Happy Bisexual Awareness Week!

Click if you’re interested in doing some related reading:

#BiWeek http://www.glaad.org/tags/bisexuality-awareness-week
http://binetusa.blogspot.com/2016/09/happy-bisexual-awareness-week-2016.html

Graphic used with permission from Lynnette Beth Mcfadzen.

 

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Hop Against Homophobia, Bi- and Transphobia! #HAHABT

 Welcome to this year’s Hop, and Happy Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia!

The first year I participated in this hop it was the Hop Against Homophobia, last year saw the addition of Transphobia, and this year we’re also working to combat Biphobia. The last two are things I encounter on a daily basis, so in my humble opinion this hop gets better every year. 🙂

In my post, I’m going to talk a little about biphobia and give away winner’s choice of one of my backlist books. All you have to do to enter is answer the question by commenting on this post, anytime between now and May 24th at midnight Pacific time.

I hope you all have a lot of fun on the hop, and get some good conversations going!

First, there seems to be a bit of confusion about what bisexuality actually is. And since understanding is an important step toward acceptance, here it is in a nutshell. Bisexuals are not reinforcing society’s artificially-imposed gender binary solely by existing, we don’t dislike or exclude the trans community (many trans individuals are also bisexual) and we’re not, as a whole, indecisive or greedy.

So what does it mean to be bisexual?

It means being attracted to people of the same gender, or a different gender. That last bit is important. “A different gender” doesn’t mean a specific gender, it means “a gender by which the bisexual in question does not identify.”

It’s that simple and that complex.

I understand it can be difficult for monosexuals to wrap their heads around—just like I can’t fully understand what it’s like to only be attracted to one gender. In the spirit of the Hop Against Homophobia, Bi- and Transphobia, I’ll try to explain my own experience.

What it starts and ends with is the individual, their personality, shared experience and interests, and whether or not we click.

In my five decades on this planet, i’ve had… a couple of relationships. When I was with a man, I was still bisexual. When I was with a woman, yep, you guessed it—still bisexual. Some people out there might be nodding and thinking I’m promiscuous, but they would be wrong. (Probably… depending on their personal definition of promiscuous. ;))

All things being equal (although we know they never are, please come along with me for the ride :)) I am just as likely to be romantically and/or sexually attracted to someone who identifies as female as to someone who identifies as male or genderqueer/fluid or agender, or any of the other variants that exist. It depends on the individual. This makes it almost impossible for me to use online dating services, by the way. If I say I’m looking for a woman and identify as bi nobody responds; if looking for a man and say I’m bi, I get couples looking for a threesome or a unicorn.

Biphobia makes a lot of bisexuals feel as though we have to hide our true identity or be rejected. Some choose to identify as queer to get around that, some don’t; some folks who identify as queer are not bisexual. This is why it’s important to push back against biphobia, so we can identify as we wish, without fear. I’ve come out of and been pushed back into a lot of closets since the ‘70s—by members of the mainstream heterosexual community and by the LGBTQ+ community. Neither is any fun, but it’s far more difficult to be given the stink-eye by someone (or a whole lot of someones all at once) who also identify somewhere along the queer spectrum.

 

Well, I think that’s enough for one post. Now I’m going to ask you a question, and if you answer in the comments you’re in the running to choose a book from my backlist.

By the way, the choice also includes the Harmony Ink Press anthology First Time for Everything—US residents can get a paperback copy if they’d like to pass it on to a teen or a library after reading it. Click here for a list of my adult backlist titles.

Okay, it’s not really a question, more like a task: name a book with either a bisexual or transgender main character. Name one that has never appeared on any bestseller list, and that’ll get you two entries.

Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to visit the rest of the blogs on the #HAHABT, participate in the dialogue and maybe end up with a prize. 🙂

Click here to go to the #HAHABT blog and find the list!

rainbow rose

 

 

 

 

 

Who’s allowed to write, and what are they allowed to say?

tilted rose

I seek out good news. News about an athlete who, after many attempts, finally accomplishes their epic goal or about a scientist who makes a discovery that will change lives. Good news gives me hope, makes me feel like this planet just might be an okay place to live.

