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or Dealing with the Stupids

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Tuesday.

The world is apparently still here, despite the granting of marriage equality to gays and lesbians on Friday by the Supreme Court. I was a little hopeful the right-wing evangelicals were right so I wouldn't have to pay my bills, but alas, no. Tomorrow is payday and the first of the month and unless something dramatic happens, I shall have to pay the bills.

Womp womp.

I was, I have to say, very pleasantly surprised that I only had to rid myself of one person on Facebook in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell. I was expecting a lot worse. Maybe my cleansing of my Facebook newsfeed in the wakes of other hot-button topics--the murder of Trayvon Martin, for example--had gotten rid of the worst of the bigots. I've never really understood why anyone bigoted would want to be my friend on Facebook; I couldn't be any gayer unless I turned into a unicorn with glitter and rainbows shooting out my ass. As I said in my post the other day, I am steps away from being a Socialist, and have long considered the Democratic Party to be too far to the right on issues that matter to me. I used to be a lot more angry, a lot more vocal, and a lot more in-your-face about my politics and my values; I've calmed down a lot over the last few years. I am never, for example, going to convince someone in the comments on any news article/opinion piece that they are wrong; and I'm tired of wasting my time arguing or debating with people who aren't going to be convinced and are never going to convince me. The fraternity brother I talked about the other day, though, through our rational, logical and civil discourse about politics and social issues earned my respect by never calling me names, never regurgitating talking points (when he did, he actually had something besides that to back up his point), and as such earned my respect.

That's the thing that most people don't understand: if you want to discuss things with me that we don't agree on, treat me with respect and you will get the same back from me. Don't insult me, belittle me, tell me I'm stupid, call me a fag or a libtard, etc. etc. etc. I am as entitled to my opinion as you are to yours. When I'm wrong, I will admit it. I like to learn, and I don't believe, unlike most of the right-wingers who come after me, that believing differently than I do makes you stupid or evil.

The thing that I absolutely don't get is this mentality that people who are different should be considered less.

You don't have to understand my sexuality, or think about what I do in my bedroom. You don't. If that's where your mind goes when you think about gay men or lesbians, that's your issue, not ours. I don't look at straight people and immediately think, "Do they do the missionary position? Does he go down on her? Do they do anal?" It's none of my business, just as my sex life is none of yours. Asking for my constitutional rights as a tax-paying American is not 'rubbing your face in my lifestyle'. If your religion makes me a sinner, well, your religious beliefs make a lot of people sinners; why are gays and lesbians the only ones you seem to care about?

How many references, for example, are there in your Holy Book about adultery? About bearing false witness? False prophets?

I don't have to understand what it's like to be a black person in America to know that the Confederate battle flag is offensive. I don't have to be black or Latino or Asian, nor do I have to understand what it's like to be transgender, to understand that they are human beings and entitled to dignity.

It doesn't cost me anything to treat others as equals, but I do think that not giving a shit about my fellow human beings because they are different from me, demeaning them and treating them as somehow lesser, would cost me my soul and my humanity.

I was born into a world where the walls of segregation were beginning to come down. I was eight years old at the time of Stonewall. Divorce was still looked at askance, as was women working outside the home and being anything other than a wife and mother. I can remember when women couldn't get bank loans or credit cards in their own names. I remember when riots broke out in major cities all over this country as schools and neighborhoods were desegregated. I remember when getting a girl or a woman drunk was considered a normal, typical part of the seduction process.

Part of my adulthood, part of my maturation process, was unlearning a lot of what society considered normal when I was growing up.

I still am unlearning things all the time, frankly.

The person I unfriended and blocked Friday night on Facebook, for whatever reason, felt it was okay to comment negatively and insultingly on a link I'd shared about corporate logos being turned rainbow to celebrate the Supreme Court ruling. I admit, I was a little crazy on Friday with the links and shares. I was so happy, so stunned, so unbelieving that for the first time in my adult life I was actually equal in the eyes of the law to everyone else. I honestly never thought marriage equality would be the law of the land. But if someone, any Facebook friend of mine, gets tired of my posts and doesn't want to see them--well, you can hide them or you can block me or you can unfriend me. That's what I do when something that offends me comes across my feed. In many cases, I just ignore it and don't comment on it--because even though it's on my feed, it was posted on that person's wall and if I don't want it 'invading' my Facebook space, I can get rid of it easily enough without wasting my time and without getting into a fight with someone on social media, which is definitely not worth it.

But show me the same courtesy.

After I unfriended him, I wondered if I should have instead tried to educate him about my life and about gay rights. Was this a teaching moment I'd missed?

And then I realized that based on what he said, that no, he was just an asshole who would never in a million years have the balls to say it to my face--but felt sufficiently tough behind his keyboard on the other side of the country to say something horribly offensive and homophobic to me.

