the press is not the enemy – we are the enemy of the press

Nixon in a phone call to Henry Kissinger

Nixon in a phone call to Henry Kissinger

Like many people, I’m finding the increased attacks on the media distressing, and ominous. Reporters are right to feel assaulted, and those who speak out against the attacks, such as Senator John McCain, are right to defend the importance – the obligation – of a free press. Condemnation of the media treads dangerous ground. Our country was founded on the principle of free speech – we’ve never not had it, and perhaps that’s why we’re so indifferent to the attacks. We as a nation don’t know what it’s like to be officially silenced, but just because it’s never happened doesn’t mean it never could. Or can, or is. It’s beginning to happen right now, before our eyes.

However, there is a legitimate reason why people are so confused about what they are taking in, and whom they can trust.

I have a degree in journalism, I was trained to uphold the standards set by three basic principles: Get the facts. Check your sources. Don’t editorialize. When I look for information, I read the news in the same way I was taught to report the news – assessing what are the facts, who are the sources, and whether it is presented in a biased or unbiased way. I read several outlets’ coverage of the same stories, and I’ve amassed a collection of sources that have proven themselves to me to be reliable. My favourites are National Public Radio, PBS News Hour, The New York Times, and BBC World News. I also trust my local newspaper. The local papers are struggling against mass media, but even in desperation to save themselves from extinction, the majority haven’t wandered from their journalistic creed. They’re overall careful and reliable. That’s why the attack Colorado State Senator Ray Scott made on the Grand Junction Sentinel made me so angry. Spewing vitriol against reporting that is not in agreement with an individual’s dogma is a thin-skinned response at best, and menacing at worst.

Before cable news and the Internet, we had limited but thorough news sources – our local newspapers, and the Big Three: CBS, ABC, NBC. Their job was straight up reporting, and the competition was only between the quality of the news, and the skill of its reporters. Now everything has exploded. We have niche news coverage like E! for celebrities and ESPN for sports, and leftist, rightist, quasi-centrist editorializing passed off as unbiased news. Everyone is competing with everyone else for readership/viewership. It’s impossible for the Big Three stations to be everything to everyone – they’ve tried it with snippets of news sandwiched between cooking segments and coverage of some pop star’s latest scandal, and it doesn’t work. They lose credibility with those of us who want the NEWS and only the news, and those of us who can get better niche coverage on specialized networks.

The glut of sources is overwhelming, and I can understand the confusion about who is trustworthy, and on what subjects. There absolutely are “fake” and seriously biased sources out there passing themselves off as legit with a certain “newsy” look or title. We see it all the time, stories picked up from unintentional or intentional sources like The Onion or Breitbart. We need to learn how to properly vet our sources.

But our population isn’t big on educating ourselves. We’re mainly looking for entertainment, and pandering to our own opinions. When we enter a forum which features unpopular opinions, we go on the attack with the zealous righteousness of bible-wielding evangelicals.

“How comforting it is to know we’re RIGHT” – an insightful statement made by a British Nun, an Oxford educated, gnostic, Champion of art, Sister Wendy Beckett. She made that observation in an interview with Bill Moyers about her unbiased, appreciative, and contemplative observations on art of many styles, movements, and purposes. She went on to say it’s only when we allow ourselves to be challenged by those things which raise discomfort in some way—be it offense, confusion, or apathy—only when we open ourselves to truths and statements which may not match up with our own views, do grow in our wisdom, and our respect for others.

I don’t think either side has done this well. I, from my liberal, journalistic point of view, have no respect for made up, unchecked stories and sources. Pandering to the lowest denominator disgusts me. And I see the other side as looking for these very things – rabid, groupthink agreement with a certain set of myopic views, true or not. I don’t get it. I see no value in it. But maybe I should try to understand it in order to promote wider lenses for both sides.

