and breathe at the same time, and she can’t even get *those* meds.  So Katey Hawthorne got a bunch of us together in order to raise some money that will help her do just that.

How can you help?  Go to http://www.indiegogo.com/for-raven. There’s different ways to donate, and each donation level gives you a chance to win a different prize.  They’re awesome prizes, for a very good cause.

Raven edited “One Good Hand,” “One Good Year,” and “One Shot.”  She’s sharp, savvy, and not afraid to rip a manuscript apart in order to make it better.  She also keeps me from losing my damned mind at the height of edits and in those tense days just after a book release.  She’s a great editor and a credit to writing.

Let’s help her out.

X’s and Bios

Friday, January 13th, 2012

I’ve written and rewritten this post so many times over the last few months. The drafts ranged from Dramatic Announcement to Flippant Lines to Absolutely Nonsensical. I knew what I wanted to say—just couldn’t figure out how to say it. But writing is all about drafts, so let’s give it another try:

It’s nothing big in the grand scheme of things. Just decided to use gender-neutral pronouns in my author biographies. I prefer them over “he” or “she” in reference to myself, and I complain a lot that I hardly ever see them used. I say I don’t use them because most people don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, and because there’s no standardized system for gender-neutral pronouns in America and Why does America suck so bad?!

Around then is when I realized I might be part of the problem, because if I don’t use them, then how the hell are the people around me supposed to become familiar with them?

So I’m going to use them now. In my author bios, as well as during those odd times when I think it’s a good idea to talk about myself in the third person. I don’t think it’ll change anyone else’s lives in any significant way, but it’ll change my life, and that’s what I’m going for.

Now, there is one advantage to having no standardized system for gender-neutral pronouns in America. It means I still have time to put in my vote, and I’m going with the X-set:

Xe, Xem, Xyr, Xyrs, Xemself

The “X” in these has the same sound as the “X” in xylophone.

The Sie/Hir set is probably more common, and I’ve used it online on several occasions. Using them can be an interesting study in perception because in my experience most people will assume I’ve made a typo and will correct it for me. So “Hir” is often reflected back at me as “His” or “Her” depending on the person reading it. It’s kinda cool from a sociological standpoint.

But I’m also a writer, and I’d rather not have people thinking I make that many typos. 😀

With the X-set, it’s pretty obvious that I’m deliberately spelling the words that way. Plus it fits well with “Mx.” in place of “Mr./Ms./Mrs./Miss” and I absolutely believe that “Mx.” should be an option on every form that feels it requires that sort of information. And, come on, X’s are cool.

I went through a phase (that I’m likely still going through) where I tried on all sorts of pronouns, looking for a set that fit me. I don’t mind He/She. I tend to joke that since I’m gender fluid, chances are one of those is right some of the time. The Sie/Ze/En sets made me feel more…settled. But the X set is, by far, my favorite, and it’s my bio. So, by definition, it’s all about me, yeah? 😉

If you’re interested, I’m posting the revised bio below. It’s nothing in the grand scheme of things, but it’s changed my life for the better.


Born an Air Force dependent, Rowan McBride traveled the world and totally missed the 80’s as most Americans know it. In exchange, xe’s gotten to walk in clogs, break an arm at Mt. Fuji, and say prayers at a Korean Buddhist temple. So far it seems like a fair trade. Although xe graduated from high school in Hawaii, xe didn’t learn to hula and make leis until going to college in Iowa. After leaving the Midwest, xe moved to Washington, DC and very nearly got xemself a Juris Doctor degree. Now xe’s chilling out in Texas, diabolically planning road trips that could span years.

People say xyr life is random, and that’s probably true. Rowan comforts xemself with the working theory that a random life makes for good stories. When that doesn’t work, there’s Pocky. Lots and lots of Pocky.

Sorry I’ve been absent.

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

Been sick. Still sick, but feeling a little better now. Even been writing a bit, and *might* have something to post soon. XD

Heh. Limericks.

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Haven’t been online much because the fam has descended. I’m talking parents, grandparents, cousins (and their families), aunties, uncles, brothers, nephews, nieces. If they don’t drink, they shoot, if they don’t shoot, they cook, if they don’t cook, they dance, and if they don’t dance, they, uh, write, I guess. We all, without exception, play dominoes. This is the state of my life at the moment.

I totally missed the start of the Goodreads M/M Romance Group 1-year Anniversary Celebration. I would have missed the whole thing if I hadn’t received an email letting me know it was time for me to mail out a prize I’d donated. But thanks to that email I got to drop in on some of the fun. I even got to play in a limerick contest yesterday and it floored the hell out of me to find out via another somewhat random email that the little sucker made first place. I chose Lynn Lorenz‘s “Pinky Swear” as my prize, so assuming no one snapped it up before me and assuming I picked from the correct prize list, I’m looking forward to a good read.

The celebration’s still going on. Drop in and have some fun. Also, if you have a minute, pray for me.

Posting the limerick below. The prompt was “Pain.”


There once was a heart in my chest
Until you ripped it right out of my breast
Now there’s no dawn
As the pain writhes on
You stole my love *and* my death

Pondering Rainbows

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

“I don’t have time to wake up every morning and ponder my sexuality all day.”

