Thursday, December 8, 2011

I just shake my head and smile.

I absolutely adore my wife, but... sometimes I just have to shake my head and smile. I am a writer. I don't leave home very often and I'm usually in sweatpants and a tee shirt or flannel pajamas. I may or may not have brushed my hair or made an attempt to look anything but frazzled and overly caffeinated. I do take daily showers, but I can maintain that crazed writer look for weeks at a time, venturing out of the house for short periods and only if absolutely necessary. A ball cap and a jacket is all that need be added to the ensemble if I am forced to go to the store. I am not above wearing my house shoes to the Seven-Eleven when I run out of coffee at three in the morning.
Today, I had to see my new accountant. I actually got dressed, did my hair, and put on make-up. I even wore real clothes. I looked half-way decent for the first time in months. It felt good to be out and about. I saw a few people I knew, who commented on my appearance favorably. I was feeling good about myself.  When I got home, I did not change back to the "uniform," as it is affectionately known. I waited for the wife to come home from work.
She came in and went about removing her professor persona, chatting casually, and blessing the stars that one more semester was over. She made no comment on my effort to not greet her at the door wearing the same thing she saw me in this morning. I really didn't expect her to. She's not too good at picking up on subtle things. I mean, I was straight and chased her, the lesbian, for a week before she noticed I was blatantly hitting on her. So, I'm used to having to hit her over the head with a brick to get her attention.
About two hours later, after I had changed clothes, the following conversation took place.
Me: So, did you notice I was wearing nice clothes and make-up, earrings and everything?
Wife: I noticed when I came home. Your hair looked really good, too. I thought about it the minute I saw you.
Me: So, you noticed.
Wife: (Grinning broadly and very proud of herself) Yes, I did. You looked very nice.
Me: Okay, honey, let me explain this to you. The appropriate thing would have been to comment out loud.
Wife: Oh, okay. (The realization hitting her like a ton of bricks.) Sorry, honey, really I am. I guess you'll get me trained one day.
Twenty-four and a half years with her, I should know better. God, love her, I just shake my head and smile.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Remember that one time...

Every year at Christmas my family sits around and people tell stories. Now, these can be stories that make you think about the meaning of Christmas and family, or they can be unfortuante reminders of some crazy thing someone did in the past. Like back in the sixties, early seventies, when women went through a period where wigs were all the rage. My mom had gorgeous blond hair, but she wore a wig like everyone else. We were on the way to Granny's house. It was a warm Christmas day and she had the window down a bit. She turned to reprimand my brother and I for something and leaned too close to the window. Whoosh! The wig went flying out of the car. We turned to see it blowing down the highway. Dad had to turn around so Mom could retrieve it, but needless to say, she wasn't happy with the way it looked. She tried patting it back into place and put it on, but the moment she walked in Granny's house, her brother's started giving her grief about the wig that looked exactly like it blew out the window of a car. Dad snatched the wig off her head and said, "Yeah, but what's underneath is worse." There she stood with her real hair all smashed down to her scalp. My mom was sooooo mad. I believe there may have been some foul language involved.
They love to tell the story of me roller skating down the road, on Christmas morning, wearing my new white skates, a tutu over my cowboy pants, six shooters strapped to my waist, my new red cowboy shirt and matching hat, and twirling a baton. I don't think it's that funny. I was obviously confused. Glad I figured that out.
The one story they have to tell, especially if there are non-family members in the room, involves me, as well. I was two and a half years old and just 10 1/2 months younger than my brother. My mother was stressed to the limit. If you've read my blogs then you know we were hellions. On this particular Christmas Eve, my mom was running around trying to get us dressed for the community Christmas pageant. In our rural community, Santa made visits to each home with children before the pageant started. Once Santa left the house, the family would proceed to the community building. Our house was just down the road from the community center, so we had to be ready to go as soon as Santa made his visit or we would be late arriving.
Well, mom was trying to get us and herself dressed. Of course, my dad did not participate in such activites. It's a generational thing, I believe, but dad's job was not taking care of the kids. I was dressed when Santa came to the door. I do not remember any of this, so I have to rely on my parents' memory. Santa came in and sat down in the big easy chair. My brother crawled on his lap and told him what he wanted. Then it was my turn.
Santa lifted me up and sat me on his leg, which I straddled like a pony. He said, "You look very pretty. I like your dress. It matches my suit."
I was wearing a red velvet dress with white lace trim, white socks with lace, and those hated patent leather shoes. I've seen the pictures. I was very well dressed. A big red bow in my hair. Here's where it gets good.
I leaned over and whispered to Santa, "I have to tell you somethin'."
He smiled, expecting me to tell him what I wanted. "Tell me," he said.
This my mom's favorite part.
I said, "Santa Clause, my momma forgot to put on my underwear."
My mom says Santa rapidly lifted me off his leg and stood me on the floor. She apologized and scooped me up and took me to my room to finish dressing me, calling over her shoulder as she left. "It's a wonder I'm wearing underwear. These kids are driving me insane."
I never got to tell Santa what I wanted. So, later at the community center, I walked up to Santa in the middle of the room and said very loudly, "Santa, I am wearing underwear now and so is Momma."
Happy holidays, however you celebrate, and don't forget to wear your underwear.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful for Small Miracles