I want purveyors of “news” to get back to reporting the facts, that thing called News. We all need correct, unbiased information on which to base our understanding and come to our individual conclusions. It’s okay if we disagree, as long as we agree on one essential thing – that we know we can trust our main news sources to deliver an unvarnished, starkly factual presentation of current events that we can in turn apply to our own understanding of the world. And we can use these trustworthy sources as a yardstick by which to measure other sources against. With strong foundational material, it will soon be clear to the majority which outlets are promoting fact, and which are doling out fiction.

We’re all responsible for the state of things as they presently are—the news outlets, the dog-and-pony shows, and consumers alike. Together we created this present state of confusion. We have to clean it up together, too.

That means supporting and upholding those that deliver correctly researched and presented information, and turning away from those that want our attention, regardless of fact. Don’t give it to them. We must hold every information outlet to measurable standards already in place: what are the facts, who are the sources, and is it presented in a biased or unbiased way. And we must hold ourselves to the practice of contemplating the truth, no matter how uncomfortable it may make us.

changing the things i cannot accept

angela-davis-quote2016 has been the worst year of my life. My father went through a difficult and painful illness this summer, which resulted in his death in August. The whole ordeal has been devastating. I spent mid June through mid August at his side, then saying goodbye, and now I am dealing with the aftermath. I’m in the midst of executing his estate, which includes the sale of the house. Our family touchstone is gone, and my sisters, nieces, and I are dealing with the loss of that, and working to reform connections with one another. I feel broadsided, bruised, and exhausted.

And then November 8th happened.

Like so many others, I’m in shock, I’m frightened, and I’m very, very worried about what this means for my country, its people, and our reputation as a nation. I feel sick, betrayed, and because I was already down, I am struggling with how I will ever get to my feet and face this.

I’ve been in hiding since I returned home after my father’s death. I do this – I withdraw when I’m in pain. I find it difficult to even lift a hand to reach out to extended family and friends for support. I feel tired at the thought of explaining again and again, and facing my own grief. But now that my grief has doubled, now that an extra layer of confusion and fear have been added to my ordeal, I have to pull myself up, because it’s not only personal, it’s struggle within the populace.

I’ll be honest, I feel defeated. My first impulse is to run away. But I know that’s a feeling, a gut reaction to this struggle. I know that running, hiding, denying is not the way to help myself, or my fellow human beings. So I’m not going to allow myself to be displaced. I have a mind, a voice, and a pair of hands – I’m going to use them.

I’m defining three priorities for myself – three areas in which to direct my energies.

Underrepresented communities

The Environment

Education

Three very large and extremely important areas that directly influence our nation and our planet, and steer what kind of world we live in. I have to pull that in and focus on specific areas if I truly want to be effective, both locally and, ultimately, globally.

When I worked at the university, I served on a minority affairs advisory committee to the chancellor, and on a community building team for faculty, staff, and students. I can use that experience and expertise, and the contacts I made, to continue that work in the greater community.

I have a personal interest in the greening of cities. Composting waste, planting to reduce heat and pollution in highly populated areas, and supporting wildlife by planting to sustain bees and other nectar-seeking insects, and encouraging pesticide-free, wildlife inclusive plant care and gardening. I want to participate in community programs that address and support these goals.

Education is a right. It isn’t elitist, it’s not for a select few nor a means to exclude or compartmentalize, and it’s not a chore, punishment, or humiliation. It’s the means to break boundaries – those we set for ourselves, and those in place as discouragement or disenfranchisement to others. Fuck that. Education IS for everyone, and it IS empowering. This is the great secret – it’s the means to have influence, rather than be subjected to the influence of others. And everyone can achieve it. All those American lies about what it is to be educated in this country have got to be revealed. I’m going to do my part to tear down the deceptions, and encourage exploration of the many paths to education.

These aren’t short-term goals to sustain me until I feel better, forget, or get distracted by something shiny. These are lifelong goals, things I can participate in for the duration. As Doctor Angela Davis proclaimed, I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.

