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!

Let It Go: How One Song Has Inspired So Many…

Frozen_GOT Mashup

Frozen_GOT Mashup

My friends and I have been discussing Frozen lately. I’m frankly obsessed with it, as I’ve mentioned before, but I’m finding that many of my friends are equally entranced. The movie itself has generated a lot of talk about some of the messages it sends—in particular I appreciated the fact that Princess Anna didn’t need a Prince to save her—she ended up saving herself. I also appreciated the message behind the “Fixer-Upper” song—in how none of us is perfect, and more importantly, we aren’t going to change the person we love. Love itself, however, will temper how we view perceived failings.

We’ve also discussed the ludicrous accusations of the Far Right that this movie somehow promotes the mythical Gay Agenda. Funny, I didn’t see that. I saw how the love that two sisters had for each other was more important than anything else in their lives—a testament to family. My guess is that the people crying ‘foul’ here are bothered by the real message: that a woman doesn’t need a man to be a whole person. There’s only one thing that scares the conservative Tea Party more than gays. That’s an independent, free-thinking woman. Why? Because collectively, we make up a very large minority. Big enough to take them down come next election time. This frightens them so much—which is why we are seeing more and more reactive legislature on their part: birth control and abortion restrictions, striking down laws for equal pay, killing programs that would benefit working mothers and help them get off welfare, etc. However, they can’t directly attack women without shooting their platform in the foot (again). Hence, the implantation of the idea that being an Independent Woman leads to becoming a Lesbian. That is a chain they can safely rattle, or so they believe. Keep your girls at home, don’t let them get an education. Isolate them from the world so they stay ‘pure’. Brainwash them into being the proper little women you want them to be.

Frankly, one of the many reasons I am so pro-marriage equality is that I’ve never met a homophobe who wasn’t also extremely misogynistic. I also believe that we don’t fight and win our civil rights battles once—they are an ongoing battlefield that must be protected every day, or else someone will try to strip us of those hard-won rights.

But that wasn’t what I started out to say here.

What I really wanted to talk about was how the song “Let It Go” has taken hold in the hearts of so many people. Everywhere I go, I hear people singing it. Jimmy Fallon does a rendition with Idina Menzel and the Roots on the Tonight Show. Type in ‘Let it Go’ on Youtube and you’ll get dozens of covers, from an Africanized tribal cover to one in multiple languages to a completely (and stunning) instrumental version by The Piano Guys. Why? Why has this song taken the world by storm?

I think it has a lot to do with the fact that is speaks to so many people on so many different levels. I think most of us have something we hide from the rest of the world, something that it is Real Us that we are afraid to share with the rest of the world because we’re afraid no one will like us, or that they will judge us. And truth be told, we fear with good reason. Most of us have been judged. Because we’re nerds who like Doctor Who and Star Trek beyond all reason, or because we are smarter than most of the people we know, or because we think we’re ugly, or we’re afraid to admit to our sexual preferences, or scared to follow our dreams. Because we’ve been taught to hide our real selves. We’re ashamed on some level of being who we are because who we are isn’t like everyone else and above all, we have to be like the crowd, right?

Wrong.

Who we are is what makes us unique. It’s what makes us interesting. It is where our power originates. The look on Elsa’s face when she finally releases the magic within her is truly glorious. I can watch that sequence over and over again as she remakes herself into her own image, stripping herself of the trappings laid on her by society. “The cold never bothered me anyway” has become my personal mantra.

We all have something that we need to let go. Past hurts and resentments. Fears and failings. The idea that if only we’d done ‘x’ differently, our lives would somehow be magically better. We forget that every decision made brought us to this moment in time, in contact with the people we know and love now, positioned to take what is being offered to us if we’d only take off the gloves holding us back. If we’d only stop letting fear control our decisions and instead, we embrace the uniqueness that is us.

Let it go.