I don’t like labels – LGBTQ+, my sexuality/gender and J Rowling.

Hello my little demons,

I’ve recently been thinking a lot about the LGBTQ+ community and my own sexuality/gender , I have always had a “it’s your life, your business” kind of attitude towards everyone.

If you want kids. If you don’t want kids. If you don’t want to get married. If you’re happy being single. You like to watch cartoons. If you’re a model. If you’re a stripper. Have a weird fettish. If you’re a stay at home mum. If you like to collect Pokemon cards (ahem). Want to live on a boat. Want to move country. If you are gay. If you were born in the wrong body/gender. If you prefer the pronouns ‘they/them’.

I have no say over how someone wants to live their lives. I have no say over someone’s gender or sexual orientation. I have no say over the individual’s struggles. I personally do not understand why there is such a big deal over it (and that wasn’t an open invitation to tell me, so please, keep your negative comments to yourselves!). As far as I am concerned, if you are happy – then I am happy. As long as you’re not being violent, racist, sexist or otherwise shaming someone else, for what EVER reason. And, yes, I also am aware of the biological side of things, but this isn’t a post about explaining how it IS possible! I just want everyone to live their most authentic/true/happy life!

Okay, I will admit, there was a time when I was a teen that I hated gay people. Mostly gay men. Why? I have no idea. It was a social norm, I guess. Everyone else around me either hated, disliked or would avoid gay men, so I learnt to do the same, I looked up to the adults in my life and learnt it from them. It was expected of me to be a woman, get married, get a house, have kids (I want to point out my mum was never like that, this is more of a ‘community’ or social norm – my mum has always been interested in me just being happy and healthy). Until, one day, I found out a very good friend of mine at college was gay. I was immediately ashamed. Not because he was gay. But I was ashamed that I had EVER hated gay men. This guy was the NICEST person you would ever meet, he was funny, smart, and was an absolutely joy to be around.

It got me thinking about gay men and lesbians, and I realise now that I had never had an issue with lesbians (I have heard they don’t like being called gay, as the word ‘lesbian’ was shunned in media/films and they’d be referred to as ‘gay’ instead – so, if I ever say ‘gay’ and refer to a lesbian, I apologise!) and I realise how bad that was. I hated gay men, but never thought negatively towards lesbians. Why? Media. Gay men were always seen as ‘wrong’ yet lesbians were okay because they were seen as a sexual item, for men’s entertainment. And, don’t get me started on my thoughts on how women are perceived as objects! That’s a rant for another day!

My own sexuality/gender

Fast forward a few years and I started to question my own sexuality. Not because I knew something was wrong, not in the conventional “having to hide in the closet” sort of deal that most people have had to go through. But I started to realise that I wasn’t just attracted to men, I was also attracted to women. And started to think I was bisexual. I have never really felt the need to officially come out though (hi, mum and dad!)

Now, over the years I have had this in mind and started to educate myself in the LGBTQ+ community, watching as the letters in the acronym grew (I will refer to it as LGBT+ or LGBTQ+ periodically in my blogs, posts and other ramblings, but please be aware that I mean no disrespect if I miss a letter!) and attempting to learn along the way. Not only learn about the community, but also question my own sexuality and gender.

I then started to educate myself in what ‘demisexual’ and ‘pansexual’ was. If you don’t know, demisexuality is a branch of asexuality where a person only feels sexually attracted to a person when they have a deep connection with them on an emotional/intelligent level. Pansexuality is basically similar to bisexuality but openly agrees that there are more than two genders (hi, to my gender-fluid and non-binary friends!) And, when I heard someone refer to themselves as demi-pansexual, and learnt what it meant… I immediately went… THAT’S ME! (I never understood why people can have one-night stands).

Recently, however, I had to further educate myself in what it means to be pansexual. I have in the past told people that I am pansexual (or part of my sexuality) because I openly didn’t mind if I became involved with someone in the trans community. BUT, I recently found out that THAT isn’t what it means to be pan, in fact, that is extremely offensive to a trans person because that is implying that they are NOT that gender. For example, if I were to meet a trans man and say to him I would date him because I am pansexual, I am implying they are NOT a man. Because, whether they have transitioned or not THEY ARE A MAN. For me, my pansexuality means that I recognise there are more than two genders; that I also include gender-fluid and non-binary people.