Nannie holding one of her great-grandchildren.

It's a miracle I'm here. Really, it's amazing the trials and tribulations generations of families go through over the centuries and here we are. Today, on this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the hearty men and women who built this great country and made my existence possible. For some reason, one in particular sticks out today, Nancy "Nannie" Holloman, born in 1874.
Nannie's story is one of strength I will never possess. At the age of sixteen, she left her family in Wayne County, NC to travel with a preacher and his family west. She was an unusual girl in her rural community of farmers, in that she had been to school and could read and write. Nannie was to be the preacher's children's teacher. The rest of the story is a bit cloudy. This is what we know from the few things she said over the years and the facts I could dig up through public records.
The preacher's family made it to Pulaski County, Arkansas in 1890. Sometime within approximately two years of arriving, Nannie had a son and a daughter. The daughter was my great-grandmother, Flossie Elizabeth, born in 1892. Nannie would never say much about the circumstances of the births. Family legend says she married and something happened to her young husband. There is no record of a marriage or birth for either child. I know, because I have personally thumbed through all the birth records for this period in the Arkansas archive. Records of births were not always recorded, so we take her word for where and when the children were born.
At some point, the eighteen-year-old mother decided to come home. With a child barely toddling and one on her hip, Nannie Holloman walked from Little Rock, Arkansas back to her home near the coast of NC. She stopped in Memphis to pick cotton, earning money for food and the rest of the journey. Onward she trudged for months, taking rides on wagons when she could, and nursing those babies through it all. It is a miracle that she made it back with both of them healthy.
Unmarried and unable to care for the children alone, she gave them both up for adoption, with the stipulation that they always know who she was. My great-grandmother, Flossie, was taken in by a childless couple living just a mile down the road. Everyone always knew Nannie was Flossie's birth mother. Nannie married and had more children, but played a big part in Flossie's life, especially after her adoptive mother passed away. Nannie outlived her daughter, dying in 1955 at the age of 81, seven years after Flossie.
I am told that Nannie was a quiet woman and that most people would never believe she was strong enough to do what she did. I can't imagine the willpower it took to walk all those miles with her children, but I am so glad she did. It is because of this act of uncommon strength and many more, by the ancestors that came before me, that I sit here today. There are other stories I discovered through my genealogy research that by some small miracle my family line survived. I am thankful today for my family, crazy and whacked out as it is. Fore, it's their blood that flows through my veins and I can only hope some of the incredible strength of my amazing ancestors. Thank goodness for small miracles.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Stuff My Mother Says

