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 I started following Matthew Phelps on twitter shortly after DADT was repealed, I think someone re-tweeted his triumphant declaration about how he could finally serve openly and I happened to spot it in my timeline.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 Bridegroom Kickstarter Project, and I an interview where I poke Damon Suede with sticks


This touching video has gone around the internet quite a bit, but just in case you haven’t seen it I’m going to give the super-fast nutshell explanation about it: Boy meets boy, boys fall in love and plan a lifelong commitment to one another, boy falls off a roof and dies tragically before his time.  Other boy is prohibited from attending his partner’s funeral, and even threatened with bodily harm by his late fiance’s family. In the hopes of of shedding light on this terrible situation and the larger issue of marriage inequality, they are trying to get a documentary made about their story. I hope you will consider contributing. There are only a few days left and they loose all donated funds if they don’t reach the goal. You can find out more about the Kickstarter project and become a backer, here.

Unarguably, this is unfair, and I would really love to see them get this documentary made.   Some have argued to me that it is sufficient for folks in same-sex relationships to have paperwork and contracts, and the fact is they don’t cover everything. And these guys, sadly, didn’t have wills. Maybe they should have, but you know what? My husband and I should have wills also, we really should. We live busy lives and we haven’t gotten to it yet, and statistically the odds are slim of us dying right now. But if God forbid my husband dies tomorrow, nobody is going to stop me from saying goodbye. That is as it should be for all humans. I really don’t like to get political a lot, and truthfully I don’t feel like I’m exactly getting political now. To me, this is about basic human decency. I really applaud what this young man, Shane Bitney, is doing. Putting your painful story out in the world for everyone to see is no easy thing.

On a lighter note… Damon Suede and I have been buddies and beta readers for going on a couple of years now. Recently we took a short break from our busy schedules to interview each other over at Hearts on Fire reviews, in what we liked to call A Rousing Interlude In Which Damon Suede and Ellis Carrington Poke Each Other With Sticks. We had a lot of fun. Stop by and say hello. 🙂