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Saturday, November 12, 2016

Celebrating Trying … Even When You Doubt Yourself #AmWriting #Memoir Plus Quick Book Mention: Degranon, #AmReading

"Today I’m Celebrating trying, even in the face of great doubt. Writers face doubt all the time, as do most of us through our lives and for a million reasons. But add to the usual stressors personal loss and those doubts become monsters all of their own."

From Shah Wharton: Ghostwriter & Speculative Fiction Author. Read more of that bookblog post.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Gay Book Giveaway & Interview at Prism Book Alliance (Updated Nov. 1, 2016)

Duane Simolke on Sons of Taldra ~ Interview Local Giveaway.

The giveaway happened November 1, 2016, but find many more via the side column on that same page. Congrats to H.B.!

Keywords: gay books, LGBT books, queer books, gay writing, gay authors, science fiction and fantasy, diversity.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Featured: A.O. Chika Book Blog

Find reviews, lists, giveaways, short stories, poetry, blog tours, author highlights, free-read information, and much more at A. O. Chika Book Blog!

From A. O.'s About Me page:

I’m a book blogger/reviewer, beta reader, a lover of all things LGBTQIA and a self-taught digital designer (Thanks to Youtube and a crap load of online tutorials). I also review books on Gay Book Reviews as well as on Goodreads, NetGallery and sometimes Amazon. When I’m not reading a book or blogging about it, I put on my corporate face (Not really) I work as the social media and marketing manager of a food delivery across two countries in East Africa.

I love cats even though I have none and I’m deathly afraid of dogs and chickens (I’m not kidding about the chicken bit, they scare me). I’m always accepting Guest posts from authors, I’m also open to doing interviews just fill the contact me form and I’ll get back to you within 24hrs. I’m also open to Guest Reviewers/ Bloggers.

Book Blitz: Sons of Taldra.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Sharing Links and Wisdom: Sons of Taldra Book Blitz

Sharing Links and Wisdom: Sons of Taldra Book Blitz: Blurb: In an alternate reality, an Iroquois woman and her twin gay sons battle shapeshifting aliens. Valchondria (Earth)...

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Featured Site: Prism Book Alliance: "promoting and celebrating diversity through literature."

Prism Book Alliance features reviews, blog posts, interviews, giveaways, and much more fans of LGBT books. Their "About" page lists some of their other features:

"•Outside the Margins – daily author-lead content

•Tea Time with Alexis Hall – bi weekly round table on topics relevant to our readers

•Sunday Spotlight – a weekly look into relevant topics by the Prism reviewers

•Retro Reads Author Spotlight – a weekly look at the backlist of an author in the genre

•Five Thing Friday – a weekly look into the psyche of your favorite PBA reviewers

•Prism Recommended Reads Awards – A monthly look at the best of the best reviewed in the previous month. Posted the first Sunday of each month and accompanied by a giveaway."

I've visited many times and have noticed that they constantly add new content.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Pressure Tournament: Scene Cut from Gay SciFi Sons of Taldra

The first Taldra novel included references to something called a “pressure tournament.” This scene, cut from Chapter 6 of the second Taldra novel, explains what the heck a pressure tournament is and has some nice exchanges between the twins.

However, it adds nothing to the story and actually slows it down too much. Also, Jase’s students seem too young for a game that Argen didn’t play until his late teens. I left the game up to the imagination of my readers.

The following appears in my online Glossary for Degranon and Sons of Taldra.

“Pressure Tournament: basketball meets Trivial Pursuit and holograms. Both books include references to it. Played in school.”

Here’s the unedited, unused scene.

* * *

Argen and Telius sat together amid the crowd on the bleachers that surrounded the pressure court. On the court itself, two teams of pre-teen boys and girls (five children per team) ran back and forth: the Solid team and the Striped team. Their uniforms made the names of the teams obvious. The Stripes had the pressure ball; one of the taller girls on the team gripped its spongy gray circumference with both hands as the Solids ran toward her, shouting possible answers to the holo-image question that she approached. The words took shape as she ran, so she knew their answers couldn’t be right, answers to a question they had not yet fully seen.

Multiple-choice answers appeared randomly, hovering in the air around them, darting about in giant letters that resembled holo-ads.

