Not That Kind of Sub

There are a couple of parallel discussions going on right now that have Venn-diagrammed their way into my feeds, and last night’s #RWChat cemented something I’ve been feeling vaguely “off” about for a while.

I’m not a sub-genre.

Let me explain.

Sub-Genres of Romance

There are a couple of places you can go to get different lists of sub-genres for Romance. Obviously, the RWA has a list: Contemporary, Erotic, Historical, Paranormal, Religious/Spiritual, Suspense, and YA. Wikipedia adds a couple: breaking down part of what the RWA calls Paranormal into Science Fiction and Time-Travel, and adding Multicultural (more on that in a bit).

That was the stage set, so to speak, for the discussion on #RWChat about sub-genres in romance, and one of the questions was “should there be new sub-genres?” and, of course, queer came up as a suggestion.

And that’s where I started to flinch.

Queer as a Sub-Genre?

Now, before I start, I do want to point out where the notion comes from in the minds of most, and that it’s from a good place. Let’s be honest, queer characters don’t get the recognition in romance that their allocishet counterpart characters do. That’s just the current reality.

To ground this in my own experience, I’ve been waffling over joining the local chapter of the RWA. I got invited to a lunch, I already know a few of the authors though awesome events like Romancing the Capital, and my romance output is rising, so it seemed like something worth exploring. Shortly into the dinner, one of the authors announced that they didn’t believe men could be bisexual.

So. I had a choice. I could make a bit of a scene and speak out, or I could wait and see what happened. I chose the latter (I regret that) and nothing happened. I think I managed a weak “I’m not sure you get to decide that,” a few moments later than would be effective.

I haven’t joined the RWA. Maybe another year.

So, when I see organizations like the RWA and their awards go (almost exclusively) to allocishet characters, I’m totally not surprised. And I get why it seems like making a sub-genre just for queer characters is a great idea. I can even see how there’s some merit to it.

Yes, Queer is a Sub-Genre!

For one? There’d be a queer winner of a RITA every year, right? There’d have to be, if there was a sub-genre just for queer characters in romance, rather than the occasional one here and there, and some years not at all.

For another? Visibility. Those titles short-listed would be a quick, easy, one-stop shop to show people some queer characters in romance.

Even more? Legitimacy. If someone like the RWA (okay, maybe not my local chapter) was loud about saying “Queer Characters are Welcome in Romance!” that’s a big deal. Their history with that isn’t so great, and it would go a long way.

So why don’t I like it?

No, Queer isn’t a Sub-Genre!

Honestly? It’s the flip side of the positives I listed above.

For one? There’d be only one winner of a RITA every year with a queer character, because any book with a queer character would be shunted into the queer character box. Never mind if there was a contemporary romance with queer characters that was far and away better than the allocishet character contemporaries on the short list, and also a YA romance with amazing trans characters that blew the allocishet character YA romance shortlist out of the water: only one of them could win. Because they’re queer, and they get one award, competing against each other, even though they’re vastly different sub-genres with only their queerness in common.

For another? The rest of the awards become a queer-free zone by default, and the notion of allocishet characters as “normal” or “default” is increased. Because if there’s one queer romance sub-genre, but thirteen other genres that aren’t, how is that not the message? Books with allocishet characters would get to be considered in groupings of their plots, tropes, and against similar titles. But queer would judged for being queer.

Last? From a publishing point of view, it can actively delegitimize. “We have a sub-genre for queer stories” sounds solid until that becomes a limitation. Think about what women of colour face in the romance world (and, thereby, their characters). “No, we have the four titles we’re publishing for our black-women line this month.” “Oh, but my book is a romantic suspense with a black lead, you publish eight romantic suspenses a month, so…” “No. It’s a black-woman, so it only goes here. Four titles a month. Period.” This is why I get twitchy about “Multicultural” as a sub-genre, too.

