This was scheduled to be posted a few days ago, but I held off posting in the wake of the horrific mass murder in Orlando. 🙁 But then I realised, maybe that’s the reason I should post it. Because not only are hate crimes still happening, but anti-homosexuality laws are still a thing, now, in 2016.
From my research for Blood & Milk, and from all I have learned, I can tell you the prospects for LGBTQI people in Africa are pretty grim. In fact, according to ILGA, out of the 83 countries in the world where anti-homosexuality laws are still in place, 33 of those countries are in Africa. Punishments include imprisonment, torture, and death.
Homosexuality is illegal in Tanzania where, if found guilty, the sentence is imprisonment. And as we see in Blood & Milk, the Maasai laws for this “crime” are not so lenient.
I have had the help from a LOT of different people for this story, including several people from Africa. But the most help has come from a woman by the name of Santa Aziz, who works “in secret” helping African LGBT people, but who also lived in Tanzania with first-hand experience, information and guidance on Maasai language, diet, and culture. (I have an interview with Santa which I will post asap – she really is an amazing woman.)
But Santa has helped me with so much more than just the technical things.
I’ve doubted myself with this story, a hundred times more than I have with any other thing I’ve written. And every time I get to the point of not publishing the book, Santa says something to me that drives me forward.
The first time was before I sent it to my editor. Santa told me she works, in secret, with LGBT people in her country who live in fear for their lives everyday, and she sneaks them my books for them to read. She said it gives them hope. Real, legitimate hope, and it makes their nightmarish days a little brighter. And having something they can relate to would mean more to them than I could possibly imagine.
Her email touched me so deeply, I cried. I sent the manuscript to my editor that day.
Then when it came time to load it into Amazon for pre-orders, again I struggled for hours trying to decide whether I should publish this book at all. I knew some people would be opposed to me writing this story…
Then Santa sent me another long email of hope and gratitude for giving these people, her people, a voice, including this:
i know it might be difficult to comprehend the importance of such small gesture, but believe me when i say that it will be a HUGE thing for us. really… for anyone in Africa speaking swahili and who can understand that.
And you know what? I hit publish right then and there. Because it’s not about me, and it’s not about whether someone else thinks I don’t have the right to write this story.
It’s about giving hope to LGBT people in a small part of Africa. Real hope for real people who struggle every day, for whom this story will make a positive difference. And if this story can do that for even one person, then it should be published. When LGBT African people plead with me to please please publish this story because they need something they can relate to, then I absolutely should.
I’ve contacted The African Human Rights Coalition, an organisation who do wonderful work with LGBT people in Africa, about donating a percentage of royalties of Blood & Milk. I will post more when I have the confirmation.
If you’re interested and able, you can donate at the following links:
Because, in light of the hate-crime that cut short the lives of 49 people in Orlando, it’s more important now than it was before that we speak up for those who cannot. Not just in America, or Europe, or Australia, but in Africa too.
Because love is not, nor should it ever be, a crime.
I am a part of the fantastic fundraising efforts of our bloody awesome m/m community. The LGBTQ Push Back Charity Giveaway is raising money and awareness, in retaliation to recent (and very public) anti-gay money raising schemes. So let’s show them that we can do better!
But first some serious stuff.
I have used this next segment from The Diverse Reader post (links below) but I thought they were important to share:
We might work in a world of fiction, but here are some facts. LGBT people make up less than 10% of the overall population, yet 40% of homeless kids in the U.S. identify as LGBT. Of them, 68% cited family rejection for the reason they were on the streets. Studies have repeatedly shown that homeless LGBT kids are more at risk of being attacked, robbed, and raped than their heterosexual counterparts, more likely to engage in prostitution or survival sex, more likely to turn to drugs or alcohol, and more likely to attempt or commit suicide. Despite this, less than 25% of homeless shelters cater for or specifically target LGBT kids, leaving them at the mercy of individual organizations who can pick and choose who they help and who they abandon on the streets. Laws such as Indiana’s SB 101 enshrine the legality of refusing service—including such basic assistance as food and shelter—to people specifically because they’re LGBT.