“She’ll get this one,” said Argen, leaning close to his brother’s ear. “It’s easy.”

She tossed the ball into one of the answers, just as one of the solids tried to block her toss. A buzzer rang positive, and the unseen announcer shouted the judges’ decision. “Another two points for Valcine Mid-School’s Stripes!”

Argen elbowed Telius. “What did I tell you?”

Telius elbowed him back. “Don’t bruise your only brother.” He practically had to shout, because of the growing applause. “Were you good at this game?”

Argen tipped his head back, as if to suggest Telius had underestimated him. “My best friend and I were the best.” He gazed off, suddenly looking sad. “But that was a long time ago.”

Telius touched his shoulder. “Maybe not so long. Gratitude for coming with me.”

Argen nodded, but then jumped up and cheered as Jase-Dawn’s team gained the winning score. Telius jumped up as well, not quite understanding the thrill of watching someone else play a game, but still proud of Jase-Dawn and his students. Jase-Dawn turned to the brothers and smiled as the opposing coach handed the Stripes a plastic trophy.

(end of scene)

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Featured Website: Visit QueerSciFi's Universes

QueerSciFi.Com

I'm always excited to find a resource for gay sf/f/horror fans or content. Here's one of the biggest ones I've encountered! There's also a link to it in my SciFi News sidebar, in case you forget to bookmark it now.

From the site:

Welcome to Queer Sci Fi. We’re a blog and website that’s all about LGBT characters in science fiction, fantasy, paranormal and horror fiction. We’re dedicated to promoting the inclusion of LGBT characters in these genres.

We started the site in January of 2014, with the intent to create a community for writers and readers of LGBT-themed speculative fiction. We post regular discussion topics, news, book announcements and reviews. We have an AWESOME Facebook discussion group. We offer a database of calls for submission, publishers, writing experts and much more. And we also have our own critique section on Scribophile.

Stick with us as we grow and add new features!

Keywords: gayscifi, gayfantasy, LGBTscifi, LGBTfantasy, gayhorror, LGBThorror, queerscifi, diversityinsff.

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Navajo Influences on the Aliens in Sons of Taldra

The Taldra novels happen in an alternate reality, with Valchondria as a parallel to Earth. In Degranon: A Science Fiction Adventure, I refer to an alien race attacking the second colony ship from Valchondria. It was part of the reason the Valchondrians shut down the space program a thousand years ago and banned contact outside their atmosphere.

For the sequel, Sons of Taldra, I wanted to go back and explore that race. And why not make them shapeshifters who attack Valchondria? The idea of a past encounter with shapeshifting beings in the past sounded like Native American mythology, and I found that reading more of it helped me flesh out the invaders.

Though the spelling varies, yee naaldlooshii is a Navajo term for skinwalkers; it means “with it, he goes on all fours.” These creatures can take any animal form. They have glowing eyes and actually enter into people’s bodies by looking into their eyes. Some aspects of yee naaldlooshii stories appear in the book, though I can’t discuss that too much without spoilers.

I decided to go with the name Naadloosh, singular or plural, with Yee Naaldlooshii as the name of their home world. I limited them to just a few specific forms, but they can usually change at will, like in the Navajo stories. I also added some new twists to them, but again, spoilers.

Shapeshifter tales aren’t limited to the Navajo, but their version became a strong influence on my aliens. Native American storytelling offers rich, important looks at how various tribes explored their universe. Some links follow.

Please also see Why Taldra’s Family is Iroquois and the Degranon/Sons of Taldra glossary. Read about Sons of Taldra at Barnes & Noble or Amazon.

AmericanFolklore.Net: Native American Myths

FirstPeople.US: Native American Legends

Google: yee naaldlooshii images

Native American Lore Index

Native American Shape-Shifters of Myth and Legend

Native American Werewolf Legends Presents: Yee Naaldlooshii

Navajo Skinwalker Legend

Skinwalker - Yee Naaldlooshii - He Who Walks on Four Legs

Warpaths2Peacepies: Skinwalker

Monday, August 22, 2016

Why Taldra’s Family is Iroquois

Why Taldra’s Family is Iroquois For Degranon: A Science Fiction Adventure, I created a Native American family that provides the heart of an expansive narrative. That novel takes place in an alternate reality where Earth (Valchondria) went straight from tribes and villages to the one-world government that rose up in Valcine. The descriptions of Valcine in that book and its sequel, Sons of Taldra, often imply that it parallels our New York City.

