The Sound of My People: The Equal Rights Blog Hop

equal_rights_blog_hop_buttonWelcome to the Equal Rights Blog Hop! Each year, members of the the GLBTQ community and their supporters gather to celebrate the battle for equal rights. This year, thirty different authors have joined in the hop, and there are prizes galore! Be sure to check out the entire prize list at Queertown Abbey and see how you can enter to win the rafflecopter–as well as the Master List of Participating Authors.

Last year at my annual weekend gathering of fandom friends, where we meet up to stuff ourselves silly with each others best recipes and stay up until all hours talking about our fandom loves, there was a moment when all of us were busy on our laptops checking our emails, updating our status, or working on stories. The only sound in the room was the clattering of keys. One of my friends looked up and said with a happy sigh, “Ah, the sound of my people.”

We all laughed, and it has become a catch-phrase for us ever since.

You know what she meant, though. It’s true, as a species, we like to say ‘us, not them’ and form communities while at the same time, shutting some people out. The very thing that makes us recognize ‘alike’ makes us suspicious and leery of ‘other’. That need to separate people into tribes, into ‘us vs. them’ can be both a good and a bad thing.

This post was supposed to be about my first experience with the GLBTQ community, and I’d originally planned a nice sweet little blog post about how I did a lot of theater in high school and how my friends were neither my gay nor straight friends but my theater friends. I didn’t identify them as to their sexual orientation. It wasn’t a big deal. Ricky was the one who could hold a note for 16 bars without taking a breath. Amy was the one who made me laugh. Tom was the one I had a mad crush on, despite my friends telling me I couldn’t have a crush on him–and I knew it would never work, but I had a thing for talent, you see. Yeah, short and sweet, that was going to be my original post.

Then the whole thing with SCOTUS and their ruling on the Hobby Lobby case came down, and I have to tell you, I was both stunned and appalled. I’ve spent most of the week being seriously pissed. I’m sure I’ve annoyed and alienated many of my friends (and potential readers, too) with how angry I’ve been. I posted about it yesterday, as a matter of fact, and why I believe that the only thing that scares the GOP more than the mythical ‘gay agenda’ is the single, independent woman.

But here’s the thing. Almost every one of my GLBTQ friends have been just as upset, vocal, and angry by this ruling as I am–and for many of them, it has no direct bearing on them and their lifestyle. They resent it, however, for what it represents: discrimination on the part of one group of people against another group of people based on religious, economic, and political beliefs. They resent it in the same way that I resent seeing states pass laws banning equal marriage rights, or allowing discriminatory hiring/firing practices. Because it is wrong. Because no one group should be able to impose their will on others to this degree. All those times I stood up and cheered for my friends finally getting married, or I voted for someone who vowed to stand up for civil liberties across the board, or I fought to see some measure passed that would protect my friends? Well, yeah, they’ve got my back, too. And that, my friends, is what community is all about. I love you guys. 🙂

If you enter the Rafflecopter, you’re entered to win an e-copy of my award-winning novel, The Boys of Summer. I have a short story out in the newly released Not Quite Shakespeare anthology from Dreamspinner Press, and will be releasing Walk a Mile, the sequel to Unspeakable Words, in Sept/Oct 2014. Good luck, and happy hopping!

Why “Frozen” Embodies Everything the GOP Fears Most

Frozen_GOT Mashup

Frozen_GOT Mashup

Okay, so this isn’t the first time I’ve written about the movie Frozen. The first time was with delight, to share how much this movie resonated with me and how much I identified with Elsa, always hiding who she really was for the good of her people, to please her parents, for intentions well-meant but ultimately wrong for her. The second time I posted about it was in response to some of the ludicrous reactions that followed: that by breaking with the standard Disney traditions of the ‘princess’ being rescued by the Prince in the end, Frozen was somehow dangerous and should be prohibited viewing for young, formative minds.

Today’s post takes that theme a bit farther into darker territory. To be honest, I am reeling from the recent SCOTUS decision handed down in favor of Hobby Lobby ruling that they are exempt from having to provide health insurance for their employees that does not agree with their religious beliefs. In one single action, SCOTUS has determined that corporations are things that can hold beliefs, that the religious beliefs of one set of people trump the access to basic health care for another set of people, that employers have a say-so in their employees health care, and that women are second-class citizens. Ruth Ginsberg was right when she stated in her scathing rebuttal of the decision that this was opening a minefield. Already corporations are filing lawsuits to not cover other kinds of birth control under the same reasoning. One of the things I find most damning in the SCOTUS decision is the mandate that this ruling pertains to certain kinds of birth control only: that it in no way should be taken to mean that other forms of health care, which might also be forbidden or offensive to certain religions, will be subject to the same exemptions based on religious beliefs.

