Well, it’s happened again. I attempted another crafting project and failed miserably.
It’s cool. Sometimes the Mod Podge eats you, know what I mean?
So here I am, hands still covered in the dried stuff, trying to come up with a new craft project. I’m sure this next one will also involve Mod Podge. Because gosh golly, I may not be a success with the Mod Podge yet, but I sure am learning a whole lot of ways not to use Mod Podge.
It makes sense that I would be thinking about success and failure the week that my third novel, Thanks a Lot, John LeClair is published. Book releases are strange things for me. I realize a book release should be an incredibly happy and joyous occasion. But I’m an anxious person when I’m not putting giant pieces of myself out in the world, so for me they result in more deep breathing and therapeutic self-talk than dancing and singing. (Are there authors who dance and sing on their release days? Do tell, please.)
Like Mod Podge, book release days are often a reminder for me of what a fickle word “success” is. When you first start writing, you spend a lot of time waiting for success to appear. I remember thinking that the moment I signed my first book contract everything would be fine—I’d be published! My books would be out in the world! I’d be successful!
Only for most of us writers, I don’t think that’s how it goes. Probably Stephen King, but not so much everyone else. We get that first contract, and we go out and celebrate. Maybe the book sells, maybe it doesn’t. Maybe it gets good reviews and wins awards, maybe it doesn’t. Maybe it sells but doesn’t win any awards. Maybe it wins awards but doesn’t sell more than a hundred copies.
And if you’re small-pubbed like I am, you can spend a lot of time comparing yourself to other, big-pubbed authors and feeling like you’ll never be successful. Like you’ll never get the publicity or the book tours or the sales or the sheer number of reviews they do. And no matter what your publication platform, I imagine that most of us authors also spend a lot of time worrying we’re not doing enough. Not doing enough online promotion, enough events, enough anything. Enough writing the next book.
In other words, I thought I’d get to call myself a success the day I finally signed a publishing contract. But I still spend a great deal of time feeling like an utter failure. And I think that might be the case even for the Laurie Halse Andersons of the world—those authors I would never consider anything other than “successful,” because hey, I somehow ended up owning three copies of one of her books. (Absolutely true. Strange discovery I made while cleaning out my storage unit.)
That’s the weird thing about the definition of success: it’s fluid and means very different things to very different people at different times.
So here I am, having just crumpled up a large pile of failed Mod Podge, paper, paintbrushes, and Christmas ornaments—it’s probably best if you don’t ask—and thinking about the definition of success. There is no way you could call tonight’s project anything but an abject failure. And yet I actually had a lot of fun crashing miserably through that giant glue mess. I’m sure I’ll have a lot of fun when I take out the Mod Podge again. And though my highly anxious brain tries to tell me otherwise, I have a lot of fun putting words on paper.
Normally I’d end here with some very hopeful and meaningful comment about how in the future I’m going to try to remember that success is relative and it’s the journey that matters and comparisons don’t get us anywhere in life, but that sort of sentiment feels hard this week. So instead I’m going to quote something one of my characters says in the book Thanks a Lot, John LeClair. I wrote this quote a long time ago, because my characters and I needed to hear it back then—and now I’m going to quote it here in this blog, because I need to hear it again.
“Emmitt.” Coach smiles. “You think success is some trophy you put on your shelf? Some number you graduate high school with? Success isn’t something you hold up for other people to look at. It’s a life that’s filled with happiness. Hope. Meaning. Things like that. That’s what the goal is. You end up with any of those things, and it won’t matter how many trophies and numbers you had to show off.”
Coach is a smart guy. I’m going to try and listen to him more in the coming weeks. And yeah, that was shameless self-promo I don’t regret in the slightest. Here’s more.
This fall, I'm excited to be participating in the YA Scavenger Hunt for the very first time! What's the YA Scavenger Hunt, you ask? Um, it's a chance to win BOOKS. Lots and lots of FREE BOOKS. You know you want in.
Head here to get some quick directions about how to join the fun. Basically: you visit a bunch of authors' websites looking for secret numbers. Find all the numbers for a chance to win. There are six different teams of authors, so there are a LOT of chances to win. I'm on the red team this year, and I'm excited to be hosting the wonderful Colleen Nelson, author of Finding Hope. Stop by next week for a bonus scene and other nifty schtuff from Colleen.
The hunt begins October 4th and ends October 9th. Good luck, everyone!
