A Final Word on LGBTQ News

A Guest Post by Tj

To quote singer Rob Thomas:

Our lives are made in these small hours. These little wonders, these twists and turns of fate. Time falls away but these small hours, These little wonders still remain.”* 

Can you believe that 8,760 hours just flew by?! That’s 365 days by the way, which are a lot of hours come and gone and what do we have to show for it?

Well I’m pleased to be able to say that we have made some wonderful strides toward equal rights for LGBTQ people in 2013. A very significant development in the United States happened in June when our Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act. Enacted in 1996, DOMA barred the Federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages, which effects those couples rights in regards to income taxes, immigration and Federal benefits. This is good news since the momentum of legalizing same-sex marriage seems to be spreading not only in our country – where we just added New Mexico and Utah, but also around the globe where England, Wales and France joined the movement this year.

Although progress has been made, there are still some 76 nations where being gay is illegal. And sadly in some cases, our rights have been taken away – such as in India, where the recent reversal of a 2009 court ruling, resulted in the reinstatement of a colonial era law making gay sex illegal. Although their government is requesting that the Supreme Court strike down this law once again, gay sex is presently a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison. And in Uganda, a similar colonial era law still exists criminalizing homosexuality, but a recent law passed carrying a maximum sentence of life imprisonment for “aggravated homosexuality”. Unbelievably, the original version of the law called for the death penalty. If you’d like more information, I’m linking to a 2 minute video of where we are with LGBT rights from the UN. UN’s Free and Equal campaign.

On what should be a lighter note, here come the Winter Olympics, which is usually cause for great excitement. But the upcoming games being hosted by Russia have been overshadowed by the Russian anti gay propaganda law. This has caused quite a bit of backlash, with human rights activists calling for the Olympic committee to take a stand, or for countries to simply not send their delegates or competitors. As much as I do think we need to take some kind of stand, I would hate to see our young Olympians and their families who have sacrificed so much, miss out on the opportunity to compete. How could we ask competitors like gymnast Jake Dalton (yes, the pictured hot shirtless guy) to stay home and deprive him the joy of competing and us the joy of watching him?

As the opening ceremonies get closer, we are seeing some countries taking a stand. So far the German and French Presidents, the European Union Commissioner, and most recently our US President and Vice President have all announced that they will not attend the games. President Obama has also named the US delegation for the Opening and Closing ceremonies, and included three out athletes; tennis legend Bille Jean King, Olympic medalist Caitlin Cahow (Ice Hockey) and Olympic medal winner Brian Boitano (Figure Skating), who incidentally just came out publicly after he was chosen. When asked about his choices for the US delegation, President Obama simply said “The delegation speaks for itself”.

On a side note, speaking of the Olympics, I’m very sad to inform you that there will be no more hot men in singlets in the future, as the IOC has sadly decided to cut wrestling from the 2020 games. I’m just relieved that my favorite event – curling – is still being held. They really need tighter uniforms though. Maybe they could wear singlets now that wrestling is gone? That’ll get people watching!

And speaking of people watching, I do agree with those who say that part of gaining acceptance and equality is visibility. So it’s always wonderful to see those in the limelight come out publicly to provide not only that visibility, but role models for young people. In that regard 2013 did not disappoint. We started the year with what seems to be a new trend – a very subtle coming out. Actor Matt Dallas (his picture is at the top) simply tweeted “Starting off the Year with a new fiancé @bluehamilton. A great way to kick off 2013!”. It’s amazing and kind of wonderful to me how casual coming out is becoming. And an interesting development this year was a greater number of people coming out as bisexual, fluid sexually, or simply without defining themselves as gay. This would seem to support the belief that sexuality is not black and white, but perhaps more shades of gray.

Once the closet door was thrown open, the momentum seemed to build as the year passed and soon we had people from all ages and walks of life joining the party  – from high school senior Jacob Rudolf’s coming out at an awards ceremony (you can watch the video here) or Ted Chalfen’s very moving graduation speech thanking his classmates for treating him so kindly (I highly recommend you watch him here), to music industry icon Clive Davis coming out in his golden years after two failed marriages.

We saw actor Wentworth Miller (pictured to the right) come out in a letter decliningWentworth Miller an invitation to travel to Russia as a guest of honor for the St. Petersburg International Film Festival saying in part “…as a gay man I must decline… I cannot in good conscience participate in a celebratory occasion hosted by a country where people like myself are being systematically denied their basic right to live and love openly.” If you’d like to see who else joined the club this year, Andy Towle on his Towleroad blog did a concise post on the 53 Most Powerful coming out stories, which includes those I’ve named as well as an surprising cross section of society – actors, politicians, and amazingly a few athletes. You should take a few minutes and browse the list here.