The problem with no countries is that I couldn’t refer to them as American Indians or Native Americans. And even First Nation or First People seemed a little off, though I considered them. Many Native peoples use those terms, but many other people wouldn’t recognize them. I settled for calling Taldra’s family (and many other characters) red-skinned. It worked for most readers, but some asked “As in red paint”? I didn’t mean it as racist in any way, and it’s a term many Natives use, so that wasn’t a problem, but it still didn’t quite get the idea across.

For Sons of Taldra, I went more into Taldra’s background and decided she is Iroquois. That didn’t conflict with anything in the first book, since I had never identified her lineage. More on that choice in a moment.

When I wrote the fifteenth anniversary edition of Degranon, I added references to other Native nations as well. I decided Taldra’s spouse was mostly Iroquois but with a dash of Navajo. The Navajo provide some of the mythology for Sons of Taldra, as I discuss in the blog entry The Navajo Influences on the Aliens in Sons of Taldra.

Back to my choice. The Iroquois have lived in the New York area for centuries, so that works with Taldra being one, and with her son Telius encountering Iroquois on the other side of the temporal doorway. My alternate reality might establish them even earlier than real life, though.

The Iroquois are a largely matrilineal culture, while the Taldra novels feature strong women throughout, often in leadership roles. Those parallels helped me make the characters come alive.

Though it’s a long-running debate, many people believe the Iroquois Constitution influenced the US Constitution. Some links about that topic follow in the list of resources below. That appealed to me because the Taldra novels focus so much on the Valchondrian government, with Taldra becoming Leader and impacting its laws. So, even if readers might disagree over the historical accuracy of that influence, it still resonates as part of my world-building.

No one in either novel actually says it, but I imagine events took place that caused the varied Iroquois to unite as one people under a Constitution. Other people travelled there from lands they sometimes referred to as North and South Turtle (North and South America, adapted via Native terminology). As Valcine became a trade center, other people kept joining them out of necessity, until the world united as Valchondria. It all seemed ideal, until the Degrans and the Maintainers rose. Read Degranon and Sons of Taldra to find out what happens from there.

More importantly, please take the time to learn from and about the creative, amazing Native cultures that we so often ignore or mistreat in the real world. They’ve inspired my writing, and I can’t begin to acknowledge their struggles or their accomplishments.

Related reading:

Engines of our Ingenuity: The Iroquois and the US Government

First People of America and Canada - Turtle Island

Indigenous People: Constitution of the Iroquois Nations

Iroquois Indian Museum

The League of the Iroquois

TeachingHistory.Org: Iroquois and the Founding Fathers

UPenn Gazette: Franklin and the Iroquois Foundations of the Constitution

US History: The Iroquois Tribes

Please also see the Degranon/Sons of Taldra glossary.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Olivia Newton-John Concert

If you get a chance to see Olivia Newton-John in concert, go! She's still a great singer and performer, as well as someone who loves her audience.

Please Visit Equality Speaks Blog

Please visit the Equality Speaks LGBTQ blog. Recent post topics include gayming, transitioning, out athletes, non-binary, a lesbian resource, and much, much more.

From the blogger:

"I'm Georgia, from Australia. This is my blog for the LGBTI+ and gender diverse community. I'm passionate about equal rights, medical science and helping others. I provide advice, post news and resources. Sometimes I may put up some personal posts. All articles/news/resources and photos I share I do not own (unless otherwise stated). I ensure that I credit/source everything I share."

Blog entry about my books.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Gay fans of science fiction, fantasy, and horror

Please visit my twitter list Gay SciFi/Fantasy/Horror: "Science fiction, fantasy, and/or horror with LGBT themes &/or characters. Or LGBT fans of sffh." Of course, the posts aren't limited to those topics, but there's plenty to geek out about anyway. From there, you can find my other twitter lists, such as movies/TV/theater, LGBT, or general geekiness.