Someone contacted me and asked if I'd publish this anonymous guest post on my blog. The piece was so moving and real and important that of course I said yes. As a warning, this is a graphically honest story about the author's experience with rape. To the author of this piece: I am deeply humbled you shared this with me. Thank you for having the courage to share your story with the world.
I WASN'T RAPED, RIGHT? HOW BROCK TURNER REDEFINED MY NOT-RAPE
I have never been raped. Sort of.
My whole life I’d been told all the things to do to avoid being attacked. Don’t wear a skirt at night. Men are more likely to attack you if you wear a skirt, so always wear pants. Keep your keys in your hand in case you have to fight someone off. Yell “fire” and not “rape” or no one will come to help you. Don’t drink out of any glass that you took your eye off for an instant. I was totally prepared to go through my whole life without ever being raped. As women, we are told so many conflicting things about how to behave with men. We can’t flirt, or it’s our own fault that the men were so confused that they thought our no meant yes. We can’t be rude, because a lady is always gracious, even to the creeper who won’t leave her alone, then follows her home against her wishes. We can’t drink at a party, because we have to be on alert. We can’t avoid every party, because how else are we going to meet a guy and finally get married and validate our life choices? We can’t dress too provocatively or we’re asking for it. We should dress femininely, or we’re just not attractive. Right?
So here’s my experience with male privilege and my not-exactly-rape. I met a guy and he was good looking and sexy and I liked him and I liked having sex with him. Then I didn’t. He got weird and mean and creepy, and I stopped answering his calls. I told him not to come see me again, because I wasn’t feeling comfortable anymore. I specifically said I wanted to be left alone, and that I did not want to see him again. Imagine my surprise when he showed up at my house in the middle of the night. He had unzipped his pants and his dick was out as he stood on my front steps, banging on my door. I guess I could have called the cops. Instead, I told him to come inside, because I didn’t want my neighbors thinking I was the kind of girl who had men like that coming to her house. Once inside, I asked him to leave. I told him I wasn’t interested and reasserted that I wanted him to go away. Instead, he got aggressive with me. I distinctly remember thinking, “Oh my god, I’m about to be raped.” And then I decided, why not just go along with it? Why not just have sex with him, so he’d leave happy and I could say that I wasn’t raped? So I did. I let him fuck me and I hated every minute of it. When he was done, he left quietly. I congratulated myself of not being raped in my house or having to call the cops. I took a shower, then got dressed and walked (alone and in the dark) the six blocks to a bar where a friend of mine was having a birthday party. I did a shot of whiskey and drank a beer, wished him a happy birthday, then came home.
When I told a friend of mine about it the next day, she insisted I had been raped and should call the cops. And tell them what? That I willingly let him into my house and let him sex with me against my will? They wouldn’t take me seriously, and besides, it wasn’t rape. Sure, I had some panic attacks. And yeah, I did try to get a restraining order against him. (Didn’t work, though. I would have had to deliver the paperwork to him myself or hire someone to do it, and I couldn’t afford it.) I changed his number in my phone to “Danger” so that I would know not to answer it, and I went about my life. This was 10 years ago. This was before “victim blaming” was a term I had ever heard. I didn’t have a name for it, but I knew that if I told someone what happened that there was no way anyone would take me seriously, so why put myself through that? I mean, of course if it had been a “real” rape then things would be different. Then I’d call the cops and the guy would get arrested and it would have ended differently. If it had been a real rape.
And 10 years later, I see Brock Turner. A man who was literally caught in the act of assaulting an unconscious woman, who was chased down and attacked by onlookers who saw what happened. Who was found guilty of felony charges in court. Who then served a laughable three months of a pathetic six month sentence, because his “20 minutes of action” shouldn’t ruin the rest of his life. Wait, what? But this was a real rape. With cops and lawyers and a fucking conviction. And still nothing? What happened to me 10 years ago sucked. But I am very lucky, because I was not physically hurt, and because I have been able to dismiss it as a shitty night and move on (most of the time). I have a wonderful life now, and I am fortunate in all of that. What is not so fortunate is that a decade after I felt forced into a terrible, painful experience, which I then willingly blamed on myself with the hope that the system would work if I ever really needed it to, I see that the system didn’t work. It didn’t work at all. Instead, this woman was attacked over every choice she made that night. In 10 years, she will still be thinking about how she was failed by the system created to protect her, while Brock Turner will be God knows where, hurting God knows who.
