References and Respect

Of course, feel free to use these as discussion fodder for your own peeps, or here in the comments. Note, issues about identity and belonging are HUGE triggers for most people. If you get upset about something I’ve mentioned, please talk “about your anger” not “through your anger”. By that I mean that any abuse will be removed, and your message (which could have promoted education if shared respectfully) will be lost.
Which brings me nicely to a few favourite quotes…
“In the long run, your good manners will serve you better than even your most righteous rage.”
– Ivan Coyote

“Those who love peace must learn to organize as effectively as those who love war.”
– Martin Luther King Jr.

“Shame is a focus on self, guilt is a focus on behavior. Shame is am I bad, Guilt is I did something bad.”
– Brené Brown
“I think nature’s imagination Is so much greater than man’s, she’s never going to let us relax”

― Richard Phillips Feynman

“…how the hell could a Y-chromosome carrier ever get a woman right??? …isn’t this what good writing, imaginative empathy, is all about? If not, how could I (or you, or anyone) ever create a geriatric, a psychopath, a grieving widow or widower… until and unless we were one? If you follow the implications… far enough, none of us can write anything but autobiographical characters!”

– Guy Gavriel Kaye
Ursula K LeGuin – Wizard of Earthsea
“When many later feminist critics claimed that the book hadn’t gone far enough in interrogating sexism, Le Guin publicly admitted in a revised essay that they were right, and that she had not allowed space for homosexuality in her fictional world. To criticise your own work 20 years after publication takes guts and a unflinching belief in your principles.”

Ursula K LeGuin – The Left Hand of Darkness
“When it dawned on her that female magic had been excluded from Earthsea, she returned to her earlier work and changed everything, but without disrupting the coherence and consistency of her originally conceived imaginary world. That is a sure sign of a master in the genre who was able to see her own younger self as entrapped in the cultural and historical moment of writing.”

From this article

Appropriation of Voice

Misrepresentation is real and causes pain and suffering to many groups of people. We need to each navigate these waters with care and respect and, I feel, an Egalitarian (rather than Authoritarian) Approach to each other, ourselves and our work. Here’s a chart to demonstrate what I mean by this.

Your Righteous Hammer
When we become righteous, we run the risk of not only of harming people and making people defensive, but also of swinging an authoritarian hammer at people… for using their own inherited authoritarian hammers. It’s a little ironic, but a lot dangerous if you’re interested in actually changing hearts and minds.

For example, when we talk about our own privilege and our efforts to become aware of it, sensitive and responsible for using this privilege for the benefit of others, we open up a conversation where others are invited and safe to examine and discuss their own privilege. We need to speak, but we also need to speak with kindness.

For example, I hear stories from disabled people who get attacked for not being disabled enough to warrant special treatment. I hear stories from people of colour who get attacked for “passing” as white and enjoying white privilege which further increases their sense of invisibility and erasure. I have experienced, on one hand, being told that bisexual people don’t exist, which fills me with a horrible wash of hurt at having my identity denied as real, and on the other hand, being told that bi/pan people enjoy “straight privilege” when we are in conventional male/female relationships, which denies my experience of invisibility and my own lack of community and belonging. I hear stories from my friend with PTSD who has been pushed into homelessness and is regularly told about his straight white privilege. My point? Don’t be too quick to tell someone what their experience is. Why not ask them and learn something?

Wormholes to Fall Down

Research doesn’t have to feel like an overwhelming limping slog down some dark endless hallway. It can be a dancing romp! It can be juicy and exciting!


As for the references I made to books, and other media… these are just starting places.


Disability After Dark – Shining a bright light on sex and disability

Itunes link to episodes 

My fave is episode 51 Becoming Comfortably Autistic – An Interview with Alex Haagaard

Savage Love – Dan Savage gives callers advice on love, sex and relationship concerns.

The Danger of a Single Story

Who is that Normal Guy?

Does this guy even exist?? He certain is not 70% of our real population… and yet he takes up that much air time in books, TV and film. Why is that?

Stories that Normal Guy is In…

We need to wake up to the dark roots of our story tropes and patterns. I’m not saying don’t enjoy zombie movies, and hell, I love Xena Warrior Princess, and Wonder Woman even though they could be waaay more butch considering how strong they are supposed to be, and even though they perpetuate the idea that violence solves problems. I love the story, but I keep part of my brain awake to the thread of nasty that run underneath.


“Think of England” by KJ Charles
I describe this book as a gateway to male male romance because it’s like Downton Abbey meets James Bond with really hot gay love. Yup, seriously, that good.

I’m From Driftwood – is a library of video stories from LGBTQ+ people

The It Gets Better Project – real stories videoed and donated to this project from real people, encouraging youth in order to prevent teen suicide within the LGBTQ+ community.

Gender Failure

Ivan Coyote and Rae Spoon – excerpt from their live show “Gender Failure” and a breath taking example of what it means to be mislabeled and misidentified as part of your everyday life.