Not to mention queer people of colour exist. Where do they go? The multicultural romance, or the queer romance? Which one trumps the other? This is why “people as a sub-genre” gets messy. People are messy. We don’t fit one box.

Oh, yeah, and what happens when that line gets canceled?

Okay, Smart-Guy, Solutions?

Yeah, I didn’t say I had a solution.

Well, no, I do: judge romances with queer characters alongside those with allocishet romances and do so on a level playing field with judges capable of reading them without bias but ha ha ha, yeah. I could barely finish that with a straight face. After all, men can’t be bisexual, right?

Heavy sigh.

The good news is I’ve heard from other readers that romances with queer characters are making strides. Radclyffe, who writes lesbian romances across many romance sub-genres, has been a finalist in many RWA chapter contests in the correct sub-genre category for her books (thanks for that info, Ruth!). That’s progress.

I also totally respect the opposing opinion here. I’m just as tired as anyone else of queer characters barely making it to the foreground of awards and recognition and bestseller lists, and I can empathize with “I don’t care if it means there’s just one winner every year and one short list. At least it would exist and shows we exist.” Like I said above, that’s a fair freaking point.

And maybe it has to go through that step first in places like the RWA, with the ultimate goal of later disentangling it into the sub-genre awards? I don’t know. But I think things like the Rainbow Awards, the Publishing Triangle Awards, and the Lambda Literary Awards (and other queer awards) fill a niche of queer-character writing awards, and they have genre breakdowns built-in. It’s still about the genres there.

I want places like the RWA and Goodreads to step up, not pen us in.

So, I guess, that’s my solution. Not that the RWA and Goodreads will do it, but that we need to make them do it. Groups like Women of Color in Romance (if you don’t follow them, go follow them, right now) do fantastic work to make noise and highlight the incredibly talented women of color writing romance out there who already exist but don’t get the same massive attention the white authors do because publishing is so very, very white.

Publishing is also so very, very allocishet.

I want more noise. Noise about all the #ownvoice writers and characters that exist in romance—queers included—and maybe that’s what it will take to get those books on the shortlists in the sub-genre categories where they belong.

Wait, Goodreads?

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Handmade Holidays is a contemporary romance. It has gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and trans people in it. It’s still a contemporary romance.

Yeah, that was the other circle on the Venn Diagram, and I don’t want to say it all again, but once again the Goodreads Choice Awards are up, and soon it’ll be time to vote and there’s a petition going around to create an LGBTQ+ category to vote in.

And all those same reasons for it to be good—and bad—apply. Because I think back to 2014, and Two Boys Kissing deserved to be the winner in YA, not LGBTQ+. Ditto They Both Die at the End this year.

But there were next to no books with queer characters on the initial list of titles. And that’s not a surprise. Because while queer people are expected to read allocishet books and be satisfied, the opposite isn’t true. And no one can force someone to read a book they don’t want to read. We’re outnumbered, and will always be so.

So, no. I’ve got no happy solution. But I did write-in a book with queer-characters into every slot where I thought that book was the best book I’d read this year. That’s what I can do with the system the way it is, and so I do. And sometimes I didn’t add a book with queer-characters (I voted for The Hate U Give in YA, even though there’s zero queer content, because that book was amazeballs and freaking important and I want it to win all the prizes and I hope They Both Die at the End wins all the Lammies and PTAs and Rainbows and that’s why I love that there are queer-character awards, too).

I’m not a Sub-Genre.

My final thoughts on this snarl are exactly that: just mine. I’m not speaking for all of queer kind here. I can’t. I’m only queer in my own way.

As a reader, I want to see queer reality in all the genres. In science fiction, in mystery, in literature, in romance, in YA, in all the categories. All of them. Even horror, which I barely read. Readers deserve to see themselves. The magic of digital tagging means readers can drill down to find those titles, too.

