Space: 1889 & Beyond has been running for over two years now, with ten books published and a further two on the way to wrap up the second season. Since day one, one of my own personal goals was to explore Victorian views on sexuality, both through the characters of Annabelle Somerset (not your clichéd Victorian adventuress – although she does have her moments) and Nathanial Stone. Exploring such views via Annabelle would seem obvious and not worthy of pointing out, although holding her own against a predominantly male-led society is only one issue Annabelle has to deal with – losing a limb is another, not to mention certain revelations explored in the final three books of season two. With Nathanial it would seem to be less obvious, although this line from the opening chapter of Journey to the Heart of Luna (published September 2011) would offer up the first clue…
When we do, I hope I am there. For I would like to ask him this: Why, O Lord, did you make me wrong? My dean at Mortarhouse College could never answer such a question, and he was a very learned man. Only the Almighty can answer me now.
Throughout the two years and ten books we have revealed hints and clues about Nathanial’s personal journey, most especially in Conspiracy of Silence (published August 2012) and Mundus Cerialis (published December 2012). One would hope that at the end of the latter book all our readers would be able to work out that Nathanial is a gay man. This is how Mundus Cerialis ends…
Arnaud noticed Nathanial standing there. “Annabelle suggested we ‘bunk together’. I do not think Captain Folkard would like me to be in his room.”
Nathanial glanced up the gangway towards the control deck. “No, I don’t suppose he would.”
Arnaud placed a finger in his mouth and looked around the lab. “Not much space, non? What to do? I have no sleeping bag.” He coughed abruptly, and looked up with the most pathetic expression Nathanial had ever seen.
“You are unwell?”
“Oui. A virus from the Ceres underground, I think. Ne vous inquiétez pas,” Arnaud said, waving away Nathanial’s concern. “No snuggling,” he added, with a slight smile.
Nathanial shook his head. There was a time when he would have responded to that, but instead he smiled. Always the same Arnaud.
“I think we shall have a lot to discuss, then,” Nathanial said and stepped into the lab, feeling better than he had in a long while.
Things were not perfect with Annabelle, but they were on the right path to healing the wounds, and he had made his peace with Folkard. Surely he still held some animosity because of Edwin’s death, but the captain had brought Arnaud back to him – from death in some respects. That went a long way.
He closed the door behind him. It was finally time to move forward again.
The most explicit confirmation of Nathanial’s sexuality, and his difficulty with such, was due to be shown in The Forever Journey, but due to some ‘technical difficulties’ the book which followed this, in terms of narrative, was released first. Thus the consequences of certain revelations and themes from The Forever Journey were felt throughout A Fistful of Dust (published October 2013). In terms of narrative I, as editor, had no issue with the consequences being seen before the events that led to them. In fact, I felt (and still feel), it adds to the mystery, leaving the readers to wonder what actually happened to our gallant crew on the way to Mars (answers to which will be revealed next month when The Forever Journey is released!).
Our readers have been very supportive of the series thus far, with many applauding us on the ongoing stories for our regulars cast of characters, as well as those who appear occasionally (such as Doctor Cyrus Grant and Commander George Bedford). They seem to understand that, as author David Parish-Whittaker put it, ‘it’s not just “Airships and Adventures!” (Not that it doesn’t have those, too). I think this particular subplot helps remind the reader of the very real social differences and constraints of the time period. We’re not writing about modern people in top hats here.’ This personal journey for Nathanial has been there since day one, as I said, and I knew that once we brought it to the fore it would illicit some interesting responses. I especially expect some choice comments being made in reviews of The Forever Journey, not just about Nathanial, but about other revelations made in that book, but what I was not expecting, not in a million years, was this ‘review’ on Amazon.com for A Fistful of Dust…
So shocked was I that I posted it over Facebook, to get the opinions of fellow authors, readers and even Anne Rice – since she’d recently been talking about reviews on Amazon.com, and was curious as to how she, a best-selling author of world renown, would respond were it in response to one of her books. Her response was, ‘it’s typical of some of the trash reviewing going on, on Amazon. I clicked report and gave the reason. Imagine a review like this attacking “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” because Uncle Tom is black.’