What about you? Which issues do you see yourself working to change?

becoming

becoming_ryalwoodsFriday was an amazing day. Kind of an understatement – it was a landmark day, historic. I woke up to the news of the SCOTUS affirming the right of all citizens to marry whom we love, wherever we live. Then President Obama delivered a moving eulogy in honour of slain Reverend Clementa Pinckney, so personal and touching and managing to touch on points about the things that divide us, like holding onto weapons and past shames, the symbols of our shortcomings, without politicizing it, yet bringing forth in the wake of tragedy the call to re-examine views and stances with the grace of compassion and positive action.

Oh, and my second novel was released. Which left me standing there, wondering how it fits into all of this – if it fits in at all. What a day for it, yeah? Kind of left me in a lurch. Do I say something, do I keep quiet out of respect for the things that deserve to take precedence? I decided to tweet about it, and leave it at that.

But now, today, I want to say more because it is an achievement for me, and I don’t want it to pass unacknowledged. And yes, upon reflection it does belong, it does apply. The message of Becoming is clear: embracing the inborn yearning of humankind to become more than we are. The fear connected to change, and the will to push through that fear, creating a greater understanding, a richer experience. That is us at our best. We’ve witnessed a huge stride forward as we collectively said yes, it is the will and right of all people to share the greatest gift of our human experience, the inherent ability to love and to express empathy for one another, and to offer the selfless wish of loving kindness for every heart that beats.

Yes, there are those whose fear is so great that they are unable to reach inside for the best of themselves and openly share with their fellow human beings; that is their personal sorrow, a sad burden of ignorance to carry around. But the majority celebrated our step forward to becoming.

At its heart, my series, Secrets of the Senses, is a tribute to our natural super powers: our ability to see ourselves and one another, hear our individual voices, taste our collective passions, feel our personal joys and sadness, our fears and hopes, and breathe freely in the purity of understanding one another. We have five gifts to guide us, and it’s only by engaging fully and opening to our senses—common sense, the sensibility to reason, the knowledge that sensation is how we process and communicate and share in the mutual experience of life—that we advance. When we learn that we can part with the fear and open to fuller engagement, we find our individual lives are part of a whole, and our personal sensations are richer for it.

On Friday we became closer, we united in compassion and strength and joy, and didn’t it feel wonderful? It felt like Becoming.

Please accept this little offering as my contribution to the celebration.

sandwiches are not on the menu

Michelangelo's Night sculpture

Michelangelo’s Night sculpture

As much as some people are bothered by women authoring books featuring gay male characters, I’m bothered by the continual analysis of it by everyone, gay and straight, male and female. Would there be the same reaction to a painting of two men done by a female artist? I’m thinking not.

Fiction featuring female protagonists has been authored by men since the beginning of story telling. Men write about women, women write about men—there’s little questioning of this in heterosexual literature. It’s the element of sexuality between subject and author that causes the friction (pun acknowledged, but beside the point), and along with that, the dismissive air that some of these theories take on. “Oh, the little lady wants to be a man!” A woman writing about the engagement of physical features she doesn’t have is wish fulfilment. Or that it’s about fantasies of being with two men. The fear of sandwich subterfuge, and the whole Freudian theory of penis envy that one could bash on about forever. Penis good, vag bad, whatever. Sounds like an intentionally restrictive viewpoint to me. I’ve found that very, very few female authors are interested in making sandwiches, they just want to make art.

The quality of what women are producing naturally comes into play. People may automatically assume that a woman writing about men cannot do so from a convincing perspective. There are some artists who do have trouble expressing outside of their personal perspectives, absolutely. That’s more a question of choice, empathy or talent rather than inherent ability. Michelangelo’s sculpture of Night is little more than two malformed lumps representing breasts, slapped onto a male form. He wasn’t an admirer of the female form in his personal life, and from his art it seems that he didn’t identify with the feminine apart from Madonnas and angels. Fair enough. But that doesn’t mean there’s no purpose or merit in what he created. We all know that Michelangelo was entirely capable of sculpting realistic breasts and curves. The fact that he chose not to was just that – a choice, and perhaps there is a specific intention behind it.