And good riddance. I should have never accepted his friend request in the first place, but he was my fraternity brother...so accepting his friend request was, I guess, my attempt to educate him.

Sorry, dude, you flunked.

And so, back to the spice mines.
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The final Sunday of June; the year 2015 is now over half-over officially. I slept really late this morning, as I am wont to do on Sundays, and am still a bit discombobulated from that as I always am on Sundays.

It's been a really interesting week--one that started with the debate over the symbolism of America's racist past being called into question (at long fucking last)--resulting in Confederate flags being taken down from public property all over the South, including Alabama, and retailers removing them from their shelves and refusing to sell them to New Orleans debating the future of such symbology within the city, such as Lee Circle and statues of Confederate 'heroes"; the Supreme Court upholding the Fair Housing Act and Obamacare; the second unwed pregnancy of holier-than-thou Abstinence spokesperson Bristol Palin; and the President's amazing eulogy for state legislator Clementa Pinckney in Charleston (interesting that no one has picked up on the fact that Pinckney is a proud old South Carolina name; two white signers of the Declaration of Independence were Pinckneys, and at least one of them was an early governor of South Carolina; as freed slaves often took the names of the family that once owned them after the Civil War...it stands to reason that Clementa Pinckney was descended from slaves owned by the Revolutionary War era Pinckneys, doesn't it?).

And of course, on Friday, June 26th, the Supreme Court granted gays and lesbians the right to marry from sea to shining sea.

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This was, of course, an enormous, enormous victory, as I said in my blog post on Friday, the after-effects of which I am still kind of feeling today. My Facebook feed continues to be steeped in rainbows; the joy and happiness evidenced there--and not just from members of my own community--still moves me to tears on occasion. Our despicable governor and attorney general (neither of which I voted for) will, of course, eventually be pushed aside by law (and it pleases me to no end that Scotty's mom slugged the Attorney General in Baton Rouge Bingo), which then, of course, will beg the question (and it has come up any number of times over the course of this weekend) of when, and if, Paul and I will have our almost twenty year relationship recognized by law.

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I honestly never really thought Paul and I would ever have to consider this question, frankly. When we fell in love all those years ago, we married ourselves and have worn rings ever since. In 1996, the possibility of us actually being legally married was an impossible dream; at the time sodomy laws were still on the books (in an ironic aside, we were actually in Houston for a tennis tournament the weekend that Lawrence was arrested for sodomy; the case that became Lawrence v. Texas; it was on all the news that weekend) and DOMA was yet to become law. Over the years, we've talked about it, but never really seriously.

But it is something we are going to have to discuss seriously now.

I do know, though, that should we decide to marry, we aren't having some insane blow-out of a wedding and/or reception. Something quiet and simple; most likely in the office of the justice of the peace with a couple of witnesses.

I do have to admit the craven, greedy Bridezilla in me wants to have a bridal registry. Hey, I've spent a lot of fucking money on wedding gifts over the years!

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I'm also very pleased that I only had to block and unfriend one person on Facebook since the ruling came down on Friday; I will most likely talk about that some more once I get out of celebratory mode. I also read Candace Bushnell's Killing Monica; and I have things to say about that, as well as things to say about my 'Southern heritage.' I am also now reading Donna Andrews' spectacularly funny The Penguin Who Knew Too Much, and last night we watched a charming teen film, The DUFF, which I also want to talk about some more.

I mean, the male lead is Robbie Amell.

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Yum, right?

But I'll just put this here to close as I sign off and head back to the spice mines.

NY_NYT
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Several years ago, thanks to Facebook, I reconnected with a friend from my fraternity days. Within a few days of accepting his friend request, we were having a spirited discussion about politics via private message--he being a conservative Christian Republican, and me, of course, inches away from being a full-blown Socialist. We really didn't agree on anything, but the discourse was always incredibly civil and respectful. I learned a lot from him, and it brought me more understanding and even respect--yes, I said respect--for the opposing point of view. This was, of course, because the opposing point of view was being presented rationally and intelligently, rather than insultingly and condescendingly. We didn't change each other's minds on anything, but we came to respect and honor our individual points of view.

Flash forward a few years, and legalizing same-sex marriage is on the ballot in his home state of Maryland--and later that day I got this message from him:

Brother Greg,

Today, when I was in the voting booth, I thought about you. As I was marking my ballot, I couldn't help but smile to myself as I realized that if you lived in Maryland your ballot would be the exact opposite of mine--until I reached the ballot initiative about legalizing same-sex marriage. Years ago, I would have voted against it without a second thought, but today I voted for it because I realized that in voting against it, I would be voting against you--my brother, my friend--and I couldn't do it. So, I voted for it, and once I had cast my ballot, I knew I had done the right thing. Thank you, my brother, my friend, for helping to make me a better person.


