S R Silcox - Author

Blog updated 2-3 times a month.

Category: Gay Stuff (page 1 of 2)

Brisbane Pride 2018 is almost here!

Brisbane Pride is one of my favourite times of the year. It’s loud, it’s proud and it’s wonderfully colourful.

2017 Brisbane Pride – My wife and I waiting to march to Newfarm Park.

Usually, my wife and I travel down for the weekend, walk in the march to Newfarm Park and then spend the day wandering around eating, checking out stalls, catching up with our city friends, eating, listening to music and watching the drag queens, eating … you get the picture.

 

2018 Sunny Coast Pride Fair Author Booth

At last year’s Fair Day, I met a wonderful author, Lesley Dimmock, who had a stall at Fair Day selling her books. Since then, we’ve become firm friends and had a stall together at the Sunshine Coast Pride Fair where we had a lot of fun meeting people who had no idea lesbian authors even existed in Australia(I know, right! Turns out, there are HEAPS of us).

It’s no surprise, then, that Lesley and I decided to team up again and have another Author Booth stall at Brisbane Pride Fair Day this year, which is happening at Newfarm Park on Saturday the 22nd September, from 11.00am-6.00pm.

Lesley and I have been working away on some cool things for the stall this year, and we’ve called on some other Aussie lesfic authors to help us out.

What can you expect?

  • Freebies! We’ve curated a freebie bag that contains free ebooks from some fantastic Aussie lesfic authors as well as stickers, bookmarks and other cool stuff.
  • Books! Lesley and I will, of course, be selling our own books.
  • Giveaway! We have a brand-spanking-new  Aussie and Kiwi Lesfic Reader and Author group we’d love you to check out, and if you sign up for the mailing list during Pride, you go into the draw to win some really cool prizes.
  • Red Frogs! Seriously, Lesley can’t get through the day without at least 20 of them, so there will be a HUGE bowl of red frogs to lure you in for you to eat for some extra sustenance. It’s a huge day – trust me, you’ll need them.
  • Authors! Last but not least, Lesley and I will be there and would love to chat to you about books (ours and in general) and about lesbian fiction and what we’re doing to promote it.

As an added bonus this year, Rainbow Families Qld has asked me to do a reading at their Young, Out and Proud event being held at the Where the Wild Things Are Bookshop at West End on Friday 21st September, 4.00pm-6.00pm. Rainbow Families Qld provides some wonderful advocacy and support services for LGBTIQ+ families and since I know some fantastic rainbow families myself, I want to support them as much as I can.

Which is why $5 from each of my novels ordered directly from my site before the 14th September (excluding Written in the Stars) will be donated to Rainbow Families Qld when you use the magic word in your checkout.

As an added bonus, everyone who purchases any of the Girls of Summer books (Crush, After Summer and Written in the Stars) or the Alice Henderson books (Alice Henderson On Debut and Alice Henderson Makes the Grade) will get a bonus swag pack containing:

  • book series stickers
  • bookmarks, including one handmade by me!
  • codes to download the ebook copies of the book(s) for you to keep or give to a friend

Want to find out more about that offer? Head over to the Rainbow Families Pride Special Page for more info. Hint: that’s also where you’ll find the magic word to get your swag.

And if you haven’t already, now would be a great time to give me a follow on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. I’ll be posting pics and updates from Pride weekend and those are the places you’ll find them.

The Invisibility Cloak of an LGBTIQ YA Author

I’m preparing to give my very first author reading in a few weeks, which means I’ve been spitballing ideas on what to talk about that won’t bore the pants off people and maybe, hopefully, even convince them to buy a book or two.

After asking for advice from friends, thinking about the books I write, and reading a good friends brand new blog, I settled on my theme for my pre-reading talk.

Invisibility.

Invisibility is a superpower for those of us who are introverts. It comes in particularly handy for those of us who write in tiny niches, which LGBTIQ YA stories certainly are.

On the one hand, we wish our stories would get much more attention, if not because it would be good to actually make a living wage off our writing, then to be able to reach readers much more easily.

On the other hand, being invisible as an author writing in a tiny niche means almost never having to explain what you write. It means never feeling judged when you get pressed to answer the question ‘what type of YA do you write?’.