On top of that, I also started to think about my own gender. Mostly after coming across a few videos about non-binary and gender-fluid. I have always been referred to as ‘she/her’. A woman. Or a girl (although I hate that as it implies I am a child) – I also recently started to refer to myself as ‘Ms’ instead of ‘Miss’. But, most people will know that I have never been girly. I hate having my hair done. I hate wearing dresses. I’ve never been into the same things that girls my age (when I was a child) was into. Everyone called me ‘a tomboy’. That’s still true. I am. But, it’s led me to realise that what does that mean about my gender? Am I female? Who just likes cars, bikes and drinks whisky? Or am I actually a man? Or am I non-binary? Or gender-fluid? I told someone at university once that I was more ‘gender-fluid’ than a woman, and it fits more, so I consider myself that more than anything. I cannot detach myself from womanhood completely, but I also cannot personally identify as a woman as it doesn’t quite ‘feel right’.

HOWEVER, I also recently had a think about all these labels; demi-pansexual, bisexuality, gender-fluid and I’ve come to the realisation that labels are for other people, not for me. I only really worry about these labels because it’s a way of explaining to others who I am. When the conversation of sexuality comes up and people wrongly assume “when you get a boyfriend” I feel the need to explain. When someone wrongly assumes that I must like girly things because I was born female, I feel the need to explain. These labels aren’t for me, they’re for others, because others cannot understand who I am outside of what the stereotypical majority are. And, because the majority of the world doesn’t actually understand what demisexuality or pansexuality is, I am also having to explain what they are, and I don’t really have a connection to the words, only the meaning behind them.

So, for clarification; I am Penny. I go by the pronouns ‘she/her/they/them’, and unless I openly say I am attracted to you, my sexuality isn’t any of your business.

I don’t like labels.

Being an Ally & adding in the LGBTQ+ community into my writing

Supporting the LGBT+ (and yes, that also includes transmen/transwomen too!), doesn’t mean you have to be LGBT+ yourself. You can be an LGBT+ ally! I’m looking at you straight cis men/women!

And, they also need you! Regardless of your gender identity or sexual orientation! We need to add to the discourse to educate ourselves and end the stigma. Although, I consider myself part of the LGBTQ+ community, I try to stand up for people, I actively engage in educating myself and I am open to understanding different view-points. I am not going to say that I am 100% right, there is still a lot I need to learn, and there is a lot that I will probably get wrong. Just like my previous view on gay men and what it means to be pansexual, and there are a lot of people out there that have a viewpoint and openly express that opinion. I just want to say to those people; it’s okay having an opinion, but it’s not okay spouting off hate and misinformed ideas at people trying to shove this opinion on them when it can be damaging. Not only is it damaging to those you are talking about (trans, gay, lesbian, etc), but it can enforce ideas in the general public and you are indirectly causing damage. Let’s learn to have healthy conversations, ask questions, don’t enforce your ideas, look up research (real peer-reviewed research, not news reports!) and question your ideologies. Just because the majority of the people, the ‘social norm’, thinks it’s one thing, doesn’t mean it’s true. Heck, the whole world thought everything revolved around the Earth and when Galileo suggested everything revolved around the sun, he was sentenced to life imprisonment! I will just leave that thought with you.

Alongside my self-discovery of both my own gender/sexuality and educating myself on LGBTQ+ topics, I also try to add these elements into my writing. I mean, yes, I try to add topics that revolve around certain issues – such as my book ‘I Fell In Love with a Psychopath’ which talks about psychopathy and trying to bring about the idea that psychopathy as not overtly bad (because not all psychopaths are mass-murders, they can be model citizens and a part of the community!), as well as the idea of adding in topics about being gay, lesbian, trans, gender-fluid, mental health issues, and many more.

