Don’t Kill the Queers

WARNING: Rant ahead, as well as spoilers for the webcomic Rainflowers.

When I saw the description for Rainflowers, I was all for it:
A BL comic about a clueless, but cheerful human puppy who falls in love with a temperamental, hard-working flower-lover.

That sounds really sweet! I’m all for it.

The story follows two college-aged guys as they fall in love, start dating, and the struggles they have (specifically around one being financially very well off and the other working hard to get through school). I picked it up halfway through its release, so after the first part, I had to read it on a weekly basis. And let me tell you, when the characters had a big fight, I was on the edge of my seat to find out how they resolved it.

So it was a surprise when the next update had the parent of one character calling to inform the other character that Guy 1 was dead.

Wait, what?

Yeah, So this “BL comic” ends with one love interest dying and the other one…continuing on with life. “BL” if you’re not familiar, means “Boys’ love” and is the term used for Japanese manga and anime that involves the romance between two men. The category has broadened to include other forms of media, but like most romance, the stories end (in everything I’ve read) with a happy ending. The reader goes in expecting a happy ending. So this suddenly and completely unexpected death threw me off guard. I was PISSED. And prepared to drop the story immediately.

But I thought “Maybe he’s not dead and it’s a misunderstanding”–except then we end up at a cemetery to leave flowers, so no, he’s super dead. But there were only a few pages left, so I bit the bullet to see where this would go.

And then I reread the whole thing to see if it makes sense. If it was good story writing that I just didn’t appreciate the first time round. If there was subtext and foreshadowing that I didn’t see.

Well, yes, in some ways there was foreshadowing. However, if you don’t realize that what’s happening, it just seems to be jumping to different periods where the one guy is collecting flowers, not as a completely different timeline. Now, if you look at the story as a whole and not as a BL or romance, it could possibly be considered a good story.

Except…there’s no point. There’s no character growth, there’s no plot, there’s no…anything.

We get two young men, who fall in love, one of whom dies. The end. The story ends five pages after one of the character dies, and there’s no room for the remaining character to grow as a person. In fact, if you re-read the story, you see him behaving exactly as before: spending money freely and without regard for what that might mean to other people.

So there’s really no point to the tale we’re told. Except that queers can’t get a happy ending, I guess.

The art is lovely and simple, the development of their relationship is nice. But when they have a fight about being able to afford taking classes over, stop. Or better yet, don’t read it at all.

And the Days March On

The past week (since Sunday) has been very sad, and I’ve mostly been removing myself from social media, because knowing the harsh realities is one thing, but the barrage of information is overwhelming. Constantly thinking about those who have suffered, the ongoing problems in our country, and fearing for yourself and friends and all your brothers and sisters…is overwhelming. My heart is sad and I’m mourning and I feel helpless. But I’ve also worked hard to continue living my life and BEING ME. 
Which, you know, means riding horses. This is me doing a selfie with Khade. (He has some strange Arabian breed name but everyone calls him Khade.) Like most Arabians, his deck is short a few cards. He’s old enough to know better, but OMG DID THAT LEAF JUST MOVE I THINK IT DID – WHY ARE YOU ON THE GROUND?
His training (whatever it was) before we got him didn’t really help this, as far as we can tell. He has a lot of neurosis (when he’s nervous, he HAS to touch his nose to his knee and give it a rub). He’s also physically unbalanced and his back muscles are weak on the right side, so the rider tends to list to the right. 
This summer I’m riding him once a week and another girl is riding him too. She’s a much better/skilled/experienced/confident rider than I am, but between the two of us, he seems to be making a lot of improvement in a lot of different ways!
Wednesday I ride the quarter horse named Dish, and she’s less stressful in being nervous, but she takes a lot more leg/seat than Khade. But she’s also helping me learn things and improve my riding, which is helping when I ride Khade, so it all works out. Those two sure are different, but I’m having a lot of fun switching back and forth. I love a challenge!
And that was the first half of my week. Lots of horses and riding and being connected to the community and nature. It was great.
I’ve also been thinking about switching to a different blogging site, because Blogger just doesn’t feel like it’s really satisfying my needs anymore. There’s a lot I like about Blogger, but there’s so much social media posting that other sites do FOR you (rather than me linking to a billion places) that I’m really tempted. Just a heads-up. I will of course spread the word far and wide 😉
Finally, I’m planning something for my birthday toward the end of August, so keep an eye open for that!

