Friday, May 16, 2014

Writing in the Closet (HAHAT - Giveaway)


Welcome to Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia 2014! Today is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (or IDAHO, as it's called). Even though the names don't contain "Biphobia," we're fighting against that as well.

I've thought long and hard about what to write about this year. The purpose of the Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia is twofold: To spread awareness of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic discrimination, and to stand together against discrimination of our LGBT books. I'd like to address both today.

There's been some nasty development of LGBT rights (or lack there of) in the world since last year's hop: 

Russia passed an anti-gay law that prohibits all “propaganda” of homosexuality to minors. That means that people can’t do a gay pride or hold an LGBT poster out on the street because someone might take a picture of it and post it on the internet where a minor might see it (this actually happened and the sign-holder got arrested). As a result, violence against LGBT people in Russia has increased (watch this video at your own risk). The Olympic Committee decided to let Russia host the winter Olympics despite their charter’s principle 6 that says “Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.” Way to stick to your guns, Olympics Committee. Athletes and audience risked fines and possible imprisonment if they wore anything to the games that could be considered LGBT support (basically rainbow stuff). Some did it anyway, either discretely or blatantly. Power to the ones who did!


I posted about Uganda’s “Kill the Gays Bill” last year, and the Ugandan parliament has accepted the bill. The first thing the papers did was post a list of known LGBT people who are now in grave danger not only from the police but also from the general public. This law is inhumane, to say the least! It’s extremely hard to fight it because apparently the majority of Ugandans support this law. All I can do is continue to spread the word and donate money. I'm making another $50 donation to Icebreakers Uganda in honor of the day.

On the other hand, defeats are often met with victories. Russia, for example, watched the Eurovision Song Contest (the largest song competition in the world) and saw Conchita Wurst win. That’s the beautiful lady with the beard. Conchita was born a man but identifies as gender neutral. So, a lot of Russian minors watched a gender neutral person win, despite the creator of Russia’s anti-gay law 's insistence that Russia boycott Eurovision because of Conchita, claiming that Eurovision was gay propaganda. Conchita’s speech? “This night is dedicated to everyone who believes in a future of peace and freedom. You know who you are. We are unity. And we are unstoppable.”

That’s right, Conchita!

Some of you would be amazed to know that a lot of authors of LGBT literature write in the closet. Some can’t tell their bosses because they might get fired, some can’t tell their families or they might get ostracized. Some readers can’t even tell their significant other that they’re reading LGBT literature. These are mostly heterosexual people, by the way.

Copyright: NinaMalyna via DepositPhotos
I’m halfway in the closet, so to speak. My friends and family know about my books and fully support me. I think that most Icelanders would support me, however, I live in a small town and that’s why I’m afraid to fully come out. Twice this year, families have been driven out of town because of social media bullying by the inhabitants. Once because a man was posting naked pictures of himself on the internet where he was playing with his butt (or putting stuff up it). People went nuts online even though the guy wasn't targeting anyone with those pictures, the national media got involved (it's a small country...) and he ended up moving away. A more recent example is a teacher who was found guilty of bullying a student. The teacher's entire family – including his two young daughters – was bullied so bad that they've sold their house and are moving to the city (again, the national media got involved). This is why I’m afraid to announce on my private facebook account that I a) write, and b) write books that contain erotic elements. If you’re different, you’re talked about and it can either become a quiet gossip or turn into vulgar media violence and disdain. I don't care if I get talked about, but what I fear is that my young sons will get bullied. As you can see, my town doesn't exactly have a good track record and it appears that the national media (albeit the more gossipy papers) loves to shine a light on my little home town. I can only see the headlines: "Single Mother of Two Young Boys Writes Porn" and a quote in the gossipy paper "I'm outraged. My kids have been playing with her boys!" I don't know, maybe I'm just being paranoid. I'll never truly know how people will react until I reveal it. 

So, the question remains, do I risk my sons getting bullied or do I come out and announce that I’m a proud writer of gay-male romance? It’s a difficult choice, one that I keep debating in my mind. Some days I feel like writing a coming out post because it’ll be liberating and I'll be able to stand tall, but other days I can’t bear even thinking about it because of my 6-year-old sons. Unlike LGBT people, I do have a choice here. I can tell you this though: If I lived in the city, I would've announced it ages ago. Gotta love the anonymity in populated places.