Oh. I see. It’s not people needing blood transfusions or having allergic reactions to shellfish that you are discriminating against. Just women who want to have some control over family planning. I had a woman respond to one of my tweets on the subject by saying “I don’t want my tax dollars going to support some other woman’s immorality.” That’s what it really boils down to. Sex is for procreation only, and if any woman indulges in it for any other purpose, well, then she is a dirty skank. Note that the prohibition doesn’t apply to men. After all, boys will be boys, right?  Let’s completely ignore the fact that many, many women take birth control for medical reasons (I was one such person, who could not function with erratic periods that hit without warning, resulting in overwhelming nausea and blackouts. Without birth control, I was simply not functional for several weeks out of every month) Let’s eliminate the case of the woman who gets pregnant as a result of rape as being “God’s will”.  So let me get this straight. It’s not God’s will that some man can’t get it up? What purpose is there for Viagra besides sex?

I was tempted to respond to my twitter troll by saying that I didn’t want my tax dollars going to support her church, but really, that’s not true. I haven’t minded the fact that my tax dollars goes to support schools when I have no children, and fire departments when I’ve never had a fire–simply because I believe in the idea of communities and having support available to all when they do need it.  However, if churches are going to become such huge political entities, I think we need to re-think their tax-exempt status.

GOP PLan for WomenI’ve read several excellent and damning articles on the subject over the last few days. Best selling author Kate Aaron has written an insightful essay into why we all should be worried about what this Supreme Court ruling means. She says what I’ve been saying about the implications of this ruling with far more eloquence than I have; you should read her post. I also read an excellent article posted by Salon this morning, which states what I’ve been saying all along: the only thing the GOP finds more frightening than the mythical “Gay Agenda” is the Independent Woman.

And that’s the heart of the antagonism toward Frozen by certain parties. If you haven’t watched the “Let it Go” scene (and where have you been, hiding under a rock?) then I invite you to watch it now. Go on. I’ll wait.

Did you see it? The most frightening thing to ever appear in a movie! *gasp* The heroine who discovers the power within herself to be herself–without a man standing at her side. Notice, too, how Elsa’s transformation into her true self was decidedly sexy and seductive–and yet with no other motive than because it pleased her to look that way. In another stunning twist on the old tropes, it isn’t Kristoff who saves the day when Anna is turning to ice (though it would have been a nice ending–Kristoff’s a good guy and he *isn’t* a prince, so Disney could have stopped there and it would have been trope-breaking enough). No, Anna’s last act before turning into a solid block of ice is to rush to her sister’s defense. To throw herself between her sister and the sword about to fall. Her sister.

You would have thought that this act of sisterly love would have embodied the core of the GOP’s professed ‘family values’. What could be more pure than the love two sisters have for each other? What could be nobler than the self-sacrificing act Anna made (which incidentally ended up saving her own life)? Nothing.

So how did Frozen come to represent the mythical Gay Agenda? Why were people jumping up and down and screaming that it promoted lesbianism, among other things? The answer is quite simple–and yet very ugly at the same time. As of the most recent US Census, women outnumber men in this country. Women represent 41.6% of the workforce (for which they average salaries over $10 K less annually than men). Single, independent women tend to vote democratic. There. I said it. It all boils down to politics. So why target Frozen as the work of the Gay Agenda? Because it’s safe to do so. Because the far right can still ramp up its political base with the words ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian’. They are doing a good job of ramping up their base with the word ‘slut’ as well. And every single term is considered a permissible form of name-calling in today’s media.

But there was no slutty behavior in Frozen. And to scream, “But look at her! She’s promoting being a Strong, Independent Woman!” would sort of point out the GOP’s real agenda: to keep women financially dependent on men. It’s a harder sell to say, “Don’t let your little girl watch Frozen, as she might grow up to be able to think for herself!” than it is to say, “LESBIAN ALERT!!”

The fact that all of these words are used to denigrate and subjugate one group of people to the belief system of another is wrong. It needs to stop before we see the gradual erosion of civil rights across the board. You think I’m being overly pessimistic, don’t you? Perhaps. But I keep seeing posts about fathers making their daughters sign ‘purity pledges’ (and taking creepy photos with them like they were Prom dates or something–what’s up with that?) and men advocating keeping your daughters at home, preventing them from being sullied with education, and the like. So, yeah. I believe if we don’t wake up, we’ll be fighting to keep our very right to *vote* in another thirty or so years.

Talk to your boss

But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe all of this has finally woken the sleeping dragon at last. You know the one I mean. The middle-aged woman who has been too tired to get involved in politics because she’s been too busy taking care of her elderly parents, and her own family, and working a full time job for less money than her male co-workers. She’s been up to her neck in house payments, and dealing with chronic illness, and surviving on too little sleep and anti-depressants, and burning the candle at both ends only to scrape up the wax and slap it back on the wick again because if she gives up and flops down on the couch, there is no-one else to get everything done. And this woman is *angry*. Most of the women I know are furious right now. And you know what? The GBLTQ community has our back because we have THEIR back. Since I’ve never met a homophobe who wasn’t also misogynistic and racist, it only makes sense that we support each other. And we’ll remember this come election time.

Dear GOP: Winter is coming.