The above is one of a vast array of things said by an old friend to me during one of the last conversations we would ever have, because she was in the process of disowning me. It was certainly the last significant conversation we had, because the one after started as an awkward “how is your health” sort of thing that ended just as badly, but quieter and—given this was (wow) years ago—I can say with confidence it ended things between us for good.

I remember trying to explain that (a) sex is different from gender, (b) sexual orientation is separate from gender identity, and (c) that I didn’t wake up and ponder being a gender fluid person any more than she woke up pondering what it was like being a cis-gendered woman.

I never got to (c). Calling it a “conversation” was possibly too generous.

This isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned something from that day on this blog, and probably won’t be the last. Sometimes I’m embarrassed that I keep going back to it, because really I’m unbelievably lucky. My dad grew up southern Baptist and was a cowboy before joining the Air Force. My mom grew up very traditionally Korean and these days she’s a fundamentalist Baptist. I could have been disowned for real, but they were almost anti-climatically cool about me being gender-fluid. They don’t understand some of it and sometimes they backslide a bit, but they still love me and not in a “hate the sin love the sinner” kind of way so it’s definitely a win. None of my other close friends freaked out.

I keep saying I’ll put it out of my mind, but I guess things like that never really leave you. And lately I’ve been dissecting bits and pieces of what she said to me, turning them around in my head, using those little daggers to try and understand myself better.

Today I pondered my sexuality AND my gender, dammit.

A while back the television was on and Oprah was talking to a person who’d written a book about sexual fluidity. I glanced up because I rarely hear the term “gender fluid” unless I’m saying it and this was close enough to have me riveted. Oprah carefully asked the other person a question that I imagine a lot of people probably think and keep to themselves. Paraphrasing, it went something like:

When a woman who’s been straight all her life comes out as lesbian, why is it that you often see them with women that…sort of look like men?

The interviewee, Dr. Lisa Diamond, didn’t miss a beat, explaining that you can be attracted to women, but prefer masculine features.

I remember smiling at that, but didn’t really process it because I was under deadline at the time.

Today I pondered, and it was a hell of a lot of fun. Sexuality, gender, biology, et al. are complex things, and at first I skirted along the edges:

Gay men.
Straight women.
Lesbian women.
Straight men.

And then I just dove right in:

So, okay. A masculine male might like masculine features in men. A feminine woman could go for an equally lacy female. A bisexual woman or man might like masculine traits in both men and women, although my best friend is bisexual and sie needs hir women ULTRA feminine and hir men SUPER masculine, so you can split that down the middle. A friend of mine’s daughter IDs as pansexual and I had to wiki that, but I had to explain demisexual to someone of a similar age so the younger generation doesn’t have a monopoly on terms. Bois like grrls. Bois like birls who like bois. Yes, men who were born with female bodies can be attracted to men. Or women. Or any combination of the two. Androgynes are sometimes attracted to androgynous people, but being “androgynous” applies to physical features and not all androgynes look outwardly androgynous. Similarly, not all androgynous people identify as androgyne. A feminine man might go for feminine women and it doesn’t mean that the man is repressing his homosexuality or is bisexual. He might just know he looks damned good in pink. While polyamorous people can be bisexual and vice versa, the two terms are not interchangeable. It’s just possible to stack them in some cases. Like one might stack “straight polyamorous cis-gendered woman.” No one has exact numbers on how many intersexed people are out there because doctors and parents tend to make the gender decision for the child at birth and then hide the information to avoid stigma for the child. Often the child won’t find out unless there’s a medical problem later in life. More and more, however, parents of intersexed children are letting their kids choose their own gender when they’re older. Some choose male, some choose female, some don’t choose. Not choosing doesn’t make them indecisive or deformed. It just means they’re intersexed. GLBTQQICA. Sometimes athletic women are straight. Sometimes they’re not. Being an athlete doesn’t have anything to do with that. Bi-gendered, 3rd gendered, multi-gendered, genderqueer, omni-gendered, cis-gendered, gender-fluid, transgendered, non-gendered. Real men wear Stetsons. Real men drive trucks. Real men cry. Real men are afraid of spiders. Confession: I have NO fucking idea what a real man is, but genuine thanks to the kind people who send me mail to let me know that I write them.

Having fun yet? And the great thing is I haven’t even scratched the surface.

On that terrible day I had a fight with someone I’d been sure would be my friend forever, I was offended that she would assume I spent so much time thinking about sexuality/gender. Now I wonder why I don’t think about it MORE. It’s an amazing, mind bending thing to look at, and it makes me happy to see something new every time I do. It’s only when you look at it all that you understand why nearly every variation of a queer symbol has a rainbow on it—a rainbow is a spectrum of light that’s only visible when you look up to see the sun through the rain, and it’s bright, and beautiful, and (to borrow a story from my highly biblical upbringing) it’s a miracle.

Birthday Sneakers

Monday, January 18th, 2010

My birthday was last week and here’s a picture of one of my presents:

birthday shoes

Best. Shoes. EVER.

How to Help Haiti

Saturday, January 16th, 2010

I got the link via Mrs. Giggles’s blog. It’s a list of reputable places to donate:

http://www.care2.com/causes/human-rights/blog/how-to-help-haiti/