But I—again, just me, speaking for me—don’t want it to be “Queer,” with a sub-category of “Romance” if that means when I click “Romance” there will be no queer. Queer belongs in romance. Period. I want to click “Romance,” and then “Contemporary” and then be able to find the queer titles. And I want to see shortlists for awards where “Contemporary Short-form Romance” includes a novella with trans characters.

If that means places like the RWA have to learn men can be bisexuals first? Well. It’s time to roll up my sleeves and get back to teaching instead of waiting to hear what they currently say.

 

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Eating my Words

But First, A Word from My Sponsor (A.K.A. My Husband)

Before I begin on what I hope is both a funny and maybe a little bit enlightening post, I want to make sure I’m clear about the incredibly privileged position I’m in.

Wedding

Seriously, though. This guy.

In September of 2014, I was able to make the decision to step away from my decades in retail—I managed a bookstore—and dive into writing Triad Blood. The reasons were many, not the least of which being that my first novel took me three years to write while working full time, and I wanted to (and was contracted to) deliver Triad Blood in a year. There was a lot more to it than that, obviously (it had a horrible commute that didn’t show any signs of ending and was affecting my already tenuous sleeping habit, etc.) but that was a kind of tipping point.

I do have a (very) part-time job as well at my local LGBT bookstore/gallery, but for the most part, I can (and do) devote daily time to writing. Laundry, dishes, the dog and other chores take up the rest, and I cannot tell you how amazing it is to finally, after a decade of marriage, actually have time with my husband on the weekends to spend together.

The biggest thing, though is this: my husband has a job with income enough to keep us both afloat, and our fluffy lordship in kibble. This is huge. I could never have afforded to not work a full-time day job without him, and I am freaking blessed to have him. My writing pal Jeffrey Ricker talked about this recently, and after a couple of online interactions with Jeff Mann, Sassafras Lowrey, and Jeffrey, I realized how many of us were discussing how various writerly income translated to “a meal out” and I jokingly referred to it as “eating our words.”

Which brings me to this post.

What if I did eat my words?

download

Tastes like psychic fluff.

I’m very much a beginning writer. I have one novel, one novella (in a collection of four novellas), and a few dozen short stories out there in the world. A second novel is on the way, a third is being written. These are products I’m selling. So far, that’s not a whole lot. I have had what I’d say is a very lucky start in that my first novel, Light, was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award (which was fantastic and an amazing honour to boot), as well as a helping to make me a finalist in the Saints & Sinners Emerging Writer Award (also awesome and also an honour). Happily, both of those things generated noise, and one is always hopeful noise turns into sales.

If you don’t know how writers get paid in traditional publishing, here’s the (very) short and simplified version: You pitch a book. Assuming the publisher likes it, you get a contract. Said contract comes with an advance, and in most cases you get half upon delivering the manuscript, and half upon publication of the novel. You earn royalties on the sales of the book—first, against the advance. When you have earned enough royalties to offset the advance (for a truly large advance, that becomes an “if” a lot of the time, rather than a “when”), you start seeing quarterly royalty payments. It’s called “earning out.”

Generally speaking, in short fiction, this is not the system at all. Instead, you get a flat rate (sometimes X cents a word, sometimes a lump $50 or $75 or some other set amount). That’s a one time payment, though you also generally can then go on to re-sell the story elsewhere, which is something I haven’t explored yet personally. I have a dream of releasing a collection of short fiction, and I’m constantly dithering on which previously published stories to include in said potential collection. I didn’t have any short fiction income in 2015 – I’ve got some heading my way for contracts I signed for stories sold in 2015, but they didn’t arrive in that calendar year.

It is also possible for other income to occur from writing. In my case, in Canada I qualify for the Public Lending Right I was talking about yesterday. 2015 was the first year my first novel had been in the library system for the full year and thus qualified. I got a check from that.

I was also paid an honorarium to speak at a Pride event in Montreal. I count that as writerly income because the entire reason I was there was writing related.

So, if I tucked all those payments into my wallet, what will I be eating?