I am still somewhat miffed as to why, ten books on, someone should take such a position. One person suggested it was akin to revealing that a character like James Bond was gay all this time, a comment which I find bizarre in itself. With the Bond example, I agree it would be a case of ‘what were you thinking?’, since he has a history with women and is quite clearly a straight character. Not so with Nathanial. As shown in the examples above, Nathanial has always been gay, and his personal journey encompasses this element of his character. From actively allowing people to believe he had some interest in Annabelle, to his flirtatious behaviour with, at first, Erasmus Stevenson in Journey to the Heart of Luna and Dark Side of Luna all the way to his first meeting with Arnaud Fontaine in The Ghosts of Mercury to his insistence on having Arnaud join them on the season two mission. Later the reviewer did go on to explain why he made the above comment, in an equally inexplicable manner…
The implication that we included a gay character because it’s ‘cool’ to do so, is one that puzzles and irritates me. It seems to suggest that we made Nathanial gay all of sudden, that it was a stunt to fit some kind of political correctness. Never mind the previous nine books of character development and steady unveiling of this aspect of Nathanial’s character. Surely the whole point of fiction is to not only tell good stories, but to explore the nature of people along the way? This is done gradually and carefully, without being offensive or, in this case, explicit. To be offended and thus reject a series of novels you were, presumably, previously enjoying just because a character is revealed to be gay, strikes me as a very silly and bigoted way to react. Would it not make more sense to stick with it, and see how the character’s journey pans out? After all, Nathanial is a man living in the 19th Century, the implications of his sexuality will have consequences.
Despite this and the somewhat unexpected reactions from a few people yesterday, I still hold true to what we are trying to achieve here with Space: 1889 & Beyond as a whole, and with the character of Nathanial Stone in particular. All I can say now is this; readers, stick with us, there’s an end game here, one that most will not see coming, but hopefully one all will find interesting and will spark some thoughts in you all. In closing I’d like to quote Arnaud’s father, Sébastien Fontaine…
“Could it not be that they are merely laws man has attributed to God, led by their own fears and ignorance? It is my belief that not everything can be split between right and wrong. There is a whole area that falls in-between. Just because someone disagrees with another, it does not make one more correct than the other.”
Hey, I recently came across an email I wrote a friend four years ago. It was a long catch-up email, between two friends who had not seen each other in eighteen years. And it got me thinking. Perhaps it’s time to share a little of my story with my readers. What follows is by no means up to the standard, and as in depth, as my usual writing, but it will give you all a few insights into the world I come from. I daresay there are some of you that can relate to it.
There is, of course, plenty of more story, but I pick up in 1991, in my final year as a teenager…
Leaving White City was a slow process, even though I moved down to this hotel in Shepherd’s Bush Road, since I still had a lot of friends in the old estate, and so often found myself back there. But once out of the hotel my mother moved to Fulham and I got myself my first flat in Edward Woods Estate. Still have nightmares about that place. Hated it. It was little more than a bedsit, and 16 floors up; the heating never worked, and I always seemed to be skint… I guess I was in a bad place in myself.
Disillusioned by people, and not for the last time, I ended up spending most of my time in Fulham. Staying at my mother’s quite a lot, although many a night I would trek from Fulham to Shepherd’s Bush, just me and my dog (and no lead for her – best behaved dog ever!). Eventually I kind of hit my bottom, doing much of nothing, just hanging out with mates, signing on, drinking. Never turned to drugs, though, although I had a toke of a spliff once, but much like cigarettes it wasn’t for me. Made me feel ill (even to this day I feel ill when surrounded by too much cigarette smoke, which I think is a good thing really since it keeps me from getting addicted to them – and I can have a bit of an addictive personality!). So, there I was, at the bottom of my own personal pit, and one day I was hanging out at the fair that had pitched up in Fulham Rec on Fulham Palace Road, having what I thought was a good time. And it was, chilling out with mates is always a good time if they’re the right kind of mates, but I was feeling empty, avoid of something, some direction. And along came the Christians.