Sometimes, when you mention the word ‘lesbian’ in conjuction with being an author, the person you’re talking to jumps right over that assumption barrel and lands on ‘erotica’ – or at the very least, sex scenes.

It can be exhausting explaining that writing lesbian characters, particularly in the young adult genre, does not necessarily equal sex.

So anyway, thinking about this reading, and what I wanted to talk about, I had decided to explain why I choose to write happy lesbian YA fiction.

I’ve been taken to task by some people – not often but often enough – for not writing realistic characters, which essentially means that because my characters suffer no homophobia, have happy endings and have supportive family and friends around them, that I may as well call my books fantasies.

Apart from the fact that I have been lucky enough myself to have a happy ending, have suffered no outwardly bad homophobia that I can think of, and have loving and supportive friends and family, I just think there are other writers out there better positioned to write those darker stories than me.

And that led me to thinking about how authors like me stumble around on the fringes of the publishing industry.

I’m a niche within a niche – a self-published author writing in LGBTIQ YA/children’s fiction, but I don’t write coming out or angsty stories, which is what seems to be currently expected when you add the ‘LGBTIQ’ tag.

While the big publishers are starting to release more fiction in that niche, the authors of those stories still don’t get the huge backing that other authors of more mainstream genres (ie contemporary romance, fantasy, urban fantasy etc) do.

We’re in effect invisible.

Now, being invisible means we get to toil away, writing the stories we want to write without too much pressure being placed on us by publishers to go bigger and better than last time. (Although I do feel a pressure to write the best I possibly can for the readers I have and give them the stories they want to read, but that pressure is internal).

Being invisible also means there’s less chance of copping criticism. Less chance of someone dragging your hard work through the mud, just to take you down a peg or two because you haven’t managed to be inclusive enough.

Seriously. The LGBTIQ fanverse can be brutal – just ask Ruby Rose about what fans thought of her being cast as Batwoman in the upcoming TV series.

So invisibility affords us a get-out-of-jail-free card of sorts. It affords us a fall-back so that we don’t have to step outside of our comfort zone. We don’t have to stick our head above the parapet lest it get bruised or worse, taken clean off.

But invisibility also means that we feel isolated.

Invisibility means we feel like the only gay in the village, when in reality, that’s so often not true.

Invisibility stops us from living our best selves, and from connecting to others like us who will validate us and make us strong enough and confident enough to claim our own unique place in the world.

And so that’s what I’m going to talk about if I get the chance to do my reading next month.

I’m going to talk about how, even though it takes me weeks of mental preparation to talk to a group of people I don’t know, and then days to recover from the stress of it, that it’s important I stick my head up every now and then.

I’m going to talk about the fact that though some people don’t think my stories or my books are realistic, or even any good (which is entirely subjective anyway), that it’s important that I still write them because of those emails and social media messages I get from readers who are just discovering who they are; those who are living in families that aren’t accepting of their sexuality; those readers who have lost friends from coming out; they need my stories.

I know because they’ve told me.

Those readers need something light-hearted and fun, where the characters are accepted for exactly who they are. Where they’re surrounded by supportive friends and family. Where they get a happily ever after.

Those are the books I write. I’m not going to shy away from that anymore.

And I am going to do my damndest to get past my own awkwardness and my own tendency to hide away in order to get those stories to the kids who need them the most.

Queer fairytales to celebrate a fairytale wedding

In case you’ve been living under a rock, Hollywood royalty married into British royalty over the weekend, and yes, although I am in favour of Australia becoming a republic, I stayed up to watch it.

I do love a good wedding, to be totally honest, and who hasn’t ever dreamed of being swept off their feet by royalty?

If that’s totally your bag, then I’ve got some books that might see you through to the next royal wedding, whenever that may be (and who knows, maybe we just may see one of the future royals making a huge break with tradition and marry someone of the same gender).

Fairytales aren’t my cup of tea, but if they’re yours, here are three books you might like to read.

Ash by Malinda Lo

The only book I’ve read with a fairytale theme is Ash by Malinda Lo. It’s a retelling of Cinderella with a love triangle between real life and fae thrown in. I listened to this on audiobook, which Malinda Lo read herself, which was totally amazing.

From the back cover:

In the wake of her father’s death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, rereading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.