Growing up country.

Compared to some, I don’t live in a rural area at all. It’s quite suburban in many ways. But that suburbia hasn’t been around quite as long as some other places. And much of the mindset is still very rural.

Take for instance a conversation I had with my riding instructor today. She was telling me about one of the kids’ big horse show and that the judge confused horse A and horse B and pinned them backward. and the judge refused to admit his mistake and everyone around them was astounded at the judge’s ruling, etc, etc. So far that’s all fine. It sounds like the girl really got screwed out of a ribbon she deserved (she earned Champion in her two other classes on the same horse, just to prove the point).

Then my instructor says that the judge was gay. I just kind of blinked at her for a bit, so she went on, explaining how she had noticed it when she saw him judging, but after they talked to him (to confront him about the placement), the other person agreed with her. She was obviously trying to tie being gay to the judge giving a shitty ruling.

I said (heart pounding), that him being gay really didn’t have anything to do with it.

She went on, trying to explain that it was his attitude.

And I said that being gay didn’t give him attitude. He just had a shitty attitude. At which point she dropped the conversation and focused on how unfair it was that the kid got screwed out of a ribbon. Then she went to go do something else, and I groomed my horse and replayed the conversation in my head a thousand times.

I was born and raised in this area, so the mentality doesn’t really surprise me, although this is the first time I’ve run into this type of language from her (although she’s made passing comments that were questionable before). She’s an older woman (63) and was raised in this area. So she embodies that rural area. It’s something you see in a lot of fiction: rural towns don’t like them gays, but they aren’t outright mean to them. Mostly just give them side-eye. And that’s how she is. But being queer and hearing that said was still a shock to the system.

I take heart in knowing that with time and patience, change is happening.

Book recommendation

If you follow me on tumblr, this information may sound familiar.

But I wanted to talk about a book that I just finished. I know I try not to smudge the line between editor Alex and writer Alex, but this time I just have to.

Because this book is special to me. I’ve known I’m asexual for a while (a few years) and I’m pretty comfortable with it (um, outside of relationships). My friends are cool with it. Tumblr is cool with it. Yay! Okay, my family doesn’t know, but they know I’m not giving them kids, so I don’t think they really need to know.

Anyway. This book. I have a wide appreciation for this book. First off, it’s well-written, a mix of romance, quaint British town, and suspense. But what really made this book speak to me on a deep level is the main character is asexual. He has a lot of heavy-duty stuff going on in his life, especially in the beginning of the book, but toward the end there are some serious conversations that happen that were just…amazing. They had me pointing at the screen and shouting, “That!”

Some readers may gripe about the lack of sexy times happening on the page. But the book is about an asexual character, and there is a very short list of books that have asexual characters. This book fills a need and it fills it well.

If you want to understand more about the mindset of asexual people (or at least this particular person’s experience, in the story), then please read it. It’s very accessible and may help you see how a person feels/thinks/etc.

If you are asexual, you’re going to love this character. No, he’s not every asexual, but at least some part of him will likely speak to you.

If you don’t care about asexual characters at all, you can still enjoy a sweet, exciting story that tears at the soft underbelly without gutting you completely. And maybe you’ll learn a thing or two along the way!

Blue Steel Chain by Alex Beecroft

At sixteen, Aidan Swift was swept off his feet by a rich older man who promised to take care of him for the rest of his life. But eight years later, his sugar daddy has turned from a prince into a beast. Trapped and terrified, Aidan snatches an hour’s respite at the Trowchester Museum.

Local archaeologist James Huntley is in a failing long distance relationship with a rock star, and Aidan—nervous, bruised, and clearly in need of a champion—brings out all his white knight tendencies. When everything falls apart for Aidan, James saves him from certain death . . . and discovers a skeleton of another boy who wasn’t so lucky.

As Aidan recovers, James falls desperately in love. But though Aidan acts like an adoring boyfriend, he doesn’t seem to feel any sexual attraction at all. Meanwhile there are two angry exes on the horizon, one coming after them with the press and the other with a butcher’s knife. To be together, Aidan and James must conquer death, sex, and everyone’s preconceptions about the right way to love—even their own.