First, I’m sure not dining out or ordering in. I’m heading straight to the farmer’s market and the grocery store, and I’m definitely eyeing what’s on sale, in-season, and what can turn into filling (and fulfilling) meals without a big price tag. I’m going to aim for a week, and then take a tally.

(I’m already having student life flashbacks.)

How Long Can I Eat My Words?

Breakfast

I’m a pretty boring breakfast guy. I’ll generally have cereal or toast. A bowl of granola or two slices of toast with butter and jam is a typical breakfast for me. I’m going to go with the toast and jam, though, because I know I can measure out a loaf of bread (14 slices) to last me the full week of breakfasts. I’m not going to assume I already have margarine or jam, though, so into the cart they go. Bread, Margarine, Jam. No-name, of course. If it turns out I have free cash at the end of the week, I’d probably add a box of cereal, but not for this run-through.

With breakfast, I drink tea. Specifically, I drink a decaf tea, because it turned out the caffeine in tea was one of the triggers for my headaches, so I try to avoid the caffeinated teas more than once a day. I take milk in my tea, and honey. Milk (1%), Honey (no-name), and Typhoo go into the cart. (Honey, by the way, is freaking expensive. I’m always hoping it’s on sale. Right now? It’s not.)

Lunch

I have a couple of different “go-to” lunches, and I’m not often a big eater at lunch, either. It’s more often leftovers from previous dinners, and I’m really bad for eating the same damn thing for a whole week in a row, but let’s pretend for a moment I got my act in gear and actually made different (and decent) lunches for a week.

What are seven typical lunches for me? Let’s go with: A grilled cheese sandwich; Beans on toast (it’s a British thing); Roasted beetroot hummus with baby carrots; A beetroot and cheese sandwich (what? I like beetroots); a box of Mac and Cheese;  and, let’s say, Cream of mushroom soup (from a can, because: lazy. Also probably with toast).  I’ll drink more Typhoo tea, as that’s my usual go-to. Sometimes I might have a glass of milk instead, and I’ll follow up lunch with a banana. The Mac and Cheese will repeat, because I can never finish a whole box, so if you’re counting and saw only six lunches, that’s why.

Into the cart goes another loaf of bread, a block of no-name cheese (mmm, taste the orange!), a can of beans, a bunch of bananas, beets, tahini, chickpeas, a lemon, salt, a three-pack of garlic bulbs (on sale, woohoo!), pepper, olive oil, a bag of of baby carrots, a box of no-name KD equivalent, and can of cream of mushroom soup.

Dinner

Now, anyone who knows me knows I am not a chef. I love baking, but I’m not a good cook. The two require different skill sets, and I definitely come down on the “follow instructions” side of kitchen work. But I have a few good meals I’ve learned to cook and I like my slow-cooker a lot. I generally make the same meals over and over (much to the chagrin of my husband, who often sighs when he asks me to cook and I ask him which of my three memorized meals he would like). I’m also a firm user of the freezer. Things you heat on a tray in the oven or shove into a microwave? That’s totally my speed. But, again, let’s argue that I’m going to make meals more often than I usually would because in all honesty it’s generally cheaper (and leaves you with leftovers).

Dinners, then, will include: that Chicken stir fry I make; that Hamburger casserole I make; Chicken breasts with rice and (frozen) sweet corn; Chicken burger, oven fries, and (frozen) peas; Potato ash (basically a potato stew with ground beef and carrots); Meat lasagna (the from the freezer-to-the-oven kind because, again, lazy), and because I know myself way too well, we’ll add a microwave dinner. Probably butter chicken, because yum.

Into the cart goes: Chicken breasts (sometimes they’re on sale, like right now, which is a win, so I’ll nab one of the big packs and freeze some), two green peppers, two onions, a red pepper, rice, ten mushrooms, no-name chicken broth, ketchup, corn starch, brown sugar, soya sauce, curry powder, two tomatoes, two packets of ground beef, a can of diced tomatoes, another can of cream of mushroom soup, egg noodles, frozen chicken burgers, oven fries, frozen corn, frozen peas, bag of potatoes, three large carrots, frozen lasagna, and a microwave butter chicken.