Updated guide to my gay scifi novels

I've updated the entry Glossary for Degranon and Sons of Taldra. It originally just covered Degranon. Watch for more posts about how Sons of Taldra took shape.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Secrets and Scandals in Texas

People tell me a little more than they should. Well, a lot more than they should. Actually, people tell me way too much. Or they say too many things where I can hear them, which is just the same as telling me, as far as I’m concerned. Do they really think I won’t share what I heard with anybody? I mean, stories like these can’t just sit on a shelf in somebody’s brain. The more I think about it, the more sure I am that my neighbors want someone to tell their Acorn stories, that they don’t want to be just a small part of a small town in a big state in a big country. People aspire to leave something behind other than babies, a mortgage, and a nasty rumor or two. And they certainly want someone reliable telling it, like what my grandmother did when she chronicled the early folks of Acorn.

The Acorn Stories

Monday, July 18, 2016

Sons of Taldra: A Gay Science Fiction Adventure

We thought the aliens wouldn’t find us. We thought we could trust the Maintainers. We were wrong.

The Iroquois scientist Taldra became Leader of our world a year before the alien shapeshifters attacked. Her twin gay sons, Telius and Argen, will rally to her side.

Telius, a former time traveler, wants to marry his boyfriend, a former spy. Argen, a prodigy with a troubled past, modifies a handsome captain’s vessel for the battle.

Our world’s other protectors hold dark secrets that might pose an even greater threat than the invaders.

Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or Smashwords.

Glossary

Add Sons of Taldra to Your Goodreads Reading List

Chapter 1 at Goodreads

Book Teaser, Spoiler Alert

Writing a Novel

The Navajo Influences on the Aliens in Sons of Taldra

Why Taldra’s Family is Iroquois

Queer SciFi Novel in Consideration for LGBT Book Award

Interview About Sons of Taldra and More at Our Queer Art

Interview about Valchondria at Our Epic Worlds

Sons of Taldra Review at Strange Book Reviews

Sons of Taldra Review at Enas Reviews

DuaneSimolke.Com: Pressure Tournament: Scene Cut from Gay SciFi Sons of Taldra

Prism Book Alliance: Sons of Taldra Interview

Book Excerpt at A. O. Chika Book Blog

Sons of Taldra & Its Keywords at Smashwords.Com

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Gay SciFi Adventure Returns!

An Iroquois family gets tangled in a war between two repressive planets.

Degranon: A Science Fiction Adventure is available again through Nook and Kindle.

Revised third edition eBook released in 2016.

In an alternate reality, Earth is the planet Valchondria. No illness exists, gay marriage is legal, and everyone is a person of color. However, a group called “the Maintainers” carefully monitors everyone’s speech, actions, and weight; the Maintainers also force so-called “colorsighted” people to hide their ability to see in color.

The brilliant scientist Taldra sees her twin gay sons as the hope for Valchondria's future, but one of them becomes entangled in the cult of Degranon, while the other becomes stranded on the other side of a doorway through time. Can they find their way home and help Taldra save their world?

Keywords: gay, sf, scifi, sci-fi, science fiction, teen, youth, gayscifi, #diversityinsff, time travel, diversity, dystopia, social issues, weight control, free speech, Iroquois, QueerSciFi

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Summer 2016: More Queer SciFi

The eBook of Degranon: A Science Fiction Adventure will return soon with a newly revised edition, leading up to the sequel, Sons of Taldra. Watch for both this summer.

Keywords: LGBT, gay, people of color, Native American, dystopia, strong women, scifi/fantasy.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Reacting when people use the Bible against gays. #NoH8 #Homophobia #LGBT

The follow excerpt is from Reactions to Homophobia, an essay in Duane Simolke’s book Holding Me Together. Keywords: homophobia, homosexuality, gay pride, lesbian, LGBT, transgender, religion, ex-gay, Bible, scripture, Leviticus, LGBT resources, church, Christian, faith, family.


“The Bible says it’s wrong.”