I keep seeing "**** my dad says." I'll admit my dad says some funny things, but the real comedian in my family is my mother. Now, some of the things she says she means to be funny, but most of the real humor is in the ear of the listener. My daughter-in-law who is from Oklahoma thinks my mother is hilarious. She'll say, "What is that your mother says?" I try to think. It could be, "Poor as Job's turkey," (never have figured that one out,) or "He's rich as 4 feet up a mules tail" (censored according to audience,) "Lord, willing and the creek don't rise, " or maybe my favorite from childhood, "I want you to wish in one hand and poop in the other and see which one fills up the fastest."
I could go on, and I will. There are the threatening ones, because we were hellions. "I'll snatch a knot in you." "My God, I hope you have two just like you." "Don't let your mouth write out a check your ass can't pay for." "I will beat you within an inch of your life" (That was an idle threat, but it worked.) And last but not least, another favorite, "Y'all are driving me crazy. You're going to have to come peek at me through the bars on Sunday." There was the constant threat that we would drive her to the Sanatorium.
Other favorites: "You are slower than molasses running up a hill in January." "It's colder than a witches tit." "Slicker than owl shit." (uncensored and only used out of the public eye, after all she is a southern belle.)
But, sayings aside, some of the funniest things are just stories about my mom. My most favorite recent incident happened while we were visiting one of my friends. Sylvia has been a dear friend of mine for years and our mothers are friends and fellow Eastern Star ladies. My mom starts telling us how she has planned out her funeral down to the last detail and already prepaid. No one likes to have this conversation with their parents, but she just kept telling us how she had picked out the songs, verses, and order of things. When she said, "I am going to be cremated before the service, because I don't want people looking at me. There will be an urn of ashes, but I rented an empty coffin so there would be somewhere to put the blanket of roses," Sylvia and I cracked up. We laughed so hard we were crying. I asked Mom why we couldn't just put a table up there or something. She said, "I want the flowers to look nice. They won't look right on a table." This sent us into convulsive laughter, while she looked at us confused and said, "What?" We never did explain to her why that was so funny, other than to say the people at the funeral home saw her coming.
On the way home that day she was quiet for a few minutes and then said, "I guess that is silly to pay for an empty casket."
"Yes, Mom, it is. I promise your service will look nice."
She was satisfied with the answer and said she was going to get some of her money back.
I wondered out loud, "How do they market it after that, used casket on sale? That isn't a very good pitch line. Do you they use the same one for all the rentals?"
I almost drove off the road when she said, "I told them mine better damn well be new, because I didn't want someone else's casket."
When I could stop laughing, I said, "No, Mom, I don't guess you want a used casket even if no one's ever been in it. Get your money back."
I guess I shouldn't tell too many of my mother's stories here. She is my best source of material and I need to keep some of it for later. I'll leave you with my mother's first comment on learning I was gay. It wasn't funny then, because I thought she might really do it. Now, it makes me laugh. You need to know that TPI stands for Tidewater Psychiatric Institute and was just across the Virginia border from where we lived.
My mother put her hands on her hips and said, "You are not a lezzzzzzbiaaaan. I will slap your ass in TPI so fast it will make your head spin."
She is now the mother everyone goes to for counseling when they find out one of their children is gay. She tells them that the child is still the same child they loved the day before. Now, that makes my head spin.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Baby, we've come a long way.

Take a look back with me at how Title IX helped better the world for women. As I read the before and after Title IX examples below, I was reminded how my generation was changed by this landmark civil rights law. Young women of today would be remiss if they didn't pay homage to the women that laid the groundwork for their successes. Most young women probably have no idea how things have changed since 1972. There are miles to go before we are all considered equal, regardless of gender, sexuality, and race; but baby, we've come a long way.

(I found the following article on an inactive site - WEEA Equity Resource Center, http://www2.edc.org/WomensEquity/)

Title IX Before & After

Title IX was passed by the U.S. Congress on June 23, 1972, and signed by President Richard M. Nixon on July 1, 1972. It is a civil rights law prohibiting discrimination in education programs and activities receiving federal funds. It was the first comprehensive federal law to prohibit sex discrimination against students and employees in these institutions.
While the link between Title IX and increased opportunities for women and girls in athletics is well known, the connection between this law and improvements in key areas such as access to higher education, career education, employment, learning environment, math and science, sexual harassment, standardized testing, and treatment of pregnant and parenting teens is not often noted.

Before Title IX:

  • Many schools and universities had separate entrances for male and female students.
  • Female students were not allowed to take certain courses, such as auto mechanics or criminal justice; male students could not take home economics.
  • Most medical and law schools limited the number of women admitted to 15 or fewer per school.
  • Many colleges and universities required women to have higher test scores and better grades than male applicants to gain admission.
  • Women living on campus were not allowed to stay out past midnight.
  • Women faculty members were excluded from faculty clubs and encouraged to join faculty wives' clubs instead.
  • After winning two gold medals in the 1964 Olympics, swimmer Donna de Varona could not obtain a college swimming scholarship. For women they did not exist.
(Source: Report Card on Gender Equity, National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education, 1997)

After Title IX:

  • In 1973, 43% of female high school graduates were enrolled in college. This grew to 63% in 1994.
  • In 1971, 18% of young women and 26% of young men had completed four years or more of college; in 1994, 27% of both men and women had earned bachelor's degrees.
  • In 1972, women received 9% of medical degrees but by 1994 that number had moved up to 38%; 1% of dental degrees grew to 38% in 1994; and the percentage of law degrees earned by women had moved from 7% in 1971 to 43% in 1994.
  • Today, more than 100,000 women participate in intercollegiate athletics, a four-fold increase from 1971. That same year 300,000 women (7.5%) were high school athletes; in 1996, that figure had increased to 2.4 million (39%).
  • Title IX prohibits schools from suspending, expelling or discriminating against pregnant high school students in educational programs and activities. From 1980 to 1990, dropout rates for pregnant students declined 30%, increasing the chances the mothers will be able to support and care for their children.
  • 80% of female managers of Fortune 500 companies have a sports background.
  • High school girls who participate in team sports are less likely to drop out of school, smoke, drink, or become pregnant.
(Source: Title IX: 25 Years of Progress, U.S. Department of Education, 1997)

How did Title IX change your life?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Family Shame

When I was six years old, my aunt and uncle had a baby boy. I loved that kid to death. He was my baby. I'm fifty now and he's not a baby anymore. I got off the phone with him a few minutes ago, as we've just reconnected after many years. The first words out of my mouth were, "I'm sorry I walked out of your life all those years ago." I was flooded with remorse for all the time we've not been close, because we were a tight bunch of cousins. There were six of us blond and blue-eyed little hellions that spent every holiday and most other family occasions in each other's presence. So, what happened?
The cause of my not being around my family is one of the main reasons I push for equality and acceptance. My cousins were in high school or college when I came out of the closet at 26. It was not pretty. My mother completely lost it and told everyone that would listen about my "abomination." The first three years of being out were worse than being in the closet. I was sure my whole family had disowned me, as my mother had. I was 26 and felt a sense of shame every time someone, who had once loved me fiercely, now looked on me as a pariah, or so I thought. It took me, as an adult, years to understand that I had nothing to be ashamed of. Can you imagine being a kid and carrying that shame with you every day?
After three years of fighting and threats to take my son from me, I packed up and moved to Oklahoma with my wife. (We've been together 24 years.) I turned my back on my family, as I assumed they had turned on me. I cut all of those people out of my life and moved on. I'm sorry, now. I'm sorry that I didn't give my cousins the chance to stay in my life. I'm sorry that I assumed my aunts and uncles felt the same way my mother did. I missed so much of their lives and they missed mine. I didn't get to tell one of my uncles that I loved him, until just before he died. He was sick with cancer for five years, but I made no effort to re-engage with him until the very end. I'm sorry I wasn't there for one of my cousins when he chose to take his life. I'm sorry my aunt got too sick to remember who I was, before I got to tell her how much she meant to me. I did get to tell my other uncle before he passed that I loved him, but he was nearly on his deathbed before I had the courage to face him.
Courage? Yes, courage. No one wants to face the task of approaching someone about being gay, when you're not sure what the consequences will be. I had been a coward for many years. The fear of rejection is a strong one and even as an adult, I had issues with it. It didn't help that my beloved Grandmother called me all sorts of horrible things when she found out, so the fear was grounded in some fact. I wish I had mustered the strength to hold my head up and be proud of who I was, but society had ingrained in me this hateful shame. If I could give any young gay person advice, it would be to let that shame go the way of the dinosaurs. I would wish for them the courage to face the fear of rejection and to walk away happy, whatever the outcome. I know now that I am not responsible for how other people react. I can only live my life to the fullest and pray for understanding some day.
The reward for finding that courage is not losing the friends and family that still love you. By assuming my entire family had rejected me, I lost so much. I should have given them more credit. If I had it to do all over again, I would hold my head up and say, "Look at me. I'm the same person you loved five minutes ago, before I told you I was gay. I would like to remain in your life, but if that's uncomfortable for you, then I will wait patiently for you to come to terms with it. I love you and that will not change."
When faced with the challenge of coming out, while easier today than it was for my generation, it is still a difficult process. That internal shame is a mighty demon to conquer. A gay person has been told all their lives that homosexuals are less than others, an "abomination." That doctrine has been embedded deep within our psyche and is a formidable hill to get over. The fight to live free of oppression is a day to day struggle in many of our lives. I wish for all a day when that feeling of shame does not exist, but until then, have courage. Don't assume people won't love you anymore. I did, and it cost me my extended family and a few friends. Sure there are those in my family that reacted with intense homophobia, but that's their problem, not mine. My problem is that I shut out all of them, without waiting to hear what they had to say.
Be patient with people and live a happy, productive life. Don't shut people out. Leave the door open. If my mother, the one who flipped completely out, can come around and say, "I'm glad you lived your life the way you chose to. I see now that you are happy and that she loves you. I'm sorry for my behavior," then there is hope for everyone. Don't assume the worst. You may cut people out of your life that really just need a moment to get it together, or others who have no idea why you're gone.
I'm glad I reconnected with my cousins. I plan to spend the rest of my life letting them know how much they mean to me. I now know my cousins are supportive of equality and acceptance. If I hadn't made the effort to communicate, I would never have known. The LGBT community needs allies. Start with the people you love and who love you. We're changing hearts and minds everyday. We'll change this world one step at a time. We'll put an end to this family killing shame and hate. Don't assume the worst in people. Presume the best. Maybe that glass is half full.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Validate a child today.