Yep, almost 2000 years on they were still the harbinger of bad tidings, despite their protestations to the contrary. But they have an instinct for targeting those that look like they need something bigger, and that was a category I certainly filled then. July 1993, a red letter month for my life. So much changed in the coming months, things that seemed to be good for me but in the short term was the worst kind of shit.
Alienation of my family and friends, isolating myself from the real world. I got to know these American missionaries, and was introduced to various people at Twynholm Baptist Church @ the Fulham Cross junction of Munster and Lillie Roads. On the surface they seemed a welcoming bunch of people, and so over the course of a week I was introduced to the Christian concept of God and the path to salvation. 4th July came and so did my commitment to Jesus. And thus it remained for the best part of seven years. I become quite devote; every aspect of my life was imbued with my faith. My CDs went, replaced by Christian music (both worship and contemporary, since even as devout as I was I needed modern tunes that I could dance to); my books (of which there were many) were chucked out, except my Doctor Who collection which went into storage (couldn’t bring myself to get rid of those!). Conversations with my family lasted about ten minutes before God was brought into them, and my previous friends no longer fitted into my world view. They became objects for witnessing, in an effort to let God speak through me and bring them into the fold. The irony is I didn’t see this at the time, I was so caught up in my faith that I couldn’t see the effect it was having on me, how it was taking me out of the world I so wanted to be a part of. I lost touch with reality, you might say.
After a false start, I finally settled into a job, and learned all about work ethic. It was a tough lesson, since I had an innate distrust of any authority and couldn’t quite get my head into the notion of reporting to someone who was not me. But I soon equated it to my submission to God and it became easy enough. I became an active part of various church related events; teaching in Junior Club, leading Bible Studies, and became something of a Bible Scholar. One trait I still have; when I become interested in something I seek to learn all I can. But despite all this, and the church elders realising my inborn leadership abilities (which makes sense of my lack of respect for authority figures – a follower I am not!), in my personal life things were still taking a nose dive.
It took many years to work out what was happening, but I was turning into some kind emotional cripple; dependent on the love and attention of my peers. I put so much stock in some friendships that I’d be debilitated when things went sour.
Just to offer balance, not all was doom and gloom. 4th August 1996 a bunch of us were at the Rec, the lads playing football, me flirting and chatting with the girls (as was the norm for me, then), when the ball got stuck up a tree. Now I’m a good tree-climber, and so off I went. One of my mates gave me a leg up, but as soon as he let go and my entire weight was on the branch, the bark crumbled and my grip went with it. I landed unceremoniously on the grass, thinking I’ll try that again, but when I tried to stand I found putting any kind of weight on my right foot wasn’t going to happen. I removed my shoe, and was greeted by the sight of my foot almost facing the wrong way. Yup, very broken! So, what did I do? I laughed. My mates thought I was joking, then they noticed the new angle of my foot and started panicking. The end result, I had crumbled the talus in my ankle joint to nothing, and would thus, according to the experts, be using a walking stick within ten years (sixteen years on and no such thing has been needed!). First though I was disabled for three months, no work and way too much time on my hands.
And so I finally did what I’d been meaning to do for the longest time; I wrote a book. All told it took me a year to finish, after several rewrites, and I sent it to BBC Books (it being a Doctor Who novel), but it wasn’t for them but it was, as the editor pointed out, cathartic for me in any case. Looking back, the book was extremely preachy, dealing with Christian concepts in a way that was supposed to be clever, but was nothing more than blatantly obvious and crass. And so my old hobby resurfaced for a while, but time and events conspired against me and proper pursuit of my writing would have to wait another five years.
About 1998 things began to become clear in my mind. I had an epiphany one night while visiting my mother, who now lived in Shoeburyness. The lights were out and I was standing at the bedroom window, feeling out of sorts, and I looked up at the night sky and said, ‘God, are you there?’ It’s hard to explain what happened. I certainly wasn’t expecting an audible reply, but what I did get was answer enough. A moment of pure clarity. The God I’d learned to believe in did not exist, and my faith was misplaced. I tried to keep this realisation to myself when I returned to London, but over the following weeks my dissatisfaction in the church and the people within became more and more apparent. I turned argumentative, debating every point that was being preached. I looked around and saw the younger people, cotton woolled by the church, entering the real world and being destroyed. I suddenly realised that’s exactly what the church did to me, too. It made me detached, no longer part of the world, a man who only looked to befriend people with an ulterior motive, a chance to preach and convert. I was ashamed of myself. Treating people, friends, in such a disgusting way. And so, late ’98 I left the church and moved to Shoeburyness, finally getting the hell out of London.