Sometimes, though, this kind of news carries undertones that hurt and belittle and erase people—or portions of people. If the accomplishment is made by someone who identifies QUILTBAG, it’s impossible to escape the attempt to straightwash or gaywash them. (Since I’m an author, my examples will use authors.) If the news is about a gay author someone will say—but why do they have to say they’re gay? Can’t they just be Accomplished Author? If the author is bisexual, someone will say that but also, why don’t they just say they’re queer?—or—but being pansexual is so much more inclusive—or even—I don’t go around saying I’m straight so it doesn’t really matter if you’re bi { or  asexual, gay, lesbian, trans, fluid, etc.}.

I’m sure most people don’t say these things meaning to hurt and bully, but if you’re straight and telling someone of another orientation that “orientation doesn’t matter”, then that’s what you’re doing. Almost nobody has to say they’re straight, because straight is the default for our society. Everyone is presumed straight until proven otherwise—and sometimes you are expected to prove it, even inside the QUILTBAG community. When someone says “orientation doesn’t matter”, what an LGBTQ person hears is a variation of “you don’t matter” or “don’t remind me that you’re different”.

Everyone should write the stories they feel inside and everyone should identify the way they choose, without worrying about backlash. Most people would probably agree it’s not right to censor another person’s fiction, to tell them (for example) that authors should only write characters who are of the same gender and orientation as themselves. I hope everyone will think about it before trying to censor another person’s identifier.

I am a bisexual woman who’s been out since the early 1980s and writing fiction about LGBTQ and straight characters since the early 1990s. I didn’t get published in more than small literary journals until I started writing about two men falling in love. Are my stories less valid because I’m not a gay man or a straight woman?* Ultimately, that’s not for me to decide, but I think I have as much right as anyone else to tell the stories of the people who live in my head, regardless of gender/orientation/etc..

My orientation, my right to identify as bisexual, is as important to me as being treated like a human being. Because they’re the same thing.

Erasure = discrimination = dehumanizing = wrong.

Please think before you speak.

tilted rose*This post wasn’t inspired by anyone attacking me personally, or any single post/comment, but by a mindset that I’ve been trying to change for decades. I’ll keep trying until it goes away.

Feminine Interlude

This week has been fun — and, to be honest, contained a little more testosterone than i thought it would. Which is awesome, because bi guys happen to be some of my favorite people. But when i saw this adorable graphic on Shiri Eisner’s FB Page (Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution), i knew i had to devote a post to the bi gals–who also happen to be some of my favorite people.

Drew Barrymore came out as bisexual in 2003, and in an interview with Contact Music said: “Do I like women sexually? Yes, I do. Totally. I have always considered myself bisexual.”

In 2010 actress Anna Paquin came out as bisexual in a public service announcement to promote the We Give a Damn equal rights campaign.”I’m Anna Paquin. I’m bisexual and I give a damn.”

Janis Joplin seated 1970.JPG

“Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you’ve got.”

~ Janis Joplin

Thanks for helping me celebrate Bi Pride Week!

Bi Pride Week: Part of My Story

This has been some week! Huge thanks to all of my guests. I don’t have the words for how amazing it’s been to read your stories and share them with everyone. I’m lucky to know so many bodacious bisexuals.

Now it’s my turn to share a little. When i thought about what to say it seemed like a good idea to end the week on a lighthearted note. Those of you who know me well or have read my stories know better than to expect unicorns and puppies (okay, maybe unicorns, once in a while)–but it’s hardly fair to keep quiet after all the honest sharing i’ve hosted this week. So, here goes nothin’!

The first time I used the word bisexual to describe myself, out loud, so another person could hear it, was in 1982. It was pretty freaky for me, but my ex wasn’t surprised. He’d already noticed when I tracked the gorgeous girls as they walked by and he thought it was cool. He told all his friends what a cool ol’ lady he had because I didn’t mind him looking at other women; he even told a couple of them that I looked right along with him.

The first word out of his mouth wasn’t “threesome?”, so I let him live.

Since then, I’ve had relationships with both men and women, and at one point my ex and I invited another woman to live with us. For a while it was an amazing experience—she was Native American (affiliation withheld to protect, well, everyone—I like my plausible deniability, thanks very much ;)) and we even discussed having a ceremony to celebrate our commitment to each other. But, as relationships often do, it slowly fell apart and she moved away.