And while having more visibility of out and proud public figures is very important, we of course need our straight brothers and sisters to accept and support us, as retired Rugby player Ben Cohen has been doing for years with his Stand Up Foundation, which focuses on raising awareness of the harm caused by bullying. To brighten your day, I give you:

The Warwick Rowers 2014 Anti Homophobia calendar. They’ve been doing this for a few years now, but I’m still amazed that this group of young men is willing to bare it all to fight homophobia. It gives me hope for the future of our society that maybe one day, hopefully in my lifetime, this won’t be necessary. Although I hope they keep making the calendar regardless! You can read about them, watch a very NSFW video and pick up a calendar here. For those of you who can’t get enough naked men, outspoken LGBT advocate David Mixner just wrote a post on his “Live From a Hell’s Kitchen” blog about the “naked craze” that these rowers have sparked, including NSFW pictures that you can see here. Here’s hoping this craze spreads internationally.

And just to prove that getting your kit off isn’t all you can do, we have straight German celebs pushing the envelope in a different way with their “Kiss to Fight Homophobia” campaign in German GQ. The men are very easy on the eyes and the pictures and video speak for themselves. There’s even a three way for Wave! You can see a making of video here. It’s not in English, but there are subtitles.

If you’d like to read about some more gay allies, there’s a very comprehensive article on the Huffington Post “21 of the Biggest LGBT Allies of 2013”, I highly recommend watching Florida Democratic Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s short (2 minute) interview where she tells the story of explaining what gay people are to her young son and then reaps the benefit of her open-mindedness when he’s older. What a wonderful mother and a very touching story that’ll leave you smiling. And if you’d like to see more top stories for 2013, here’s a link to the Huffington Post’s “22 Biggest Queer Political Stories Of 2013”.

And now, on a personal note, it saddens me to say that this will be my final post for this site. I’d like to take a moment to thank Wave for her unfailing support of the gay community, the M/M genre and me personally. I’ve learned so much over the last few years, not only about writing an objective and compelling review from the ever eloquent Wave (and Aunt Lynn), but also about really giving of yourself and standing up for what you believe in no matter what your critics say. Also thank you to all of the authors, publishers, fellow reviewers and of course you readers who I’ve had the pleasure of talking with about the thing that we love – books.

Lastly, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say a special thank you for those outrageously hilarious review comment exchanges – often keeping me up way past my east coast bedtime. Buda, Ethan Day, Aunt Lynn and of course Wave would have me laughing so hard I could barely type a response. I can’t tell you how many times a perfectly respectable post would get dragged into the gutter by our insanity. :censorship:  It was a successful day when we got Ethan to declare us all crazy! And I quote:

“LOL! You guys are ALL, at the very least, as nutty as I am!! And that’s sayin’ sumthin’ : )”

I’m still waiting for the Meat reunion(the gay boy-band made up of Ethan, Buda, Cole and myself). And despite no longer needing to fight over reviewing Ethan Day’s next book, I want my jello wrestling rematch with Aunt Lynn (even though she cheats with her low center of gravity) :grumble:  and Buda – and Ethan too (just because :flirt: ). And one of these days Wave may finally get her tweeted M/M book and she can throw all of our pamphlet comments back at us!

I believe that Rob Thomas is right – “Time falls away but these small hours, These little wonders still remain.”* The many hours spent online with all of these wonderful people will stay with me long after this site has gone dark.  :biglove:

*The lyrics quoted are from Rob Thomas’ Little Wonders. You can watch his official video on YouTube here.

27 comments

  • Tj, I missed this post like so many due to the New Year’s Eve craze and all and I’m fighting against the clock here to comment before Wave’s goes dark.

    I’ll miss your insightful and often funny posts, not to mention reading your banter with Wave & Co. Many a keyboard was endangered due to spewed coffee/water/soda when you made me laugh. Good luck! 🙂

    Reply
    • Thanks LadyM! My laptop has had many a close call from the nuttiness here. Occasionally I/we may have crossed the line a bit, but it was all meant in good fun. Hearing that we brightened even one person’s day puts a smile on my face. And thank you for your well thought out reviews and comments.