Coming Out

So despite the fact that I work for an LGBT publisher, most of my friends are on the LGBT spectrum, and I’ve taught my mom things about the LGBT community and identity, I’ve never been out to my parents.

Part of this is because I feel that coming out shouldn’t be a thing I have to do. No one should. We shouldn’t assume anything about anybody. Not really. Part of my not coming out was worry about how my father would take it. And part of it is just the flexibility that my identity encompasses. Coming out seems like trying to put my identity in a picture frame, when it reality it’s more like a lava lamp.

But on Mothers’ Day, my mom and I were chatting and she asked, “Are you gay?”

And I answered, “Yes. Sorta. It’s complicated. But yes, I’m on the LGBT spectrum.”

Because explaining that currently I’m probably identifying as gray-asexual, panromantic, genderqueer is complicated.

We talked a little about why she suspected and she asked if I was okay with it. (She’s a guidance counselor and knows depression can be a problem among LGBT youths. I explained that since I had my own financial support and great friends, I was okay. Plus, my brother would totally side with me if my parents had disowned me.) I didn’t stress that my depression had nothing to do with being LGBT.

And then she asked why I didn’t tell her. And I asked if my brother had come out to her as straight. No, of course not. And I asked why it was any different. Just because it’s not the ‘norm’ doesn’t mean I should have to announce it. Do I have to come out about liking that Finnish band I dig? That’s not common either. Or hating scrapple and growing up Pennsylvania Dutch. That’s outside the norm.

If we stop making assumptions about people, then we can find out when the time is right. Because otherwise in college I would have told them I’m bisexual. And then tweaked that description. And then again. Because I’m still finding myself.

Also, until it is involved in their lives, I’m not sure why it really matters. I don’t tell them about kink stuff, do I?

Yeah, pretty sure they don’t want to hear that. 😀

So my mom (and I assume she told my dad) know I’m on the LGBT spectrum.

And ten minutes later she asked why I don’t shave my legs. I replied, “Why doesn’t Dad shave his legs?”

I’m not sure she’s quite caught on. But it’s a step.

On Identity

I read a book recently that focused on avian shifters who lived (although the details were a little fuzzy) side by side with humans. The avians couldn’t shift until later in life and didn’t go through their first partial shift until about 18. At this point it would be judged what kind of bird they were and it would set their spot in society, their rank. Raptors on top, ducks on the bottom (um, no pun intended). All the birds have a symbol that represents their specie and once they’ve completed a full shift, the symbol is tattooed on the inside of their wrist. Not, as some think, to let everyone instantly know the rank of the individual, but, as a hawk explains, because once everyone was proud of their specie and the role they played in society.

Perhaps I’m getting off track. My real focus here is the use of the tattoo to mark the identity of the avian. A mark that instantly explains certain traits about the individual based on bird-type.

I’ve been curious about a tattoo on my wrist ever since seeing the Watchers in Highlander: The Series, but I’ve always been hesitant because it’s such a visible spot, it’s a sensitive spot, and I wasn’t sure what I’d get there. I know what I’d get there now. I’d get the mark of my specie.

What? You say I’m not an avian shifter? Good point.

Humans love to categorize things: Animal, mineral or vegetable? Mammal, reptile or bird? Primate, feline, or canine? Monkey, ape or human? Male or female? Hetero-, homo-, or bisexual? Beautiful, ugly or plain?

The problem is that some animals and all people don’t fit into their categories. In the first, we have the platypus. In the second, we have bikers who run charities, priests who molest children, and an assortment in between. You’re probably one and I’m one too.

I’ve always wanted to fit into a category, and maybe everyone feels this way, but I think it’s because I so very much never fit into one. In high school there wasn’t the conflict of “smart kids” vs. “jocks,” as we often had cross overs. In my high school, cliques existed, but they didn’t rule the school. We didn’t have to fit into categories, although there were still guides of the “cool kids” and the “not cool kids” although bullying happened to a lesser extent than we hear today. (Or maybe I was just that naive). The point is, there wasn’t a category I had to fit into, not that I would have anyway.

But I think it’d be nice if I could get a mark that would let everyone know who I am. I don’t care if I’m in a category by myself (as we probably all are), I just want someone to see the mark and say, “Oh, you’re ____.”

Of course, it doesn’t work that way.

