Since learning about Hop Against Homophobia, and agreeing to be a participant in it, I have learned that there is some controversy surrounding it. Some believe that those of us participating are doing it only to garner sales for our books. And, while I believe that everyone has a right to their opinion, I did not enter this hop for that reason, nor do I believe my fellow writers did. I couldn't care less if this post gains me a single book sale. That is not my purpose.
Awareness is my purpose and here is why…
His name was Dana.
He was bright and sweet and had a smile that made everyone around him happy. We spent hours standing on the fire escape at college, checking out cute guys. He liked the fancy dressed ones. I liked cowboys and rednecks. But he had an eye for the nicest asses. He could see them coming or going, and point them out at a hundred paces.
He helped me with my makeup, and drove me crazy with his choice of clothing. He was a mess when it came to cooking and cleaning, a total slob. But he never let a day go by without telling me how much he cared for me, or how proud he was that I was his best friend. He had a seriously twisted sense of humor but he could make me laugh like no one I have ever met. He could impersonate Bette Midler singing from the movie "Beaches" and make me hit the floor laughing. We laughed together, spending our days ogling, and we cried together, spending our nights wondering why we couldn't find the perfect guys. He had a crush on my boyfriend, a secret we both promised to take to our graves. Sadly, one of us kept that promise. We were both looking for "Mr. Right". He settled for "Mr. Right Now".
And his "Mr. Right Now" took his life.
I lost Dana a little over 20 years ago. His sweet smile was taken from me, and the rest of the world, in an act of violence that I will never forget. And I fully believe that the monster that took him will never fully pay for what he did. He might have been found guilty of his crimes, but because it was considered "domestic violence between homosexual males", the punishment will never fit the crime.
Through friends and family, I have watched the people I care about struggle with being who they are… everything from having to hide who they love so they wouldn't lose their jobs to not being able to find adequate housing because they were gay to just trying to fit in. I have watched my loved ones struggle with the rage inside of them because they could not be legally married because they were in love with someone of the same sex, even after years being with the same person. And cry on my shoulder when their gay lover's family denied them access at the hospital because they refused acknowledge that they had a gay child with a lover of the same sex.
They have been denied the basic rights that most people don't even think about let alone consider that they might not have that right to. And for what?
How many people walk down the sidewalk and hold the hand of the one they love without even thinking of the consequences of their actions? Do straight people think "Gee, I wonder if someone will spit on me or yell at me, call me names or even worse, attack me physically, because I'm holding the hand of someone that is the same sex as me?" Or do they just hold the hand of their loved one?
When they meet that special someone, do they wish that they lived in a state that allowed gay marriage, or do they just start planning their wedding, knowing without a doubt that it is their right to get married?
Do they worry that the person they have lived with for years might get sick, not only because they want nothing to happen to their loved one, but because they might be denied access to their loved one because they are not legally married?
Will their children be discriminated against because his/her parents are the same sex? Will they be bullied or made fun of? Will the school that they attend try and teach them that how their parents live is wrong? Can they coach their kids' baseball team without other parents thinking they're a pervert because of who they love?
Will their family disown them because they love someone of the same sex?
Will people point at them?
Laugh at them?
Call them names?
All of the above?
Because of the people that I have been lucky enough to have in my life, both past and present, I have no tolerance for people who hate. Everyone should have the same rights, whether it's to get married or to walk down the street holding the hand of the one they love.
And yes, when it comes to my writing, I write because I love to write, but I also write m/m books because I truly believe that everyone has the right to love whoever they choose to, male, female, or purple penguin. And if I can convince just one person with my writing that what they feel is not only okay, but their right to feel… well, then…Dana would be proud of me.
The International Day Against Homophobia, held on May 17 every year, is a rallying event offering an opportunity for people to get together and reach out to one another. According to Fondation Émergence, the purpose behind the International Day Against Homophobia is to:
• Promote the growth of harmonious relationships among people, regardless of their sexual orientation;
• Further the inclusion of homosexual persons in society;
• Encourage citizens to understand sexual diversity;
• Put an end to discrimination based on sexual orientation in keeping with the charters of rights and freedoms;
• Give rise to a general open mindedness towards diversity, and other related values in our society;
• Show the devastating effects of homophobia;
• Propose and put in place concrete means to fight homophobia;
• Induce all sympathizers to organize activities aimed at fighting homophobia;
• Set up a consultation process among its partners;
• Converge all anti-homophobia activities on a single day;
• Put together an organizational structure capable of insuring the survival and recurrence of the event.
The goal of Hop Against Homophobia is to get people to see the messages on homophobic discrimination, and we're using prizes to do it. Homophobic discrimination is a very serious issue, but at the same time we want people to have fun during this hop so that they'll come next year (and hopefully bring more friends). So, please take the time to read this post along with the other posts on other blogs celebrating HAH. Leave a comment (along with your email) for a chance to win a free eBook copy of "Sweet Oblivion", my May 26th release. Only those comments with an email addy will be included in the contest. I have to have a way to contact you if you win. The Winner will be announced on my blog on May 21st.
For more blog posts, and the chance for more prizes, visit http://hopagainsthomophobia.blogspot.com/