      Reply
  • TJ, my friend, I love you more than a new set of snow tires (hey, I live in Colorado; that’s high praise!). I won’t miss you because you’ll stop losing my email address, right? :p

    I’ve not commented on the closure of the site because every time I start to do it, I end up with blurred vision. The Crown might have something to do with it, but I’m pretty sure the Coke is innocent. Seriously, discovering this site changed my life in ways I couldn’t have possibly imagined all those years ago. I’ve met some truly amazing people here and found more than a ton of great books.

    Wave…what can I say? Not only can you drink me under the table, but you’ve graduated to reading novels. I’m so proud. Maybe TJ and I can convince Ethan to tweet that romance for you as a Valentine’s gift or something. 😉 You already know this, but I love you very much. You’ve been an amazing source of support and cheer for me since you tackled me and roped me into reviewing. I was lucky Aunt Lynn loosened the ropes. (Oh shit. I probably wasn’t supposed to give that away, was I?) Maybe one day the Canadian government will actually let me in and I’ll come see you. Hell, we’ll take the MEAT tour to you before it becomes Surf and Turf. (Really TJ? Really?! LMFGAO)

    To all the reviewers who were on-staff when I was around and those here now, it was truly an honor to share this space with you.

    I wish you all a wonderful 2014!

    Reply
    • Hey B! Reading your comments made me realize how much I miss your smart ass mouth :loveyou: (no Wave, not like that!). I actually did lose your email address though, along with several others in a minor phone email snafu. Oops!

      I know how you feel about the site closing. It’s bittersweet. I’m very happy for Wave who I want nothing but the best for, but sad too. It’s the end of something really special. Something that is rare and can’t be reproduced no matter how you try to piece together the same ingredients. But life is a journey and change is an exciting part of it. This was one of the better stops along the way for many of us. :wave:

      Reply
    • You are such a liar Buda. I never drank you under the table. However, reading novels is true. The pamphlets didn’t have much of a plot 😯 .

      The Canadian Government is very careful about the people they let in – Rob Ford will have to make sure that you are suitable to visit Toronto. 🙂

      You know I love you and Teej., He stuck around but you’re busy on another career. Maybe I’ll stop by at GRL another year but not in Chicago in October next year- it’s colder than here.

      Happy New Year Rob and best of luck with everything. :biglove:

      Reply
  • Ah the sexy Matt Dallas, I always suspected (okay, prayed) Kyle XY was gay! Love him and I totally miss that show. : ) I’m gonna miss you guys as well, though I know one of these years we will all end up at the same GRL and we can share a few cocktails and reminisce over our MEAT days, lol. It truly is astounding how much has changed over the past 25 years since I came out, of course just when I start to believe we’re truly making progress we have countries like Russia turning their back on their LGBTQ citizens and that dumb-ass, Duck Dynasty douche bag falling prey to his own hype by believing the world actually gives a shit what he thinks about anything. Naturally Sarah Palin piped in to support him, then later admitted she never took the time to actually read his comments – shocker, right? ‘Cause she’s usually so well informed, huh?

    Fortunately there’s posts like this one by Teej, which reminds us that for every douche bag across the globe insistent upon living a life fueled by hatred, there are plenty of others who believe in freedom for all as opposed to the selective freedom touted by bigoted asshats and their douchey friends. : )

    Hugs to you, Tj, for reminding me that there’s plenty to be thankful for as 2013 comes to a close.

    (And don’t be acting like an innocent bystander in those review commentary shenanigans, like anyone is gonna believe that! LOL!)

    Reply
    • You’ve been out for 25 years?! How damn old are you grandpa? 😮 Thanks for stopping by Mr. Day. I do hope one day we can all get to the same city at the same time. Looking forward to drinks and a few laughs.

      I enjoy writing these year in review posts because it reminds me as well that for every bigoted jerk in the world there are 10 normal, good hearted individuals who are quietly living their lives and simply not caring if 2 guys fall in love.

      And please stop dragging my good name through the mud! It’s not my fault that all of you perves take my innocent comments and twist them in to something dirty!

      Reply
      • Teej

        And please stop dragging my good name through the mud! It’s not my fault that all of you perves take my innocent comments and twist them in to something dirty!

        Who are you trying to kid? We all know who you are. You’re just as bad as Ethan. BTW, why was I not invited to join MEAT? I think it’s very unfair that just because I was born female some things are denied me, such as a prostate. 😆 And that’s another thing. About 2 years ago I asked to borrow one and none of you guys volunteered. It was only going to be for a few days. Damn you Ethan and Tj. 😈 😥

        Reply
        • Ha! Sorry Wave, you’ll never find a man willing to lend you his prostate! That’s our happy button. Hey, but you can have multiple orgasms which very few men can. I’d be happy to let you join Meat, but we may have to change the name to Surf and Turf! :hysterics:

          I’m as bad as Ethan? My work is done here. :hurrah:

          Reply
          • Tj

            I’d be happy to let you join Meat, but we may have to change the name to Surf and Turf!

