With Erin McRae, I write romance novels about difficult people with complicated lives. You can learn more about that at Avian30.com. Sometimes I also write essays about pop-culture.
This is my personal blog about whatever I’m obsessing on at the moment.
4 thoughts on “About”
I’m sorry if this comes across as muddled – I stumbled across your livejournal via fanfiction, and then kept reading it because you write well, and from a perspective which keeps me on my toes. Since I am not in fact on livejournal, I’ve yet to write a single comment over there. But your recent migration seems as good a reason as any to break that habit, and to derive as much from your writing as I have without at least offering my thanks seemed churlish. So thank you for providing an excellent array of links and thoughts and writings. I look forward to having two different sources for it in the coming year.
Your post about DADT repeal was what kicked me into to doing this. I’m still riding a shocking wave of joy from the weekend – it caught me rather by surprise, and, as you note, there are many reasons to view it with suspicion. But I remain elated, and since this elation seems caught up, surprise, with personal reasons, I’ll offer those as a accompanying testimony.
My family is mostly American, but I spent the non-NYC part of my childhood in London, and then the rest at a rather traditional boarding school. University was over here (I’m 22, so it’s an experience raw in the mind). In the meantime my immediate family naturalised, leaving me one of two siblings without a convenient EU passport. I seriously contemplated a marriage of convenience with one of my school friends, because I both wanted to do military service and to avoid the cultural politics over here. I should state that I’m white, male, privately educated, and queer, so said cultural politics have mostly been a matter of inconvenience rather than threat to body and soul.
Some of my motives remain the romantic inclinations of a six year old who liked playing with knights, some a desire for physical and mental duress. I also come from a military family (Army and Marines), so my exposure to service men and women has been filtered by the fact that most everyone I know is either a friend of my family’s, related to me, or a friend of mine from university. Even with that positive filter, I find the American tendency to fetishise military service, and war, without thought to consequence, alarming. And my mother’s service in the Marines has at least afforded a pretty sharp perspective on the military approach to sexual violence and homophobia. One could also add to that list the fact that the present wars struck me, even as a teenager, as colossally stupid, and grounded in a set of ugly deceptions. Still do. But spent a lot of time in the Middle East too, so mucking along with iffy social attitudes is nothing new, even if it’s to be mucking along while speaking English rather than Arabic.
I have no intention of letting the military use me. I think that this is a matter of symbols in terms of the cultural politics – that it is such an effective symbolic victory speaks to this ugly American attraction to war at arm’s length, and the symbols of an institution rooted in the killing of people. Soldiers are paid killers – hopefully used in better causes than some such killers. I still remember a conservative acquaintance from university who spent the summer doing Marine officer training and came back shocked that they had been expected to chant ‘kill, kill, kill’ in unison.
I want this country to care about its wars, and the voting population apparently doesn’t. Waging war carries few domestic consequences, unless you happen to have relatives or friends serving. When so many of those serving are from politically neutered parts of the population, it seems to permit citizens to simply glorify the pretty bits of war – uniforms, medals, young people in moving in unison, and ignore the consequences of all that choreography. Rubble, death, disease, and human misery.
For some bizarre reason the conservatives have seized the symbols, the glamour of war. On some level, I want to strip the GOP of their unconvincing drag. Or be able to do so, which is hard to do without a service background (statement of fact). And then kick the buggers in the nuts at every turn. They’ve fostered this militarism fetish, and snatching it back to beat them over the head seems reasonable to me. I’ve also found myself an Episcopalian (which is a longer email than even this overlong beastie), and in both cases I find my idea of service rooted in words, rage, and the reclamation of space. American and Christian and liberal and queer and here. I guess it comes back to witness and prophecy. Or reading too much of the Psalms at an impressionable age. So while I mostly concur with your reservations, that perverse sense of joy remains. I can serve, or rather, will be able to do so once I wrap up the Americorps program I’m doing this year. And yes, military service uses and abuses, but it’s also a weapon, a tool, a pragmatic means of achieving leverage and staking out turf that is mine as much as any other American’s.
And if I ever meet John McCain in the flesh I can call the bastard out on appropriating the injuries of veterans for his own shallow political maneuvers.
I don’t imagine there’s going to be a massive influx of LGB people into the military. But I think it means that those who do serve can rebut some of the conservative hate in this country in an effective way. I realise I’ve not touched on the moral ick that the reality of military service raises, whatever one’s identity or orientation. This message is rather too long already. Was going to comment on your post, but it seemed impolite to dump this much on there.