It’s not up to me to speak for all bisexuals, and I’m not trying to reinforce a negative stereotype, but I went through a time in my life when I was very greedy (or maybe just needy). I didn’t get a lot of affection in my family of origin so I found it elsewhere; sometimes I got it from men and sometimes from women and sometimes from one of each at the same time. And sometimes it had nothing at all to do with sex and everything to do with friendship and love and the amazing feeling of being accepted for who I was at that moment. But sometimes it was about the sex. And that’s okay too. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a healthy sex life. I never cheated on anyone, so I have nothing to be ashamed of.

One of the worst parts of biphobia is the shaming that comes at us from all sides. When I was monogamous in my (outwardly) heterosexual marriage, I was fine; when we expanded our relationship to include another woman, not so much. Most of my straight friends were intentionally and stubbornly blind to the fact that she was not just a friend or a roommate, and I didn’t push them. Mainly because the others disappeared. Quickly. It’s not likely I’ll be involved in a poly relationship again, but I’m glad I didn’t miss the chance to know that particular woman the way I did.

The point I’m sneaking up on is that being bisexual is different for everyone and, as long as nobody’s being hurt, the entire spectrum of expression is beautiful and valid and should be celebrated. It’s just like the variations of gender expression, or the different colors human beings are found in—there’s no “one right way” to be bisexual, just like there’s no one right way to be trans* or straight or gay or lesbian or asexual or . . . you see what i mean. All we really have to do is be good people, and that takes care of everything else.

Thanks for joining me to celebrate Bi Pride Week!

Be good to each other out there.

Bi Character Day: Lane Hayes’ Matt Sullivan

Meet the narrator of Lane Hayes’ novel Better Than Good and stick around for a nice long excerpt! Thanks Lane!

Matt Sullivan

Better Than Good, Lane Hayes

Almost three years ago now I met someone who changed my life.  Everything about me.  My direction, my plans for a future and ultimately how I viewed myself.  I fell in love with someone so bright, so beautiful and so completely the opposite of me it was difficult for me to process the magnitude of my attraction.  I fell hard.  I was frightened on one hand but I was also compelled and more determined than ever to have some connection with him, anything he’d give me.  I was convinced I would have even settled for friendship.  Thankfully I got more.  For the first time in my life, I pursued someone of my own sex.

When I first acknowledged to my friends that I was bisexual it came as a surprise.  They asked the inevitable questions… Are you just curious?  Are you gay for him?  The answer was no.  I was bisexual.  No one knew.  I never said a word.  But I knew.  The truth is I never had to say anything because I never met a man I wanted as intensely as I wanted Aaron.  That doesn’t mean I’d never been tempted.  I fought the feeling any way I could.

When I was in high school and even college, I studied harder, I practiced longer.  I did anything to avoid acknowledging the attraction I sometimes felt toward members of my same sex.  I figured my saving grace was that I still got turned on when I saw a really beautiful girl.  I didn’t have to be different if I could just control my urges.

I know now I was born this way.  Like a gay man is exclusively attracted to men or a straight man is to women only, I was wired to be an equal opportunity lover.  I’m attracted to women, yes.  But now I’m honest about the other side of me.  I am and always have been attracted to men also.

I knew something was up (literally) when I fifteen and couldn’t take my eyes off of the captain of the varsity football team.  Chad Corcoran was our high school quarterback.  He was tall but thin, with a winning smile, a handsome face and a killer bod.  One of my buddies at the lunch table caught me gawking at him one day and asked me if I had a crush on him.  It wasn’t a polite inquiry.  I was being taunted.  I think I shoved my so-called friend hard, called him a name and generally berated him for even suggested I was gay.  Then I coolly said I was interested in becoming QB, that’s all.

Throughout my high school years I began to notice for every two girls I found pretty, there was at least one guy who made me tongue-tied and would usually feature in my late night masturbation material.  I won’t lie… it freaked me out.  I came from a large loving family I knew supported me no matter what, but what would any of them say to a bolt out of the blue like that?  I couldn’t even begin to fathom the awkward conversations.  The thought of dealing with their disappointment and disgust was more than I could bear to contemplate.  It was hard enough navigating high school without adding the pressure of questioning my sexuality.  So I chose not to explore my “gay” side.  If I liked girls and was able to perform, there was no reason my interest in men would ever be an issue.  I could steer my thoughts away from firm bodies and hard abs, control my compulsion and live the life I wanted.  The one I was expected to live.  I would finish law school, pass the bar, get a great job in the city and eventually marry, buy a house and start a family.  I had it all mapped out.