I came across two vastly important elements at that point, a book and a singer, both of which were expressing everything I was feeling inside but could never quite vocalise. Anne Rice’s ‘Memnoch the Devil’ dealt with issues close to my heart, as the Devil took Lestat on a tour of creation, signposting the inherent illogic of Christian doctrine. Nonsense that I had been pondering. And then there was Marilyn Manson. I first heard his ‘Last Tour on Earth’ CD, I had bought it because having heard ‘Rock is Dead’ on ‘The Matrix’ and ‘Sweet Dreams’ on ‘House on Haunted Hill’ this was the only CD that had both tunes together. But the first track, ‘The Reflecting God’, spoke to me in ways no other song has. ‘I went to God just to see, and saw I was looking at me, saw Heaven and Hell were lies.’ My anthem. A few years being angry did me wonders, exorcised my inner demons, and brought me back to the darker side of my id. Out went all the Christian music (bar a few choice groups who were musically valid) and I soon started collecting the Music of Andy. Metal, rock, soul, R&B, funk… a bit of everything really. Music for all moods and seasons. On some levels I began to identify with Marilyn Manson, bought all his music, read his book, and realised this guy spoke of lot of what I thought. Not everything, mind, but some things. His whole concept of ‘don’t follow me, just be you’ appealed greatly. Music and lyrics for the development of the individual. My anger wasn’t helped none by the fact that most of the friends I’d made through the church basically disowned me; none could truly understand where I was and why I was doing what I was doing, and so, being closed minded to anything that lived beyond the walls of their faith, they turned their backs on me. I didn’t much care at the time, I was building up a new friend-base through my life and work in Southend. And, more importantly, my self-awareness was the verge of completion. But then something unexpected happened.
Over the preceding few years I discovered the internet, along with the masses, and became a regular user of such things like chat rooms, online communities and the like. By the end of 2001 I was an old hand with the net, having found many like-minded people all over the world via a community of Doctor Who fans called Outpost Gallifrey. I even started up my own series of Doctor Who stories, playing around and creating a Doctor Who universe where the safe rules of the TV series of old went out of the window (in many ways, over the next four years, my stories, and that of those who wrote for me, foreshadowed a lot of what happened in the TV series that surfaced in 2005, and to this day I’m convinced that Russell T. Davies and Co nicked a few of our ideas). As well as providing me with a new outlet for my writing, a place where feedback was almost immediate, the net gave me a safe haven where I could begin to express aspects of myself I had hitherto been unable to do.
Now, older and wiser, I can see the progression to my real sexual discovery was a long process indeed, but at the time my interest in men caught me by surprise. It shouldn’t have; many times in the past I’d dreamed about sexual encounters with men, and been drawn to the torso of many guys on first meeting. But that great Egyptian river is an easy place to get lost in, and I learned to swim it well. I think I must have got so used to being in da Nile that I had acclimatised to the waters and was no longer even aware of how soaked up in it I was. Many girlfriends had come and gone. Relations with other men was never an option, and I think that came down to a fear of ridicule, for many a time in the past I’d been accused of being gay by so many people, most often just because I wasn’t going out with a girl, and because I was generally a quiet and bookish type. Clearly all the prerequisites for sexual orientation are right there! The secret formula for working out sexuality – a guy, quiet, bookish, not sleeping around like some slag? Right, chalk that up to him being gay! More nonsense, of course, but the preconceptions of people delight in nonsense. So, there was the fear of ridicule, and then, I was heavily involved in the church and being gay was majorly frowned upon, so the kibosh was put on any gay exploration for another seven or so years. So finally I found an outlet where I could explore these hidden depths of my psyche in the safety of my own room.
The flirt in me came out (and has never gone away), first online, and slowly it emerged at work. And such flirting led to a meeting at a pub in London, where a bunch of Who fans met once a month, and my first romantic relationship with another man.