My comment on  the article at the Advocate.com, "Op-ed: Our Role in Stopping a Suicide Crisis." 
I worked in the theatre arts program with high school students for many years. It constantly amazes me when I meet an old student the things they remember me saying. I don't remember telling that kid I cared, but somehow just by saying, "Hey John (not real name,) glad you were here today. Good job," I had changed that child's life. That day was a bad day for John. I had no knowledge of how bad a day it really was, but because I smiled and said I was glad he was there, his day changed. John was one of many who have come to me to tell me how much they appreciated being cared about. Those kids have no idea how much they enriched my life. I owe them all a big hug. I am a better person for having known, and yes, grown with the next generation. They give me great hope for the future. John went on to do good things. Who knows if my smile and recognition of his existence made a difference in reality, but it made a huge difference to John. He remembered it. Take the time to smile and validate a young person today. Make eye contact with the kid at the drive-thru, wave to a neighbors kid, and if you're lucky, you'll find a kid that has a lesson to teach you. I left my teaching job to write lesbian fiction for a living. I am now able to be out and it is so freeing. I met some old students at this year's Pride Parade. I was able to introduce them to my wife of 24 years. I was able to show them that it does get better, even though all those years in public schools, I could not speak of a very important part of my life. Many people are restricted from reaching out to gay youths, for fear of losing jobs. I understand that frustration, but nothing is stopping you from validating that child by just smiling and saying, "I'm glad you were here today."

Friday, October 14, 2011

Who's Sharin'?




I was listening to Sugarland's "Stay," which played a part in my novel "Sweet Carolina Girls." I slid my chair back and looked at my wife of 24 years and said, "I don't know that I would have been able to go back home after a woman sang that song to me..." - I quickly qualified with - "given the same circumstances Lauren was in."
The wife squinted at me, which is what she does when the romance writer takes over my brain.
I continued, "Who wouldn't fall in love with someone who can sing like that,  plays softball like Jessica Mendoza, and looks a little like Jenny Finch?"
More squinting.
I ramble on, "Of course, I fall in love with all of my characters. I hope you don't mind sharin'."
She didn't miss a beat and never cracked a smile, just asked, "Who's Sharin'?"
She had me for a moment. I filed back through the books in my head and couldn't think of anyone named Sharon, but a a bit character that I'm sure she doesn't remember. Then I saw the grin starting in the corner of her mouth. She keeps it real for me.
I live the majority of my days, awake and sleeping, in a fictional world of stories and characters. I stare at walls, miss entire sections of movies, fade out during conversations, wake up mad or sad over some dream that will usually end up in a book; in other words, I am impossible to live with. I live in a fantasy world, where people always say just the right thing, where romantic scenes play out just as planned, where lovers always react as they should, and where love conquers all. I was told by a revered college professor, "You know what's wrong with you? You are a hopeless romantic." She passed away, but if I could talk to her, I would grin and say, "Dr. Jones, you were right, but I learned to use it to my advantage."
I was an actress, then later a director, scenic and lighting designer, and technical director during my nearly 30 years in the theatre business. It was my job to create worlds where the characters lived and breathed. I have always believed the depth of my romanticism was an asset in the theatre. As an actress, I was called on to convince audiences that I was someone else. I used to tell my students, it looks so easy, but when you're spilling your insides, drowning in tears, living that character's deepest pain; you better be feeling it for real, because the audience won't believe you if you aren't. I think that being a hopeless romantic and extremely empathetic helped me during my theatre days and continues to see me through my writing career. So, to me it's an advantage to feel things deeply and wish for happy endings.
Another  asset I have is a supportive spouse. She tolerates my not really being in the room the majority of the time. She shares me with others, real and imagined. She reads whenever I ask her to. She lets me play endless hours of love ballads. She gets through the hard parts with me as I ride the same emotional roller coaster as the characters I am writing about. I was still an actress when she met me. Someone warned her, "She's a good actress. When will you ever know who you are really talking to?" She smiled and said that was part of my charm. As wildly erratic as my emotions are, she is steady in any storm. Two drama queens would not have lasted 24 years.
So I fall in love with characters, dream of happy endings, cry through the sad parts, and laugh at the funny ones. And when I come back from the land of fiction, I get questions like, "Who's Sharin'?" to keep it real.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Quiet Please!