It’s what I’ve been saying all along about words as art. Art – all art – is storytelling, whether through painting or sculpture or dance or novels or whathaveyou. It’s not a matter of ownership, it’s a matter of artistic ability. Either you like or dislike the end product, that’s a matter of aesthetics. And there’s nothing wrong with having an immediate reaction to what we’re seeing, it’s part of the process. But the next step is to move beyond that initial judgement and say okay, what’s in here for me? There’s a sliding scale between two extremes, and in coming to a conclusion, there’s always thought about underlying themes and motivations—or there should be, because of course they exist. There’s little point in creating if there’s no motivation behind it.

It’s also a two way street: there’s the artist and there’s the audience, and each has their own opinions and motivations, and the ability to discover something more by engaging. That is the purpose of art. But here’s something we as an entire culture need to address in order to focus on the aesthetics – letting go of sexual paranoia, the taboo of the body. Sex and sexuality in all its variations should be alright to play with. It’s called exploration, and it’s something we need to do more of. We might discover some new things, like the natural mutability of sexuality, and that maybe we have risen to a level of intelligence that allows us to pull down the barriers and cross the borders we’ve constructed. Art helps us to do that, if we let it.

In my second novel I identify art and the role it plays in self exploration like this: “The exposure of all ills, the onslaught to anarchism, to advancement: artistic enterprise. Sounds quite lofty doesn’t it? Perhaps, perhaps not. …Repulsion breeds the exquisite, is it not true?”

I think it’s true. We can acknowledge the creator without being dismissive of the creation. Let there be advancement in the wake of repulsion.

hop against homophobia and transphobia begins today

2013 HAHATJoin me in the annual HAHAT blog hop in recognition of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia beginning today, May 17. The blog hop runs through May 27, and THERE ARE PRIZES! There are over 180 blogs participating, so after you read my blog, press the button on the left to get to hoppin’ and find out what they have to say. Share your thoughts, and show your support!

I’ll be giving three participants a copy of my ebook anthology, Stories for Boys. To be included in the random drawing, comment on this post and you will be automatically entered. Include your email address so I can contact you. Drawing takes place May 27.

Now listen up, because I’m going to tell you about my ignorant youth.

I was confronted with the power of homophobia when I watched my state pass an amendment in 1992 banning “special treatment” for gay men and women. Special treatment? No one was asking for special treatment. Amendment 2 was outrageous – I knew it, and I thought everyone else knew it, too.

I went right from school into an open and supportive work environment. Everyone was out about everything, including sexual identities. I had many gay friends and acquaintances, I lived in a liberal neighbourhood in the heart of the city. I had surrounded myself with like-minded people, and I forgot where I was.

When Amendment 2 came up on the 1992 Colorado ballot, I prominently wore my “No On 2” button, and saw many others flashing around me on the streets. It was a statement, but for me it was more a show of solidarity, a kind of “all for one and one for all” declaration that I pictured to be widely held throughout my state. I thought we all knew the amendment was laughable—a mistake, a joke on the ballot, albeit a nasty one. It never entered my mind that the thing had a chance in hell, but it had more than a chance; it had strong support, and was adopted by Colorado.

The passing of Amendment 2 was a hard slap in the face, and it knocked me out of my naiveté. I saw that outside of my cocoon, my state – the state I was born in, grew up in, loved and had pride in – was completely unknown to me. How could I have been so deceived? But the deception was my own. I learned to open my eyes to look beyond what was comfortable, and confront it.