It was a tough time. My mother, being the nosy type, got into this online community and discovered stuff about me that she had no need to know. At least not until I chose to reveal it. We had a bit of a row, wherein she told me she always knew I was gay, blah blah. To this day I don’t believe her; how could she possibly know my deepest secret when I didn’t even know? There were no real signs before, other than the blatantly misinterpreted ones previously mentioned. I spent time away at Richard’s place; and the first night was little more than a fumble, experimenting in things I’d always secretly dreamed about. The next day I was full of doubts, and fears. Did I honestly want this? Was this me? It was a hard time accepting this part of me, knowing full well how the world would react. But slowly I began to settle into it, and person by person, my emergence was revealed.
Most people didn’t quite get it, but others were fine. Jokes abounded, which made things easier; a great British convention, to make light of serious situations and thus they become easy to live with. Alas, it being the first proper man-on-man relationship, things were rushed. And soon I had moved to Didcot to live with my partner (I’ll call him R). We got a nice little house, next door to countryside, and I had a job. Things should have been ideal, but they were far from it. Isolation had crept in again, but this time it was a kind of enforced isolation. All my friends were either in London or Southend, a long way from Didcot. There was just me and R, and as much as I loved him at the time, I needed other outlets. Often I would be on the train to or from work in Reading, pondering just leaving. Insecurities were eating me away. The strong man that had started to reassert himself following the Years in the Wilderness that was my church life was being eaten away, turning into a dependent again, a weak fool whose existence was always judged in relation to another. My own identity was diminished, and I’d become the other half of another man. We moved to Southend, which ought to have been a solution for me, but despite having a friend base again, I felt obligated to be with R most of the time. My partner was becoming more and more career focussed, and so despite the time spent in his company I might have well as not been there. And then, following a job promotion for him, we ended up living in Colchester. The darkest time of my life began, and for a year everything I had been was ripped away.
Things started off ok; I got a new job working in Waterstone’s, and I got introduced to the producer of the Doctor Who audio plays, Gary Russell, and at the time he was also editor of a series of Doctor Who anthologies. Along the way he got wind of the fact that I wanted to write, and so out of the blue he emailed me asking me to pitch a few ideas for the new anthology he was editing. Naturally I sent him about ten ideas, which he liked, but one he loved, and so I got my first commission. This was mid-2004, and by that time things had started to sour big time at home. R was becoming more distant, and I’d often go out riding on my bike alone, just to get away from the pervading sense of dread that hung in the air. He started to visit all kinds of porn sites, which does little for the self esteem of the other half in a relationship, and it all came out one day when he told me about this new guy who had started working with him. Nothing had really happened, just a kiss, but R was no longer sure he wanted to be with me. My world pretty much crashed down around me then.
Gone was the fighter, who’d pick himself up and strike back harder, all that was left was this pathetic person who foolishly suggested R could have both of us. Crazy talk! Over the next couple of weeks things went from worse to insane. I ended up sleeping in the spare room, and R was spending more and more time away from home. Throughout this I was writing my story, which dealt with a guy who discovers he’s dead and has to watch his fiancé’s world crash down; a topic too close to home, and thus a very raw tale was written. Finally it came to a point where one of us simply had to go; and it was me. One night, September 2004, R told me that he wanted me gone the next day since he no longer wanted to ‘share the same breath’ as me. That was my darkest night… I never knew I could cry so much. Just the simple act of breathing became hard. I was a wreck.
The next morning I called my mother in Wales, and she arranged to come and pick me up. For the first and only time in my life my mother actually came through for me, and I was indebted to her for that. By the evening I was en route to Wales, sitting in the van, not talking, just living in a world of hurt. I didn’t realise at that moment, but I was settling in to the initial fugue of a nervous breakdown.
This is a rather unusual blog entry, as it’s not an update on any of my writing projects, nor is it an excerpt of a forthcoming book. Instead it’s a call out to you… yes, you!
I’m sure most of you have heard of the ‘It Gets Better Project’, but those of you who haven’t, here’s the lowdown.