Dear women in my head:
My biggest problem lately seems to be that I cannot keep you previous characters quiet. You must realize there are many of you and you all want something. Rainey has a new adventure she's dying to get moving on, while her life with Katie changes drastically, (kids tend to do that.) Decky and Charlie have been waiting on Hatteras Island for me to finish their second book. Lizzie is tapping her foot loudly. I left them there in the summer of 2010 in the middle of an archaeological dig and they are becoming very impatient. Harper and Lauren and the Tar Bar girls have this incredibly beautiful story of friendship that they wish I would get on with, although Harper is not having too hard of time staying occupied. She's like, "Look, sparkly things," whenever Lauren is in the room. Hey, Harper, pay attention. Luckily Jamie and Sandy are so busy making up for lost time, they haven't bothered me. Of course, Molly waits for the pieces to fall into place so her story can be told, but she's been busy flying back and forth to Texas. I know Dana is not the person we would like to see Molly end up with, but a girl has to do what a girl has to do. Come on, it's Charlize Theron's doppelganger. Do you blame her? Molly, you go on living the dream honey, and I'll catch up with you. Then there are the new girls over there in the corner with half told stories. Like, the newest project, "Before It Stains," that I stopped working on to finish this screenplay. Stephanie and Mo are not happy, not happy at all. Stop pouting, Mo, you screwed up your life and now you want me to fix it. Sorry, Steph, but she deserved it. And over here is my passion project, Margie and Ruth Ann, of "Sand Letters." That's a temp title, because I just haven't found the right one yet. You will like these two, I do, and I want desperately to tell their tale. And then way back there you see the original Decky, from "Appletree Swamp" that started all this novel writing to begin with. She's been waiting since the civil war to have her story told. No, don't wake her up. She carries at least two guns, I hope she remains contented back there. So to all you ladies in my head, I apologize. I promise to give my full attention to each and everyone of you, in due time. Until then, please give Gray and Lizbeth their moment. Yes, Gray, that's a well earned grin - you got the girl and stole the story. Anyway, they deserve the best depiction of their romance that I can imagine and with all of you talking at once, it's getting difficult to concentrate.
Thank you for your patience.
With affection,
Me

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Be careful, the children are watching.


Two of my favorite flags fly above the ferry named Ocracoke, as it crosses the Pamlico Sound on the Outer Banks of my beloved home state of North Carolina. My recent visit reminded me how much I truly love North Carolina. From the deep green mountains to her sandy dunes and crystal waters on the coast, North Carolina is a beautiful state. I have always been proud to come from the state where the first colonists began to live in this country. After leading the way some 429 years ago in settling a new home for people escaping political, religious, and class persecution, I would hope to see North Carolina lead the way in the recognition of basic human rights of all it's citizens.
Recently the legislature of NC voted to place a proposed Amendment to the state constitution on a ballot in May of 2012 that will prohibit state recognition or validation of “domestic legal unions” except marriage between one man and one woman. There are plenty of places to find out the nuts and bolts of this amendment, http://equalitync.org/ is a great place to start. Equality NC has done a great job of pointing out how detrimental this amendment would be to all of NC's citizens, not just the LGBT community that is obviously the target of this attack. What I want to talk about is the children.