The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King’s Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash’s capacity for love-and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.

Entrancing, empowering, and romantic, Ash is about the connection between life and love, and solitude and death, where transformation can come from even the deepest grief.

If you’re into Cinderella retellings with a queer twist, then this one’s for you. There’s also a follow-up book, Huntress, which is the prequel to Ash.

The Second Mango by Shira Glassman

This one’s been around awhile, having first been published back in 2013. It’s the first in the Mangoverse series of fantasy/fairytale stories full of dragons and adventures with queer main characters. I haven’t read these myself, but they’ve been highly recommended and have great reviews.

From the blurb:

Queen Shulamit never expected to inherit the throne of the tropical land of Perach so young. At twenty, grief-stricken and fatherless, she’s also coping with being the only lesbian she knows after her sweetheart ran off for an unknown reason. Not to mention, she’s the victim of severe digestive problems that everybody thinks she’s faking. When she meets Rivka, an athletic and assertive warrior from the north who wears a mask and pretends to be a man, she finds the source of strength she needs so desperately.

Unfortunately for her, Rivka is straight, but that’s okay — Shulamit needs a surrogate big sister just as much as she needs a girlfriend. Especially if the warrior’s willing to take her around the kingdom on the back of her dragon in search of other women who might be open to same-sex romance. The real world outside the palace is full of adventure, however, and the search for a royal girlfriend quickly turns into a rescue mission when they discover a temple full of women turned to stone by an evil sorcerer.

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

This one is relatively new, having been first published in 2016. It’s another Princess falling for a Princess story, but it’s not as simple as that. (Or there wouldn’t be a cool story!)

From the blurb:

Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile lands. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a kingdom where magic is forbidden.

Now, Denna must learn the ways of her new home while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine—called Mare—the sister of her betrothed.

When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two become closer, Mare is surprised by Denna’s intelligence and bravery, while Denna is drawn to Mare’s independent streak. And soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.

But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other.

I wish I could find more, but as I said in an earlier post, it’s extremely hard to find books with queer content with simple google searches.

Having said that, if you’re after more queer books with fairytale or fantasy themes, check out these blogs and links for lists:

List of Lesbian Fairytale books on Goodreads

Lee Wind’s blog is always a fantastic place to go to find books and posts about queer books. As a bonus, Lee is an author himself.

Niamh Murphy, also an author, has a great post called “11 Gorgeous Adaptations for Lesbians and Queer Girls who Love Fairy Tales! (Including 2 FREE books!)”

If you have any other books with queer fairytale themes, please drop a line in the comments. I’m sure there are plenty more out there just waiting to be discovered.

Here’s how you can help people find queer fiction

I was procrastinating  catching up on twitter news when I saw this tweet by Malinda Lo:

There’s a whole thread and conversation going on over on twitter so if you’re so inclined, head over and check it out.

It got me thinking, though, about how hard it still is to find teen fiction with queer main characters. It certainly doesn’t help when authors miss-categorise and miss-tag (deliberately or otherwise) their erotica books so that when you search for things like “lesbian teen sweet romances” what you get in the search result is anything but what you’re looking for.

If you go via the category links to the LGBT YA category (kindle store>kindle ebooks>teen & young adult>lgbt>fiction), the list is dominated by male authors and male main characters.

Don’t get me wrong. I love that we’re seeing an increase in queer fiction across the spectrum being published, but it seems like gay main characters are getting a lot more visibility than female (and other queer categories) at the moment.

Malinda Lo’s thread goes on to detail her ideas on how publishers, readers and authors can help to make books about queer female teens more visible, but her advice (as she indicates in qualifying tweets) mainly relates to traditionally published books.

So I thought I’d do a quick post with a few ideas on how you can help get the word out about queer books, regardless on how they’re published, but particularly if they’re self- or independently published.