Snacking

I snack. Part of the reason my breakfasts and lunches are generally small is that I munch while I write or edit, and I have wobbly blood sugar, so it’s better for me to eat more often and less than it is to have big meals. Most of my snackage would be covered by some of the meals I’ve listed above. The baby carrots are a go-to, as is the block of cheese (I have been known to just spread margarine on warm bread and eat a chunk of cheese for lunch and shut up like you have no bad habits), and the beetroot hummus. To round out my snacking, I’ll add a box of gingersnaps (because I’m human, damnit).

And..?

At the end of that first week I’d have eaten 60% of my writing income. Now, if I look at the meals I make, the next week I could likely skip half the lunches, since some of the dinners make leftovers, and I wouldn’t need some things I bought the week before (like tea bags or honey or ketchup or soya sauce), so I’m willing to say the rest of the 40% would likely cover me through the next week. I’d very likely get a box of cereal, too.

So, my answer to “Eating my words”?

Two weeks.

And damnit, now I want gingersnaps. Time to go write a short story.

 

 

 

 

Lambda Literary Finalists

The list of the 27th annual Lambda Literary Award Finalists is out, and I’m super-stoked for all the finalists. One of the best things about writing inside what often feels like a tightly interwoven community is that I always find myself happy for whoever wins – I’ll know the publisher, or the author, or one of the editors, or what-have-you. It’s a nice reminder of the “family” vibe of the LGBT writing world.

I’m also woefully behind in my reading. It’s amazing how many of these finalists I own and haven’t read yet. Gah. At some point, I’m sure I thought I’d have more time to read what with giving up the day-job, but somehow… Well. Best intentions, and all that.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t also include some massive thankfulness. Specifically, I need to thank some editors for letting me take part in some awesome anthologies which have made the list of finalists. In the order in which they appear on said list…

  • Jerry L. Wheeler‘s The Bears of Winter is a finalist for Gay Erotica, and includes my wee tale “The Psychometry of Snow,” where a second chance for a gifted man arrives on a snow-covered mountainside.

  • Timothy J. Lambert and R.D. Cochrane‘s Foolish Hearts: New Gay Fiction is a finalist for Gay Romance, and includes “Struck,” my story about a bookstore clerk having a very memorable run-in with a very memorable psychic who decides to fix his life.

  • Bruce Gillespie‘s A Family By Any Other Name: Exploring Queer Relationships is a finalist for LGBT Anthology. I wrote a piece, “It Could Happen to You,” included in this anthology about the wonderful family I married into.

    As always, I’m in awe of the company I get to keep. And as you know, my heart belongs to short fiction, so whenever I see anthologies in the spotlight, I can’t help but feel joy. The editors I’ve worked with over the years have never failed to teach me, inspire me, and – frankly – make me look better for more than I have any right to claim the credit. Fingers crossed for them, and congratulations to everyone on the finalist list.

  • Throwback Thursday: My First Lammies

    This is a rescued Red Room repost from June 3rd, 2014, after I got back from New York after going to my first Lambda Literary Awards.

    Cleis Press launched #OutWriters, a twitter tag that celebrates the influence and importance of LGBTQ authors. I took part with gusto as of June 1st, and it’s been a really invigorating experience: I’ve met dozens of new-to-me authors, and really enjoyed a few discussions that popped up thereafter. One of the reasons I tweeted for the launch was this:

    @NathanBurgoine: Because the majority of the time we’re not born to LGBT families, and often have to go find our own. Stories can be maps. #OutWriters

    When I arrived in New York for my first ever Lambda Literary Awards, I was nervous. I was actually a little surprised I was nervous, but there it was. After so many years of going to the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival I thought I had my own bumbling social stutters under control. When I go to Saints and Sinners, I am relaxed. I have a great time. I meet wonderful people, discuss books and writing, and walk away ready to challenge myself all over again. I thought that would translate to the award ceremony, but it didn’t.