Then came Aaron.

We met at a gay dance club.  I was there with my out and proud roommate Curt.  There was a group of us and we’d been partying for a while.  Our stop in the gayborhood of DC was a lark.  We were supportive of our friend and considered ourselves liberal minded guys but we didn’t frequent gay bars or clubs.  This was an anomaly.   Needless to say, meeting the man I would fall head over heels for wasn’t something that sprang to mind.

I’ve never met anyone like Aaron.  He was unique…  insanely beautiful with dark hair, olive skin and gorgeous hazel eyes.  He was small (five foot eight to my six one) and lean, but toned.  The first thing I noticed about him on that dance floor was how he moved.  He was so confident and sure of himself.  I was mesmerized by him.  And later, I couldn’t stop thinking about him.

Eventually I caught on that this feeling, this longing wasn’t going away.  When I met him by chance the next time, I did everything I could to get him to stay with me, talk to me, be near me.  I loved hearing his voice, watching his hands move in rhythm to the stories he wove.  Everything about him was magnetic.  I could barely string two sentences together, I was so overwhelmed by his joie de vie.

He didn’t trust me at first.  Who could blame him?  I’d broken up with a recent girlfriend and was by all intents and purpose a straight man to everyone who knew me.  Loving him the way he deserved would take a fuck load of courage on my part.  But the alternative…. that was unfathomable.  We took a chance on each other and it’s paid off a million times over.

In the past three years, I’ve weathered some serious changes.  Mostly positive.  When I met Aaron I met the other half of me.  The part of me that demanded a voice.  The gift of love is the greatest of all… so we’re taught.  Its power is not to be questioned or quantified.  It simply is.  Coming out to myself was a difficult process.  It took almost a decade for me to accept who I am.  Coming out to my friends and family was harder.  My friends were relatively easy.  My family… well, they’re a work in progress.

At the end of the day, this is my life.  No one else lives in my head or wears my shoes.  I never expected to meet someone like Aaron.  I could never have predicted falling so hard for someone so out of my league.  I count myself unbelievably fortunate he feels the same for me.  How could I ever give this up?  How could I ever deny myself simply to make others feel more comfortable.  I won’t.  I am a bisexual man in a gay relationship I will do everything in my power to make last a lifetime.  And I am proud.

Better Than Good

By Lane Hayes

Blurb

Matt Sullivan understands labels: law student, athlete, heterosexual. He has goals: graduate and begin his career in law. One fateful night, Matt tags along with his gay roommate to a dance club and everything changes. Matt finds himself attracted to the most beautiful man he’s ever seen. All labels go flying out the window.

Aaron Mendez doesn’t believe in labels, and he’s leery of straight curious men.  He makes it clear that he’ll hide his fabulous light for no one. While Aaron can’t deny the attraction between him and Matt, he is reluctant to start anything with someone who is still dealing with what this new label means—especially when that someone has a girlfriend.

Excerpt from Better Than Good by Lane Hayes

By the time I took him back to his place, it was three a.m.  The usually busy streets were virtually empty.  A fine layer of fog from the river painted the low lying shrubs and sidewalks in front of his building.   It looked a little mystic and magical as though the early morning hour still held promise.  I pulled close to the curb, set the car in park and turned toward my companion.  I didn’t want to say goodbye, yet I didn’t know where this thing between us could go.  I felt that familiar wave of frustration.

“Can I walk you up?  I mean it.  I just want to be sure you’re safe.”  It sounded like a lame request, but Aaron seemed pleasantly surprised.

“You are a gentleman, aren’t you?”  His eyes twinkled.   “I won’t say no and I’ll try to keep my hands to myself.  There’s a parking spot up there.  Take it so you don’t get a ticket.”

I parked the car as instructed and met Aaron at the curb.  His smile lit his entire face.  God, he was beautiful.    He took my arm when I reached his side.  I didn’t protest, though the gesture seemed overly familiar.  It just felt amazing to have this beautiful creature at my side looking at me like I was some kind of hero for offering to walk him to his door.