So I’ll repeat my thanks, and say that I look forward to reading more of your thoughts. And hope to see this novel you’re working on – it sounds neat.
Thank you so much for this comment. It’s really fantastic. (Anyone stumbling on this later, it’s in reference to this entry: https://lettersfromtitan.com/2010/12/23/romanticism-and-the-dadt-repeal/ ). I’m in the throes of something for a deadline now, so I’ll have to come back and give this the reply it deserves, but always feel free to leave long/personal comments wherever; stories are good (and I do allow anonymous commenting on the LJ, so just give me a little info so I know which anonymous person you are — I have a few quasi-regulars of that sort). Back later, or feel free to drop me an email.
You’re very kind, and glad to have it found fantastic. Sympathy on the deadline – just came out from under one myself. Thanks for the etiquette brief – will bear it in mind. I’ll probably stick to here, comments-wise, but if I’m tempted to write on your journal, will provide necessary tags… I’m going to just shoot you an email now – no expectation of immediate reply, etc, but I’m much more reliably on email than otherwise.
Delighted to have found your insightful and articulate blog as a link from AfterElton.com. In reading the linked post, I noticed you were curious about the Radical Faeries, and how Kurt’s locker appears to be some sort of Faery altar. You also expressed an interest in learning more about the Radical Faeries–hope you find this helpful:
Harry Hay was one of the pioneers of the modern Gay Movement–although he preferred the word Faerie (as in “Radical Faeries,” which he helped found). Part of this was because he felt metaphorically LGBT people were “Changelings.” This comes from old legends, where the Fae would substitute one of their babies for a human child, and use their magic to make the Fae infant look the same as the stolen human one. Just so, the only way to tell the difference between the enchanted child and the human one was in the behavior. Harry thought this summed up the experience of LGBT children born into “straight” families—they look like other members of their family—but they don’t behave in the same way.
All males must learn to navigate the potentially dangerous world of masculinity portrayal. But Harry suggested a gay child realizes he is different at a very young age (and we know research shows adults who identify as gay usually say they knew they were “different” before the age of 8, but had no word for what the difference was about—btw, females who identify as lesbians, reportedly do not make the same association until later on—probably because girls are socialized to be more physically affectionate and to emotionally bond with other females). As a result, gay boys become introspective at an early age as they try to both understand their difference, and in many cases, how to hide it to avoid attack.
Harry called this a “gay window of consciousness.” He felt if you were born a White, Straight, Christian male, you never really had to think—in the sense your whole life was scripted out for you—you had it modeled not only with your extended family—but in almost all books, television programs, plays, and movies.
As an American Indian, I am also aware of the difference between forming a “reactive” culture—which I think often happens within the LGBT community—where there is a conscious effort to be aware of the Dominant Culture and respond to it—vs. American Indian cultures that had existed for thousands of years before Europeans arrived. In other words, traditional American Indian cultures were never formed as a reaction to the discovery Europeans existed. But I think for many People of Color, there is a similarity to LGBT people in terms of negotiating Dominant Culture. One of the things that came about because of the Trayvon Martin murder was the revelation of “The Conversation,” where African-American children are formally told by their parents how to behave around Whites. (And if you’re curious, we have a similar “Talk” before we leave the reservation.)
This is not to imply that straight men aren’t capable of introspection, but I do feel Harry has a good point that introspection and self-monitoring are survival skills for LGBT people as well as for those of us who are visibly different—whether because of our skin color, or being in a wheelchair. For those of us with “dual identities,” where sexual orientation and ethnicity intersect, I suspect such survival skills can become even more honed.
I met Harry many years ago through a mutual friend and attended a workshop he did in SF, where he discussed the Gay Window of Consciousness. I did a research piece on Inter-Racial Same-Sex Couples for a presentation in Amsterdam, and flew down to L.A. to tape an interview with Harry. Not long after he met his long term partner, they moved to a home on the San Juan Pueblo Indian Reservation, and for some time they operated an informal “halfway house” for lgbt/two-spirit American Indians. Undoubtedly living within a Pueblo Indian community–a very ritual and symbol using culture, influenced the structure he brought to the Radical Faeries.
Radical Faeries incorporate a lot of Native American symbols and include rituals and ceremonies that have been inspired by Native American culture. You might enjoy Harry also as someone who had a strong focus on gender performance–he was one of the early voices disdainful of people who take the attitude if “gays didn’t act so gay,” they wouldn’t be discriminated against. Radical Faeries take “Faerie names” and often mix standardized male and female clothing. One of my friends from SF was “Pansy Two Rabbits Dancing.”