            As I said above, you’re as bad as Ethan. I rest my case. 😡

            As for those multiple thingys, they are not what they’re cracked up to be. Someone is lying or I’m not doing it right!!! 😆 :blush:

            Reply
            • “You’re as bad as Ethan”

              That’s not an insult Wave. I strive to out-outrageous Ethan!

              I think we need to get you a better brand of man if your not getting encores of the big event!

              Reply
                • That’s my boy! We’ve reached critical mass! Ethan has declared us all as bad as he is.

                  Reviews by Shrinkingviolet? Not hardly. Madam plays it all innocent like we drag her kicking and screaming into the mud, when she’s the one hosting the party. That invite clearly said bring your best dirty bits. :flirt:

                  Reply
    • Ethan

      It truly is astounding how much has changed over the past 25 years since I came out,

      You’re a lot older than you look. Maybe you do have some black genes after all. 😆 Wait till I tell all your friends that the only reason you look so young is because there’s a bit of chocolate in your blood (those curls should have been my first clue). :biglove: :whistle:

      Reply
      • Ha! My great gran (Dad’s side) was supposedly full blooded Cherokee but my mom is a New Englander, which is where I get that pasty white glow I’m famous for. : ) I’ve never done the whole genealogy thing but I wouldn’t be surprised to discover I had some chocolate in me. I’m 43 but I came out when I was 18 or 19, so I guess I got an early start. My secret to looking young is to continue putting on weight, thereby stretching my wrinkles out – its the face lift of poor people, as Ho Ho’s are very inexpensive, lol!

        Reply
        • Precocious little guy weren’t you? I’m impressed and very proud. I struggled with it and was much older. And I can’t believe you’re 43. I don’t feel so ancient now, despite looking like this -> :oldman:

          Reply
  • Great post, I will definitely be following all those links, as soon as I have time, but I’m off to a New Year thing across the country shortly and the trains wi-fi is not always working, we’ll see how busy tonight gets 😛

    Byebye :wave:

    Reply
    • Thanks Majken. I definitely recommend watching at least the few videos that I highlighted, although all of the linked posts have something to offer. Have a safe trip!

      Reply
  • Thanks for being one of the first reviewers I read on this site and introducing me to some great books. Have a very Happy New Year TJ. I am so going to miss this community.

    Reply
    • Wow, that’s so great to hear Raine. Thank you. I love knowing that all the hard work that we put into writing reviews has helped readers through the maze (or should I say avalanche) of new books out there. I’ll miss all the book talk and non book talk too. And thank you for your reviews as well. You’ve helped me find some real gems. Have a wonderful New Year!

      Reply
  • Thank you Wave. “Secret weapon” huh? Do I get a cool costume? No spandex please, my legs are way to skinny!

    That’s good news about the Canadian PM not attending the games and sending an out athlete as a delegate. I hope more countries follow suit.

    You can close this chapter on your life with the satisfaction that you’ve done some wonderful work and left a real impression on those whose lives you’ve touched. I truly believe that your passion for the genre has had a hand in helping shape what it is today, both through the thoughtful reviews and through the much missed Friday rants, um that is, the lively opinion posts.

    I’d love to meet anytime you find yourself in NY.

    Reply
    • I’m trying to put together a list of “Friday rants” as you call them, before I leave so that readers can re-read them when they’re feeling down and suffer from SAD in January, February and March and have a good belly laugh. 😆

      If I email you when I’m in NY you’re buying lunch. 😀

      Reply
      • That list of Friday uh-hem opinion pieces is a great idea Wave. They always brightened my day!

        I’d love to buy you lunch. We’re loaded with good food here and not just in Manhattan. I’m still remembering my meal from Saturday night – lasagna with homemade pasta and béchamel sauce. It literally melted in my mouth. I could’ve licked the plate, but unfortunately they frown on that in the classy places and I’m all kinds of classy.

        Reply
    • Thanks Sirius. The feeling is mutual. I’ve bought numerous books based on your reviews alone. Thank you for bridging those books and authors to our attention.

      Reply
  • While there is still much progress to be made, it amazes me how many changes have come about. The news and updates you all bring us will be missed. 🙁

    Reply
    • Thank you Mikou. Whenever I do the year in review post, I’m also surprised by what has happened in just a year. Here’s to an even better 2014! :beer:

      Reply

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