There was a bright lantern light on above the old glass and iron front door.  Aaron couldn’t get the latch to catch, so I took the key from him and gave it a try.

“It sticks sometimes.”  He muttered under his breath.

It opened easily for me.  I was beginning to think my levels of chivalry were being tested.  The thought made me grin when I should have been annoyed.

“You’re my hero!” he whispered loudly.

“Knock it off.  Where is your place?”

“Uh oh, Matty’s getting mad.  Watch out kids.”  Aaron pointed to the elevator off to the right.   The corridor was not as well lit as the front alcove had been.  I was actually glad that I was making sure he was safe.  I was a little nervous myself.  Which must have shown on my face, because Aaron laughed out right as the elevator doors opened.

“Relax, sweetie.  This isn’t the Bates Motel.  It’s just an old building.  Supposedly historic, but really it just means the lighting is poor and the water pressure is worse.  My apartment is cute though.  Come see.  You’re safe.”

I rolled my eyes this time, but gamely followed him.

His apartment was on the fifth floor.  He led me down another long hallway and stopped in front of #5E.

“Home sweet home.” He said with a flourish as he opened his door.  “Come make sure there are no boogie men and then I promise to let you go, Matty.”

Aaron turned on a light and breezed through his small entry into a larger living room.  As I followed him I took in my surroundings.  The apartment was small with an open floor plan.

I could see into his bedroom from the living area and although it was dark, I could see that the bed was neatly made.  Aaron’s entire apartment was immaculate.  And the juxtaposition of his modern tastes and the apartment’s older features, like the high ceilings and a floor heater, made for a homey and comfortable space.  It was nice, and it suited Aaron perfectly.

Aaron threw his keys in the egg shaped bright orange bowl on his small kitchen table and turned around with his arms outstretched.

“Well, it’s tiny but it’s all mine.  As long as I pay the rent, that is.”

“It’s really nice.  Suits you.”  I felt a little awkward as I stuffed my hands back in the leather jacket Aaron had returned to me earlier.

“Thanks for walking me up.  That was very gentlemanly of you.  Is that a word?  Whatever, it was sweet.”  His smile was a little shy and his bangs had fallen back into his eyes.  This time I couldn’t help myself.  I reached out to move his hair away from his eyes.  He looked up at me in surprise and my breath caught.  We stared at one another for a second more before our mouths met.

Lane Hayes Bio:

Lane Hayes is a designer by trade, but is first and foremost a lover of the written word.  An avid reader from an early age, Lane has always been drawn to romance novels.  She truly believes there is nothing more inspiring than a well-told love story.  Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. She loves to travel and wishes she could do it more often.  Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband, three teenage kids and Rex, the coolest yellow lab ever.

Here are my links so far…

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/Lane-Hayes

Twitter:  www.twitter.com/LaneHayes3

Website:  www.lanehayes.wordpress.com

Email:  lanehayes@ymail.com

Purchase Links:

Dreamspinner Press:

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3968

Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Better-Than-Good-ebook/dp/B00DTM2FJA/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_t_1_E5JE

Reviews:

http://liveyourlifebuythebook.wordpress.com/2013/07/04/better-than-good/

http://mmgoodbookreviews.wordpress.com/2013/07/13/better-than-good-by-lane-hayes/

http://sidlove.wordpress.com/2013/08/03/book-review-better-than-good-by-lane-hayes/

http://heartsonfirereviews.com/?p=22182

Bi Pride Week: Celebrity Interlude

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Bi Pride Week: Posy Roberts

Posy Roberts is a wonderful writer and a cool lady–but you may not know she’s also bi. Coming out as a bisexual isn’t easy, in part because of all the negative stereotypes and myths that go along with that word. I’m happy to turn my blog over to Posy so she can shine a harsh light on some of them, and eloquently kick their asses to the curb for all of us.

Ass-U-Me

Four years ago when I told my husband, “I’m bisexual,” I think I turned his brain to Jell-O. I immediately reassured him that I wasn’t looking to end our relationship or start a new one with a woman (or a man), but I wanted to be honest with him. This wasn’t a huge revelation to me. Some of my first sexual experiences were with girls, but my first real kiss was with a boy. I went on to date and fall in love with several different boys. I had a crush on a woman in college, and when I now look back and examine my past, I had more than a few crushes on women.