I wish I had a strong finish here. Something about empowering women to stand up and fight against men like Brock Turner. I want to have something moving and inspirational about taking back our power from men like him and the disgusting people who enabled him and excused his behavior. I want to do all of that, but I’m too angry and too sad about it to come up with anything good. So in the absence of my big finish, let me just say to the women who have been hurt and abandoned by the system, you are not alone. There are women (and men) who hear you, and who believe you, and will keep fighting this stupid fight until it gets better. Because it has to get better.
Or: The Truth is Usually Somewhere in the Middle
Oh, HEY. It’s been awhile. I’m moving and painting my new house (I somehow ended up with a purple kitchen; I swear the paint sample said mauve) and trying to educate the youth of America again and write a word or two in between. All fantastically fun life challenges to have.
Definitely more fun than being a drunk American swimmer in Rio or a Rio police chief trying to frantically fix his city’s reputation.
Watching that fiasco unfold has been a bit like watching your favorite Game of Thrones episode. You know this whole thing ends badly…you’re just never quite sure who it ends badly for until the blood hits the wall.
Well, the blood seems to have hit the wall. Lochte lost something like a million dollars in sponsorships, and Rio has now ended what appeared to me to be a largely successful Olympics. And if it wasn’t successful, I missed that memo—I must have been watching gymnastics at the time. (SIMONE. I LOVE YOU, SIMONE.)
But even as all in his sponsors, including Speedo, abandoned Lochte (cue inappropriate joke about how we all wish Lochte would drop his Speedos as fast as they dropped him), USA Today was publishing an article suggesting that the Rio police may have exaggerated their side of this story just as much as Lochte did. Suddenly everyone’s all “Bathroom? What vandalized bathroom?” and Brazilian judges are musing aloud that holding someone at gunpoint while asking them to hand over money does constitute robbery.
Don’t get me wrong—I’m not suggesting for a second that Lochte is innocent in this whole deal. At the very least he was a drunken frat boy (which is just way less cool when you’re 32) behaving belligerently and then using his hangover to scrub up his actions at the expense of an entire city. Not exactly role model behavior to pass on to the next generation of would-be Olympians, and definitely not behavior that supports strong international relations.
Still, this whole event has been a reminder for me of a phrase I once heard somewhere and have since repeated so often I no longer even remember where the heck it came from: When two people both remember an event differently, the truth is usually somewhere in the middle.
We human beings like truth. We like to believe that there is always one provable, reliable, factually-based truth that is undeniable and must be remembered the same way by all who witnessed it. And from a baseline standpoint, that type of truth does exist here. We have video of some of what happened that night. Things both sides said have proven to be true and false.
But overarching narratives are written and rewritten by human bias and memory, not video cameras. The truth becomes how it’s remembered. How it’s told. Who narrates it. What language they use and when they use it.
So in this case we have two opposing sides who experienced the same event from different perspectives and who both have a vested interest in spinning a narrative in their direction. And—surprise surprise—neither narrative is exactly right. The real truth doesn’t seem to sit on either Lochte’s side or Rio’s—it seems to sit somewhere in the middle.
Yet there is no denying that Lochte is the one who has been declared the liar in this story, and he’s the one whose blood has been splattered all over the wall of 2016 Olympics history. Maybe that’s completely fair. Maybe getting drunk in your Olympic host country and neglecting to mention that part when you accuse people of robbery should end in the complete destruction of your career. Maybe that’s the price you pay for partying too hard and not thinking before you speak on national television.
Or, maybe—and I understand this will be an unpopular opinion—maybe holding people at gunpoint over a ripped sign isn’t the best way to handle conflict, and maybe the Rio police cutting sections of video they show to the public and finding broken doors where there appear to be none is as strangely suspicious as USA Today seems to think it is. Maybe the truth isn’t always perfectly cut and dried, and maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to write off either entire cities or entire careers when incidents like this unfold through an international media frenzy.
Michael Phelps was arrested for driving drunk twice and still has sponsors and fans. As in, he could have killed someone twice and people still stuck around for him. But every sponsor and swim fan seems to have abandoned and vilified Lochte over this— the pitchforks on Twitter have been so sharp that I actually had to look away a few times. And yet the truth in this case looks a lot less clear than that truth which was once backed up by Phelps’s breathalyzer tests.