This isn’t about pizza. This is about creating a climate in which LGBT individuals feel isolated from and rejected by the rest of society. It’s about creating a climate in which parents feel justified for kicking their kids out on the street. It’s about cutting off any and all support networks which might otherwise be available to prevent kids from ending up on life’s scrapheap because of how they were born.
Want to read a happier ending?
Changing laws and attitudes takes time, and right now there are LGBT people in need who can’t afford to wait. The sooner we can help them, the better, and the more resources we have, the more help we can offer.
That’s why 224 authors, review bloggers, and publishers have got together to offer something wonderful: a reward for people who do a little bit to give back to charity. Instead of spending $5 on a book in the next two weeks, give that $5 to an LGBT charity of your choice, tell us about it in the comments, and go into the draw to win a book from one of our participating donors. And because it’s not all about money, if you can’t make a donation then please take a moment to share a charity’s links and tell us about that instead.
Three fundraisers have been set up to counter the hateful effects of Indiana’s SB 101. #Pizza4Equality is aiming to match the money raised by *that* pizza parlor, with all donations going to Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors Fund. Another fundraiser is aiming to raise $100,000 for Indiana Youth Group. Finally, Planting Peace is trying to raise $100,000 to provide beds for homeless LGBT people.
Please consider giving to one of these deserving fundraisers, or any other LGBT charity anywhere in the world. We’re not telling you where you should donate your time and money, only asking that you do. The smallest things can make the biggest difference, and together, we can do something incredible.
Meet the 224 authors, bloggers, and publishers in this awesome YT video…
To enter the giveaway:
Please check out the post on Diverse Reader HERE. Comment on THAT post, NOT THIS ONE. To simply the giveaway, given so many sites are contributing, there is a rafflecopter on the Diverse Reader post in which you can enter.
The link in full is
The Charity Giveaway will run from the 18th of April until the 1st of May. You will be contacted by your paired up author/giver. Remember to PLEASE check your spam. Due to the high volume of donations it can take a few days to hear. Please be patient. Thank you ALL for giving. Thank you to all the 224 Givers in this charity giveaway.
It feels good to push back!
- April 2nd is World Austism Awareness DayFact on Austism: People with autism may demonstrate above average levels of concentration, reliability and accuracy.~~~~~~So I’m taking part in RJ Scott’s April Blog Hop, aimed at discrimination and prejudice. When thinking about what form of discrimination I could write about, it seemed only fair that with my two recent releases, Blind Faith and Through These Eyes, that I approached the discrimination that blind people in our communities face on a daily basis.As a member of any community in the developed world, whether able sighted or not, we are entitled to basic human rights. So what are the rights of blind people? It is tempting to reply, no different from those of the sighted. We want a happy childhood; a good education; a satisfying job; a fulfilling family life; enjoyable leisure and social activities, and the chance to take a full part in public life. We want respect; esteem; affection; but above all recognition that we are citizens with full civil and human rights.More often than not, it’s not the perception of the blind person that they can’t do or perform certain tasks, but the opinions of able sighted people who think blind people aren’t capable.Many things able sighted people take for granted, are not a sure thing for those who are vision impaired. Things such as:Paid employment – probably the most trying. Some statistics I’ve read doing research for this blog post suggest anywhere between 80% – 95% of employers wouldn’t hire a blind person. Blind people have appropriate qualifications because they go to universities and colleges like anyone else, so why would a potential employer think their abilities to be any different? Is the fear of the unknown? Do they believe there will be extra needs? Extra cost?The answer to these questions is generally no.There are no other requirements or leniencies for blind people as there are for able sighted people, with one exception, which leads me to my next point.Technology – I think it’s safe to assume there are some jobs, for safety reasons for all involved, that blind people couldn’t/shouldn’t/wouldn’t do. Like being a driving instructor, or a pilot, or a brain surgeon. But most other jobs, are perfectly suitable. Office administrator, teacher, accountants, lawyers, social workers, counselors, academics… the list is long.The most critical component in making these professions vision-impaired-friendly, is technology.The aid of different technologies has progressed the ease and proficiency in which blind people can do almost anything. Such as screen readers, text-to-voice, audio text, computer integrated reading software and Braille note takers.So do employers have to provide such technologies for employees? Yes, they do. Not all are too expensive and many governments have funding to encourage such employments under the various Discrimination Acts.But there are still employers who won’t make the concession. Though in many instances, if the employer has less than a certain amount of staff and deemed a “small-business owner”, s/he is exempt from this legal obligation. This makes it difficult for blind people living in smaller towns.Renting an apartment – Many blind people have reported discrimination in this regard, particularly if they have a guide dog. There was one instance where a ‘control caller’ phoned some 100 real estate agents and asked about availability of apartments. Then the same agents were phoned again, citing the applicant had a guide-dog, and the differences were alarming.