I recently decided to write a story about a girl with Selective Mustism, it’s a true story, in a way, although the characters are made up, the experiences in it are very true and what I have both experienced and still experience, it’s going to be called ‘The Girl Who Whispered’.

I also will be adding in MANY topics into my book Rose Garden Sanatorium, which, I cannot say too much as I do not want to give anything away just yet – and also because I haven’t finished writing it, so things might change (again!).

But I don’t want to just add in a character just to make them ‘fit’ in the story to keep everyone happy. I don’t want a story that is supposed to be about demons, supernatural, the underworld, and randomly add in a new character that is a lesbian and she have no real point to the story. I will add in a few, because of course, the real world obviously have them, but not MAKE them fit just because. The story will have gender-fluid, gay, and demi-sexual characters because it fits with the story – with the plot… I feel like I am both contradicting myself and not making sense… Read the book/s (when it’s finally done) and it’ll make sense.

The J Rowling Fiasco

I feel the need to add a small section about this, as this is probably where my recent interest in educating myself in the trans community was really sparked. J Rowling. And, you’ll notice that I say “J Rowling” here and not “J. K. Rowling” because the “K” was added onto her books to make it “look better” – she doesn’t actually have a middle name!

Recently, say in the last year or so, J Rowling has done and said a lot of things that publicly shuns the trans community. I won’t go into detail, as again, it is very long and not the point of this post. If you want to know more, I encourage you to research it and form your own opinion. This section is merely to tell you why I no longer can support J Rowling and the Harry Potter franchise – and believe me… it’s been a VERY difficult decision for me!

You might have come across that I would mention that a lot of my writing work has stemmed from Harry Potter. I have always been interested in reading and writing my own stories, from the age of about eight. But my interest in books came back when I was in my teens and I came across Harry Potter. I had a troubled childhood, as I had Selective Mutism (read more about this here) and Harry Potter was one of my ‘escapisms’ (along with Dragon Ball Z). So, after my mum gave me that first book, I was hooked. I would wait eagerly for the next book to come out. I would wait eagerly for them to come out on film (although, I wasn’t as interested in the films as I was the books). I would write fan-fiction. I would day-dream about being in the world of Harry Potter and away from my horrific life. I went to the Harry Potter studios in London. Dreamed of going to the studios in Orlando, Florida. Collected different editions of the books. Even collected different languages. Got loads of clothes, trinkets, notepads. I even got a damn tattoo of the Hogwarts castle on my left arm!

But when I heard that J Rowling has been publicly supporting transphobes and making her own comments on the community… I was torn. At first I believed that she was just misinformed, that she isn’t educating herself and being as someone with such a public following and power in the community, should. She made some comments that made sense about looking after children’s welfare, but as many in the trans community have explained, are just not accurate. I was torn because I felt like J Rowling was just speaking out wrongly, she wasn’t actively being transphobic, just voicing her (inaccurate and very wrong) opinion, and although she was going about it the wrong way, there wasn’t really much wrong with having an opinion and starting a discourse (although, her ‘research’ was very inaccurate and not actually sourcing credible, reliable and peer-reviewed sources!)

UNTIL I heard that she was writing a story about a ‘man in a dress’ that goes around killing people. And THAT was when I put my foot down and said ‘NOPE!’ to J Rowling and the Harry Potter franchise. I looked this up and true enough, her newest book is based around a ‘man in a dress’, who kills people: here’s the wiki page for it (bare in mind, this book was done under her alias Robert Galbraith). And yes, there is a small bit on the wiki page that says “the transphobia accusations were baseless and slanderous, noting that Dennis Creed is investigated along with a dozen other suspects” and “people who have not read the book were making wrong assumptions based on a single review.” A small bit of research also found her other book ‘The Silkworm’ (under the same alias) also has a transgender character ‘Pippa Midgley’ who tries to attack a character with a knife (here’s the wiki page). And okay, I will have to admit, I haven’t read either of these books, so I cannot comment on the context or the full story on these characters, nor will I be interested in buying these books and letting any more of my money go to support a transphobe, so there may be something I am missing here. I also will note that Wikipedia isn’t the best source, but without actually plagiarizing the books, it was my way of showing you some truth about these books at least. But, add this with everything else she has done to build a picture.