    Part of that was being a finalist, sure. Light was up for a Lammy in LGBT Horror/SF/Fantasy, and by the time I’d picked up my name badge and grimaced my way through my my red carpet photo, I was actually starting to really feel a little sick. Thankfully, I had my “plus one” for the evening, Rob Byrnes with me, and soon enough I’d found familiar faces: I saw Ron Suresha, got to meet Brian Centrone face-to-face for the first time, and found the lovely Carol Rosenfeld. Upstairs, while people milled and got their name-tags, I was lucky enough to bump into Cecilia Tan (who, aside from being so incredibly talented and kind enough to chat with me for a moment, was flipping gorgeous) and Sassafras Lowrey, who I’d met briefly at a Saints and Sinners, but hadn’t really managed to chat with much before. Ze has this incredible mix of adorability and sparkle.

    At one point, Tony Valenzuela shook my hand and welcomed me. That helped stave off the “impostor syndrome” and I went downstairs to where the meet-and-greet before the event itself began.

    If I’m allowed one criticism of the Lambda Literary Award night, I’d mention this: the downstairs hallway area where we gathered, drank, and chatted was roughly eight billion degrees Kelvin, and the music was loud and filled with a thumpa-thumpa beat, so often I was nearly yelling into the ears of the person beside me when I was trying to chat. Or say hello. Or introduce someone.

    That brief criticism aside, I stayed pretty much stuck to a small corner by one of the drink tables (hey, like I said, my “plus one” was Rob Byrnes) and more and more familiar faces passed by. The force of nature that is Michelle Karlsburg, the talented (and so damned grounded) Tom Mendicino, and one of my personal heroes of the Bold Strokes Books team,Ruth Sternglantz. Ruth was making sure that all the BSB team knew there were a couple of rows where we were gathering.

    And there it was again – that feeling of family. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating – the sense of community that is created among the authors at Bold Strokes is incredible.

    That brief interaction redoubled my courage a bit, and I started forcing myself to say hello to people I hadn’t met before, but I knew would be there. I saw Alex Woolfson and I thought,screw it. I leaned out into the passing crowds of people, tapped his shoulder, and said hello.

    Unsurprisingly? He’s an awesome guy. Also he was very snappily dressed – and humble enough to admit he had someone else do the tie for him. We had a great chat about the nerves of being “first book nominated” and I gushed a wee bit (hopefully not too embarrassingly) about how much I loved Artifice and how much I was enjoying his new web-series, The Young Protectors.

    Speaking of graphic novels – which was a new category for the Lammys this year – I also saw and recognized Justin Hall and cornered him for a moment to gush about the category, how much I loved Qu33r, and tried not to be intimidated that he seemed like he’d be capable of snapping me in half like one of the superheroes he so artfully draws. Turns out he got bit by a radioactive nice guy though, so he put up with my blathering. He did the cover of the program for the evening, by the way, and got to introduce Alison Bechdel, which he did so well he prompted the audience to their feet for the first time of the night, if memory serves.

    I briefly managed to see Beniot Denizet-Lewis – another face I recognized from Saints and Sinners but someone I’d not had much of a conversation with in the past. I mentioned I was looking forward to Travels with Casey (what? I own a dog now, and it’s not like there are cat books about travel, are there?) And then I saw Connor Habib and he was walking by quickly and my courage completely fled so I settled for a glass of water before heading into the auditorium.

    With my Bold Strokes family, I sat and watched the amazing Kate Clinton get everyone laughing from step one, and soon enough my category was there on the screen. Ruth was kind enough to grab my hand – she probably saw me hyperventilating – and when the winner was announced: Death By Silver from Lethe Press I was applauding and happy for the authors and the publisher and it wasn’t a bad thing at all. It’s easy to be happy for members of your own community.