The amendment was challenged, ruled unconstitutional, and knocked down. But Colorado is still under the shadow of DOMA. We’ve taken some big steps forward within the last two presidential elections. We went from red to purple to blue, and we approved civil unions just last fall. That’s great, and I’m beginning to have hope that we will redeem ourselves. But we need to press forward, and strike DOMA from the constitution. I can see we’re on the verge. Just this month, out senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet signed a legal challenge against the federal Defence of Marriage Act, along with 210 members of congress.

We are progressing toward equality as a state, and as a country. So much has changed just between 1992 and 2013 – I can see a time on the horizon when homophobia is what it should be: an embarrassment, along with racism and anti Semitism. The phobics are losing their power, and one day they will be the ones pushed into closets, forced to hide their shame. I know it’s coming; and this time, I speak from a position of conviction, not naiveté.

What do you think – am I right, or am I wrong? Have you had an experience that opened your eyes?

I have to add a quickie about this year’s Finnish Eurovision entry, a song called “Marry Me” in protest of Finland’s rejection of gay marriage legislation. Read more about it here. And if you haven’t yet discovered the splendor that is Eurovision, do so immediately! The finals take place tomorrow, May 18.

conversation with myself

foolSince I’ve already stepped out on a ledge, I’m going to take another toddle forward because why not. I’ve never known when to check myself, I’m a lot like The Fool in the Tarot deck – head in the clouds and blissfully unaware of where my feet are taking me. In this case it’s my words. They always have been my favourite mode of transportation, and like my feet, have an intimate relationship with my mouth.

I have a friend who is working on a thesis based around “dirty” books and how they’ve historically been dealt with by society and its laws. She’s exploring whether explicit sex is the last boundary in literature. I’m not sure whether it’s the sex itself or explicit sex as entertainment for the masses that’s creating a breach, but is it literary, or license?

Widespread exposure to sex via the Internet has made it safe (or at least convenient) for people to peek out of their closets and claim an interest, which in itself is a positive thing. But what are they meeting with on the other side of the door? I’ve been calling 50 Shades suburban porn – couch art. It has made the common denominator feel as if it has joined, at equal footing, a conversation that’s been happening around it all along. I’m not saying that’s necessarily a bad thing. I mentioned in a previous post that the public has historically been unable to see brilliance from within its concurrent restrictions and opinions. Perhaps I’m having trouble seeing talent where I should, and that is entirely my fault. We’re at the foundation of new innovations to the written word, how it’s shared and enjoyed, and accepted by the public. Barriers have already been crossed and the question I have is this: is it freedom, is it destruction, both, neither – will it amount to anything? And ultimately, will it elevate us, or lower us?

Said friend mentioned Fanny Hill as parody of “sexually explicit virtue novels of the 18th century” as she put it. Everyone wanted to get their hands on it, mostly because they couldn’t – at least not without subterfuge, which is always a tempting little motivator. But what did it really do to advance literature? I’m still on my comparison of literature with other art forms, and as I said before, I think fine art had its revolution long ago. With installations such as Seedbed, I truly don’t know whether there are boundaries left to cross, at least not significant ones. What does that do to art?

But literature still does have clear boundaries between art and porn (even if it’s called by the more acceptable term, Erotica). So does film. As I told my friend, I find it very curious that literature and film are essentially neck and neck at the same signposts of restriction, when literature has been around for so much longer. One could argue that it’s because writing evolved along lines of religious representation, whereas film did not – but so did fine art. So why the discrepancy?

Does it have something to do with the written word as a common means of communication, which therefore has stunted its growth as art? Is the commonality the impediment? Or is it completely typical to disregard “impressions of sunsets” as having any value? Deconstruction is evolution in art. Fanfic is the new Fanny Hill – parody that has made a public splash, and found its defense in historical reference to having put access into the hands of the public via subterfuge. Deconstructed works of fiction. But don’t you need to understand the construction before you can successfully deconstruct?