If we want to take some Leviticus verses literally and out of context, what about the ones saying not to eat fruit from a young tree (19:23), read horoscopes (19:26), get a haircut (19:27), get a beard trim (19:27), get a tattoo (19:28), eat shellfish (11:9-12), eat meat with fat or blood (3:17), touch a menstruating woman or anything she touches (15:19-33), crossbreed cattle (19:19), plant two different kinds of seed in the same field (19:19), wear clothing of mixed fabric (19:19), eat pork (11:7-8), touch pigskin (11:8), or have sex with a woman “having her sickness” (20:18)? What about some verses outside Leviticus, like the ones saying not to use profanity (Colossians 3:8), act out of anger (Psalms 37:8), get drunk (Pr. 20:1), pray aloud in public (Matthew 6:1-8), swear (Matthew 5:34), call someone worthless or a fool (Matthew 5:22), charge interest to poor people (Ex. 22:25), judge people (Matthew 7:1-5), or hate people (I John 4:20)? Should we follow the verse saying that no one should make a newlywed man work or serve his country for the first year of his marriage (Deuteronomy 24:5)?

Should women see their menstruation cycles as “sin” (Leviticus 15:19-33)? Should women see it as sinful to bear a male child, and even more sinful to bear a female child (Leviticus 12:1-8)? Should women follow the New Testament passages where Paul says they must always remain “silent” and “under obedience” while at church (I Corinthians 14:34), that they can’t put braids in their hair or certain jewels around their neck (I Timothy 2:9), that they must pray with their heads covered (I Corinthians 11:5), that they are inferiors who caused the fall of humanity (I Timothy 2:13-14), that they can only redeem themselves by bearing children (I Timothy 2:15), and that they cannot teach or “usurp authority over the man” (I Timothy 2:12)? Should we follow Exodus 21:7 in its guidance on how a daughter should act when her parents sell her into slavery?

What about the verses that require churches to pay taxes (Romans 14:6-7; Matthew 22:21; Luke 20:25)? Should we also follow the biblical tradition of promoting slavery (Leviticus 25:44-46; Ephesians 6:5), or the one of keeping the disabled from our places of worship (Leviticus 21:18-23)? Should we bring back the death penalty for people who work on the Sabbath (Exodus 35:2), people who use God’s name in vain (Leviticus 24:16), anyone who commits adultery (Leviticus 20:10), a woman who loses her virginity before marriage (Deuteronomy 22:13-21), a son who acts stubbornly or rebelliously (Deuteronomy 21:18-21), and “everyone who curses his father or his mother” (Leviticus 20:9)?

Too many people scream Bible verses that condemn others, but find ways to disregard verses that condemn themselves. The famous list of hell-bound sinners in Romans 1 covers every person ever born (anyone who ever lies, gossips, acts out of anger, holds a grudge, starts arguments, etc.), but the idea of certain actions causing damnation conflicts with John 3:16-17. In context, Paul used the list to show that no one should judge, because we all face condemnation by someone’s standards (Romans 2:1). If gays will burn in Hell for violating the list, won’t everyone else? Also keep in mind Paul’s admission (I Corinthians 7:6, 7:25, etc.) that parts of the letters we now read only came from his opinion; of course, Paul didn’t realize that the letters he wrote to disciples and churches would find their way into the Bible. Another of Paul’s lists appears in I Corinthians 6:10, in which he said anyone who gets drunk, has premarital sex, cheats others, or envies others will go to Hell, but most people use ellipses in place of those references, so they can safely and self-righteously quote the same passage’s references to gay sex.

In fact, the Bible only mentions man/man sex three-twelve times (depending on the particular translation we choose and how we choose to interpret the individual passages) and woman/woman sex one time, while condemning idolatrous man/woman sex around 360 times. How odd that so many readers can overlook something constant in favor of something that occurs only a few times! Biblical condemnations of self-righteousness, divorce, gossip, and drunkenness each separately surpass the condemnations of gay sex in their frequency, yet most people still overlook those many in favor of the few that seem to refer to gay sex.

Some will point out that Leviticus deems male/male sex “an abomination,” but it says the same about eating pigs, oysters, clams, shrimp, rabbits, and many other creatures in Leviticus 20:25, a passage where the author clearly shows that he only uses “abomination” to mean “unclean” or “vulgar” by Hebrew holiness code standards—i.e., not kosher. I’ve yet to meet anyone who even tries to follow the entire Hebrew holiness code, so why elevate two verses from it? Keep in mind also that Proverbs 6:16-19 lists several of what Solomon calls “abominations” to God, including three “abominations” that many televangelists and politicians practice constantly: arrogance, deceit, and divisiveness. Solomon, in his wisdom, left same-gender sex out of his “abominations” list. Furthermore, the Bible says that anyone who claims to follow the law but breaks any one part of it is breaking all of it (James 2:10), so a man who lives by the law but eats pork is also guilty of lying with a man as with a woman; the Bible offers only guilt for people who live by the law instead of living by grace.