  1. If you’re on Goodreads, shelve the queer books you read into queer-related categories and lists.
  2. Review and rate the books you buy wherever you buy them from and mention in your reviews when there’s queer content. More reviews and ratings help with visibility, especially on Amazon, but mentioning the queer content in reviews helps other readers who are looking for those books to find them. Review the books on your vlog/blog if you have one.
  3. Request them at your school and local libraries. Quite often, librarians aren’t sure where to look to add queer books to their collections, primarily because publishers and some major reviewers don’t go out of their way to talk about the queer content. This may be because they’re afraid it might limit the readership, but also because for self-published and independent authors, our books are often not in the release catalogues librarians get, so they don’t even know they exist. As a reader, you can help libraries get more queer books on their shelves for readers just like you to discover.
  4. Tell your friends about your favourite queer authors and books. As a self-published author, it’s extremely hard, especially early on, to find my audience. We don’t have the marketing budgets that are given to traditionally published authors and we don’t have the industry contacts to get our books into the hands of major reviewers. Word of mouth is one of the most powerful ways for books to find their readers as one reader urges another reader to take a look at their favourite books.
  5. Order your books from your local bookstore when you can. If they get enough orders of an author’s books, they’ll consider stocking them on the shelves.

Finally – and this is less to do with getting the word out and more to do with getting more books written – if you love a book, don’t be afraid to let the author know. Writing in a genre like queer fiction means that authors are often writing into a void, hoping that their books reach readers who need them the most once they’re published. Most of us started off as readers, unable to find the books and stories that spoke to us, that told our stories, that reflected our lives, and so we write them. We write them to fill the libraries of our youth with the stories we wished we’d had.

For my part, I’m going to try to recommend books to you when I can, and even get some lesfic ya authors on the blog for guest posts and interviews.

In the meantime, feel free to jump into the comments here or on Facebook and let me know what queer books you’ve read and recommend. We can always use more books in our TBR pile.

Some thoughts on Orlando

I have struggled with life today.

I wasn’t going to write anything about the tragedy in Orlando. I didn’t feel I had anything to add to the many thousands of voices already speaking out. I still don’t think I do.

What I do have though, is an honesty I have discovered about myself, awakened due to those terrible events that occurred on the other side of the world. Something I wanted to share with those who may be feeling the same.

As humans, not necessarily a part of the LGBTQ community, you know in your heart how terrible the events in Orlando are.

As a member of the LGBTQ community, I feel it in my very soul.

Those were my people; my tribe. Although we never met, we share a bond invisible to those outside of the LGBTQ community. It is borne of the scars and stories of those of us who came before; those who suffered terribly at the hands of governments and police forces and others, over decades. Those for whom until relatively recently, it was a crime to be who they were.

I have older lesbian friends. Good friends who have told us stories from their younger years, about persecution, and hiding themselves. Of secret meetings and being paranoid that they would get caught and end up in jail, or lose their children, or on the end of a beating, or worse.

And I thought I knew. I thought I understood that struggle, and I was grateful to them for forging the path for me and those of my generation and making it easier for us to be loud and proud.

But I didn’t know. I didn’t understand the fear, and the frustration, or the strength and the tenacity and the passion they had. Not until today.

Add to that discovery the revelation that I currently live in the most conservative electorate in Queensland – the second most conservative electorate in Australia. I certainly feel it on a day like today.

The activist in me wanted to wear my pride colours down the main street of this town, out and proud and unafraid, to show solidarity for those we lost today. But the truth of it is, most of the people here won’t even know about the events in Orlando until they see it on the news tonight. They may have heard it in passing on ABC radio, but they wouldn’t even give it a second thought.

And just thinking about that made me realise that the most painful thing about being a minority, and living where I do, is the isolation. So isolated, in fact, that even our attempts to join the local LGBT group (extremely hard to find and get hold of) came to nothing – even they are closed to outsiders.

That realisation hit me like a tonne of bricks.

I cried this morning when I read about the scale of the tragedy in Orlando. I cried for those lost and those who survived. I cried for the families of them all, and I cried for our community, once again the target of vicious, unfathomable hatred.

But when I realised how isolated I felt today, sorting through my feelings about this tragedy, I cried for myself. I cried because while I don’t feel unsafe, I don’t feel safe. I cried because being a minority out here means I can’t take ownership of what I write for a living and be proud of it when I so desperately want to. I cried because I hate the feeling of being watched when I hold my wife’s hand when we walk down the street, or when we sit in the only nice restaurant in town and celebrate our anniversary. I cried, because all of this makes me feel stifled and sometimes, alone.

There is nothing more that I want right now than to be somewhere, anywhere, there is a vigil or a gathering; a place to feel the strength of my community.

