#HAHABT: Some thoughts on activism past and present, and writing diverse portrayals

Hop Against Homophobia, Bi- and Transphobia

[Edited 5/25: Thanks so much for visiting my blog during the Hop! My giveaway has ended and the winner is: H.B.! Check your e-mail. :)]

The Hop Against Homophobia and Bi- and Transphobia is on!

I’m taking part by writing a short blog post and sharing the list of participating writers/bloggers who you should visit. Each of us hosts a giveaway. Drop a comment below, and you’ll be entered to win my recent release Werecat: The Trilogy.

#HAHABT is a weeklong event (May 17th – May 24th) created by writers to join forces for the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. I’ve been participating since I found out about it in 2013.

A writer-led campaign to advance social justice for LGBTs? Yes, please!

I caught the social justice bug at student protests against Cornell University’s investments in Apartheid-era South Africa. I remember the rush of my first demonstration. As individuals, we had no influence on the university’s financial practices, let alone the situation in South Africa. Together, we were strong and filled with belief.

I joined Take Back the Night marches to eliminate violence against women. In the early 90s, I demonstrated to protest the first Gulf War. When I came out as gay, I marched to protest gay-bashings, religious condemnation, and government inaction on the AIDS crisis.

Activism has changed in the digital age. We take to Twitter, Facebook and online petitions instead of taking it to the steps of City Hall or stopping traffic on Main Street. An important, recent exception is the “Black Spring” to protest police brutality, which has called for traditional strategies of civil disobedience. But generally we communicate and organize in different ways.

I miss the real-life camaraderie and the homespun feel of old school social action. One of my fondest memories is when a group of friends was so energized to counter-protest a “pro-life” group targeting Planned Parenthood that we had an all-night party painting signs, talking politics, and of course tossing back a sizeable quantity of beer.

But a good case can made that technology has made activism more effective. Taking for instance the reaction to the state of Indiana’s regressive legislation to sanction religious bigotry, social media can be a powerful platform for change. The flood of memes (#boycottindiana) with personal testimonials on Facebook and Twitter created a tidal wave of social pressure. That nationwide phenomenon had impact on corporations and elected officials that I don’t believe would have happened through local demonstrations alone.

As a fantasy author, I don’t very often write explicitly about homophobia or transphobia in a modern context. I do think a lot about how fairly I portray sexuality, gender and “race.” One of my current manuscripts features a lesbian character for example who happens to look physically male and to express herself in a “masculine” way, and I puzzled for some time about what that would say to readers since she is the only lesbian in the story.

We need more diverse portrayals of LGBTs in books. I don’t claim to be the authority on how to do that well in every instance though my gut feeling is that it’s a good thing when writers question what we write and ask people who are representative of the characters we’re writing about for feedback.

I’ll stop there and look forward to your comments. Feel free to fill your red, plastic Dixie cup from my virtual keg while you’re here. Leave your e-mail address if you would like to enter a drawing for an e-copy of my latest book Werecat: The Trilogy. I will pick a winner through random.com on May 25th 12:00 AM EST.

And don’t forget to click below to check out some of the 100+ writers/bloggers who are participating in #HAHABT this year:

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Some of my favorite tweets from #OutWriters


It’s LGBT Pride month so you can expect things to be a little gayer than usual around here. 😉

Cleis Press, an independent queer publisher, launched the #OutWriters campaign on Twitter to “celebrate the importance of LGBT writing.” Sounded like a damn good idea to me. My publisher Bold Strokes Books has joined in, along with many LGBT/queer authors from the U.S. and beyond. It has inspired some awesome testimonials as well as a nice run of light-hearted humor and generalized frolic.

The idea is to tweet something about why you write LGBT fiction, or why it’s important to you. Here are some of my favorites so far this month.

And of course, here’s one of my own I like a lot.

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“Atlantis Fandom Makes a Comeback”

There have been crickets chirping over here while I’ve been gearing up and now starting the semester, plus editing a new novel and lining up some guest posts for The Seventh Pleiade.

On that latter score, head over to speculative fiction blog Layers of Thought to check out my guest article: “Atlantis Fandom Makes a Comeback,” wherein I talk about the ebb and flow of interest in Atlantis and why this is the right time for Atlantis stories to make a big splash.

(hardee har har…sorry about that).

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The Number of LGBT YA Titles Increasing at a Turtle’s Pace According to Malinda Lo

This is a lazy blog post. It really is.

I basically just wanted to share a very sharp, well-reasoned analysis of the status of LGBT YA written by author Malinda Lo earlier this week (“LGBT Young Adult Books 2003-2013: A Decade of Slow But Steady Change”).

You might find the title to be a bit charitable after you read the article and see her pie charts and graphs. (Yay for Pie Charts and Graphs!) In an industry that publishes thousands of young adult books every year, on average only fifteen of those books portray LGBT teens and/or “LGBT issues” such as growing up with same-sex parents or bullying in school.