The whole episode suggests one thing: Americans hate liars, but we do love slapping that label down, even when the truth is confusing at best. So the next time we find ourselves staring down two opposite sides of a story like this, we might do well to stop looking for “the honest party” and “the liar” and just hunt down the place where the two stories meet up. The truth is probably in there somewhere—right in the middle. That strategy won’t be great for sensational media headlines or Speedo’s publicity, and it probably won’t give us the hero or the villain we’re all searching for. But it would probably be a heck of a lot healthier for every party involved. Especially those of us in the audience.
While speaking at a press conference regarding Donald Trump’s call for Russia to engage in cyber espionage against the US, Paul Ryan acknowledged that he must have done something terrible in a past life to deserve becoming Donald Trump’s yes-man.
“I mean, I’m a good person,” Ryan said. “I go to church. I haven’t kicked a dog since I was a teenager. So there has to be something awful I did in a past life. Otherwise why am I stuck trying to normalize this guy’s insane statements every day?”
Ryan also indicated that trying to downplay Trump’s fascist rhetoric is starting to become his full-time job. “Honestly, I just need a nap,” he told one reporter. “The man never sleeps. He even stays up all night tweeting, so I constantly have to be on the lookout for what statement I need to justify next. It’s exhausting. I mean, could someone just lock him in a closet for a few hours? You know, so I could get in a little fishing?”
Long-time Republican voter Mel Sandford sympathized with Ryan’s plight. “It’s gotta be hard,” she said of Ryan’s situation. “Here he is, just trying to hold onto his own power and keep Republican voters from realizing they might be electing a dictator. That’s not easy.”
Lindsey Graham, Republican senator from South Carolina, has no sympathy for Ryan. “Hey, if you back a despot, you spend a lot of time running around trying to convince people they’re not actually that scary,” he recently stated. “I thought about taking on a gig like Paul’s and backing Trump, but then I talked to this guy who tunneled out of North Korea. After hearing the hours he put in for Kim Jong-un, I knew that backing Trump wasn’t going to be for me. That guy had no work-life balance whatsoever.”
Lately I've spending a lot of time thinking about all the things in the world that are terrible. And if my newsfeed is any indication, I'm not the only one.
There are plenty of things that suck in the world right now, but there are also an awful lot of things that don’t, and I'm tired of spending so much time talking about the first category. So today I give you: FIVE THINGS THAT SUCK and FIVE THINGS THAT YOU DO NOT SUCK AT ALL. Choose your own adventure, if you will. Should you choose to be mired in depression and sadness, read the top section. Looking for a little more brightness in your day? Scroll on down.
Peace and love, everyone. Or hate and despair. Whatever floats your boat.
FIVE THINGS THAT SUCK
1. Rapists who get less jail time than a dude selling a bag of pot, just because they’re white and well-off and the judge apparently had some kind of mental breakdown that day and decided rape isn’t actually a crime, not really.
There’s not much more I can say on this that hasn’t already been said better or more acutely by others, but I’d very much like to repeat one particular point. It bears repeating everywhere and in all the places. This is from the Huffington Post article "I'm Not Defending Rape, But...." by Tawny Engleman. Well said, Tawny.
It’s the ultimate first-world problem, folks! Aw, shucks, I have enough money to buy a house. Woe is me! Seriously, though. Have you ever actually bought a house? You know, without a million dollars to spend in cash? Between securing pay stubs and worrying about basement flooding concerns and trying to figure out school systems for the children I don’t have but future buyers might, I’m starting to wonder why any of us own anything at all. Ever.
3. The last week of school.
If you’re a teacher, I mean. I don’t suspect students are all that about upset by the last week of school. And if you’re never been a teacher during a Last Week of School, I’ll just share this so you get a snapshot of what you’re missing.
4. This election.
Forever and always this entire election for all time until all human beings cease to exist. Even then, future species will find our remains and discuss how much this election must have sucked.
Recently, children's authors Kate Messer and Phil Bildner were both uninvited from school visits they were scheduled to do. In Kate's case, the school was concerned because her most recent book deals with drug abuse issues, and in Phil's case, it seems that he may have offended some people in the district when he recommended the book George, about a transgender child, to students in the district. In other words: adults have decided kids need to be sheltered from the world and are doing everything in their power to make that sheltering happen.
If this election has proved anything, it’s that the last thing we need to do is prevent our kids from seeing the world around them as it exists and thinking critically about what they see.