"How do you say to your child in the night?
                                           Nothing's all black, but then nothing's all white
How do you say it will all be all right
When you know that it might not be true?
What do you do?
Careful the things you say
Children will listen
Careful the things you do Children will see and learn
Children may not obey, but children will listen
Children will look to you for which way to turn
To learn what to be
Careful before you say 'Listen to me'
Children will listen" 
(from: "Into the Woods")

How do those people who are pushing this bill reconcile telling a child that they are considered a second-class citizen in the state they live in? How do they plan to keep the bullies from using this amendment as an excuse to ridicule and berate a classmate for being born different from them? After all, if the adults think that the LGBT community is not worthy of recognition then why should they learn tolerance. It wasn't too many years ago when the same arguments were used against the black community in NC. I remember desegregation and the unrest we all lived through. I also remember my parents teaching us to judge others by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. What are these people teaching their children? 
Two kinds of lessons can be taught here. One of bigotry and hypocrisy, where people who believe differently than you are to be looked upon as less than human with no right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It's not just the LGBT community, but all un-"married" couples lose rights under this bill. So if Johnny happens to be the son of two people who chose to have a civil union and not a marriage, even if they are man and woman, his family will lose all rights pertaining only to "married" couples. It teaches children that the "separation of church and state," they learn about in school, is just another rule adults ignore. They learn that it's okay to call someone an "abomination," when that person has no more control over their sexuality than the color of their skin. It teaches children to hate based on nothing more than what they've heard repeated by adults with agendas. This is blatantly illustrated by the fact the vote will take place during the NC Republican primary. If that's not stacking the deck and an obvious ploy to rile up the conservative voter, then I have some land I'd like to sell you in the Everglades. 
The other lesson that could be taught here is one of tolerance and acceptance of people who are different from you. Watch a group of very young children play. Unless someone points out the differences, they usually don't notice. They learn to belittle and bully by watching adults. Teaching a child to form opinions of others based on character and not some preconceived notion of an entire group of people is a valuable lesson. One could also teach a child that standing up for other peoples' rights, and in some cases their own, is an honorable thing to do. No one is free until we all are free. Isn't that what this country was supposed to represent?
If I am going to be a second class citizen in the state I love, how do I tell a child that it gets better? It's getting worse. Outright hate speech is the norm now in the political arena. What are the proponents of this bill teaching the children? People say don't bully. In my opinion, that is just what the supporters of the amendment are doing. They are following the bully code: 1) degrade the person publicly. 2) Make up  lies about the person and then make sure you spread the lies thoroughly. 3) Separate the person from any allies through fear and intimidation. 4) If you get caught bullying then say it's the other person who is too sensitive. After all, you are not really doing anything wrong, right?
I sincerely hope the people of NC do the right thing and show up at the polls to vote this amendment down. Be leaders once again and show the nation that you are a progressive state. Show the children that this is truly a country and a state where all citizens are created equal with the same inalienable rights.  Teach them that love not hate is the way it will get better for all of us. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Dogz Blogz: Review - Rainey Nights by R. E. Bradshaw

Dogz Blogz: Review - Rainey Nights by R. E. Bradshaw: Rainey Nights by R. E. Bradshaw is the fantastic second book in the Rainey Bell Series. It's been 9 months since the events in the first ...

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Reviews for Rainey Nights




5.0 out of 5 stars Great action packed thrillerAugust 28, 2011
This review is from: RAINEY NIGHTS (A Rainey Bell Thriller) (Kindle Edition)
  Rainey Bell RE Bradshaw 


With Rainey Bell RE Bradshaw has given us a wonderful complex Ex-FBI character: I loved Rainey Days and Rainey Nights is IMO as good or even better. Again RE delights and haunts us with great visuals: The opening scene is worthy of any Hollywood Movie and you got to love her secondary characters, e.g. Brooks (MORE!). And the story is complex too with several layers and some extras too! This book is not so much a classic "mystery" (although there is a strong element there), but rather a great study of characters, of how to survive a job as difficult as a profiler and about inner strength. The book is action-packed and at some times not for the faint of heart. 