As I relayed some of those stories to my husband, he saw that this wasn’t a new discovery for me, but he still had to adjust. He started to question our relationship and whether or not he could meet my needs.

Photo Credit: Converse

When I started to share my bisexuality with more people in my life, I had mixed reactions. Most were totally fine with it. Some jumped to the conclusion that I wanted to suddenly start snogging them. Uhm… no thank you. But that was just the start. I’ve run across some of the most preposterous (in my estimation) assumptions. Many of these come from the GLBT community too, which surprised me at first.

Bisexuals…

  • can’t make up their minds.
  • can’t ever settle down because they’ll always desire the other gender.
  • are sluts or want to be with everyone.
  • want threesomes.
  • just need to find the right man/woman.
  • are confused.
  • are experimenting or going through a phase or using people as a gateway to identifying as gay or lesbian.

I’ve run into all of these. I’ve also talked to several other people who identify as bisexual who have experienced the same thing, so at least I knew I wasn’t alone in this.

Can’t make up my mind? I made it up two decades ago when I knew I wanted John to be my husband. He was the one. We’ve been married for nearly nineteen years, so I obviously settled down. We adopted dogs together, bought a home, had a baby, and made a commitment to each other to be there and grow together and support each other through that. And we have grown in many ways. When I came out, that certainly sparked some of that growth, but I’ll come back to that in a minute.

I hate the word slut. It is packed with so much judgment and it devalues a person with one, very harsh syllable. It’s a cutting word. Just listen to it. But the message in this assumption is really about bisexuals wanting to hook up with every male and female on the entire planet. I recall meeting a woman; we hit it off and were having a decent time with a group of friends. It came out that I was bisexual, and she turned to stare at me. “Now you’re gonna want to make out with me. Right?” I have a type. She wasn’t it. In fact, most men and women aren’t it. I’m attracted to certain things, most of all, a great sense of humor and a kind heart. She had neither. For the record, I’ve never had a man say this to me after he’s found out I was bi.

What men have asked me is, “Wanna have a threesome?” Of course they’ve been straight men and are imagining being with two women. Is that a bisexual fantasy like it is a straight guy one? Not for me. Sex is about communicating with my lover, not being worried if someone is feeling left out. I’m already forced into multitasking as a mom and an employee, so adding more to my already full plate is not at all what I want from a sexual experience. I don’t think bisexual people have any more desire for a threesome than gay or straight people. Some will want to go down that road and others will not.

I don’t need to find the right woman to turn me all the way gay. I’m not going one day magically end up a lesbian. I’m not confused. I’m also not experimenting. I know what I like. I identify as bisexual because that fits me. Yet it’s human nature to want to put people in easy-to-distinguish boxes. Bisexuals refuse to be so simply boxed up.

 

It is because of all of these assumptions that I have chosen to write about bisexual characters. In my North Star trilogy, I cover several of these in varying degrees, but I also examine them from my bisexual character’s perspective as well. Since Kevin has essentially lived as a straight man for thirty-five years in Spark, he is shocked by some of the issues he comes across once he starts dating a man. The truths he is forced to face are more and more challenging as the trilogy continues. As a writer, I want to shine a light on these assumptions so they aren’t just sitting in the dark places alongside bigotry and hate.

A few weeks ago I was helping my husband paint his office. I was cutting in while he was rolling a burnt-orange color on his wall. I told him I was writing this article. He shared how confusing it was for him when I first came out, but then he told me he was so glad I did. It made him ask very hard questions about our relationship. The biggest conclusion we talked about as we covered the ice blue walls with warm orange was that your partner, no matter who they are, will never be your everything. One person can’t fulfill all your needs. My coming out put a very sharp focus on that realization, and then he looked back at himself and realized I couldn’t meet all his needs either. That’s why we have friends and why we rely on family and go meet people with similar likes online. It’s unfair to our lovers to expect them to be everything.

That’s rich coming from a romance writer, isn’t it?

Spark, by Posy Roberts

In their small-town high school, Hugo and Kevin became closeted lovers who kept their secret even from parents. Hugo didn’t want to disappoint his terminally ill father, and Kevin’s controlling father would never tolerate a bisexual son. When college took them in different directions, they promised to reunite, but that didn’t happen for seventeen years.