Though surrounded by the openly bisexual Roman culture, Christ never mentioned same-gender relations; instead, He taught people about love and acceptance, even going out of His way to meet the rejected half-breeds of Samaria. Yes, He mentioned heterosexual relationships, but He never condemned gay ones. Some people say that His condemnation of adultery automatically included homosexuality, but the Bible offers no support for that definition of adultery; according to scripture, adultery meant having sex with someone other than one’s first sex partner (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 5:32, 19:9; Mark 10:11-12).

His only possible reaction to homosexuality occurred when He healed the “pais” of a centurion (Matthew 8:5-13). Though the King James Bible renders it “servant,” the word “pais” might also have carried gay connotations at that time—a connotation strengthened both by the prevalence of open bisexuality in ancient Roman culture and by the obvious love between this particular centurion and servant. Christ reacted to the centurion’s love by healing the servant. Notice, however, that Christ made no judgment of this relationship. Daniel A. Helminiak, a Roman Catholic priest, examines various studies of that passage, and of all the supposedly anti-gay passages, in his book What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality. I recommend that book for further study.

Of course, many people will go beyond specific passages and use the Bible to make a blanket statement about homosexuality as “an immoral lifestyle.” Using that tendency to take scriptures out of context and impose them on others, consider how Jesus said that anyone who marries a divorced person commits adultery (Matthew 5:32, 19:9; Mark 10:11-12). Therefore, by those standards, a divorced person in a second marriage lives an immoral lifestyle, and anyone who supports that marriage supports sin. With that in mind, it seems hypocritical that many divorced and remarried people will claim gays pose a threat to family values, religious values, and the institution of marriage.

We could even accuse people who support football teams or sell pork of promoting an immoral lifestyle (Leviticus 11:7-8). We could even say female Sunday school teachers live an immoral lifestyle (I Corinthians 14:34-35).

We could also say churchgoers promote an immoral lifestyle by filling up restaurants, donut shops, and grocery stores on Sundays, forcing employees to violate the Sabbath. Many people who work on Sundays consider themselves Christians, though your way of thinking suggests that they live an immoral lifestyle. Actually, the Bible places the Sabbath on Friday night and Saturday morning, but most fundamentalists overlook that faltering from the letter, as well as the fact that Jesus and his disciples violated the Sabbath.

Besides prayerfully and closely reading the Bible all the way through several times, I have found a great deal of help in understanding its applications to gays, thanks to books like Things They Never Told You In Sunday School: A Primer For The Christian Homosexual (by David Day), The New Testament and Homosexuality (by Robin Scroggs), and many of the other resources I mention in “Reactions to Homophobia.” Those works helped me form some of the following observations about Christianity, specifically the idea of Biblical literalism.

Jesus criticized the Pharisees for their attempts at wearing the best clothing, particularly during worship services (Matthew 23:5; Mark 12:38-39). As His “lilies of the field” allegory shows, Christ preferred simple, perfunctory clothing that reflected only the practical concern of covering oneself (Matthew 6:28-34). Yet, countless churches today follow an unwritten code that everyone must wear their so-called “Sunday best,” turning the church aisle into a fashion runway. Even on the hottest days, men in such churches will wear three-piece suits, while the women overdress in uncomfortable-looking fashions. So much for the humility and pragmatism that Jesus taught.

Back to more relevant matters, Jesus and His disciples promoted racial harmony and interaction, welcoming Greeks and people of interracial heritage to break bread with them. Yet, many white congregations still prefer whites only in their buildings, while using out-of-context Bible verses to condemn interracial dating and interracial marriage. Some churches still use the Bible to show blacks as inferior or cursed.