Absolutey Brilliant!August 29, 2011

5.0 out of 5 stars
By 
akadingbat (Perthshire, Scotland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: RAINEY NIGHTS (A Rainey Bell Thriller) (Kindle Edition)
Another great read from RE Bradshaw. If you like a good thriller this is the book for you whilst it still has love and romance.



5.0 out of 5 stars This is a "grab-you from the beginning" - "who the hell is killing these women" read,August 28, 2011
By 
G. Curtiss "Curtie" (Ellensburg, WA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: RAINEY NIGHTS (A Rainey Bell Thriller) (Kindle Edition)

This book grabbed me from the first page and never let me go. I knew bad things were going to happen to good people - I just couldn't figure out to whom and when. The main characters, Rainey and Katie, are in a new relationship and that's hard enough without someone trying to kill you, too. Plus, they're trying to figure out their careers, how to live together, planning a new house, trying to have a baby, and did I mention this is their first woman-to-woman relationship? Not much going on. I love Bradshaw's writing style - it's dialogue rich, has vivid scenery, and enough southern-sweet drawl to make you crave a fountain-drawn cherry Coca Cola. This is the sixth book of hers that I have devoured, and I hope she writes many, many more.

Bonus Points for Bradshaw - you get your money's worth page-wise. This is a "big book" - not one of those skinny novellas you pay full price to read. I appreciate that Bradshaw doesn't take shortcuts to tell the story fast rather than fully.



On sale now at:

R. E. Bradshaw Appearance at Jewel Lesbian Fiction Book Club


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Best-Selling Author RE Bradshaw to make Dallas Appearance at Jewel Lesbian Book Club
No one is more surprised by her own best selling success than North Carolina born author R. E. Bradshaw. Just one year ago, she was a high school drama teacher who aspired to write but didn’t believe she would find an audience. Her partner of 24 years disagreed and knew she would have “Field of Dreams” success – “if you write it – lesbians will read it”. Her partner was right – one year later Bradshaw has had all five of her novels appear on Amazon’s Top Ten list in her genre. Her latest book, RAINEY NIGHTS, appears to following the same best selling path as it debuted at #1 this week.
Bradshaw holds a Master of Performing Arts degree and, after a professional career in the Theater, taught high-school drama for 13 years before leaving her position to write fulltime. The library of Bradshaw titles include: Waking Up Gray, Sweet Carolina Girls, Out on the Sound, The Girl Back Home, Rainey Days, and just released Rainey Nights.
RE will appear at the Jewel Lesbian Fiction Book Club in Dallas, on Sept. 13, 2011 where she will discuss RAINEY DAYS, the first novel in the Rainey Bell Thriller series. RAINEY DAYS was voted as one of the Top 5 Favorite Mystery Books of 2010 in the Lesbian Fiction Readers Choice Awards and was a finalist in the 2010 Golden Crown Literary Society Awards.
Her appearance will be at Ilume, near the corner of Cedar Springs and Knight, 4123 Cedar Springs Rd., at 6:30 pm on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2011. Readers are encouraged to bring their favorite Bradshaw book to the appearance so she can say hello and sign their copy.

Friday, August 26, 2011

New Release from R. E. Bradshaw Books


About the book...
RAINEY NIGHTS is the second novel in the Rainey Bell Thriller series. I tried very hard to make this a stand-alone book, but if you want more background on former FBI Behavioral Analyst Rainey Bell, read RAINEY DAYS to see how the series began.
In RAINEY NIGHTS, the reader is given a glimpse into Special Agent Rainey Bell’s former life, where she is unaffected by the tragedies that later derailed her career and changed her future, (detailed in RAINEY DAYS.) This glimpse into her past gives perspective to the challenges Rainey faces starting a new life with Katie Meyers. This is not a “coming out story,” it is a coming to terms story. At the beginning of any relationship, there are adjustments and compromises to be made. In Rainey’s case, her past shapes her decisions and often complicates the situation. It may end up getting them both killed.
Above all, RAINEY NIGHTS is a thriller. It is not a romance, although Rainey and Katie’s relationship provides the backdrop for the story. This book is not for the squeamish or weak of heart. If you can handle “Silence of the Lambs,” then read on. If you can’t, stop now. This is not the book for you.
For those of you that choose to proceed, do so with the doors and windows locked and the lights on all over the house. Like it says on the back cover, “Don’t assume you know how this story is going to end.”