By the time they meet again, Hugo has become an out-and-proud actor and director who occasionally performs in drag—a secret that has cost him in past relationships. Kevin, still closeted, has followed his father’s path and now, in the shadow of divorce, is striving to be a better father to his own children.

When Hugo and Kevin meet by chance at a party, the spark of attraction reignites, as does their genuine friendship. Rekindling a romance may mean Hugo must compromise the openness he values, but Kevin will need a patient partner as he adapts to living outside the closet. With such different lifestyles, the odds seem stacked against them, and Hugo fears that if his secret comes to light, it may drive Kevin away completely.

Posy Roberts writes about men falling in love with men. Her newest release is Spark. The second book in her North Star trilogy is Fusion, and it will be released by Dreamspinner Press in November.

Bi Pride Week: Celebrity Interlude

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Bi Pride Week: J.L. O’Faolain

Next up is my first Wednesday guest, J.L. O’Faolain. He’s talking about growing up bi in the Deep South, and a little about why it’s probably not a good idea to torment a writer!

Thanks so much for sharing your story, J.L.!

The Bi-Line

Alternative Sexuality in the Deep South

by J.L. O’Faolain

I never wanted to lead the charge to some great change.  My goal when I was growing up was to stay invisible.  I was raised in the sort of small community that Hollywood loves to idealize.  Everyone knew everyone else, and therefore it was unlikely that I could go unnoticed for long periods of time.

The Deep South is a place of dividing lines: lines the separate race, class, sexual orientation, and schools of thought.  Nothing that stands out tends to be welcomed.  If one can adapt and put on the caricature of acceptable behavior, any irredeemable traits can be labeled as quirks.  Someone might be a fine, upstanding citizen save for the fact that they refuse to distance themselves from their cousin, who is a known cross-dresser.  Those that fail to meet the per-established system’s standards and practices find themselves on the receiving end of ostracism (if they are lucky).

Survival tends to come to those who keep their wits about them and maintain an air of threatening demeanor.  The consequence of the former means keeping oneself ever alert, while a drawback to the latter is going without issuing anything that could be taken as a challenge.  Southerners, especially males, are often looking for ways to impress the herd.  If one hears a ludicrous story of one Southerner dying in spectacular fashion, chances are the tale is not only true, but occurred due to someone’s ill-advised desire to stand out above the crowd.

It goes without saying that any kind of behavior that could be viewed as ‘gay’ is frequently met with hostility.  Girls are intended to be intelligent, but soft-spoken and demure.  Boys must be strong, athletic, and rush into foolish situations head-first without thinking about the consequences.  Writing it down on paper sounds absurd, of course.  No one behaves this way in real life.

The sad fact is, the mentality of the Deep South is that of a group of people who would rather pretend that the fifties are still going strong.  Never believe what you see on television.  The invisible dome that seals God’s Haven off from the rest of the sinful world is firmly in place.

I can remember thinking about escaping at a young age well before puberty set in.  I concocted numerous schemes for reaching the wondrous-sounding places I heard existed far beyond the Mason-Dixon line.  All of this was before my sexuality split the way it did.  I don’t know that I would have the same leaning that I do now if I’d been raised in a different region of the world.  Life is full of wonderful possibilities, but I’d like to think that I would carry similar traits regardless.

I became aware that I was attracted to males early on.  My sexual exploration began far sooner thanks to an abusive stepbrother who shall, for now, remain nameless.  I was far more aware of the female anatomy than most boys my age due to having several older sisters.  Explaining things like the differences between boys and girls, and why women use those white pads, proved unnecessary.  I had a vague idea before other boys my own age as to how babies were made.  I was not naïve, but there was a crucial point missing in my education.

As I became more aware of my sexual desire for men as well as women, I also became aware of the danger I was in.  My family suspected there was something off about me.  I was well-behaved, spoke in a civil tone to other adults in a way that beguiled them, and was a model child in most people’s eyes.  Yet I wasn’t quite ‘boy’ enough for most men’s comfort.  I didn’t play sports, wasn’t athletic, and seemed a little more insightful about the world than your average Southerner was comfortable exploring.  I saw what went on between boys that knew one another for years in a simple gesture or a meaningful glance.  No one wanted the stigma of being ‘gay’.  They were only ‘messing around’.  I, however, knew that the currents of my feelings ran deeper.