    Also: I hadn’t written down anything to say.

    I relaxed after that. Any stress of the evening was now lost completely to the joy of watching others I loved and admired winning awards, being recognized, and just having a great time in a room of likeminded people. When Tony Valenzuela and S. Chris Shirley got up to speak, they brought that sense of family back again – it was a theme that would repeat throughout the evening. I’ll mangle the exact words now, but vibe of it was this: we queer folk have been here since forever, but we’re not like others in that one way I mentioned way back at the start of this post: we’re not born to other queers. There’s no “parent to child” continuance of culture. That’s where organizations like the Lambda Literary Foundation come into play. That’s why our writings, our stories, our mythologies and biographies and every single word we can commit to a record are so important. It creates that culture, permanence, and visibility – and all those things are necessary to create rights and equality and to move forward.

    This post is already miles too long. The winners who were present were all wonderful in their speeches, and as I said, so many of them mentioned the power of the LGBTQ family. More specifically, while accepting the Pioneer Award, Kate Bornstein was incredibly on-point about the dangers that don’t only come from without. Calling for us to remember not to attack our own, Kate pointed out that the room was full of every letter, every sexuality, every gender identity, sex-positive people, sex-workers, asexuals, and the most important thing was that we stuck together and treated each other well.

    That struck me. It’s true that all families squabble and fight. Ours is no different. Words, labels, inclusivity and offensiveness – we get things wrong – and we try to learn and we try to get it right. It’s all we can do, really. It’s when we stop trying, though, that we’re really in trouble.

    And families lose members. There is death. God, have we died; we’ve died of disease, died of hate – and died at the intersection of hate and disease. We’ve died alone. We’ve also died surrounded by those who loved us. Connected. And truly mourned. As the names and images of the In Memoriam flickered by, I could feel that in the room – all of those names and faces were family.

    As Radclyffe and Michael Thomas Ford accepted their Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Prizes, both took the time to thank their readers and the community in general. I’m lucky enough to know them well enough to chat, and I had to admit the whole idea of these two amazing writers being mid-career seemed sort of surprising at first. Between them they have something like eighty novels. That’s mid? But it’s not a numerical thing. There’s more to say, more to write, and more to do.

    When the awards were over, I was so energized. And I put my stupid nerves aside and went over to say hello to Connor Habib. I only made a wee ass of myself, too. But hey, if you can’t embarrass the crap out of yourself in front of family, then what’s the point of having them, eh?

    I flew home today and I caught myself smiling on the plane. After I landed, I refreshed the #OutWriters tag and the #Lammys tag a few more times, and saw the pictures and tweets and felt that warmth right through to the bone. I got home, arranged for the lovely lady who’d been kind enough to look after Coach to bring him back over, and while I did that, I checked my Facebook, and saw a post from Michael Erikson (from the amazing Glad Day Bookshop):

    A 17-year-old that I work with came out as gay to his family recently but was totally surprised and devastated when he was told he now has 1-2 months to find somewhere else to live. So, Facebook network, I wonder if:
    A) Do you know of any job opportunities for someone who is a bit shy, very respectful and hard-working? A job like busboy would be ideal.
    B) Do you know of any rooms for rent that might be coming up in the near future or for September?

    For a moment, it was twenty-odd years ago, and I was caught between wanting to curse and swear or cry. And then I saw how many people had already responded with help and advice and offers for money and even places to stay. I added my name to the list, boosted the signal for the call for help, and watched the ripples spread from all directions.

    Why do we write? We write because our voices only last for so long unless we find a way to keep them echoing. Those echoes make the culture that Tony Valenzuela and S. Chris Shirley were talking about. That culture makes for families – chosen families – like the ones Kate Bornstein was calling for us to remember to hold dear. But most of all, I think we do all of this because there are still 17-year-olds who find their own voices and face these moments.

    And we welcome them to the family.