One, we all vary so much that the categories are just stereotypes, that while they may apply to some things, won’t apply to everything and everyone in the category. So maybe the category is just to give an idea of what a person is, that would work, right? Especially if the category is something chosen by the individual and not something society has pegged the person as (black, gay, female, etc).

Two, there is no way to ensure that the chosen mark would be interpreted by everyone correct or the same way. Some may not bother seeing the symbol, just the tattoo and judge that. “Oh, that’s someone who gets tattoos in visible places.”

Three, I still don’t feel like I fit into a category. And if I did, what would my mark be? I don’t know (yet), which is why my wrists remain bare. One day I will have a mark, and maybe it will be a mark I’ll share with another. And we two can be a category unto our selves. And, no, no one else will know what it means, but the creature in my heart will know, and really, that’s all that matters.

On Life, Beauty, and Gender

For psuedoLent I gave up chocolate and have been pretty faithful to the sacrifice, though I did have a piece of chocolate cake and a bite of brownie. That’s not really important, but I wanted to share.

Second, after hearing mention of a beauty regime in a book I was reading (Getting It by Alex Sanchez, for those who are interested), I realized that my mother never really gave me beauty tips when I was young, possibly because I wanted nothing to do with it. But really, boys and girls can have nice skin, which is all she would have needed to say to win me over (the characters in the book are all boys, and not all of them are gay). So I decided to attempt this beauty regime and see how it turns out (for those interested, it involves foaming cleanser, witch hazel and oil-free moisturizer). I’ve taken pictures to do “before” and “after” comparison.

Third, I guess…the books I’ve been reading. Still reading Be Last for the youth group and have added on The Art of Happiness “by” the Dalai Lama. Also, I took out Parrotfish from the library which is about a transgendered boy (as in, girl to boy) who is embracing the male side and all the struggles he goes through (a work of fiction, which has peaked my interest in nonfiction of similar, but haven’t settled on anything).

Coming from a rather conservative area, LGBT wasn’t particularly common (or spoken about) when I was a teen. I never really thought about it when I was in school, or if I thought about my attractions I kept them to myself. So when I went to college, my eyes were opened, to say the least. So I still feel like I’m trying to understand some things that other people have understood rather earlier in life, and I don’t know if that means I’m delusional about things or I’m finally coming to understand myself.

I won’t go into details, both because they are personal and because it would be rude (to my family) to make public announcements about things I’m not entirely sure of. Or something. The important thing is I love myself and am comfortable with myself, no matter who I become.

Not-a-Loser Saturday

Ignoring the fact that it’s 6 o’clock and I’m writing a blog entry, I’m not a complete loser, I swear.

Most of my time has been spent reading and writing when I’m not at work (or at the barn on weekends). Because I’ve been doing a fair amount (read: loads) of amateur reading on the interwebs, I decided that it wouldn’t necessarily help my writing, so I decided to pick up some books that are in the genre that I write, thus queer YA (although mine aren’t strictly YA or queer or “school stories”). Interlibrary loans are wonderful for this, because my town is not…well I don’t want to say they’re closed minded or anything, but they don’t carry many of these types of books. It kind of makes me wonder how hard it would be for a kid who is questioning to get a book out and read about kids going through this stuff. I wonder how many kids do anyway. Probably only the out ones.

So I’ve been doing loads of reading, and because it’s YA I finish it in a couple days (or a day) which gives me a great sense of accomplishment. I think after I finish the latest book I’ll have to put off more until I finish The Art of Happiness, which I’m looking forward to reading. Reading takes plenty of my time, but the time spent feels so much better spent than watching TV, reading things online, or whatever else I waste time doing. Writing is possibly the only thing that feels more productive, and right now I don’t know about that.

After I woke up from my afternoon nap, I had this deep, thought-provoking realization about my High School life and I was going to write about it. Then I realized it wasn’t really that great, just me realizing I was actually a huge loser in High School, but I acted all tough and pretended I wasn’t. I wonder what I looked like from the outside. I think alot of it had to do with not being able to (or not feeling safe to) talk about what I wanted/give my opinion. I feel less angry now that I’m open with what I want to say, although it’s still a challenge I’m overcoming.

I could probably go on and on about my feelings and such, but that seems boring. I hope everyone enjoys their Saturday.