I want to stand in the main street of this small town and shout “Enough is enough!”

Enough with the rhetoric; enough with the shame; enough with the vilification that you call ‘holding an opinion’ or having ‘religious freedom’.

Enough with thinking you know better.

Enough with inciting fear of those who are different to you.

Enough with the condemnation of people you don’t even know and will never, ever meet.

Enough with allowing hatred and fear to win out over love and acceptance and tolerance.

Because no matter how long it takes,

#loveislove and #lovewillalwayswin

 

Introducing The Girls of Summer series

So, remember those sweet romances we read as teenagers in the 1980s an 1990s? The ones with lesbian main characters who fell for other girls and had fun adventures and happily-ever-after endings? No? Me neither.

I do, however, remember those sweet teen romances from Silhouette First Love, Dolly Fiction, Sweet Valley High… The list goes on. I remember hiding in the stacks in the library at high school reading those books, never checking them out lest they appear on my borrowing record. Though I loved sci-fi and fantasy (Day of the Triffids and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy are still two of my all-time favourite books), when I hit 14 or 15, I started being very interested in the way relationships worked. Because I was a voracious reader, the way I discovered those things was mostly via fiction.

I’ll go into my personal story in a future post, but as I read those short romance books, I quickly learned that it wasn’t the female main characters I identified with the most. It was the male characters that the girls lusted after. I wanted to be those boys that the girls chased after, had fun adventures with and fell in love with by the end of the book.

I didn’t know what that meant at the time, but I knew it meant I was different.

I’m not sure whether reading a book with a girl who fell in love with another girl and nothing bad happened and they got to be together in the end would have made me realise back then that I was lesbian, but who knows?

What I do know is that we’re in an exciting time in the publishing industry, when there are more and more books with diverse main characters making their way into the world. A good number of them, however, deal with the ‘bad’ side of being different – the bullying, homophopbia, unhappy endings, coming out etc. While those stories are needed and valid, we also need stories where sexuality isn’t the main plot point.

I think we need more happy endings, more sweet romances, more girls-who-love-girls and that’s okay stories.

And that’s why I’ve been working on a series of sweet teen romances that will feature lesbian main characters, whose problems are just like any other teen, and whose sexuality is not a major plot point.

I touched on the series in this post back in August last year, but since then, I’ve refined the series idea and decided on a direction for it.

The books in The Girls of Summer series, beginning with Crush, are intended to be short and fun reads. Lighthearted sweet teen romances where the girl might struggle to get the girl sometimes, but she’ll never be dealing with bullying or homophobia as the major plot point.

Though they will be linked by taking place in summer (my favourite season of the year), they will be stand-alones that can be read in any order.

And most importantly, the girl will get the girl in the end.

 

Wattpad Edition

Wattpad Edition

Crush is due for release on the 1st May 2015. You can get it for free before it’s released to the general public by signing up to the mailing list here. You can read the first five chapters and synopsis here.

 

 

 

Diversity in YA and what I’m doing to change it

In sport, particularly when playing finals, we have a saying:

“Leave nothing in the tank”

In other words, play your absolute best today. Leave nothing for tomorrow. Today, it counts. In writing terms, it would be “Do your best work now.” Don’t wait for tomorrow or next week or next year to work on projects that are close to your heart.

I think it’s entirely appropriate for the way I’m feeling about my writing at this point in time. Why? Because I’ve just completed my half-yearly review of my business plan and writing goals and, among other things, I’ve decided to ditch some projects I’ve been working on (for now), and bring forward some other projects I was going to get to “at some point in the future.”

I’ll write more about my business and writing plan update in another post, but today I wanted to explain why I’ve changed direction so dramatically.

A few months ago, I had a short story accepted for inclusion in an LGBT+ YA anthology from Harmony Ink Press that’s slated for release in September. (Again, more on this next month).

Since then, I’ve read posts and tweets and articles on various blogs around the place about the lack of diversity in YA fiction. Not just with regards to sexuality, but with regards to other cultures, disabilities and other “differences” people have to deal with that are under-represented in the YA fiction currently being published.

This one in particular really made me question my priorities.

