A few awesome things happened, too


The day of the Sandy Hook School shooting, I fell apart just like a lot of people. I cried, of course, over the shock and the horror of the children who died. For the parents who wouldn’t get to bring their babies home. And also, with the guilty relief that my children were still healthy and safe.

So for me at least, going into this holiday season has been bittersweet and very emotional. I just wanted to take a minute to think about a few good, happy things that I knew had taken place in the world as I knew it, that were worth focusing on. Because we all need the good:

  • OneRepublic is raising money for Sandy Hook: Sometimes the only good thing we can say about a tragedy is that it shows us the best parts of humanity. Rock band OneRepublic started a fundraiser to help the families who need money for funerals, therapy bills, and missed time from work get back on their feet. They also started the fund by kicking in $20,000 of their own money. I decided that instead of rushing around to buy last-minute Xmas gifts this year, I would donate money in honor of each person I hadn’t yet bought a gift for. If you’d like to donate you can do so here.
  • A USMC captain proposed to his partner at the white house. I started following Matthew Phelps on twitter shortly after DADT was repealed, I think someone re-tweeted his triumphant declaration about how he could finally serve openly and I happened to spot it in my timeline. I congratulated him, he said thanks. So I started following his blog, etc… Captain Phelps writes a lot on his personal blog about his personal experiences both serving under DADT and what has happened after, and his stories have been really eye-opening and informative for me as a civilian. The personal experiences he’s shared changed not only gave me a clearer understanding of DADT but gave me a higher degree of respect for those who serve in the military. So even though I never had the chance to meet him personally, the information he shared was important to me personally, and obviously important on a grander scale. I appreciate his hard work and his service, and wish him and his partner a lifetime of happiness.
  • A man celebrates a homeless woman’s birthday with her. People who usually are forgotten enjoy celebrating birthdays too and I’d wager most of never think twice about this sort of thing. The video is in Spanish and mine is rusty but seeing her excitement is still beautiful.
  • The Bridegroom and Fearless Projects both got their funding on KickStarter. The nasty little secret about Kickstarter is that if you set a funding goal and don’t reach it, you don’t get any money. Bummer. So I’m a little biased because I contributed to both projects and helped campaign to raise funds for them, but I am really encouraged that both of these projects got fully funded this year: The Bridegroom project was another hopeful light that came out of tragedy. A young man who lost his partner and plans to tell their story to help further the cause of marriage equality. Fearless is a decade-long photo documentary project about brave “out” LGBT athletes in high school and college. Both of these projects, I hope, will have positive social reach. I believed very strongly in their message and the people trying to accomplish them.
  • Husbands–I’ve been pimping this all over, because it’s funny as hell. And it’s the kind of funny you have to think about for just a second, which I utterly adore. Plus, the funny is now also in comic book form. Times like these, you need a good laugh. I’ve watched and re-watched (and read, and re-read) the husbands videos and comics a multitude of times and it’s never stopped being funny to me. Or making me go “awww.” Not many things you can say that about. You can check out the review I did of the Husbands comics at I Smell Sheep, here.
  • Boxer Falls – Boxer Falls was a joint collaboration thought up by Damon Suede, and coordinated by me, him, Poppy Dennison, and Brita Adams. The idea was to create a serial story set in the gay-friendly Berkshires and have a soap-opera theme that would allow for all sorts of fun and off the wall shenanigans to take place. We had some amazing guest writers from Mary Calmes and Amy Lane to Eden Winters and Ally Blue, Edmond Manning, Jacob Flores and Geoff Knight, Alix Bekins, etc. The list goes on. An amazing roster of guests who took readers on a roller coaster of break-ups, makeups, murders, kidnappings, and even wedding proposals. The interaction with the readers, getting to work side by side with the guest authors, stretching my editing muscles, getting to play with the challenge of working with characters who weren’t “mine…” was all very exciting. There were ups and downs, and sometimes Boxer Falls was a huge challenge, but sometimes it was huge fun, and more than anything I am grateful for the experience.

I could probably make this an even longer post, but I’m gonna end here. It’s Christmas eve and I’m gonna cuddle in bed with a book and be grateful that I can while I dream of Santa bringing me something amazing, like peace on earth, or gay porn.

I hope you have a beautiful holiday.

Love,

Ellis

Fearless Project: Support Out and Proud LGBT Athletes


Photo by Jeff Sheng – FearlessProject.org

I nearly flunked high school gym class. No joke. My mother thought I was incredibly lazy. In truth, I put a great deal of effort into not participating. I was in a lesbian relationship for the first half of high school. I didn’t broadcast, but people knew. I was never seriously hurt, but there were shoves and threats, and that was just walking down the hall. Heaven forbid someone thought I looked at them funny in the locker room or touched them inappropriately while holding their legs for sit-ups or Lord knew what. Gym class made me anxious as hell. Participating in any kind of sport was never even an option as far as I was concerned. I really wanted to be a cheerleader. I convinced myself I wouldn’t have been any good anyway.

So I have a huge amount of respect and awe for any LGBT athlete who comes out at any point in their career, especially in their teen years when there is so much at stake. Kids can be cruel. Parents and teachers sometimes can be, as well.

My admiration extends to Jeff Sheng as well, whose photography work I find so inspirational. He’s done phenomenal photo exhibits covering subject matter like Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the fence where Matthew Shepard lay dying. And for roughly the last decade, he’s also been working on a photo collection of hundreds of openly gay athletes which has gotta be as rewarding as it is exhausting. The Fearless Project is something personal for him–he was an athlete in high school, and quit because he thought he couldn’t be a gay in sports.