So, this is a bit disjointed post, but I wanted to include bits from both purposes of the hop. Now for the giveaway part: 

I'm giving away eBook copies of every book I've written that contain the subject of homophobia (internal or external) to one winner. That's a copy of:

A Life Without You (internal homophobia)
Black Hurricane (internal)
Hot Hands (external) - this one is actually free for all
Cold Hands (internal/external)
Grade-A-Sex Deal (external)
Welcome Brother (external)
Little Stalker (internal). 

That's seven books of twelve that contain the subject of homophobia, so obviously the subject is dear to me. What you have to do is leave a comment below and a way for me to reach you (disguised email address, e.g. emailaddress at gmail dot com, or a link to your facebook page). I will use random.com to choose the winner on the 25th and contact him/her myself.


There are 130 other people taking part in this hop, so please check them out:



65 comments:

  1. wow...awesome giveaway!
    please count me in

    leetee2007 (at) hotmail (dot) com

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  2. A Life Without You sounds like a book I would enjoy too. I like internal dilemmas a lot.

    ladyunwritten[AT]gmail[DOT]com

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  3. This is going to be an amazing Blog Hop! Thank you for your heartfelt post. I'm really looking forward to reading more of your books and thanks for the awesome giveaway!

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    1. OOps - forgot my email: lgrant1@san.rr.com

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  4. Really enjoyed your post. Thanks for the chance to win this wonderfully generous giveaway!
    aegger.echo @ yahoo .com

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  5. Love the post, very well said Erika!

    wendynjason04 at gmail dot com

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  6. This is very moving for me. Just lost my sister who was a lesbian. I miss her so much. No matter what people said to her about being with someone of the same sex she proudly held her head up. She was a great inspiration to all of us. This is a wonderful blog post <3
    kittyissweet@gmail.com

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  7. Hi Erica, it's so sad we have to keep hidden our true selves. I've lost long time friends because of working in the m/m publishing industry. Incidentally, these so called friends would never call themselves narrow-minded or admit to hating gays. Obviously they do, and I'm glad I found out as I actually have gay and transgender family members.
    In your case, you have to put your kids first, it's that simple. You cannot predict what reaction people will have and your boys are far too young now to have to face things if it went badly. One day when they are older, maybe it won't actually be a problem, or they will stand proudly by you, like my adult kids do with me.
    https://www.facebook.com/val.hughes.319

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  8. Love the post, very well said Erika!

    parisfan_ca@yahoo.com

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  9. Thank you for sharing that story. It's unfortunate that you cannot share your writing profession without being scorned by your neighbors. Things are changing one day at a time!!
    peanutty222 (at) hotmail (dot) com

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  10. Great post! I can understand your quandry. I wish I could give you encouragement to "come out" and say what you write, but I understand the very real fear that it may affect your children. People can be very judgmental. I don't know what I would do, either, in your shoes. Hugs! If I win you can contact me at caddyauthor(at)gmail(dot)com

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  11. Love the post! Thanks for the chance :)

    crystal_2_18(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  12. I understand where you're coming from. People can be so judgmental. :(

    nomoretears00(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  13. Great, thoughtful post, Erica. I can relate to the writing in the closet part. I only recently became brave enough to put my erotic m/m stories on paper and submit for publication. alexisduran1177(at)gmail(dot)com

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  14. A very informative post and thought provoking. Thank you for bringing attention to these issues and for helping to spread awareness.

    humhumbum AT yahoo DOT com

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  15. Very honest and informative post!

    vitajex(at)Aol(Dot)com

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  16. I loved seeing Conchita win the Eurovision contest, she nailed that song. And that dress!!

    tamiveldura at gmail dot com

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  17. Excellent post, Erica. I absolutely understand your concern over 'coming out' in regards to your writing and the effect it could possibly have on you and your sons. In a perfect world there wouldn't be any concerns, but this is far from a perfect world for LBGT.

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  18. I am a teacher and most of my coworkers are open and wonderful. One has a "Safe place" rainbow sticker on her door yet condemns a photo of two men kissing she happened to see on my phone. How safe is that?

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  19. loved the post. marsh10 at netzero dot com

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  20. Great give awat and post!! cathybrockmanromance@gmail.com

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  21. Wow, Erika! That's very generous of you! since i have a transgender son, this event is even nearer and dearer to my heart. Thank you very much for participating.

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  22. Erika, I loved your great post! I, too, live in a small and rather narrow minded place and while I've come out to my close family and friends, I have created a list of all the people I can honestly to to about anything on Facebook, because I fear to be completely open to every work related acquaintance, every FB 'friend' I've made and need to consider my boyfriend as well. Still, whatever you decide, you touch a lot of people with your books and I'm grateful you address this important topic so often and thoroughly :) marc.darkshade(at)gmail.com

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  23. Good post.
    Love your books.
    avaliereads (at) aol (dot) com

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  24. That is a difficult dilema I think because of your young children you may have to live in the "Closet" a little longer it is ridiculous really but there is always small minded people who like to make peoples lives more difficult. Hopefully in time things will change.

