Today's blog is part of Torquere Press's Charity Blog hop for the NoH8 Torquere Charity Sips. I suspect many of my readers are already thoroughly familiar with Torquere Press and our annual charity collections, but I'm going to share the elevator speech anyway. Every year for the past four years Torquere authors have banded together to create stories specifically to benefit a charity – 100% of our normal royalties go to that charity, and Torquere Press matches that sum out of their profits. We choose a different charity every year, but they are all GLBT-related. Not all the authors at Torquere are GLBT, although many of us are, but I'm confident they all feel strongly about supporting GLBT rights.
I hope you'll check out everyone's blogs, not just mine. You can find a complete list on the Torquere blog: http://glbtromance.blogspot.com
And after that, I hope you'll go check out the stories. You can find the charity sips here: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?
I'm proud to say that this year we chose the NoH8 Campaign (http://www.noh8campaign.com/) as our beneficiary. I feel I have something of a personal connection because one of the founders is the nephew of a dear friend from my college days. My friend Rick was a very special person, and I think he'd be very proud of the NOH8 campaign and what it stands for, because love was one of the virtues he lived. He had a special knack for bringing out the best in people just by being there. I know I'm a very different person thanks to having known him.
I've been thinking a lot about love as I reflect on the presidential election campaign which just ended. So very much of the campaign was about fear and hate. Both ends of the political spectrum have discovered that it's much, much easier to motivate voters by playing on their fears and hate. It's also very hard not to respond to hateful messages with fear or hate in return. The trouble is that now the election is over, you can't turn off that us versus them attitude and get on with life. It's entrenched and hard to kill, and that's bad for all of us. I've watched political differences destroy or damage friendships, and that's sad.
It isn't easy to stay aloof from it though. If someone says they want to pass a law which will dissolve my marriage, that strikes at a major piece of my life. It's a threat. It's human nature to respond to threats with fear or anger, or both. But that's not a good answer. It propagates a vicious circle. While we need to keep fighting in the courts so that we have legal support for our rights, court verdicts don’t win people's hearts. They won't make people think love or marriage between two men or two women or a transman or transwoman and anyone else is reasonable and normal. The only thing that will really accomplish that is to have examples of it out there, and visible, so they see that we're people just like them, with jobs and families and the same kinds of worries and joys in our relationships.
Real life examples accomplish that. I'd like to share one of my own with you. I'm married to a wonderful woman, and her family wasn't universally comfortable with this situation at first. Family members were varying degrees of superficially polite mixed with awkward when we started dating. We've been together for 12 years, and married for 5 of them, and I've seen my relationship with my in-laws change and grow.
It made a difference to them when we made our relationship legally binding (which we did as soon as New Hampshire passed the law allowing it), and it made even more of a difference when they saw us go through difficult situations together as couples will – job loss, illness, my mother's death – and deal with them more or less the same way that they expected their son and daughter-in-law would deal with them. That showed them, far more than clever slogans or educational campaigns, that our marriage was just as real as her brother's. And I'm very proud to say that this election my father-in-law casually mentioned that he was going to vote in favor of Maine's marriage equality ballot question.
This kind of example won't win over the hard line fanatics. I don't think anything would. Our examples do have the potential to win over the people who are more in the middle, or who just haven't ever thought about what marriage means to us. Changing enough of those hearts and minds can change the world. And we'll do it by loving each other and showing everyone what it looks like, not by returning hate for hate.
Stories have a role to play there too. If we can write stories with gay or lesbian protagonists who are real people, with hopes and fears and loves, those can touch the hearts of people who may never meet us in person. That's a big goal to shoot for, but I'm going to enjoy trying, even if I never write anything quite that good. Maybe my work will touch a few hearts, or just make someone's day a little better.
Now, I hope you'll go check out our stories. Buy my story (Heaven's Heretics: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?