Even more, however, I really believe that this is a project that can bring an amazing amount of hope and awareness. The string of bullying reports and teen suicides isn’t so far back in our rear-view. The country is at a crossroads. Minds are changing and still more need to be changed, one hopes for the better. These kids, their bravery should be honored.

And the more this work gets out in the world, the more good it can do. I really believe that. Sheng has mostly been footing the bill on his own dime until now, and including the travel to all of the student athletes he visits. He’s got a little over a week to drum up a few grand more to complete the project or he forfeits everything that has been pledged. He’s self-publishing the project because no photography book publisher has been interested in publishing it. This is totally doable. Please help by supporting his Kickstarter project.

The big gay week in review (the big gay books, blog, movies, and soap!)…


(this started out as a short post, I swear) It’s back to school time. I lack organizational skills. I’m running low on Kona coffee. It’s Thursday when I thought it was Friday, yet again. *headdesk*I’ve got 2 books in-progress and another one plotted, and GAH! I don’t know when any of them will be done yet (and ogawd you guys, I so appreciate all of you who keep asking, I swear I’m working on it, I’ll have something for you soon. Hopefully now that the kids are in preschool I’ll have more time to work. I need an assistant. A babysitter. A brain transplant. Moar COFFEE!). *ahems* But hey! It’s all good, because as I look back on the week there have actually been some pretty interesting goings on:

  • Big Gay Blog Week – I participated in “Big Gay Blog Week” over at Lela Gwenn’s Full Frontal Fantasy blog, and wrote an article on why I see romance as a positive thing for the LGBT community.
  •  Big Gay Books Steamroller is out, by Mary Calmes. I love Mary’s books on a lot of levels. The dialogue and the subject matter is always intelligent, there’s (and I admit I’m stealing this description from a friend) a certain witty tartness to her stories, and a perfect balance of sweet and sexy. Some are more emotional, some are darker, but you always can expect a quality story and that’s nice to have in an author. Steamroller was on the light side, and I liked that. A shorter read, about a not so often found scenario wherein a jock has a longstanding crush on a nerdy guy, and when they finally come together it’s like fireworks. I read it in an afternoon at the end of a stressful day, and it was just the thing to take the edge off. Really wonderful, and highly recommended. Also recently released was Four Corners by Kate McMurray which was another very sweet and slightly angsty story about how these four guys used to be buddies and play baseball together, but then one guy took off because he couldn’t quite come to grips with his sexuality. There’s a lot of pain and leftover anger from the friends who were left behind, one of whom has been in love with his buddy since their childhood. Very delightful and worth reading. And Then there was The British Devil by Greg Hogben which is a witty and eye-opening (semi-autobiographical) tale of an international love affair between two men and the many obstacles they face along the way. It’s a very enjoyable and relatable story. God, I just realized it’s a good thing my husband doesn’t read this blog. Uh, no, honey…I didn’t buy any of these books. All loaners, I swear. He DID see the title of the post, and made a point of telling me that I’m really bad at titles. Thanks, honey.
  • Big Gay Movies – Used to be, I would nod and lament along with my fellow authors and romance readers that it was hard to find satisfying ending in gay movies. I felt like so much of it was depressing, angsty, or just downright WTF? And don’t get me wrong, I love angst. I love a good mindfuck! I *know* that being gay/etc can be painful. But give me a hand up after you drop me, so *I* don’t slit my wrists like the movie hero just did, huh? I was thrilled to run across both Private Romeo (gay retelling of Romeo and Juliet set in an all boys military school) and A Marine Story (about a lesbian Marine officer discharged under DADT). I’ve been on a military kick lately, and you can’t have gay military movies without talking either directly or indirectly about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Private Romeo doesn’t address the topic directly. It’s more of a symbolic thing with the setting and whatnot. A Marine Story is much more direct, and gives an example of one of the many potential ways that DADT  impacted lives and careers. Even with the repeal of DADT, I see this subject matter as important. For someone like me who grew up largely in the civilian world (my dad was in the Army but my memory of that is mostly blurry and mostly negative) and who was actually raised with something of an anti-military/ anti-war outlook, it’s hard to understand the impact of DADT. It’s harder still to understand why serving in  the military was important for those who had to hide who they were and were treated unfairly. So I’ve become fascinated by the subject, and the more I learn abut the impact of DADT and the lingering effects after its repeal, the more interested I become.  So what was interesting, was that both of these movies did have positive endings. This was cool, because I think that, too, is a big important thing in gay media. I think it’s extremely important that we acknowledge and remember, but just as important that we have hope.
  • Big Gay Soap! – Welcome to Boxer Falls! If you haven’t caught up on the soapy homo romance yet, please come and join us! This past week Geoff Knight shook things up with his episode over at the GoodReads M/M Romance Group! You won’t want to miss it. Tomorrow’s episode is written by Jacob Z Flores, and I enjoyed it so much that I am now chomping at the bit to buy his book(the perk, of course, of being one of the head writers is getting to see the episodes early). I’ve actually discovered a lot of writers I love thanks to Boxer Falls. Next week will be Edmond Manning. I read his book, King Perry, and he’s definitely another really great new voice in the genre. We’ve been so lucky and SO grateful to have so many talented authors participate. Do stop by. 🙂