It made me revisit the reasons I started writing in the first place, back when I was at uni and was writing as a way to clear my mind from marketing and accounting and law. The reason I started writing was because there was a serious lack of stories with characters I could relate to. And being before the internet, there was no real way of finding any books that may have existed.

Hell, I didn’t even realise I was gay at that point. I just knew I was different – I knew that what my friends said they felt about their boyfriends, I didn’t feel about mine. I also didn’t know anyone who was gay or lesbian, and those words (gay and lesbian) were words that were whispered by adults, out of earshot of children and teenagers.

Back to my short story for a moment – before I submitted it, I did a bit of googling to see what I could find out about the publisher. That was more a business decision at the time, because I wanted to make sure it lined up with my long-term goals as a writer.

What I discovered is that Harmony Ink’s philosophy lined up with my own initial reasons for writing – to write the stories I wish were around when I was a teenager.

It’s a pretty simple concept really, and in my haste to get stories out, I’d actually forgotten why I write in the first place.

So what do I wish I’d read way back then, when I was struggling to put a name to how I was feeling?

I wish I’d read stories where the girl got the girl in the end. I wanted stories that when I’d turned the last page and read the last word, made me feel good about myself. Stories that gave me a sense of hope that I could fall for someone who would fall for me too.

Here’s the thing though – I used to write those stories. I used to write about girls like me, whose friends didn’t think she was strange for liking other girls.

When I started to take my writing seriously though, I stopped writing those stories. Why? Because I knew, deep down, that if I wanted to get published, I wouldn’t get there by writing about girls who like other girls.

Books like that are getting published now, yes, but not  often enough. And they’re certainly not being publicised enough or given a chance to reach their audience. An audience which is obviously hungry for those books.

Publishing is changing though, and publishers like Harmony Ink Press, who specialise in LGBT+ YA fiction are leading the charge. But a big influence on my decision to go back to writing those YA stories is the advent of self-publishing, and the ability to reach readers more directly.

There are a lot of new ways for authors to write and publish more diverse books, and for readers to find them.

It’s an exciting time.

And from now on, I’m leaving nothing in the tank. I’m not letting these stories languish in the back of my mind to get to “some time in the future.”

Because the stories I want to write aren’t needed tomorrow, or next week or next year – they’re needed now, yesterday, today.

The girls I’ve been waiting so long to write about are shy, strong, tough, sensitive, flawed, and lesbian. And finally, after waiting all these years, they’re coming out to play.

 

Lesbian does not always equal sex

(Admit it. All you saw in the heading was “lesbian sex”).

Now that I’ve got your attention, I wanted to chat about a couple of things that have been annoying me no end the last few weeks. I’ve been doing some research on an idea I have for some steampunky type characters and plots, and having some real fun checking out some of the steampunk websites around the place. (Check these cool gadgets out)

The first one I seem to be encountering whenever I search for lesbian steampunk. There doesn’t appear to be too much around, which is great for me in a way, because I can tap into a fresh market. But I’ve stumbled across a few forums where other people have been asking for recommendations for some lesian steampunk, and the answers have almost always been to the tune of “I don’t have anything to recommend for lesbian steampunk, but here’s some cool erotica that you might like instead.”

Now, I’m not big on the erotica genre anyway, but why is it always assumed that if you’re looking for any type of fiction with lesbian characters (or gay for that matter), that you’re automatically after erotica?

Here’s a tip: I’m JUST after lesbian characters. I’m squeamish about badly written sex scenes, be they same-same or otherwise. Hell, I’m squeamish about sex scenes, badly written or not. I like to use my own imagination for those types of scenes, and much prefer the “fade out” effect. I’d rather not have a blow-by-blow of who puts what, where.

What I’m really looking for is this: steampunk stories, that don’t have sex as the end goal, with lesbian characters. Simple? Apparently not.

The second thing I’m frustrated with is the amount of gratuitous sex in a lot of the lesbian books I’m reading. (I have a whole other post whinging about other stuff I don’t like about lesbian fiction, but I’m sticking with the sex for this one).

I was reading a sample of one a couple of weeks ago (a sample, which is only the first 10%), and the lead character stops what she’s doing to jump in the sack with some hussy she just met, within the first five pages. THE FIRST FIVE PAGES!! Give me a break. That is not characterisation. That is gratuitous sex. Not even James Bond jumps into bed with the women plotting his downfall in the first five pages (or the first five minutes in the case of the movies).