That message made me tear up, just as I did on June 26th, 2003, when the Supreme Court ruled in Lawrence v. Texas that sodomy laws were unconstitutional, and the way I did on June 16th, 2013, when the court struck down DOMA.

I'd intended to get a lot done this morning; I don't have to be at work until 3 and so I intended to get a lot of emailing done; cleaning, organizing, errands--even some cardio at the gym. When I got up the morning and made my coffee, my foggy mind registered that today the ruling about same-sex marriage was supposed to come down. I got my cup of coffee and opened Facebook, and there it was.

We'd won.

I've been alternating between laughing and crying the last three hours.

I've gotten absolutely nothing done.

But even as I laugh and cry and celebrate and like my friends' posts on Facebook, I cannot help but think of all of those we've lost over the years, those who didn't live to see this day. I don't know if there's an afterlife, but this makes me hope that there is, and that they are all celebrating with us today in that afterlife.

I never thought I would see any of this change in my lifetime.

Wow.

Just...wow.
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So, this morning I went by the postal service I use to get the mail, and found this waiting for me:

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Yes, the ever-popular box o'books. And no, it still hasn't gotten old!

The Orion Mask is my twenty-seventh novel (!), and if you count the short story collections, novellas and the anthologies I've edited, my total of books with my name on the spine (or one of the pseudonyms) is around forty-six.

Wow.

Forty-six books is a lot.

And that doesn't even take into consideration my short stories or essays or articles or book reviews or interviews or journalism or blog entries or...

Okay, now I'm getting tired.

The book is classified as a 'new adult', because the main character, Heath, is a college student. I tend not to think about things like that when I work on a book, though--classifying the books is something I leave to the publisher and the marketing people--but I first had the idea for this book a long, long time ago; at my first Mardi Gras, in fact.

It was 1995, and I came to Mardi Gras for the very first time to visit my friends Lisa and Carrie. It was so much fun--it was more than I ever dreamed it could be, really, and I knew that weekend (it was actually five days; we flew in on Friday night and flew back on Ash Wednesday) that I was someday going to write about Mardi Gras.

But one night, as I stood on St. Charles Avenue catching beads preparatory to going down to the gay bars in the Quarter to dance, an idea came to me as I caught some medallion beads from the Krewe of Orpheus, about a young poor kid who works full-time at the airport to pay his way through college, who never knew his biological mother or her family, and comes to New Orleans to meet them all once his father has died, only to find out that his mother didn't commit suicide as he'd always been told, but had been murdered....and it all had something to do with a Mardi Gras mask. In my head I called it The Orpheus Mask.

Somehow, despite the fact that I took Ecstasy that night and danced until about six in the morning before stumbling back to Lisa and Carrie's, I managed to remember that idea, and before going to sleep wrote it down in the journal I carried with me everywhere. I always wanted to write it--I always loved those kinds of books when I was growing up, the ones written by Victoria Holt and Phyllis A. Whitney where the main character shows up to meet a family she didn't know, and all these dreadful secrets from the past come bubbling to the surface as someone tries to kill the heroine, and there was usually an old murder where the truth had been concealed for many years.

I never forgot the idea, and after moving to New Orleans I would go back to it now and again. Alas, I discovered that the Krewe of Orpheus, despite its size and status as a super krewe, wasn't old enough to fit my needs for the story. And--OCD at its best--I shelved the idea as a result, because none of the names of the other krewes worked as well as Orpheus did.

But when Timothy, my first attempt at a Gothic/romantic suspense style novel, was so well-received and sold so well, I revisited the idea of The Orpheus Mask, but also realized that it might be better not to actually set it in New Orleans, and that it might be easiest to simply invent a krewe--one that no longer exists. I named it Orion, and pitched it to Bold Strokes, who decided they wanted it.

And so, The Orion Mask began to come together.

It was in Venice that the last piece of the puzzle came together for me--Venetian (MUrano) glass, and that the masks were made from glass (beads originally were made of glass as well)--and I actually wrote on the book while I was in Venice. I also brought back Assumption Parish, which I'd invented for Murder in the Arts District--and set the book there. I also gave the wealthy family a home in New Orleans, one in my neighborhood--based on, of course, the real house that sits on the lot, but I've never been inside it, and I actually made a point of not walking over to look at it so I could fictionalize it.

And now, the book will be out officially on July 21st. If you pre-order from the Bold Strokes website, it will ship on July 1.

I'm kind of excited. I also love the cover; it may be the best cover any of my books have ever had.

The Orion Mask 300 DPI

And now, back to the spice mines.
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