    ShirleyAnn(at)speakman40(dot)freeserve.co.uk

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  25. Great post!
    rockybatt (at)gmail(dot)com

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  26. and still your books are so full of joy and love. You will not let the nay sayer stop you! good for you.
    drgnsinthesky at gmail dot com

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  27. Erica~ I completely understand your dilemma. No one knows that I am a M/M author either. Follow your gut.
    Evelise
    evarcher5@gmail.com

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  28. I love your take on the subject. I don't participate in book stuff under my "real" life name. I know for a fact that if my employers saw what I read on my Kindle I would be unemployed. Where I live I even have to be careful about who I share my own child's sexuality. I won't lie but it's sort of a Don't Ask Don't Tell. The few I've been open with can't understand why I could careless and that my hope for him would be the same no matter what. That he would find someone to love that will love him back the way he deserves. And that is so frustrating because they just don't seem to get it. I think I've already several that you are giving away and I've loved them all. kbmckee at mail.com

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  29. Wonderful post Erica. I totally understand your dilemma over 'coming out' about your writing and the effect it will have. I wanted to be more active online with authors and groups, but found that I had to separate my family/friends Facebook from that side of me. I hate it, but have found it necessary for the moment. The irony is that some of my Facebook friends are gay. I hope that someday I won't need to separate myself. I hope that my very young son never has to do so.

    jczlapin(at)gmail(dot)com

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  30. Great post, Erica! I totally understand you keeping your writing career quiet. It's a shame you can't share what you do with everyone but you're doing what a good mom does...putting the welfare of your kids first.

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  31. Great post! Thanks for adding the B-word. *hugs*
    ~Charley

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  32. First of all, your children have to come first, in my opinion. Because they're so young and don't have the skills to deal with possible outcomes, keep it quiet for now. I'm sure the time will come in the future to be completely out.

    Second, I can relate as I "write in the closet" as well. My immediate family somehow found out and told me that they are worried for my children (4 and 6) and that I should quit working with the kids at church one Sunday a month. Among other things. My ex knows. But everyone else is still in the dark, and for now, with circumstances as they are, it's best to keep it that way. *big hugs for you and your boys*

    bloodandfires (at) yahoo (dot) com

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  33. Thank you for sharing! I think I have a new author to add to my list of favorite. M8231m@aol

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  34. Thanks for the wonderful post. I totally understand about being in the closet... my husband would not understand.

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  35. Wow, great post. It is a shame that you have to hide what you do but I completely understand that you have to put your family particularly your young children first.
    And it is shocking that these laws are getting passed.
    beckerjo at verizon dot net

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  36. I do believe that the national media - everywhere - have way too much say and pull. It is a rare day that I even watch news and normally no more then a few minutes at the beginning of the program just to get the highlights. You do what moms should do and put your kids first - good for you.
    Cinders1964 at hotmail dot com

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  37. Thanks for a great giveaway and highlighting a worthy topic.

    sadie @ sadieforsythe dot com

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  38. Excellent post, Erica. And yes, it can be difficult if decisions like that don't just affect yourself, but also your loved ones.
    Hugs.

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  39. Prejudice and discrimination affect so many of us in so many different ways. Thanks for sharing, Erica!

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  40. Wow, you learn daily the just how far hate and prejudice go in this world. My prayers love and support to all LGBTQ community.

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  41. Hey, Erika. Great post. Thanks for mentioning biphobia, which is rampant from every side, as bisexuality seems easily misunderstood and mischaracterize. And the world... yes, great big holes in the civil rights map.

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  42. Hi Erica!

    First of all, thanks so much for organizing this awesome event! I really appreciate your work to organize us authors of LGBT/M/M literature around an extremely important cause.

    I can relate a bit to what you wrote about. I conquered coming out as gay a while back. I wouldn't say that 'coming out' as an author was nearly as challenging, but there was an aspect of risk to that as well. Everyone knew me as a social worker, not a writer, and I had some fear that people would take me seriously. Then, I wrote a series of books that are a little more graphic sexually, and that stirred my nerves up a bit in terms of how that would be received by family, co-workers and neighbors. It sounds like you're in a much tougher spot, living in a small community, and there are tough decisions to make. I think you have a right to handle things in whatever way feels safe and right for you and your family. Good luck!