“The It Gets Better Project was created to show young LGBT people the levels of happiness, potential, and positivity their lives will reach – if they can just get through their teen years. The It Gets Better Project wants to remind teenagers in the LGBT community that they are not alone — and it WILL get better.
Growing up isn’t easy. Many young people face daily tormenting and bullying, leading them to feel like they have nowhere to turn. This is especially true for LGBT kids and teens, who often hide their sexuality for fear of bullying. Without other openly gay adults and mentors in their lives, they can’t imagine what their future may hold. In many instances, gay and lesbian adolescents are taunted — even tortured — simply for being themselves.
Justin Aaberg. Billy Lucas. Cody Barker. Asher Brown. Seth Walsh. Raymond Chase. Tyler Clementi. They were tragic examples of youth who could not believe that it does actually get better.
While many of these teens couldn’t see a positive future for themselves, we can. The It Gets Better Project was created to show young LGBT people the levels of happiness, potential, and positivity their lives will reach – if they can just get through their teen years. The It Gets Better Project wants to remind teenagers in the LGBT community that they are not alone — and it WILL get better.”
Joe Glass (creator of GLBT superhero comic book, The Pride) and I are putting together a collaborative novel to be published by Untreed Reads to raise money and awareness for the ‘It Gets Better Project’. A coming together of every spectrum of sexuality – everything from straight to gay and transgender, and all those grey areas in between. We’re calling on testimonies from those who have found it difficult in dealing with their sexuality, in particular we’re currently looking for people who are still living ‘in the closet’, who are frightened, for whatever reason, to publicly announce their sexuality. You can tell us your names, or not, it is entirely up to you, as long as you tell us your story so we can put it in the novel.
If this sounds like something you want to be part of, and feel it’s time to share something of yourself you have thus far found difficult to share, then please drop me an email;
– your anonymity is ensured.
Thank you, in advance, for your time.
In other news, the nominations for the Steampunk Chronicle Readers Choice Awards 2012 are now open. So please do pop by and nominate your favourite steampunk works of 2011 (I hear that Space: 1889 & Beyond is kind of cool).
Soon I shall be releasing all kinds of fun news about the upcoming Space: 1889 & Beyond series, but before then, a guest post from Joe Glass…
I write to you now from my bedroom with a glass of wine!
The Pride is a six-issue mini-series that hopes to expand the diversity of superhero comics, by featuring an all LGBT superhero team who figh for everyone. They fight to improve representation of their community, but that doesn’t mean they are just gay heroes. They are heroes for everyone, who just so happen to be LGBT.
It all came about because I was sick of seeing what few LGBT characters there are in comics relatively stuck in the background. They’ll come in, make a big statement (usually about them being gay or whatnot) and then will barely be seen again, whether through repetitive delays and cancellations of their books, or literally by appearing in the background, with little or no lines or action in the story. LGBT characters became an ‘issue’, trotted out now and then to seem current or relevant, and then quickly discarded when there was too much attention.
Similarly, most minorities face the same kind of backlash in comics. Look at how many reacted to the recent announcement of the new Ultimate Spider-Man. Minorities are sorely under or misrepresented, and when they do appear it’s to extremes of spectacle and negative reactions that are borderline or outright offensive.
The Pride aims to be diverse and open. The heroes are here, and they are queer, and they don’t give a damn ’cause they’re still gonna save the day. It’s about showing that you’re just as good as anyone else, and taking pride in who you are.
At the moment, the comic series is set to start with issue one out November 2nd, and we’ll be published through Deadstar Publishing.
We’re looking to improve distribution and marketing though, and to do this, we need help. We have set up on Indiegogo, and are looking to raise money to market the series and also increase and improve distribution so the message gets out further, wider and louder. It’s also a great way to preorder your copies, especially if you’re based outside of the UK. You can find us on Indiegogo at http://igg.me/p/37384?a=216477&i=shlk
Also, me and my co-writers on my other project, Stiffs, will be appearing at Cardiff’s Comic Guru for a signing Saturday, August 20th 2011. We’ll be signing a special, limited edition Stiffs/The Pride preview comic which features an original The Pride story!