And yet, I didn’t think of myself as ‘gay’ exactly.  I knew that liking those of the same gender was a prerequisite, but being gay throughout the 90s carried far more gravity than simple sexual desire.  ‘Gay’ included men who dressed like women, were vain to the point of absurdity, spoke in falsetto tones, obsessed about fashion, and wore pointy-toed shoes.  Very few things about the gay subculture appealed to me growing up.  I didn’t know where I stood, though I understood perfectly that I didn’t belong on either side of the imaginary fence.

Bisexuality is still misunderstood.  It is seen by some as a phase that one goes through before accepting one’s homosexuality.  It is a fad for teenagers.  There is a sliding scale to determine where you stand as far as preferring one gender over the other.  In the Deep South, naturally, this goes one step further.  Homosexuals are the tools of Satan to bring down the Church and disgrace their god.  Being bisexual is a unique form of freak-hood altogether.  One might as well have invaded from a whole ‘nuther planet.

Thus, I was handed the ‘outsider’ hat, the ‘outcast’ shoes, and the matching ‘weirdo-freak’ scarf.  None of them fit, but they were the clothes that got passed to me because no one else wanted them.  No one else wanted to speak their mind for fear of disagreeing with what any one else.  I walk among crowds and get the periodic flinch.  I have watched grown men flee to the safety of a store’s back room to avoid being seen speaking with me.  I have seen mother’s yank their children to their sides seconds after having screamed at them for fear that I might bite.

I live in a world of nice, comfy labels where no one wants to look different or behave in a manner that might be deemed inappropriate.  I cope with healthy doses of snark and writing violent novels where terrible things happen to neighbors just like the ones I’ve had.  My world has conformists lined up in misshapen lines waiting for the next set of instructions to trickle down.  Meanwhile, I like chicks as well as dudes, to put it crassly.

Thus, I stand out a little more than I planned to.  Despite the setbacks, however, I find myself preferring my table in the corner.  It’s a little bit quieter with or without the hissing whispers aimed at me.

Sometimes I wonder why communism never caught on in the Deep South.  So many people want everything to look just like everything else so no one breaks the mold.  Maybe it was too Un-American of a concept.

Or, alternatively, maybe it meant the outsiders would finally have a private space of their own.  Either way, though, when the rebellion comes, you won’t see me picking up a spear alongside my blistered brethren unless gay marriage and polygamy is a part of the Confederate charter.

Anyone else want to sit down at my table?

Trust me.  There’ll be room.

The Thirteenth Shard by J.L. O&#39Faolain eBookCheck out J.L.’s author page at Dreamspinner Press, where you’ll find more about his latest release, The Thirteenth Shard!

When a powerful witch is murdered by mundane means—with the killer leaving behind clues reminiscent of an old mortal folktale—the NYPD calls in Tuulois MacColewyn and the rest of Section Thirteen.

It’s been a while since Cole and his onetime partner, Corhagen, have worked together on a murder case, and sparks still linger between them despite Cole’s budding relationship with Inspector Joss Vallimun. As they struggle to put their past behind them and discover what happened to the witch, they unearth clues to similar murders. Murders that remind them of an old adversary in a case still unsolved.

When further evidence leads Cole and Corhagen to the shattered fragments of a mythical sword, it points to a cryptic clue about a prophecy involving a king. The revelation leaves Cole reeling and sets him up to make what could be the biggest mistake of his life….

J.L. O’Faolain was born the youngest, with four older sisters, in the backwoods of the Deep South. Those that have braved getting to know him have attributed this to being the root of his growing insanity. A teased bibliophile in his youth, O’Faolain spent his years prior to getting published as a cook, laundry man, delivery boy, grease monkey, and retail stocker. He has a plethora of skills and abilities, none of which would work well on a job application. In his spare time, O’Faolain enjoys weightlifting, philosophy, deconstruction, reading, writing, porn, and the Internet in general. Aside from becoming a successfully published author, he would very much like to pilot a giant robot while Two-Mix’s “Rhythm Emotion” is playing in the background. Either that, or travel the world in a dirigible. In short, the general consensus by all, including himself, is that he is a mighty strange fellow.