Yes, there have been more incidents too, which a few men and women in the trans community (and allies) have explained. But, forgive me for not going into detail about everything! This post isn’t to discuss everything surrounding J Rowling’s transphobia, it’s about why I currently cannot support the woman and the Harry Potter franchise. Like I said, I encourage you to go out there, do your own research on both sides, speak to people, and form your own opinion, but be willing to be open.

Either way, I was hurt. Upset. And extremely disgusted that not only the woman I looked up to, a writer myself wanting to be LIKE HER, but my whole childhood now feels like it has been a lie. My writing has been influenced by her; the realism in my books is taken from Harry Potter. Even the book sizes are deliberately EXACTLY the same size as hers.

Now, the reason why I am writing this, is because I feel the need to OPENLY disagree with her PUBLICALLY. I need to OPENLY support the trans community PUBLICALLY. And I hope this encourages others to do the same! Now you know where I stand. Let’s stand up together for trans rights and LGBTQ+!

Like I said before, this is my own opinion, and just my way to explain why I cannot support J Rowling and the Harry Potter franchise. I haven’t gone into detail about other research I have done – including watching videos of trans YouTubers (I recommend checking Samantha Lux and Jammi Dodger) – and I still have a lot of research to do too. My opinion may change slightly – but either way, I support the trans community!

NB: I have purposefully removed the ability to comment on this blog post to avoid any negative, hateful, hurtful and violent comments.

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I’ve included a few links for help with LGBT+ and mental health and people you should check out:

Mindline Trans+ (part of Mind, the mental health charity) is an emotional and mental health support helpline in the UK for anyone identifying as transgender, non-binary, genderfluid…
mindlinetrans.org.uk

Scottish Trans is an Equality Network project to improve gender identify and gender reassignment equality, rights and inclusion in Scotland:
www.scottishtrans.org

Samantha Lux’s YouTube Channel – an (absolutely beautiful) transwoman who talks about her struggles with her transition, being trans and other transgender issues:
www.youtube.com/user/samproductions516

Jammi Dodger’s (Jamie Raines) YouTube Channel – a (yes, he’s pretty handsome too!) transman who talks about his struggles with his transition, being trans and transgender issues: www.youtube.com/user/MrPinocchio17

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Author Interview – A. C. Thomas

Here’s my fifth installment of author interviews, and this one we’re doing things a little differently; we’re interviewing a LGBT+ author! I’m super excited about this one!

Continue reading to find more about A. C. Thomas and two of her books and an interesting interview with my first LGBT+ author.

About A. C. Thomas

A.C. Thomas left the glamorous world of teaching preschool for the even more glamorous world of staying home with her toddler. Between the diaper changes and tea parties, she escapes into fantastical worlds, reading every romance available and even writing a few herself.

She devours books of every flavour – science fiction, historical, fantasy – but always with a touch of romance because she believes there is nothing more fantastical than the transformative power of love.

Restricted

Space, LGBT+, Romance, even a space-cowboy, this book seems to have everything!

Here’s the Synopsis:

Dr. Aristotle Campbell is a desperate man. His twin brother has been abducted, and Ari will do anything to find him. Forced out of the comfortable solitude of his laboratory, Ari must leave their home world of Britannia and search the farthest reaches of space for his other half. He hastily equips himself with a flawlessly tied cravat, a handful of clues, and his small science vessel. Now, all he needs is a pilot to get him across the Verge, a barrier separating the civilized world from ungoverned space.

Pilot Orin Stone is a desperate man. No ship, no pay, no prospects. He spends his days barely scraping by in the rough colonies lining the Verge interior. When he gets an offer from a frantic, upper-crust professor in need of a pilot, he has no choice but to take the job. He just can’t believe it when the professor turns out to be the most gorgeous man he’s ever seen and that his offer includes a ship of Orin’s own. If Orin can keep his heart (and other portions of his anatomy) from leaping every time sweet, innocent Dr. Campbell looks at him, this should be his easiest job yet.