Perhaps these works of 21st century Dada will ultimately have little effect on the ways we define literature. I’m not so sure. I think it will have a lasting and perhaps profound effect – I just don’t know what that will be, and it has me worried, because I’m already part of a much maligned genre of fiction that will not benefit from further compartmentalization. 50 Shadeseque writing is not empowering; it reinforces several long held—as well as a few brand new—stereotypes. That’s not something I care to see expanded. It’s the unenlightened contribution to a conversation that has remained incomprehensible not because it’s inaccessible – not anymore. But because it’s misinterpreted by those who will nonetheless interrupt the flow by diverging into tributaries that may or may not benefit the destination, unknown though that may be. Wherever it’s going, I’d prefer the momentum to be focused forward, and not diverted into little eddies of stationary movement.

sometimes a brick is just a brick: or, the incredible triteness of p33ning

Writing is my overriding passion, on which I spend most of my time and energy. But I also have a great interest in fine art, and I’ve spent years educating myself on different artistic periods and movements.

the lute henri matisse

the lute henri matisse

The Renaissance is overwhelming in the vast amount of sculptures and paintings produced, and I’ve just nicked its surface. I’ve spent a great deal of time enjoying the Impressionist period with its glut of bigtime artists, and the subsequent flow into modernism with Cézanne and Matisse leading the brigade. But I have danced around the perimeters of contemporary art, because for me, it’s a minefield.

It’s true that nearly every movement suffered through a period of adjustment, wherein art and artists were mocked before they were appreciated. New things are difficult to take in, and it does require dedication to receptiveness, and the trust that you will find the keys to opening those doors. I’m missing some keys.

le gerbe henri matisse

le gerbe henri matisse

I plunged in with Matisse, who showed us collage as fine art. There are certain shapes that repeat throughout his work, whether paint or paper, that make his evolution as an artist easy to follow. I have a great love for Picasso, which led me to his contemporary Duchamp, whose evolution was made in leaps rather than steps. He was a cubist painter who moved on to what he called Readymade art – he’s the one who signed a urinal and called it good.

Now, that was quite a jolt to the public. People hate to be jerked around, and that’s what it felt like to some – a twisted joke, making fun of their sensibilities. It was one of those Emperor’s New Clothes situations in the art community, where you were either going to join in the praise or fear for your head. Or miss out altogether.

fountain marcel duchamp

fountain marcel duchamp

The thing about Duchamp’s urinal was that it was legitimate, in that it was a new definition art. He saw it as engaging the viewer by providing an opportunity to view and define art from a different approach. He said he felt unmoved by these objects, and therefore instead of forcing us to praise the Emperor’s complete lack of clothing, we were allowed to stand back and make an assessment based on our own aesthetics.

I really am building to a point, here. Bear with me.

There have been standout artists in the time since Duchamp busted open those doors. Andy Warhol took everyday objects and arranged them in ways that we couldn’t help but notice, and therefore see in a different light. Jean-Michel Basquiat took graffiti and moved it into artistic statement. The thing is, there are a handful of standouts in a glut of artists. I know when I’m looking at a Basquiat, because there is unmistakeable skill in what he gave us. Put his work beside an admirer’s, and there absolutely is a detectible difference in the use of paint and form and space. We can’t all be geniuses.

untitled (skull) jean-michel basquiat

untitled (skull) jean-michel basquiat

So it is with much difficulty that I approach the majority of contemporary art. A signed commode does not speak of greatness to me, it speaks of a lack of originality. A dirty mattress shoved into a corner, a brick on the floor – to me, they read as jaded attempts to mimic a greater man’s work. However, I can’t believe that we’ve wrung all creativity out of ourselves, even as presentations such as these have me asking, “is that all there is?” Have we said everything, done everything? No. And there will be many more innovators who come along and pull us into something completely new. So far, with my present day view of what is and isn’t significant, I have largely been unmoved.

Sometimes, a brick is just a brick.