Two landlords said guide dogs weren’t allowed at all. Three said only little dogs were allowed. (Ever seen a Chihuahua seeing eye dog?) Six said there was an extra fee for tenants with a guide dog. Two said guide dogs were allowed, but only in ground-floor units.Using public transport – This is a big one, and one encountered frequently. Thankfully, times and perceptions are changing. In the 1960’s blind people – even professional, self-sufficient adults – weren’t allowed to travel unaccompanied, insinuating they were child-like and not mentally capable.But still, there are issues and regarding safety and accessibility that still exist today. Whether using a cane, or a guide dog, blind people encounter issues pertaining to ignorance and discrimination on a daily basis.In my two books, Blind Faith and Through These Eyes, the public transport issue is something Isaac encounters. He works at a school for the blind, so his employment is strictly catered to his needs and there are very limited discrimination issues there.Throughout the course of the two books, Carter realizes just how much discrimination Isaac, as a blind man, encounters. Issues with taking a guide dog in public, into restaurants, onto public transport, even shopping. When Isaac needs a new laptop, the sales assistant first ignores Isaac, and then speaks to him slowly and loudly, like he was mentally inept or deaf.As ridiculous as this sounds, this is something the blind community encounters often. If you see or encounter a blind person, on the street or in a shopping center who looks a little lost or unsure, introduce yourself politely and ask if you can help. They are, above everything else, just a person.If, god forbid, you see a blind person who is encountering a form of discrimination, again introduce yourself politely and ask if you can help. Because it’s our right as human beings to speak up for those who are being discriminated against.So, enough with the serious, and on to the fun stuff.I’m giving away a copy of BLIND FAITH and THROUGH THESE EYES. Yep, two books!!First, we have Blind Faith…BlurbStarting a new job in a new town, veterinarian Carter Reece, makes a house call to a very special client.Arrogant, moody and totally gorgeous, Isaac Brannigan has been blind since he was eight. After the death of his guide dog and best friend, Rosie, his partnership with his new guide dog, Brady, isn’t going well.Carter tries to help both man and canine through this initiation phase, but just who is leading whom?Then Through These EyesBlurbSix months after we last met Carter Reece and Isaac Brannigan, they’re still very much in love. Moving in together, moving forward, life for these two is great until some life changing events occur. Isaac has a frightening setback and Carter’s world starts to unravel. Things become even more complicated and start to change for both men when Isaac’s new colleague enters the picture.As Isaac struggles for what he really wants, it might just cost him what he needs the most.~~~~~~Now, something on a little more personal note from me…I’ve received a fair amount of harsh criticism for Isaac. Apparently many readers think he’s too obnoxious, too bratty, too rude and too cold. Apparently Carter deserves someone who’s nicer and deserves someone who’s capable of love, because apparently Isaac is not. I believe the term “most despised character ever written” has been used a few times.I don’t mind criticism (if it’s constructive and fair) and to be honest, if someone says they hate the character then that’s more of a compliment than an insult because the reader felt something. Making a reader feel something, in any form of emotional response, is the aim of every writer – it means I’ve done my job.But to outweigh that, I’ve also had two reviews and an email, from people who have lived with, loved, married someone who lost their sight, and said the descriptions of Isaac’s anger, resentment and frustrations, and his defensive walls, were spot on. Absolutely 100% correct.It’s reviews from people who have lived through what Isaac and Carter were living through, and applauded the not-so-pleasant reality that I created, that makes me love Isaac that little bit more.For your chance to win a copy of Blind Faith and Through These Eyes, please leave a comment stating if you had to lose one of your senses, which would you choose, and why? I’ll be choosing a winner at the end of April (yep, the contest will be up for all of April).The link back to RJ’s site, and so you can continue the blog hop, is RJ’s April Blog Hop!