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  43. Really great post, no one should hide who they want to be. Glad that Conchita Wurst appared as who he wanted to be and that's gender natural.
    red_tigergirl2(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  44. I love this post. I've never really heard "in the closet" applied to readers and writers, but it's very true. I'm going to GRL this year (very excited), but my family and friends only knows that I'm going to a generic "book con" because I'm really not sure how they would react. Thank God for online communities...

    ashley.vanburen[at]gmail[dot]com

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  45. Thiis is a great post. I've had both good and bad reactions when people ask me if I've read any good books lately... and sometimes I'm just silent. But I'm trying to speak up more often.

    Mhupp20032003(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  46. Great post. & haven't read anything by you yet. & I get a hard time too from people when they know what kind of books I read.

    Deborah H
    Deborahhansen52@yahoo.com

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  47. So far the friends I've told I write gay porn have been accepting, but then it could be because of the type of scene we're all in. My hubby knows and is OK with it too.

    penumbrareads(at)gmail(dot)com

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  48. Great Post! I've learned so much and your only the first stop! Thanks for the giveaway :)

    ~Rissa~
    raynman1979(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  49. Thanks for sharing. I only thought of gay romance/erotic lit as a freedom for readers. Certainly would have been the gossip topic in my hometown, if not worse. Protect your family, but please keep writing!

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  50. Thanks for post and hop. I never thought about decisions authors would have to make about their work because of bias.
    cvsimpkins@msn.com

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  51. I can't get over just how much the world is still in denial, and full of so much hate and bigotry. I was never raised that way, and I never raised my adult children that way. I love supporting the LGBT groups & organizations, and will do so proudly and with love and affection. I hope one day that you will be able to step into the light, and not be made to protect yourself and your children in fear. Wishing you the best...and continued success

    Darcy
    Pomma @akwolf.com

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  52. Erika, what a great post. I did not know Conchita was gender neutral...the headlines talked about "drag" which seemed to mean something different. Thanks for pointing this out!

    As to privacy, I would urge you to keep protecting it. You can always decide later to become public, but (as you know all too well) going public can't become undone. I also keep my writing private, for professional and personal reasons. It's tough when I would like to be more open, but the risks are too great. Maybe later we will be freer. I hope so.

    Happy HAHAT, and may your good work continue.

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  53. Great post, Erica... good luck and congrats to whoever wins.

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  54. I can completely see where you are coming from about not publicizing what you write. My husband and sister know what I read but there's no way many of my friends, Facebook or IRL, would understand it. I doubt I'd be ostracized but just knowing I'd be looked at differently makes me stay silent. Mind you, this is only from READING books, I'm not even living the life so many LGBT live! You do whatever you feel you need to keep your kids safe and I applaud you for writing your books and your support!

    nidabland@msn.com

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  55. Great post Erica! I started reading romance novels last year. Until I read one of the BLACK DAGGER BROTHERHOOD books, I hadn't given M/M romance novels much thought. I needed an LGBT book for a reading challenge, so I went to the library and asked about M/M romances.

    You would have thought that I threatened to burn down the library with reactions that I got from the librarians and the patrons. I was shocked. I can only imagine the response I would have gotten if I said that I was a M/M romance author and wanted to donate one of my books to the library.

    Keep your kids safe. Keep pushing forward by writing books and supporting other writers.

    Thanks for hosting the giveaway. I love finding new authors to read. Fingers crossed to win.

    skeeterlee63 @ gmail.com

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  56. What a great post! I'm right in that writing closet with you. I have three small kids and, like you, worry about what some might say or do in regards to them. Which is completely ridiculous but it's the world we live in. My choice to write under a pen name came from the extreme close-mindedness of my in laws. It's sad, but their world view is a very strict black and white and if anything deviates outside what they see as right the perpetrator can expect a scathing email and plenty of guilt trips. It's gotten so bad as my MIL calling my husband trying to persuade him to tell me not to pursue writing (I write YA and het. romance under my legal name) because "she knows someone who's marriage was *gasp* ruined because of romance novels". I can only imagine what she'd come up with if she ever found out I wrote M/M as well...

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  57. Thanks for taking part in the hop!

    kimberlyFDR@yahoo.com

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  58. Wonderful post. It's horrible how people hate and use religion to do it.
    sstrode at scrtc dot com

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  59. Thank you for your post! I've been writing under my own name from the beginning, and feel very fortunate to be able to do so. It's not something taken for granted.
    (BarbaraWinkes at hotmail dot com)

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