Rugged Orin and aristocratic Ari work together to navigate the lawless areas of space beyond the Verge, soon discovering that they work well together in all areas. Their immediate and intense attraction to one another is an obstacle to their plans that neither saw coming. More than sparks will fly when they break through the force field and enter restricted space, all alone together for the perilous journey, leaving barriers to their growing attachment far behind.

In their search across the stars, can two desperate men find their home in one another?

Buy the book here!

Burying The Hatchet (Coming soon!)

Currently pre-orders are available, with this sweet Christmas themed story ready to be released just in time for Christmas! Put your thick socks on, your favourite blanket and sit by a warm crackling fire with this one!

Synopsis:

Home for the holidays for the first time in five years, Clayton Osborne steps off the plane with a chip on his shoulder and a suitcase full of grief…only to come face to flannel-covered chest with his worst nightmare. It’s Jake Carver, his high school nemesis and guilty crush. Clayton never expected Jake to still be working on his family tree farm. Of course, now that he’s older and wiser, it will be no problem to ignore Jake’s axe-swinging, barb-slinging, larger-than-life presence. Right?

Jake Carver loves his work, running NorthStar Tree Farm like it was his own. He’s let other things in his life fall by the wayside as he poured everything he had into his job. Until Clayton Osborne, star of his teenage dreams and his greatest regret returns home as beautiful and feisty as ever. If Jake just keeps his head down and focuses on his work, he can make it through the holidays without revealing his lingering feelings for Clayton. Right?

The mountains of North Carolina ring with more than Christmas bells when boyhood enemies collide as men. Long-buried feelings blossom and grow while the pair work side by side to save the farm, until Clayton must confront his obligation to return to his job in Chicago. He’s going to have to choose. Does he want his big-city life, or love in the mountains? All of this hinges on whether he and Jake can finally bury the hatchet. Can love overcome the years of conflict in their past?

With the help of a good old-fashioned Christmas miracle, it just might.

Pre-order it here!

Interview

Now that I have you interested in her books, here’s a little interview I did with her!

What got you into writing?

I’ve always been writing, always telling stories. I won my first little creative writing award at age seven and I was hooked. I’ve just always loved it. Even when I wasn’t writing for others, I still wrote for myself.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Yes, always. There was never a time that I didn’t want to be a writer. There were plenty of times that I thought it wasn’t possible, but I always wanted it.

Do you play music while you writer – and if so, what’s your favourite?

I don’t. I know that’s a little odd, but I can’t concentrate on writing when there are lyrics in the background. I think it’s the same quirk that makes it difficult for me to hear when people are speaking while I’m reading. I can handle instrumental music while I’m writing, but I just prefer silence.

What’s your favourite under-appreciated novel?

That’s a tough question. Persuassion is my favorite Jane Austen novel, and I feel as though it gets overshadowed by the flashier romances in Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Sense and Sensibility. The mutual pining in Persuasion just hits so deeply and the ending is so satisfying that it’s one of my favorite books of all time.

What, to you, are the most important elements of good writing?

The first and more important thing to me is writing good characters. You can quibble over technique and style forever, but if your characters are solid and relatable, they you really have something. Look at fanction. Endless stories based on well-written, compelling characters. Exposition and setting can be perfectly and beautifully written, but it will never stick with the reader like an excellent character.

How many unpublished or half-finished books do you have?

Right now I’m working on the second book in my Verge series, Captivated. It follows Theo, the missing twin from book one, Restricted.

I also have portions of the third book written. I’ve recently written a paranormal romance short story that I am considering reworking into a novel and I’m keeping another series on my back burner. That one is a regency romance series with heavy doses of humor. I have nearly finished the first in that series and have written portions of the other two. So, I have six partially written books going at the moment.

I’m one of those authors who works through writers block by switching to another project, so they tend to stack up.

Do you prefer to read the book first, or watch the movie first?

I read the book first, absolutely. There is no effects budget that could possibly rival the imagination. I’ve enjoyed some movie adaptations, but I always prefer the book.