FIVE THINGS THAT DO NOT SUCK AT ALL
1. This view.
The husband found a new fishing spot, and last weekend I managed to proofread an entire manuscript there and re-outline another one. Because how could you not have fantastic productivity with this view in front of you? I love summer. Summer does not suck one bit. Nor does Colorado, and you should certainly visit if you never have.
2. #ReadProud month!
I love any excuse to find new books. If you’re looking for suggestions, check out Julia Ember’s blog, where she’s hosting a challenge and giving away prizes. I’m not participating because I can barely seem to remember to eat this month, but I’ll catch up with the rest of you in July.
And if you’re looking for #ReadProud suggestions, I’m currently giving high kudos to Stand Off by Andrew Smith. I actually thought it was better than the book it sequeled, Winger, and how often do you like the sequel more than the original? (And yes, “sequeled” is a verb. Because I want it to be.)
Love this #ReadProud badge from Julia's blog.
Cats do not suck at all. Especially mine
2. The Stanley Cup Finals!
What speed! What stamina! What rookies doing decidedly un-rookie-like things! I went into the playoffs fairly neutral, as neither the Avs nor Habs made it in this year (*sniff*), but these days I am completely on the Penguins bandwagon. You go, Phil Kessel. Get that Cup before some Toronto fan steals you back under the cover of night and you never see the likes of a playoff season again.
1. A woman being nominated by a major party to be the president of this country.
I will never argue that Hillary Clinton is the perfect political candidate. Nor that Bernie Sanders is. But less than one hundred years ago, women in this country couldn’t even vote in a presidential election. Or any election.
This momentous occasion was brought to us by so many people throughout history who petitioned, thought, worked, and lived for the moment when a women could be considered as the next leader of the free world. This moment deserves to celebrated, regardless of your political opinion.
Whatever your summer plans, I hope they're filled with things that Do Not Suck At All. Happy June, everyone.
So, BookCon! BookCon was last weekend in Chicago. To be perfectly honest, I had very little idea what I was getting into when I signed up to go. But hey. Can’t go wrong attending any convention with the word “book” in the title, right?
As it turns out: RIGHT.
BookCon was amazing and intimidating and fun and terrifying and all the other important adjectives that should describe any great life experience. For me, this year’s BookCon will go down as….
1. The time I gave out about a bazillion rainbow-colored hockey pencils.
2. The time I signed lots and lots of books and met readers from all over the country, including the fantastic mother-daughter team who came wearing THESE SHIRTS.
This is apparently what my face looked like when I first caught a glimpse of the line "spread those pages, baby."
3. The time I shipped home a giant poster of my own face after the publisher gave it to me, because ego, and also what better souvenir is there than a giant awkward picture of yourself trying not to look awkward? (And has anyone figured out how not to look completely awkward in a head shot? If so, I'd appreciate a how-to guide.)
4. The time I met so many amazing authors, including…
Julia Ember, internet and book guru extraordinaire. Also brilliant author of UNICORN TRACKS, which I’ve been looking forward to reading for so long now.
Audrey Coulthurst, whose fantastic sense of humor makes me want to read every book she ever writes. First up: OF FIRE AND STARS, which comes out in November. Here’s a picture in which two –hursts hung out.
Mia Seigbert, who also writes books about gay hockey players! I cannot wait to read JERKBAIT. Naturally, we battled with hockey pencils. Then I think she tried to talk me into becoming a Devils fan? Didn't stick, but points for effort.
Leigh Bardugo, who is super kind and told me how excited she was that my teacher friends are getting students into SHADOW AND BONE. She even signed something for one of said teacher friends.
Sherman Alexie, who I quickly fangirled all over. As one does. It’s basically just a miracle I didn’t cry as he signed my copy of WAR DANCES.
Matt de la Pena, who I accidentally met at a different event the next day. After reviving my inner fangirl one more time (she was so up to the challenge), I got to listen to him read from his amazing picture book THE HOUSE ON MARKET STREET.
5. The time I realized that no matter how often I feel like a failure as a writer, I am incredibly lucky.
I’m lucky that Elizabeth North, Anne Regan, and all the rest of the fine folks Harmony Ink Press took a chance on publishing my books in the first place. I’m lucky to go to places like Book Con where people who love the written word as much as I do want to drool all over books with me. I’m lucky to meet readers who actually want to read anything that I put on a page.
Writing isn’t a perfect business, and it sure isn’t an easy business. Three days out of seven I wake up and wish I’d gone into accounting. But then I get working on a solid chapter and I think holy crap, I can’t imagine how this life could get any better.
