Join Prism Book Alliance® as Hank Edwards goes Outside the Margins today.
Thousands of voices have been speaking out this week, an outpouring of shock and grief over the 49 lives lost in Orlando. All last week I felt on edge, a knot of anguish tight inside my chest. My thoughts have been completely scattered, and I have no idea what I’m going to end up writing for this month’s Outside the Margins blog post, I just know I need to address the mass murder that shocked us all. Not out of any hopes of adding something new to the conversation, or finally put into words the precise feeling so many of us are experiencing. I’m not going to change any minds with this blog post, I know I’m preaching to the choir here. I just need to put these words down in the hopes the act itself may pierce the bubble of grief and anxiety that’s taking up so much space inside me.
It’s been said by many others all week, but I think it deserves repeating. Gay bars are supposed to be a safe place. People go to gay bars for many reasons, not just to meet someone for a hook up. They go for a sense of community, of belonging, and to spend time in a place where we can be ourselves. What happened in Orlando was not only a vicious act of mass murder, but a violation of one of the gay community’s safe spaces. Those 49 dead, 53 wounded, and so many others affected by this tragedy, only wanted a night out with friends, to be themselves in a safe place, to kiss the person they were attracted to, to hold hands, to laugh too loud and act how they wanted without fear of repercussions.
Did the killer (I refuse to state his name) purposefully choose to begin his attack during last call? Did he want his victims to be as drunk as possible, as relaxed as possible, to make it that much more terrifying? Or did he want them impaired to make it easier to rack up a higher kill count? Well, mission accomplished, fuckwad.
I won’t delve into the debate of whether the killer had or hadn’t been casing the place when he’d visited the club many times prior. I won’t even touch on his upbringing and how religious intolerance most likely had a firm hand in pushing him to attack.
Instead, I’ll turn a light on what has come out in the week since the shooting.
Democrats in the Senate conducted a filibuster in an attempt to convince the GOP majority to consider some measure of gun control. What may come from this is at least a step in the right direction–possibly, maybe–if the lobbyists and NRA don’t get the majority to swing back their way. One new measure seeks to stop those on federal terror watch lists from obtaining firearms, while another looks to require background checks for sales at gun shows and over the Internet.
While it’s good to see many voices speaking out about this need, my pessimistic side cannot help but think that if a school full of the bodies of elementary school children and their teachers cannot change minds, I doubt a bar populated by LGBTQI citizens and their allies won’t stand a chance.
But I do take comfort in the fact that people are voicing their opinions, and loudly. And not just LGBTQI people. All over the world, millions have shown solidarity with the LGBTQI community and the lives lost. Thousands of our straight allies have donated blood, because since I’m a gay man who’s had sex in the last year—no matter that I’m in a monogamous marriage that is now legally recognized across the country—I am forbidden from donating blood. Buy, hey, we’ve made strides. Before 2015, used to be I couldn’t donate blood if I’d engaged in gay sex AT ALL since 1977, so, you know, we’ve got that going for us. So many people from all colors of the rainbow and walks of life have attended vigils and spoken out against hate toward our community, it is comforting.
And, when it comes right down it, this wasn’t simply an act of domestic terror. This was a hate crime, pure and simple. The killer targeted a specific group of US citizens, and whether he did it for ISIL as he claimed on his fame seeking phone calls, or he did it out of self-loathing for the attractions he tried to keep buried all his life, will be an endless debate. What it all boils down to is hate.
There are no answers contained in this blog post. No witty anecdotes to make a tiny glimmer of sense of it all. I have none of that for you, I’m sorry. I’m still trying to come to grips with it all myself.
I do want to share one slice of oddness that may not seem at all related, but hopefully I’ll tie it all together in the end.
Back in December of 2015, my husband and I went to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I was excited because I’m a Star Wars fan, have been since I saw the original in theaters back in 1977 (apparently the year I should have started refraining from sex with men, according to the Red Cross blood ban…but I digress). Now, I’m going to state a spoiler here that I’m hoping all of you are already aware of, but if you’ve been living under a rock, skip down to the very end. Ready? Okay… After Han is killed and first Finn then Rey fights Kylo Ren and the Millennium Falcon returns to the Resistance base, I noticed something odd.
Chewbacca and Rey exit the Millennium Falcon and Leia approaches. She does not, however, go to Chewbacca and comfort him on the loss of his lifelong best friend. Instead, she embraces Rey, a girl she’s only just met. The moment stayed with me after we left the movie, and I wondered why Leia had snubbed Chewie when he would have been grieving so badly. Some time later I found comments online from other viewers that felt the same way, and finally someone asked JJ Abrams about the scene and, in brief, he replied, “That was probably one of the mistakes I made in that.”
He goes on to say he was focusing on Leia and Rey feeling connected by the Force and needing to comfort each other, while Chewie was focused on getting the injured Finn the medical help he needed.
So, in closing, I want to encourage you to not make that same mistake in your lives. Embrace those you are close to, let them know you love them or care about them or appreciate them. If you are straight and have LGBTQI friends or family members, check in with them, ask how they are feeling a week later. Make sure they know you love them.
Don’t just walk by the Chewbaccas in your life, hug them, comfort them, love them.