Anyway, as always, Lo is thoughtful and precise in her consideration of the dilemma. Part of that precision is focusing on big publishers only. The number of LGBT titles from small presses, or those self-published by authors, is very challenging to count and analyze. Including those titles could skew perceptions. It’s important that LGBT books are published, but it’s also important that they have a wide distribution so that they get to teen readers. That’s not to say that LGBT titles at big publishers are better. I like the way that Lo addresses this issue:

“In some ways, I see the largest YA publishers as analogous to the broadcast networks on television. Broadcast networks have historically had the widest reach, even though much quality programming happens these days on cable channels that have smaller distribution in the television marketplace. An analysis of the broadcast networks — or the major publishers — doesn’t negate the contributions that smaller networks (or publishers) can and do make, especially in representation of minorities, but I do think the major networks (and publishers) have a greater responsibility due to their greater reach.”

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Postcard to Putin

A friend of mine, artist and author Stephen Mead brought to my attention this important campaign.

Postcard collage by Stephen Mead

Postcard collage by Stephen Mead

You are probably aware of the vulnerable status of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Russia due in great part by the government enacting a law prohibiting the “promotion” of homosexuality. With the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Russian officials even went so far as to warn international athletes that they will be banned from the games if there is evidence that they are spreading “gay propaganda.”

Some human rights activists have demanded that fair-minded countries pull out of the Sochi Olympics. Others have organized boycotts of Russian products like vodka. I think both of these strategies have their merits and their limitations, e.g. who really suffers from a boycott in a global economy?

Mead’s Postcard to Putin, which ties in with Change.org’s Love Letters to Russia campaign, is a straight forward approach to raising awareness of the government’s wrong-mindedness while putting pressure on Russia’s leaders. Whether or not the messages penetrate the hearts and minds of politicians, they give global visibility to the outrage so many of us feel. They’re also a great example of how anyone can be an activist.

Here’s Stephen’s page from the International Society and Assemblage of Collage Artists with information on how you can get involved.

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5 Reasons Why Atlantis is Making a Comeback

I love a good Atlantis story, and I despair a bit that Atlantis has never quite broken into modern pop culture, at least not in a way with much gravitas.

For sci-fi geeks, there was the Stargate Atlantis series and for kids there was Disney’s Atlantis: The Lost Empire. Some big name authors have written about Atlantis, like Clive Cussler with his espionage thriller Atlantis Found, but generally Atlantis stories are considered genre and niche.

It’s time for a full-on Atlantis blitz, on the order of vampires, post-apocalyptic dystopias and zombies. Here’s why the time is right.

5. The Every-Thirty-Years Theory: Sociologists say our culture is cyclical.
Political, social and even artistic trends tend to fall in and out of fashion every
thirty years.

This is good news for Atlantis fans because the last decade of major Atlantis popularity was the 1980s. Here’s a look back in thirty year spans.

"Psychic" Edgar Cayce

“Psychic” Edgar Cayce


Atlantis makes its silver screen début with the French/Belgian silent movie L’Atlantide, Scottish journalist and folklorist Lewis Spence publishes his seminal book The History of Atlantis. Pop-psychic Edgar Cayce claims that he can contact ancient Atlanteans.




From the 1959 film adaptation of Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth

From the 1959 film adaptation of Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth


Jules Vernes’ Journey to the Center of the Earth is made into a movie. Pulp author Lester Del Rey, who will become the founder of Ballantine’s sci fi/fantasy imprint Del Rey books, publishes Attack from AtlantisAtlantis:The Lost Continent becomes the first Hollywood studio production about the legend (OK, that’s stretching decades just a touch; the movie came out in 1961).


Screen shot of Atari's Atlantis

Screen shot of Atari’s Atlantis


Best-selling Australian author Marion Zimmer Bradley takes on Atlantis with her epic Fall of Atlantis. The award-winning film Cocoon is based on extraterrestrial myths about Atlantis. Atari is inspired and releases an Atlantis video game.



4. Everyone loves Greek Mythology: Recent projects about Ancient Greece are a warm-up for the BIG Atlantis breakthrough.

Percy Jackson: Sea of MonstersThere’s Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson book series and movie franchise, the 2010 reboot of Clash of the Titans (from the original 1981 movie — see #5 above), along with films like 300 and Immortals.



3. Young adult fantasy author T.A. Barron just released the Atlantis Rising series.

TA Barron's Atlantis Rising

2. BBC’s Atlantis mini-series just came to the small screen for Fall 2013.

Embedly Powered


1. You know where this was leading: Andrew J. Peters’ The Seventh Pleiade, upcoming in November 2013, begins a new epic series retelling the story of Atlantis. (And is available for pre-order by the way).

The Seventh Pleiade by Andrew J. Peters*Note: This article is not meant to be taken entirely seriously :)

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