I even heard the word “nigger” casually used during church or Sunday school in my original home state of Louisiana; as you can guess, the racial slurs really started flying after those churchgoers left holy ground. I’ve also heard racism and racial slurs from churchgoers in my temporary home state Tennessee and my permanent home state Texas, but not with the same fanatical frequency as in Louisiana, and not while inside the church building.

Whenever I see it, I attribute religion-based homophobia and religion-based racism to bigotry, not to God. At this point, let me clarify that I am attacking bigotry, not God or Christianity. Further, I am not calling homosexuality a sin, but showing the problem with using out-of-context verses as a way to label gays as sinful and thus somehow deserving of discrimination, violence, etc. With that said, I want to further expose the idolatrous worship of tradition.

We see that worship when many Christians become riled over newer Bible translations using gender-neutral language in place of male-specific language, even though the translators will say the gender-neutral language more closely follows the actual texts. Tradition replaced the Bible’s original phrasing, so tradition-worshippers will claim sacrilege when someone brings back the original phrasing. In that case and in the Sodom and Gomorrah passage I’ll soon discuss, tradition actually outweighs scripture for many Christians.

Good or bad, tradition affects our thinking, including our theology. Christians need to quit confusing Christian tradition with the Bible and the Bible with God. By definition of monotheistic religion (worship of only one God), Christians should not worship tradition, the Bible, or anything else but God. Reconciling Trinitarian doctrine with monotheism (i.e., explaining how Father, Son, and Holy Ghost form the one and only God) poses enough problems without us seeing the Bible as also a part of God. Many people speak of God and the Bible as if they were equal, and hold their Bibles as if they were touching the hand of God. When we stop confusing tradition and the Bible with God, we can begin a deeper examination of what the Bible really says.

That examination also requires going beyond what certain, selected verses literally say. Reading the Bible literally requires disregarding scientific and historic evidence. For example, we would need to see the Earth as created in seven literal days (and not the Bible’s later concept of equating God’s days with a thousand of ours), see the Earth as only 6000-35,000 years old, and see all types of life-form evolution as nonexistent.

The Sermon on the Mount also presents too many problems for Christian fundamentalists. I challenge anyone to read Matthew chapters 5-8 aloud, stopping after each verse to ask “Do I even try to literally follow that?” I’m not saying that you try and fail; I’m saying that you probably don’t even try to follow many of those verses. Jesus later claimed that we should rid ourselves of our hands, feet, and eyes if they might cause us to sin (Matthew 18:8-9). Since most Christian fundamentalists somehow manage to keep their hands, feet, and eyes, we can assume either that they never face temptation, or that they fail to take that passage literally. The second assumption seems more plausible. Jesus even pulled His followers away from literalism by constantly speaking in parables. Should we read the parables literally? Read literally or figuratively, I think all the teachings of Jesus come down to five points: (1) laws can save no one, (2) love matters more than all the other laws, (3) acts of compassion impress God more than religious displays, (4) we cannot truly love God unless we also love all human beings, (5) those who believe in and accept Jesus Christ as their Savior shall receive salvation. Those five points emphasize Christianity as a life of love, peace, volunteerism, and hope, while many Christians downplay those concepts in favor of reducing the Bible into a tool for judging and controlling others.

If you’re a Christian, I challenge you to allow for metaphor, balance, opinion, and context when reading the Bible. We should acknowledge the difficulty of translating from one language to another, especially when the translators tried to precisely translate a book written in four ancient languages over a period of hundreds or even thousands of years. In many cases, the translators could not find more than one use of a particular archaic word. Still, they supposedly translated that word accurately. Many people who have read the Bible in its ancient languages will admit that all the translations contain errors, so why should we assume that the parts about gay sex were translated correctly?

Reading your holy book requires not always reading it literally, but always reading it with the idea that one must continue learning and seeking in order to continue one’s constant journey toward a deeper understanding of spiritual matters. You extinguish the discovery process when you claim that you already fully understand every aspect of a book and that no misreading or textual friction could possibly exist.

Challenges to total literalism often invoke a recital of platitudes, instead of an examination of the verses I just mentioned. Platitudes get us nowhere, and they certainly can’t help the many people who become the targets of the many fanatical fundamentalists who commit, encourage, or ignore hate crimes. At some point, we need to start questioning fundamentalist rigidity in favor of compassion and free thought. When people reject, mistreat, assault, or murder each other for not fitting into some rigid theological view, we have reached that point.