And then I get to go to places like Book Con and hang out with other people who love writing and reading as much as I do, and somehow it does.
So maybe Book Con will mostly go down as the time I remembered to be grateful for everything I have. Especially on days when being grateful is hard.
And it will definitely go down as the day a FedEx worker and I had an intense conversation about the facial expressions teenagers make when they see West Side Story for the first time while she boxed up a three-foot tall picture of my face and prepared to ship it across the country. We agreed our favorite verbal reaction is this: “But they’re fighting…so why are they dancing?”
Then she packed my face into the box and Book Con was over.
I already can’t wait to go back.
So! In relatively recent news, I’m a hockey fan now.
It all started a few years ago when I started writing the book that’s coming out with Harmony Ink Press this December. The book is a companion to Here’s to You, Zeb Pike, and NO, YOU CANNOT KNOW THE TITLE OR SEE THE COVER YET. But both are coming very soon—I absolutely promise. There are special announcement plans and possibly even fireworks involved. Get excited.
Anyway, this book is told from Emmitt’s point of view, and it takes place a few months after he and Dusty first meet. As you might have guessed, there is a LOT Of hockey in it. I’ve always liked hockey; I grew up in northern Vermont, where it’s practically illegal not to. Even so, I was certainly never an avid hockey fan. Like many Americans, I tended to give my best support to the sport in June. I was the quintessential Easter-and-Christmas person of hockey supporters.
Then this book came…and this book required that I watch hours and hours of hockey. Know the history of the sport, the culture of the sport, the rules of the sport. And because Emmitt is gay, this book also required that I research and fully understand the NHL’s relationship with the LGBTQ community.
For better or worse, two important things came out of me writing this book. One: I am now an Avs fan for life, even in sad years like this when we collapse tremendously in the last few games of the season. (It’s okay, Dutchy. I still love you.) Two: I understand why what Andrew Shaw said the other night mattered so much.
In case you missed it—or in case you’re also an Easter-and-Christmas hockey person—the other night the Chicago Blackhawks played the St. Louis Blues. It’s the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, and the Hawks have not always looked their best in this series. In this particular game, star player Andew Shaw—who up until this incident has always reminded me of a delightful puppy who happens to have tremendous stickhandling abilities—lost his cool. Not only did he flip off a ref, he also yelled a decidedly homophobic slur at the guy. I’m sure you can guess which slur.
And the cameras caught it.
Shaw’s apology later on was contrite and repentant. He said this wasn’t him, and he expressed regret multiple times to the entire gay and lesbian community. He said that after watching the video of himself he was horrified.
Either the guy’s an amazing actor, or he’s legitimately sorry. And I’m choosing to believe the latter.
I was proud of Shaw for apologizing. It’s never easy to stand up and admit when you’ve said something hurtful. He could have taken a path of denial or excuses, and he didn’t. That takes guts.
Because I was proud of Shaw, I read several articles covering his speech. Then I read the comments on the articles, and I sort of wanted to throw up.
This, people, is why you never read the comments.
Let’s set aside the Chicago fans who are clearly just upset one of their stars was suspended for a game. Multiple comments referenced how overly sensitive this world has become and how being politically correct is something horrible that we should all avoid. Free speech, several people shouted. He should be able to say whatever he wants! Sticks and stones and all that.
A common thread throughout several of the comments was this: They’re just words. Why does everyone care?
Writing a book about a gay teenager who desperately wants to play professional hockey had already answered that question for me.
Here’s the thing: despite things like the You Can Play project, which has its roots in the NHL and shares the important message that all people—regardless of sexual orientation—are welcome in pro leagues like the NHL, there are no current or former NHL players who have ever come out. Not one. Consider the math on that. Consider the hundreds of people who, statistically speaking, have likely spent years of their entire lives in the closet as they worked their way through the NHL and even after they retired.
I refuse to believe that’s some kind of accident. I do believe that the culture in the NHL is shifting to one of greater acceptance for all people…and that’s wonderful. That’s exactly what the NHL and this world needs.
You know what doesn’t breed acceptance? You know what doesn’t make teenage kids who play hockey or NHL players feel like they can come out to their teams? Professional athletes hurling homophobic slurs rooted in a deep history of vile hate and violence. Words matter. They send messages. They equally breed acceptance and discord.