Title: Buried Secrets
Author: Hank Edwards
Publisher: Wilde City
Publication Date: 06/08/2016
Cover Artist: Adrian Nicholas
Genre: Gay Romance, Mystery/Thriller
Bryson Franklin made bad choices in his past. When he inherits his grandparents’ farm outside the small town of Willow River, however, he sees it as a chance for a fresh start. But patterns from his past resurface when Bryson takes up with Daniel Riggs, his bad boy neighbor, and he soon finds himself helping Daniel cover up a murder. After Bryson breaks things off with Daniel, the kindness and attention of handsome sheriff’s deputy Sam LeClaire gives him hope, but when Daniel shows up on Bryson’s doorstep a year later, will Bryson be able to resist temptation?
He set his coffee cup in the stainless steel sink on his way to the front of the house, proud that his stride didn’t falter when he saw the sheriff and Sam waiting on the other side of the screen door.
“Sheriff Billings,” Bryson said, keeping his tone as level as possible as he opened the door. “This is a surprise.” He nodded to Deputy Sam LeClaire who stood just behind the sheriff, and then he flashed what he hoped was a calm, innocent smile at the both of them. Bryson thought he saw something in Sam’s expression, but the sheriff started talking and Bryson was forced to look away from him.
“Hopefully not a bad surprise,” Billings said. “How are things out here?”
Bryson shrugged. “Fine. I’ve been doing some fix up chores around the place, and I planted a vegetable garden out back. It’s kind of small, but I’m hoping to get at least one of the fields planted next year. Try and get some of the old Franklin magic back.”
“Just you here?” Billings asked.
Bryson nodded as the first twist of fear tightened within his gut. “Yep. Just me.” He pushed the door open wide. “Care to come in and see for yourself?”
“If it’s not an imposition,” Billings said. “Deputy LeClaire and I would surely love a cup of joe.”
“Oh, yeah, I could put on a fresh pot,” Bryson said as the men stepped past him into the house.
“No coffee for me, thanks,” Sam said with a smile that seemed genuine and maybe something more. Nervous? Bashful? Bryson tried to follow the train of thought, tried to find a moment to study the curve of his jaw, the pointed chin, the prominent Adam’s apple that begged to be kissed. But the sheriff kept talking, forcing Bryson to turn his attention to Billings as he walked along the hallway toward the kitchen.
“Well, if the deputy isn’t partaking, I can wait until we get back to town for a fresh cup, I guess,” Billings said. By then he had reached the kitchen and stood looking around the room as if inspecting the place.
“You sure?” Bryson asked. “It’s no trouble. I’ll probably end up making a fresh pot in a few hours anyway, just save me the trouble later.”
“Well, since you’re offering.” Billings smiled, showing small teeth that made Bryson think of those dolls from years ago that came with teeth, and he had to fight to suppress a shudder. Bryson got busy making the coffee and said over his shoulder, “So besides the coffee, what brings you out my way?”
“Sure it’s just you here in the house?” Billings asked.
Bryson frowned and faced the men. “What’s this about, sheriff?”
“Just us here?” Billings repeated.
“Yes, of course,” Bryson replied, the fear twisting inside him like hot barbed wire. “Who else were you expecting?”
“Not sure, to be honest,” Billings said and pulled out a chair at the table, then looked up at Bryson. “May I?”
“Please, of course.” Bryson started the coffee maker and faced the men. The sheriff was seated at the table, his hands folded before him and his small eyes locked on Bryson. Sam stood a few feet behind the sheriff, hat in hand, a sheepish, apologetic, expression on his handsome face that seemed, interestingly enough, still alert and watchful.
“You’re a fit young man, out here all alone,” Billings continued. “Shame to see you waste your youth in such isolation.”
“I’m not isolated. I’ve got Internet access here, and I get into town now and then for dinner or lunch and shopping. Meet some friends for drinks on occasion.”
“Friends?” Billings turned to look at Sam. “You hear of Bryson meeting anyone in town?”
“What?” Sam looked at Billings with wide eyes, as if the sheriff’s question had startled him out of some deep thoughts. “Oh, I don’t know. I’m not sure.”
Billings stared at Sam a moment in silence, then turned back to Bryson. “Well, I haven’t heard of you meeting anyone in town. Who might that be? These friends of yours?”
Bryson looked between the men, then focused his attention on the sheriff. “Am I in trouble for something?”
“I don’t know, Mr. Franklin, are you?” Billings asked.
About Hank EdwardsHank Edwards is a curious mix of practical realist and feral dreamer, with over a dozen books published. His body of work covers a host of genres from gay romance to humor, paranormal to suspense, and mystery to time travel romance.
He is also a member of the Story Orgy group (www.facebook.com/SOGroup), a clan of writers who post free gay romance reads to their blogs every Monday morning and self-publish steamy stories based on writing prompts. Find his posts atwww.hankedwardsbooks.com/hankerings.
Like his Facebook pages (www.facebook.com/hankedwardsbooks or www.facebook.com/venomvalleyseries), favorite his Amazon page (www.amazon.com/author/hankedwards), and follow him on Twitter (@hanksbooks) to become a true “Hankie.” You may also visit his website at www.hankedwardsbooks.com or send along an email to email@example.com.
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