The above excerpt is from Reactions to Homophobia, an essay in Duane Simolke’s book Holding Me Together. Keywords: homophobia, homosexuality, gay pride, lesbian, LGBT, transgender, religion, ex-gay, Bible, scripture, Leviticus, LGBT resources, church, Christian, faith, family.

Read about Holding Me Together at bn.com, Amazon, Am.ca, Am.uk, Fishpond.co.au, or Fishpond.co.nz.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

New Readings of Winesburg, Ohio Image

New cover image for Stein, Gender, Isolation and Industrialism: New Readings of Winesburg, Ohio. Gertrude Stein, gender roles, gay subtext, the machine in the garden, feelings of isolation, and attempts at communication, as they all relate to Sherwood Anderson's masterpiece.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Friday, April 01, 2016

One of my favorite creations is Taldra (Lorfeltez), a First Nation woman who guides her world.

Unfortunately, Maintainer law forbade her from telling anyone about her colorsight. Supposedly, the Maintainers feared giving so-called “special rights” to colorsighted people, thus making them cultural elitists. Lorfeltez wanted no special rights, but she knew that she was different, and she only wanted to explore those differences. She wanted to tell other people about the colors that her eyes allowed her to see. She hated concealing her true self in such a way, or in any way. No law could stop her from being different, so the Maintainers used a law to make her hide that difference. The Maintainers forced her to lie, in order to protect the common good. How could their way be right if it involved lying and deception? Why couldn’t she let others benefit from her abilities, or at least let others know that those abilities existed? She hated the hypocrisy of the Maintainers. They warned against deceit, but passed laws that promoted deceit. They talked about protecting Valchondria from violence, while they used violence to keep people in order, to “maintain” them. Who was Valchondria except its people, the very people that the Maintainers claimed to protect? And what were they protecting anyone from by denying her the ability to acknowledge her colorsight? It was a gift, and she wanted to tell others about that gift. She loved colors! Even the hideous green swirls in dethua wood looked beautiful to Lorfeltez, who longed for the pleasure of exercising her gift.

Her fellow human beings granted her that pleasure simply by virtue of their appearance. Never mind the gray headbands, hair clips, and body suits that most of the people at the amphitheater wore. Other than a stripe of green on some headbands or belts, and other than an occasional hint of red or blue, Lorfeltez rarely found any color on clothing.

Instead, she could see people’s skin of red (like her own), brown, or black—all in varying shades. She could see their eyes of green, blue, gray, or brown, and their lips of pink, brown, or red. Everyone had black hair, but those of red, light brown, or mixed race often had a gloss to their long, flowing hair that distinguished it from the hair of most black or dark brown people, which tended to grow outward or sometimes just upward. And the male children of all races loved their hair short, and Lorfeltez could almost see their skin color through it. Together, the many people who crammed into Valcine Plaza that day reflected the diverse beauty of Valchondria’s population.

Excerpt from Degranon: A Science Fiction Adventure.

Sons of Taldra Chapter 1 Draft.

#Degranon #SonsOfTaldra #Diversifi #DiversityInSciFi

Monday, March 14, 2016

Code 8 SciFi Movie: Teaser Trailer

Starring: Robbie Amell, Sung Kang, Aaron Abrams, Chad Donella, Alfred Rubin Thompson

Director: Jeff Chan

Writer: Chris Pare

Producers: Jeff Chan, Chris Pare, Stephen Amell, Robbie Amell, Geoff Mclean, Tommy Dingwall.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Gay Movie: RainBRO Official Indiegogo Campaign Trailer (2016) HD

"When a high school bully is accidentally sent to a gay reform summer camp, he must find a way to escape before his bad boy reputation is ruined forever. On his hilarious, yet heartfelt journey, he meets a diverse host of characters that ultimately challenge the way he sees the world, and himself."

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/rainbro#/

https://twitter.com/rainbrofilm

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

#WeWantDiverseNovels

Still tweaking #QueerSciFi Sons Of Taldra. 2016 is the year I finally finish it!

#LGBTSciFi #GaySciFi

Gay Science Fiction