Which brings me to the second part of this diatribe: Are the plain bricks essential? Are they basic structures upon which the innovators can build their masterpieces? Or are they merely obstacles in the path.

david michelangelo di lodovico buonarroti simoni

david michelangelo di lodovico buonarroti simoni

I’m drawing a parallel between fine art and the written word, because I think the same factors apply. You have innovators and you have mimics, and in between there are perfectly acceptable, if not remarkable, stories to tell.

But there’s a new medium that is influencing our output and our standards, and I’m afraid it’s not all for the better. Epublishing is like Duchamp’s urinal. There is the initial innovation and the ability to engage the public in a way that has never before been explored, and then there is the ensuing onslaught of those who would sign their name to anything and call it good, not out of creativity, but because they can.

olympia edouard manet

olympia edouard manet

Finding your way as an artist is essential. There are a few prodigies, and there are a much greater number of those who work their way toward success. That’s true in any art form, including writing. But is it right to pull something half baked from the oven and serve it up to the public? Isn’t that detrimental not only to the artist, but to the audience? Standards will either drop to invisible clothing levels, or leave the public cold.

It’s freezing out there.

And I’m not happy about it, because it’s not the self published would-be artists—who have every right to hone their craft in whatever way they see fit—who are the problem. It is the proponents who are eschewing standards in favour of cheap and cheerful profit. It’s easy to do with a virtual product that requires little more than a push out the door.

les demoiselles d'avignon pablo picasso

les demoiselles d’avignon pablo picasso

And it’s definitely, definitely exacerbating the already existing obstacles in the path of certain genres. Genres that have a sexual focus. Genres that have gender centred focus. I don’t believe this is commode art, I never did. I believe there are innovators, and I absolutely believe there are great strides to be taken in introducing the public to new art forms, new thought processes, and a new way of engaging with the world.

It has happened before. The human body has long been revered as an artwork in itself. Prostitutes have become a revelation, their depiction a thing of beauty; urinals have become Fountains of forward thinking. Ugliness has been ground breaking and glorious. Defacing has offered statements of importance. In fine art, sex, along with several other plain and simple facts of life that have routinely been kept hidden, have become masterpieces of artistic expression. Why should the art form of words be any different?

nude descending a staircase marcel duchamp

nude descending a staircase marcel duchamp

But we have to respect it in order to elevate it. We have to revere it, and embrace the beauty in order to share it. We have to give the world something that will break through the barriers and allow others to see and experience in a different way. We have to believe in our art and respect ourselves as artists, and our venues and avenues must support that as well. We’ve got to step up and take control of what has become an increasingly precarious situation.

We’ve been used and abused as much as our subject matter, and the exploitation is becoming more and more mainstream. The more visibly prevalent it is, the more widely acceptable it becomes to marginalize. Those who have never before ventured beyond the black curtains are being introduced to a view that is the exact representation of their worst expectations, which greatly influences every subsequent encounter.

We don’t have to call it good, because I know we have something better to show for ourselves. We have prodigies and skilled artists and innovators who can lead the charge, if we as artists and champions of the art of words make it a priority to support them. Are we ready for a revolution? A Salon des Refusés for writers of debauchery, who are poised at the entry to a key shift in culture.

I think it’s time.

blue is the colour of the rainbow

The election results from last night have given me a renewed sense of hope, not only for our country but also for my little right-angles-right-living state of Colorado. Last night we turned a lovely shade of blue, and I am floating on a sea of tranquillity.

Our senate and house now have democratic majorities, and our presumed speaker is openly gay. This is huge for our state. For years we’ve been struggling with the possibility of civil unions, which has been turned down time and time again by an unfavourable government. Now with a more supportive majority, I believe we can go forward with confidence. In fact, I’d like to see Colorado skip over civil union in favour of marriage.

One day, we as a country will look back on this struggle and feel like we’ve come out of the dark ages. Marriage equality will not be a novelty, but a fact of life that the majority will shrug our shoulders, shake our heads at and say ‘but of course – how else could it possibly be?’ That time is drawing nearer, and I have great hope that Colorado will be the next state to step up and do what is right.