Today, May 17th, is International Day Against Homophobia. A day when people around the world come together to fight prejudice, to stand against bullies, to say no to hate, to say yes to equal human rights for everyone. No exceptions!
In honor of this day and this cause, which is hugely important to me, I have joined the Hop Against Homophobia. Make the jump to find a list of links to hundreds of authors, publishers, and readers participating. Many of them will be blogging over the next three days to speak out against homophobia. Many will discuss LGBTQIA issues, their own personal stories, and what has inspired them. Many will be offering resources, places for you to reach out. If you are in need of help, please be sure to look at the list of resources at the end of this article!
All of the blogs participating in the hop will be offering give aways. Here, at Creative Antics, if you leave a comment on any day of the hop, and provide your email address, you will be automatically entered to win a copy of Mnevermind: Persistence of Memory, the first book in a new series by Jordan Castillo Price. Jordan is one of my favorite authors, whose stories are partially responsible for inspiring me to write LGBT fiction. I will blog more about Jordan and Mnevermind later in the week, as well as tell you more about a few of my own creative projects, so be sure to stop back by. The winner will be announced here on Sunday, May 21st.
Why am I involved in the fight against homophobia? Well it isn't simply because I write M/M Romance, or LGBT fiction. I mean, sure I write M/M, and F/F, and M/F, not to mention YA stories, pretty much every letter combo there is. Whatever the muse inspires. I am, in fact, an independent interdisciplinary artist. But, I have a very personal interest in fighting homophobia, in fighting for human rights and equality, and it is this personal stake which drives me to look for any way to help stop the atrocities caused by intolerance. I think it's important to share my story, to shoot straight about what motivates me. Fair warning. This is not a happy tale, though it is, without a doubt, what has brought me here today.
I lost one of my best friends, someone I considered family, to suicide just over five years ago. My friend, who was also my roommate for a time, was just one of many thousands of victims of homophobia. Even worse, she was bullied by the people who should have loved her the most. Her own parents. Their behavior, their homophobia, is shameful, and a community and country that continues to condone this kind of intolerance in any way is equally shameful.
There were few warnings, and though many of us knew how my friend had been treated by her family, none of us knew the extent of the damage this had caused her. None of us saw her suicide coming. In hindsight, there were things we all missed, things I would give just about anything to go back and change. But none of them were glaring. Even her long-term partner never expected to come home and find her gone at the age of twenty-six. In the end, her parents, who probably have a special reservation in hell, refused to even claim her body. It was up to her partner and all of us, her circle of friends, to take care of her. For this, I am actually thankful, that we were able to offer her a loving send off and a fitting tribute filled with all the love she deserved.
What haunts me the most is the memory of her apology note. It said she truly believed we would all live better lives without her. She was so, so wrong! I miss her every day, and my life will never be lived without her. She is with me all the time. I spent several years extremely angry with her, my way of dealing with my own guilt and pain. But, now I have turned that anger towards a drive to create change. I am determined to be heard. Homophobia has to stop. People are dying out there, children are dying, my friends and family are dying! This is unacceptable! Intolerance is absolutely intolerable!
Every day, I look at the picture on my desk of my lost friend, her lovely face smiles out at me, and I remember why it's important to write stories that promote diversity, that portray gay protagonists, that celebrate equality for everyone. I get involved in political activism, in creating community change, in educating and providing resources for our LGBTQIA youth, so they hopefully will never have to feel like outcasts. I often blog about LGBTQ issues, as well. Because, I want a world where my friends are no longer made to feel like this might be a better place without them. I want a world where everyone is free to be who they were born to be, a world where love is the most important thing, and who you love isn't. This is my way of honoring my lost friend, myself, and all of my fellow LGBTQIA community members.
If you are struggling with who you are, if you are being bullied or have been cast out by your loved ones, if you are dealing with what feels like unbearable pain, please know that there are so many people waiting and ready to help, who accept you exactly the way you are. Don't hesitate! Reach out to someone! Here are just a few of the places you can go to find help and a loving community near you: The GLBT National Help Center, PFLAG, The Trevor Project,The Make it Safe Project .