I get it. We have this image to protect where BBLs (Big Butch Lesbians) can bed anyone they want without consequence, and that makes them super cool. Women, straight and gay, fall at their feet and worship the ground they walk on.

I don’t want to read about those characters.

Here’s what I want.

I want characters who go through shit that doesn’t happen just because they’re lesbian. I want characters whose major trait is something OTHER than the fact that they’re lesbian.

So the question is, how do I find those characters?

The answer: in my own head. My answer to my frustrations is to write what I want to read, since no-one else seems to be doing it.

What I have in common with Beccy Cole

(Apart from stunning good looks and singing ability).

2012 seems to be the “year of coming out” for some reason. I’m not exactly sure why that’s so, but I’m happy to run with it.

So far, we’ve seen the likes of Magda Szubanski, Queen Latifah,  and Anderson Cooper come out, and last night I watched as Beccy Cole came out on the ABCs Australian Story.

It was a wonderful program to watch – raw and honest and funny. I suspect much like Beccy herself.

One of the most common questions I see asked in comments threads about any news story that has anything to do with being gay or lesbian is why is there a need to come out at all. It’s often followed by a loaded statement, such as “I don’t feel the need to declare myself a male heterosexual”.

Well, of course you don’t. Everybody already just assumes you’re straight.

Coming out is not what I really wanted to talk about in this post though.

Most of us have a kind of “aha” moment – the moment of realisation that we can put a name to our feelings. Some of us, like me, have a series of “aha” moments, which build into the Big Moment of Acceptance.

One of those moments came as a result of the BBC show “Playing the Field”. It was while watching that show that Beccy says her “aha” moment came.

It was because of that show that I had one of my moments that lead to me accepting myself for who I am.

When that show was airing here in Australia, I was playing for a soccer team called The Blues – same as the show – and so my team mates and I would dissect each episode at training and before and after games. It was funny to watch a show about a team with the same name as us, and pretty cool too. We tried to match up characters with our team mates, with often hilarious results.

It was during one such discussion while watching a match with some parents of my younger team mates that I came close to outing myself. Close, but not quite.

One parent mentioned their frustration that the show was perpetuating a stereotype that dykes played soccer. I listened for awhile, and then said “I can guarantee you that every women’s team in our competition has at least one lesbian on the team.”

Stopped the conversation dead did that comment.

One of the mums then asked “Every team?” I just looked at her and smiled, and said “Every team.”

It’s funny looking back now, because I wonder if they actually worked out that I was talking about myself. When I think about my team at the time, process of elimination should have probably brought them back to me.

Nothing changed though with the way I was treated if they did put two-and-two together, and when I did eventually “come out” when I found myself a wonderful partner (who for some reason is still sticking by me), my team mates and their parents and partners were wonderfully accepting.

But helping me on my gay self-discovery wasn’t the only thing that show did for me. It actually gave me the inspiration I needed to start writing again. I have two half-finished YA manuscripts to prove it. Both sound ideas, but terribly flawed in their current condition. Both ideas that I will hopefully pursue in the future.

So to those who want to know why we feel the need to come out, I guess it comes down to power. 

The problem lies with those “others” who would choose to define us by our sexuality. We “come out” to claim it for ourselves, before someone else does it for us. We do it to show we’re proud of who we are, despite this “thing” that we’re told is a flaw in our make up.

Being anything other than straight can still be confronting for some people – and for those of us in that minority, we take a huge risk in coming out, so it’s not for the faint hearted. It takes courage and confidence.

We risk losing family, friends and jobs. And for someone like Beccy Cole, she risks losing fans, and she also risks a public (and sometimes private) backlash.

But to Beccy Cole, and anyone else coming out, wanting to come out, or wondering if they should, I have this advice:

We are who we are. Those who judge you on one aspect of your self are not worth having in your life.

And from my perspective as a writer, the people who stop reading this blog because they find out I’m gay are not the people I want as fans.

Being gay is not a huge thing in my life, unless others choose to judge me on it. But then, that’s their problem, not mine.

