It's day two of the Hop Against Homophobia, an event to honor the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO). Yesterday, I posted my personal story, explaining why stopping homophobia and intolerance is so important to me. Today, as promised, I will share with you a few of the creative ways I am getting involved and attempting to promote change. Like all the blogs participating in this hop, if you leave a comment on any of the posts from yesterday though tomorrow, and provide your email information, you will be entered into a free giveaway.
Here, at Creative Antics, I am offering a free copy of the first book in Jordan Castillo Price's fantastic new gay paranormal fiction series, The Persistence of Memory (Mnevermind 1). Jordan's writing is partially responsible for inspiring me to write gay fiction. I became a fan several years ago. Now, I'm honored to call her a friend and colleague. I'm very proud of her latest work, which I will blog more about tomorrow. So be sure to stop back by. Leave a comment for the chance at a free copy of her book. The winner will be picked via randomizer and announced this coming Sunday, May 20th, 2012.
So just what are these creative antics of mine that attempt to promote tolerance? There are a lot of ways I am actively involved in the fight for human rights and equality. Probably the most important, and perhaps the least exciting, is that I write letters to my politicians. A lot. I wouldn't be surprised if a few of them now roll their eyes when they get another mail with my name attached. I also vote responsibly. By this I mean, I do more than just show up at the poles for a Presidential election and vote according to whatever hype has been spewed at me. But, this didn't feel like nearly enough to me. So, I began searching for more creative ways I could fight for tolerance and equality.
A couple of my dearest friends, fellow authors and college alums, Andi Lea and West Thornhill, began brainstorming ideas on what we could do over our weekly coffee meetings. We all felt passionately that we wanted to reach out to our LGBTQIA youth, to provide stories they could identify with, fantastic adventures with the happy endings they are so rarely allowed. We wanted to provide reading they could easily access, in a place that would also offer them other resources they might need. The Ravens Crossing (TRC) is what grew from these discussions. It is a labor of love for everyone involved. The project is run fully by volunteers, and the fantastic people who work on this project have all been extremely generous with their time and talents. It's been a joy to work on, and I am thrilled to be involved. We have also teamed up with The Make it Safe Project to help provide reading materials for LGBTQIA youth in areas that don't have the resources to provide them.
The stories we write at TRC feature a diverse cast of characters. They are Young Adult, science fiction/fantasy adventure stories written by three authors and set within the same fictional neighborhood, Wildwood. Stories post six days a week and everything on the site is absolutely free. If you haven't already visited TRC, I hope you will check out "The First Time Here?" page, and if you like what you see, please tell your friends.
So, I write stories that promote diversity, stories that portray gay protagonists, that celebrate equality for everyone. And, I'm a big fan of genre bending whenever possible. One of my latest stories is actually a spin off from The Ravens Crossing. It will soon be published as a free read over at Goodreads for the M/M Romance Group's Love is Always Write event. Joining the group is free and the event offers you 150 free stories over the next few weeks everything from short stories to full-length novels. Each story was inspired by a photo and a prompt sent in by a reader. Below is the image and prompt for my story, and a brief excerpt of Cory's Pride.
Prompt sent in by Deanna: I'm a zookeeper and I care for the big cats. See Bogo on the left, he's been limping for a few days and I had to call in the vet. But the vet who just waltzed in here like he owned the joint is not Dr. Kate Sullivan. He's the new guy at her clinic. And I think the only way to wipe that cocky, arrogant grin off his face is with a hard kiss....
In case you didn't know, I actually spent twenty years as a professional zookeeper, and I used to take care of lions. So this prompt couldn't have been better if I'd written it myself. From Deanna's idea, I created Cory Stephens, the lion keeper for the Larabee Wild Animal Park, located just a few miles from TRC's Wildwood neighborhood. My hot new vet at Dr. Sullivan's Clinic turns out to be Dr. TJ Dylan. I sincerely enjoyed writing this story. It was a nice excuse to fondly remember my lion keeping days and portray some of my favorite lions as characters.
So, without further ado, I offer you a short excerpt from Cory's Pride:
“Alright boys, time to put on a show for the fans. Get your lazy butts moving,” Cory said.
Bogo cracked one eye open, but he made no move to get up from his comfy nest of hay. He lifted his head and yawned, showing a mouth full of shiny, white teeth. Then he rested his chin on his forepaws once more.
Pogo, on the other hand, was up and pacing the front of the cage, his saucer sized feet made shushing noises against the hay covered, concrete floor. He shook his golden mane and puffed, a greeting that sounded like a reverse sneeze.
Cory waited. He didn’t want to let Pogo out until Bogo was up and moving. Otherwise, all of the food he had hidden around the exhibit this morning would be gone before Bogo made it outside.
“What’s the matter, old man?” Cory frowned at Bogo when he simply gave him a bleary look.
Pogo looked at Cory, then at Bogo. He walked to the shift door that led to the exhibit and slammed it with his paw. He looked back at Cory as if to say, “What the hell are you waiting for?”
“Well, you could help me get the old boy up, you know,” Cory said.
Pogo turned and walked to Bogo, rubbing and pushing at him with his head. Bogo groaned. Cory laughed. Some days he could swear the pride knew exactly what he was saying.
“The girls are already out, gentlemen. Don’t keep them waiting.” Bogo gave him another bored look, but he stood, taking his time about it. He stretched, rocking his body backwards and forwards, obviously working the kinks out of his stiff joints. He was in no hurry to go outside to the exhibit adjoining his females.
“You’re like me, aren’t you, boy?” Cory said. “You prefer your big, strong man. Can’t say as I blame you. Pogo is dreamy,” Cory chuckled.
The two male lions were housed separate from the five pride females until it was time to allow breeding. Though Pogo seemed bi, joyfully doing his duty for the pride whenever he was allowed, Bogo hadn’t mounted a female in years. He mounted Pogo all the time, though. Some would say this was a show of dominance, or that Bogo was too old to breed, but Cory knew better. Bogo was not the first lion, captive or otherwise, who preferred same-sex partners. Cory smiled affectionately at the huge cat. Yes, gay was perfectly natural, even for a lion.
Thanks to everyone who has stopped by. Happy Friday! Don't forget to hop around, and leave a comment here for your chance to win. And I hope I have inspired you to get involved with the fight against homophobia. Every voice matters!