Wednesday, July 26, 2006


I love that word. Sounds mildly dirty, doesn't it? Anyway...

The discussion regarding Jan Butler's odious letter to the editor in the August issue of the RWR on the topic of homosexual/polyamorous romance has taken a fascinating turn in the Smart Bitches comment section. The usual suspects -- all far more erudite and better-informed than I -- are conversing on the topic of "family" (naturally occurring and otherwise) and how Romance (with a capital 'R') has upheld it as a microcosm of society in the past, and whether it will grow and change with the morphing definition of the family in current society. And, of course, whether poor, misguided trolls like Ms. Butler will ever wipe the primordial ooze from their eyes long enough to see the sunlight of a new day, wherein Mommy, Daddy, Junior and Little Sis aren't necessarily the ONLY game in town.

Coincidentally, I began a new project last month. My first polyamorous romance, featuring man-on-man-on-woman lovin', with a "family is where you find it" theme. A space-based futuristic, no less.

It's been scaring me shitless. To the point where I've been wondering if I should just bag it. Go back to my cozy little monogamous hetero world. Maybe try my hand at a straight contemporary for a change.

I think maybe I owe Ms. Butler a thank you note. Whether she knows it or not, her twisted little diatribe (Equating homosexuality with pedophilia? REALLY? I mean... seriously???) against us "fringe element" types was just the kick in the ass I needed. She's challenged me to spit in the face of my own personal boogeyman -- fear of the unknown.

Onward and upward.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Well, slap my ass and call me Sally...

...if the bigots aren't crawling out of the nooks and crannies yet again, just in time for this year's RWA National conference The offending letter to the editor in the August RWR calling for the exclusion of gay/bi-sexual/multi-partner romance has been discussed here and here and here and here and likely about another dozen places. These fine folks have already said most everything there was to say on the subject worth saying, including and especially the part about how comparing sex between two or more consenting adults to pedophilia goes beyond mere ignorance into criminal stupidity. The kind that really should've died out a couple of decades ago amongst people who can pick up a newsmagazine or tune into a television broadcast. But I suppose when all your manly-man husband allows you to watch is pro-wrestling and FOX News...

Okay, that was probably a low blow. I take it back. (Ignore the way my fingers are sort of crossed behind my back. Symptom of rampant carpal tunnel syndrome. No, really.)

I was particularly amused by this bit:

"RWA should be the first to endorse that, rather than attempting to placate fringe groups trying to impose their standards upon the rest of us."

Here's a clue or six for you, Jan. The world, she is round. Epileptic seizures aren't caused by demonic possession. Your average solar eclipse doesn't herald the end of existence. And sexuality, as practiced by consenting adults in ALL its various forms, has been around forever. Because certain aspects of it don't tug YOUR little red wagon down the lane doesn't mean that they are inherently immoral. Nor does it mean that an entire organization need dance to the tune of your discomfort.

And then there was this:

"Only in recent years has a vocal (translate: shrill) minority tried to drive RWA's focus off that path, under the guise of 'broadening its horizons.' "

Love it. LOVE. IT. And so should anyone on our side of the argument, because when one of your own calls you "shrill," you know you're scoring points somewhere. It's one of the nastiest, most poisoned barbs one of those ladylike, Phyllis Schlafly-clones can think to throw at us from behind their ivory-walled fortresses.

Yeah, I'm shrill. I can work on modulating my tone of voice, but tomorrow you'll still be a frigid, frightened, misinformed waste of skin.

Pardon the excessive vitriol. Rank bigotry disguised as a moralist's rant tends to bring out my claws.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Got Perspective?

The one benefit of having kept my head down, shoulder-to-the-wheel, nose-to-the-grindstone, (pick the worn-out cliché of your choice) over the past couple of months is that I've missed a great deal of the nastiness flying back and forth through the romance community. To my dismay, it's not taken me long to catch up.

No one loves a truly hot, well-reasoned debate more than I. In a war of words, I like my weapons honed for the hacking of metaphorical limbs. But I prefer a point to my battles. I couldn't find one anywhere in the immediate vicinity of any these discussions, after around the tenth or fifteenth comment, unless the point was to slash for the sake of drawing blood.

I have no dogs in any of these fights. No ARCS sold on ebay, no cruel reviews (yet), no savaged cover art (again...yet). So I'm not speaking from a wounded heart, but only a wounded sense of aesthetics when I say...what the fuck? There's no need to go the white gloves and tea party route, but must we really behave like we're auditioning for the next season of Roller Derby Queen?

I dunno. I think part of my sudden disinterest in these squabbles stems from a recent experience with Perspective Adjustment, courtesy of God, or the universe, or Fate, whatever YOU believe is pulling our strings. I know I've mentioned before that as a teen, I attended a very small high school with only fourteen other female students in my graduating class. Not too long ago, I received word that one of my classmates -- let's call her Mindy -- had passed away.

I seriously doubt Mindy ever gave a single thought to me since the last time I saw her, on the night of our graduation. But I've never forgotten about her -- not entirely. I could call up her face at an instant's notice, tell you the color of her eyes and what she wore to Senior Prom. (But I'm weird that way. I can still name every kid in my Kindergarten class, in the order they sat around the snack table on the first day of school in September 1971. I can even tell you what some of them were wearing.)

I don't know how she died. I imagine I'll find out, eventually. I haven't tried that hard, mostly because I'm still trying to get over the shock of the idea that she's gone. It's been a little on the traumatic side. Given me any number of bad moments and at least four dreams of the "wake up sobbing" variety.

The irony? Although you'd never know it by the intensity of my reaction to her death, Mindy and I were not friends.

We grew up together. I could say I knew her as well as you know anyone with whom you spend 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 10 months a year. She was my opposite number. We had nothing in common, moved in different circles -- as much as you can in a community the size of ours -- and harbored different goals for our lives. In the last year of high school, when things got especially hard for me, she became my enemy. That sounds very Mean Girls/Drama Queen, but it's the truth. She told lies about me that made an already difficult situation that much worse, and I've never understood why. Because she could?

I know her mother was a piece of work, disliked and feared by many for her vicious mouth, and there may lie the answer. In any event, I left that town running and have only returned under extreme duress. The definition of "extreme duress" being: my sisters' high school graduations, my grandparents' funerals, and my sister's wedding.

Mindy, on the other hand, married her high school sweetie and settled right in. When she died, she was a member of the PTA and ran the local Girl Scout Troop. I know because I checked. I know all this...but I don't know how she died.

It's kept me up nights, wondering. I know it was sudden, because I've read the condolence notes on the funeral home website. Christ, all this makes me sound like some flipped out stalker, doesn't it? And yet...I need to know. I need it because it's the end of her story, and Mindy's story is important to MY story, somehow. Something about knowing Mindy was out there gave my life a sort of...I dunno. Symmetry. Balance. She's the chick who stayed in our hometown and made a life -- a full and happy one, by all accounts -- proving it could be done despite my protests to my parents that no one in their right minds would ever stay in that evil, evil place. I'm the one who fled and made a life elsewhere. A happy one, by MY account. Like I said, she was my opposite number. Somehow, her existence in the world completed mine. (And everything IS always all about me, isn't it?)

Mindy was thirty-nine. She left a husband and three young children, parents, brothers and a sister, and multiple ties to her community. May she rest in peace.

So you can see how the whole "perspective" thing has sort of soured me on watching grown women lose their minds over the artistic merits of Poser covers? Or maybe I've just gone and misplaced my sense of humor. Shame, that. P'raps I've left it somewhere on my hard drive. I'll have to mount a search, starting in the folder marked "man titty." God knows, anything could lose its way in there and never be heard from again.