Oh, and just one last thing Beccy – I think you’ll discover a whole new group of fans after your “coming out”. We’re a pretty accepting bunch, and we love to celebrate and support our own.

What’s my value?

(Apologies for the length of this post. I really wanted to be brief but once I get started, I just can’t seem to stop.)

In Queensland, we currently have Civil Partnership Laws enabling couples (hetero and same-sex) to register their relationships. It’s a step down from marriage, and isn’t recognised in all states or federally, but it’s a start.

The new LNP government has decided to leave the registration part of the law as it stands, which is a sigh of relief for those of us (609 couples at last count) who registered.

The LNP have decided, however, that the bit that upsets the Christians (the Premier’s words) is the state-sanctioned ceremony, currently only able to be performed at specific courthouses around the state. They’ve decided to scrap those ceremonies, but still allow the filling out of forms and the paying of money for the priviledge of having our relationships recognised.

On the surface, nothing changes. We still could have ceremonies, and then fill out the paperwork later, or do the reverse – fill out the paperwork and have a celebratory ceremony after the fact.

We still get the extra legal protections, regardless of whether we have the ceremony or not.

All good, on the surface. Seems like a nice compromise.

I have two problems with the reasoning put forward for the change.

The first is the offence caused by this legislation to various churches and religions. I understand the thought of gay marriage, or indeed gay partnerships, are offensive to some people of faith. But not all religions or churches feel that way.

Using this reasoning sets a precedent for other faiths to lobby the government to demand changes to things that cause them offence. That’s their right of course, but should offence be a reason to change laws that in reality only affect those who would choose to use them?

The second is that the government has given a clear indication on where it stands on recognising same-sex couples, and indeed LGBTI people individually, whether it meant to or not.

They can say nice words about how much “we’re” respected, but it’s their actions that really count. And like it or not, the way they treat people, or seem to treat people, sets an example for the rest of us.

By not allowing a simple ceremony (when the whole point of Civil Partnerships is for state-based rather than church-based recognition) sends the message that our relationships aren’t valued by the people we have charged with governing over all of us.

In light of the changes, I sent emails to each of the LNP members (which, incidentally, bounced back, but I don’t want to scream “conspiracy” just yet), telling them my thoughts.

It took me a long time to put into words why I thought changing the laws would be a step backwards, but when I’d finished and read it over, one sentence stood out above all others. 

“The new law sent a clear message to those of us who struggle with our sexuality, as most of us do at some stage in our lives, that we are valued.”

I have railed against the arguments against gay marriage, from religious reasons to blatant disriminatory reasons, but it wasn’t until now that I was able to actually put how I feel into one word – VALUE.

It comes down to how much we value our fellow human beings.

For those of you who are against gay marriage, for whatever reason, or are non-committal, and don’t think it affects you in any way, and for those of you who have gay friends or family members and are still against gay marriage, I ask you to consider this:

Think about your sons and daughters, parents, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews and friends.

Are you happy to see them hurt? Would you be happy to hear them called “pedophile”, “not fit for parenting”, “mentally unstable”, and “diseased”?

Would you stand by while someone says they should all be shot?

How would you feel reading comments to articles on gay marriage and civil unions that say things like “the worst thing the government in Queensland did was make being gay legal. they should be put in jail for their perversions.” (A real comment believe it or not).

How would you feel to get a phone call or visit from a police officer, informing you that your loved one is in hospital, or worse, simply because someone else took offence to their sexuality? Or because your loved one committed suicide because they couldn’t deal with the stress of being gay or lesbian? Because they were bullied for being different. Because they were told they were inferior.

You may think I am being extreme. “These things don’t happen all the time,” you say. I’m sorry to tell you that they do.

Why? Because those who say and do those terrible things don’t value others. They feel they have a right to punish those of us who are a little different.

How will allowing gay marriage change that?

It shows that at the very highest level, we are valued. It takes away an excuse for marginalising and discriminating.

It shows us that we are valued as human beings, and as citizens of our great country. It makes a statement that we are no different from our heterosexual friends and family, and it acknowledges that we too, can fall in love and make the decision to make a formal commitment to the person we love.

A civil partnership is not marriage. It’s the furthest a State may go with regards to legal recognition of relationships, but it’s a start.

So I ask you:

How much do you value your friends and family?


How much do you value me?





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