National Coming Out Day. You know, I hadn’t even heard of such a thing until my guest blogger, author Bryl R Tyne, told me what he’d like to talk about. In the US National Coming Out Day was Monday (Oct 11th), and in the UK it was yesterday (Oct 12th), so it seems apt that this week I have a gay author talking about writing gay books in a world where being gay really is becoming less and less an issue…
On Writing Queer by Bryl R. Tyne
Am I coming out? Not hardly. I pried open my closet door in 1996, tippy-toed out and back in over the years, and finally, loud and proud in 2008, I came charging out Katy-bar-the-door style with the byline ‘An Author Defying Description’. I’m proudly using that same byline today.
Why so vague, you might ask.
Not to assume ambiguity, I assure you, but more to prove a number of points. The most relevant, my distaste for labels. Labels are the beginnings of many negativisms: stereotyping, bigotry, to name a couple, and take it from me, self-hatred. When there is no one word to describe you, no matter which label is chosen it never quite seems to fit. Suffice to say, I have been labeled by society, and at worst, labeled by those who claimed to love me.
But hey. There’ve been times when even I have labeled myself.
There will always be different aspects of me, or my life, that fit into someone’s neat and tidy boxes. If that makes you feel better, safer, less intimidated or more in control, so be it. I’m me; and I will not apologize for who I am nor try ever again to change into someone I am not. If you need boxes to help you make sense of your pithy-minded lives, that’s really no reflection on me now, is it?
What’s sad is the toll this kind of posturing takes on the individual, though. For those who don’t know me, I’ll tell you up front. I’m a tough one. I’ve lived through abuse, physical, mental, psychological, and sexual, and survived countless beatings, some to the point of unconsciousness. I may appear to be one of the seemingly few, but there are many others out there just like me. For that which we lack in strength, we compensate for in sheer stubborn will. Yet even the most determined of us are riddled with weaknesses.
I know I am, and my usual act of self-punishment is overindulgence. Sounds like nothing, but when the indulgence can take any form or vice, it can be rather scary, at times. Still, others feel they have no out, no release… no other choice but to give up. We’ve seen the increase in reports of teen suicides and the reported bullying that led to most of these recent incidents. Yet, I wonder how many more go under the radar or are simply near misses. It’s an atrocity some cannot accept others for their differences. Diversity really is a beautiful thing once you embrace it.
That leads to my reason for writing characters encompassing the Queer spectrum and penning them as the heroes and the heroines, winners and leaders, protagonists without apology or shame. I’ve always had an affinity for the downtrodden, the outcast, the ones who, no matter how ready or fit, never quite seem to ‘fit in’.
When I began writing again after a 28-year dry spell that is where my muse led me — to write stories about those people near and dear to me… and about myself. Now, don’t get me wrong, just because I champion underdogs does in no way insinuate that my winning characters are unbelievable. They are in fact extremely flawed. In the course of writing anything from literary fantasy fiction to erotic action/adventure romance, I’ve only touched on the gamut of characters I could write. I’ve written wholesome one-man Joes, and slutty Betties who’d drop to their knees at the first sign of temptation. I’ve even written about an angst-ridden teen on the ledge of the roof of a nineteen-story building.
Unlike the news stories though, in my fictional realms my characters, no matter how beaten down, are resilient. My characters don’t give in, up, or out — not entirely. They never die, pointlessly. No. In the end, my characters win.
Isn’t that the role of fiction, though? To help us escape into worlds where the norm is never really the norm? To allow us an occasional glimpse of an ideal world? In my mind, I’d like to believe that. Though most of my stories feature gritty, true-to-life scenarios, one cannot help but note that all of my stories share one common theme: HOPE.
With society on the crux of many changes and youth caught between those changes and the plethora of personal changes and issues each endures as he or she grows, I believe that hope is an important message to share with readers of LGBTQI fiction today.
I’ve been there, done that, and surprisingly, I survived. That is why this Queer writes Queer.
Bryl R. Tyne is a wrangler by nature and a writer by choice, published with Noble Romance Publishing, Ravenous Romance, Dreamspinner Press, STARbooks Press, Untreed Reads Publishing, Changeling Press, and coming Oct. 31st to Amber Allure with TOUGH GUY. You can find out more about Bryl at: bryltyne.com