What is your favourite word, and why?

Meerscheweinchen. It’s German for Guinea pig. I just think it’s fun to say and sounds so cute!

Was writing your dream job as a child, or was it something else?

Yes, always. It took me a while to realize and accept that what I really wanted to write was romance novels, and that most of them would be LGBTQ+. Once I had that epiphany, the rest fell into place as natural as breathing.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love baking. Creating elabroate pastries and cake decorating. I make multi-tiered decorated cakes for special occasions and even considered opening a wedding cake business for a while.

Can you tell me a little about your book ‘Restricted’?

Restricted is the first book in my sci-fi steampunk Verge series. Restricted is definitely heavy on the romance, light on the sci-fi, just the way I like it. I enjoy placing characters against the sweeping backdrop of space and then focusing in tightly upon their developing relationship.

The first book follows Dr. Aristotle Campbell, aka Ari, along his journey across space to find his missing twin. His first task is to hire a pilot to get him across the dangerous barrier of the Verge, and he soon finds Orin Stone, ace pilot and rugged heartthrob, to serve in that capacity. When Orin offers to serve in other, more person, capacities as well, Ari doesn’t quite know what to do with himself. Orin’s gentle guidance leads Ari past the Verge as well as into his own sexuality in an adventurous leap into the unknown. Developing feelings never factored into either of their plans. What will they do when those feelings interfere with their goals? In an ocean of stars, two heats collide.

Now, tell me a little about the main character(s)?

Ari comes from a neo-Victorian planet, Britannia, and has led a very sheltered, privileged, and repressed life up until the moment of his twin Theo’s disappearance. He is a shy, virginal scientist with very little experience in life beyond academia. Ari has always been the more timid, sensible twin and must scrape up every last bit of courage to embark upon his journey across the stars.

Orin Stone comes from a Wild-West style Verge colony, with rough manners and an even rougher past. He’s been stranded with no ship, no money, and no prospects when Ari offers to hire him as a pilot and guide in exchange for his small ship at the end of the quest to find his brother.

Aristocratic Ari and rugged Orin clash on the surface, but soon find deeper connection. Their attraction to one another is immediate and irresistible, and neither of them could have predicted how it would affect their journey.

Do you think the LGBT+ community in literature is unrepresented?

Very much so. I think we’re starting to see changes made, but progress is slow and remains a daily struggle for the community.

Growing up, and I’m sure this is true for a lot of people, the only queer content available to me was fanfiction. Published LGBTQ+ content was difficult to acquire. This is getting better, but it’s still true today.

I am a cisgendered white bisexual woman, and I realize that while I am a member of the community, I still need to step back and listen when underrepresented voices speak up. I think we need to amplify voices of LGBTQ+ authors until their creative works are given the same space and respect as the work of heterosexual authors.

I think we’re seeing important strides in publishing, but it still isn’t enough. We’re not there, yet.

Do you have a LGBT+ book you’d recommend everyone read?

I highly recommend Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas. It’s a paranormal YA romance featuring trans Latinx characters written by a trans Latinx author. It’s gripping and funny and has the emotional heft that I enjoy in a book.

What is your upcoming book about?

Burying The Hatchet is set a little closer to home, in the American South, the mountains of North Carolina.

Clayton Osborne left the family farm years ago and never looked back, not until a family emergency brings him home just in time for Christmas. To his dismay, Jake Carver, his teenage nemesis and star of Clayton’s guilty adolescent fantasies, still works on the farm. Looking even more like a pornographic Paul Bunyan that Clayton remembers.

The two must work together to save North Star tree farm, discovering that they have more in common than they ever thought possible. Long-buried feelings break through the ice over Clayton’s heart as he finds that there is far more to Jake than flannel and a swinging axe.

Will the boyhood enemies be able to bury the hatchet and find love in the least likely of places? With the help of a good old-fashioned Christmas miracle, they just might.

If you’d like to check her out, here are some links:

acthomasbooks.com
Twitter: acthomas_books
Facebook: acthomaswrites
Tumblr: acthomasbooks

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