What Andrew Shaw said on the ice the other night was another sad reminder that the NHL still has a long way to go before it can be the accepting place people like the fictional Emmitt LaPoint so desperately need it to be. But Andew Shaw’s apology was also a reminder that we as a society have come a long way, and so has the NHL.
Andrew Shaw, wherever you are, thanks for standing up and doing the right thing. And for those of you who don’t understand why it was the right thing, do some research. I’d highly recommend the site OutSports; that’s where I did much of my research. This world isn’t getting any smaller, and staying closed-minded toward others’ feelings because you don’t like “political correctness” isn’t going to get you very far in the global community we live in now.
And go Avs. Next year, of course. For now I’ll just have to cheer on whoever Minnesota’s playing
I’m sure I’m not the first person writing to tell you that HB2 is a steaming pile of a horrible idea.
There are so many reasons why this bill steams with horribleness. There’s the fact that you’ve just removed local jurisdiction rights, or the fact that people in North Carolina can now easily be discriminated against based on sexual orientation or gender. Really, there’s no shortage of things to complain about here. So let’s concentrate on one specific aspect of this bill which many of us suspect will be the most dangerous: your requirement that people use public bathrooms based on their biological sex.
Let’s start with why such a law cannot ever be truly enacted—from a biological standpoint.
I get that you want the world to be black and white. You want everyone born with a penis to be declared a boy and everyone born with a vagina to be declared a girl. The world is so much simpler in binaries, isn’t it? Cleaner. Easier to manage. If everyone uses bathrooms based on those norms, the world looks a whole lot more back and white, and people who love binaries get to sleep much more soundly at night.
Unfortunately, we don’t live in a binary world. Just ask athletes like female sprinter Dutee Chand, who was barred from competition when officials declared that her body produces levels of testosterone too high for a female. Or you could ask any of these ten intersex athletes who have had to deal with various levels of public scrutiny and dishonor as the world tried to determine exactly which biological box to push them into. And by the way, how will people born intersex fit into your bathroom laws? Will we soon see some arrested for using improper bathrooms when they don’t fall perfectly into the letter of this law, similar to how high jumper Heinrich Ratjen was arrested in Germany in 1936 when someone cried gender fraud?
Not only is our biology not as black and white as we’d like to think, our gender identity is even less simplistic. As this PBS report reminds us, gender identity isn’t something that fits nicely into binary boxes any more easily as human biology does. And by trying to squeeze gender identity into neat boxes, you are effectively telling the American public that you know who they are better than they do.
It’s precisely this human obsession with binaries that has created the serious danger to the trans community which this law will only perpetuate. I get it—you think you’re protecting Americans with this law. And in a world where biology was always simple and gender identity fit neatly into boxes alongside biology, perhaps you would be. But that isn’t the world we live in. In actuality? You’re putting a population that is already in grave danger in much, much deeper danger. As the PBS report mentioned above reminds us, “41 percent of transgender adults attempt suicide.” Just to make sure we’re clear on the math, that’s nearly half the population. In this country, the average life expectancy for a trans woman of color is 35 years. 35 YEARS. In other words: you have a better chance of surviving longer in some third world countries than you will as a trans woman of color in the United States.
Looking at these statistics makes it easy to see how the stigmatization of the trans community in America is making it impossible for many trans people to live happy and successful lives in this country. Laws such as this one only perpetuate stigmas and increase the vulnerability of an already vulnerable population. Whether or not you ever intend to actually enforce this law (and I have questions as to how you would, but I’ll leave those for others), the mere fact that this law is now on the books has sent a brutally important and disturbing message to the trans community: You do not fit into our binary boxes, so you are other. You are not normal. You will not be treated like everyone else and you will not be allowed to use the bathroom where you most feel comfortable.
As an educator, I can assure you that many of the people who will suffer most greatly at the hands of this law are the young people in this country. Imagine being a twelve-year-old transgender girl and suddenly being forced to change in a locker room full of boys. Imagine what that scenario would have done to your psyche at such an age.
I sincerely hope that by the time this letter sees the light of day, no one in North Carolina will need to read it. Perhaps by then you will have been so flooded with other letters, tweets, boycotts and messages that you will have begun to realize the utter absurdity and danger of this law. Perhaps you will have begun to understand that this world is not, and never will be, a black-and-white place. We all live between shades of gray--even you. Telling others what to call their shades of gray and how to live within them is the epitome of everything that is not American.
Me and Everyone Else Who Thinks This Law is a Steaming Pile of Horribleness