Context- A Study on Diversity in the Romance Genre

The Ripped Bodice claims to be the only exclusively romance bookstore in The United States. It is owned by sisters Bea and Leah Koch who in 2016, shouldered an enormous research task to try to document the state of diversity in the Romance Industry. As I found, you need to narrow your search down to definable, quantifiable parameters when doing this kind of thing, so as they have said, it’s not measuring everything, but does give the Industry a thermometer to reference when talking about these issues. They have said they will be updating their study each year and here the results for 2017. It’s called…
I believe this is for the USA only, but it does include all the big publishers I believe – some who volunteered to participate and some who didn’t – and were tracked the hard way! An amazing effort by these awesome women, and very timely for our world to wake up and address these issues.

Context – Romance Industry in 2018 – The RITA Awards at RWA National

I’d like to share Suzanne Brockman’s acceptance speech from RWA National this year. She won the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award and gave an incredible speech on diversity in romance which ended with her statement that she knew she would not be invited back ever again. Apparently many people walked out.

The introduction takes place at 45:44 minutes in, the opening remarks by her son at 46:53 and the speech itself starts at 56:00.

there was also some wonderful remarks made by Kristan Higgins as she won the Rita award for Mainstream Fiction with a Central Romance. 1:55 min

She said some great stuff…
“As happy and proud as I am to win tonight, I have to acknowledge that this year the absence of a single Africain American finalist has shown us more than ever that we have a problem in RWA and in our country. Writing is hard but it’s harder for some of us. There are people in RWA, from best-selling authors to newbies, who feel that if a character is different from them, they can’t relate, that if an author is different from them, they’re not interested in reading her, or if a book doesn’t represent their exact experience, it doesn’t belong.”

“The opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s judgment. And if we’re fixated on only ourselves, on being right all the time, on judging others because they’re not like us, we will never truly embrace what our books supposedly show, that we are all deserving of love and recognition and a fair chance.”

“To those of us who have never had to struggle for that chance, we must work to make those chances for others. Let’s carry that message of inclusivity and openness in our hearts and in our works, because we are Romance writers. Our lives are devoted to imagining a better way and bringing joy to our readers. So get out there and write your books, read, read books that are from people from all backgrounds and all experiences. Let’s keep our hearts loving and full of light and show the world how it’s done.”

Kristan Higgins

2:06 Alexis Daria said some great stuff to about visibility but it’s too long to transcribe..

Asexuality – an example of …

  1. an invisible community which we wrongly is smaller than it is. 1% of the population has red hair, and 1 % of the population identifies as asexual. If you know someone with red hair, you know someone on the asexual spectrum
  2. how getting specific can be juicy and interesting for writers! Think about how these types of characters would interact and engage – fascinating!

Short List of identities from here

  • Aromantic: individuals who do not experience romantic attraction toward individuals of any gender(s)
  • Biromantic: romantic attraction toward males and females
  • Heteroromantic: romantic attraction toward person(s) of a different gender
  • Homoromantic: romantic attraction towards person(s) of the same gender
  • Panromantic: romantic attraction towards persons of every gender(s)
  • Polyromantic: romantic attraction toward multiple, but not all genders
  • Gray-romantic: individuals who do not often experience romantic attraction
  • Demiromantic: an individual who does not experience romantic attraction until after a close emotional bond has been formed. People who refer to themselves as demiromantic may choose to further specify the gender(s) of those they are attracted to (e.g. demi-homoromantic).
  • list of 61 identities here at Aven

Why Bother?

I think including diversity in writing, in conversation, in our friend groups and communities, is essential to our evolution as a species. I think discovering, including, and celebrating diversity is the antidote to fascism, which is all about becoming more narrow and hierarchical.


from the Washington Post Jan 1, 2017

1. Powerful and continuing nationalism
2. Disdain for human rights
3. Identification of enemies as a unifying cause
4. Rampant sexism
5. Controlled mass media
6. Obsession with national security
7. Religion and government intertwined
8. Corporate power protected
9. Labor power suppressed
10. Disdain for intellectual and the arts
11. Obsession with crime and punishment
12. Rampant cronyism and corruption

I believe the opposite of authoritarianism (akin to fascism) is egalitarianism – and the road towards that is paved with love for ourselves and therefore for others as well.

My Challenge to YOU

  • To read outside your “normal”
  • To listen to primary sources as entertainment
  • To watch media, shows, movies, and live performances with diverse casts and stories
  • To purchase diverse works as gifts

The End of the Era of Secrets and Lives

My grandparents’ generation lived with so many huge lies. Secret babies, secret affairs, secret racial heritage… and they came by these secrets honestly. The consequences for telling their truths was quite literally excommunication, not just from their churches but from their communities and families. Being authentic usually meant being homeless or murdered.

Human Rights Revolutions Unfolding

As our revolutions have snowballed and influenced each other, I think we often forget how far we’ve come and the history that we have inherited. This is clearly represented in our portrayals of characters in our stories and media and we need to wake up to our habits of exclusion and misrepresentation.


NOTE; please let me know about any typos – missing info – things you like added… I was kronkin tired when I finished this at midnight 30 after 2 conferences a week apart, then work, then friggin Costco for 2 hrs, then a dementia intervention, then an apple turnover for dinner. Yup, it was yummy. XO