Monthly Archives: May 2015

In the Closet, Redux

A year ago, I wrote a post about being closeted. Specifically, straight people being “closeted” about reading or writing LGBT fiction. I talked about the importance of being open about that one small thing, not hiding your ally status from the world like it’s something shameful, because we need all the allies we can get.

closet-300x216 In the Closet, Redux

Today, I want to go further. You see, this language of being “in the closet” gets bandied around about all sorts of things, and is used frequently when allies and aficionados of LGBT fiction (romance, particularly) discuss how they represent themselves in their everyday lives. I can understand the appeal of using that vocabulary. It seems fitting, given the context. But here’s the thing: every time someone talks about “coming out of the closet” by telling a friend of relative they like LGBT fiction, they’re likening that experience to what a fifteen year old goes through telling his fundamentalist Christian parents he’s gay. One of those things is not like the other. I would go as far as to say it devalues and demeans our experiences of coming out as LGBT by comparison.

For those of us who are LGBT, the closet is not a safe space where we can hide from the jocular ribbing of friends and relatives. It’s a claustrophobic, stifling corner in which we hide the truest part of ourselves for fear of what would happen if we were ever found out. Some of us — too many of us — lose our friends and families, our homes and livelihoods, and sometimes even our lives, when we finally come out. Yet we come out, and we keep coming out, every day, to all sorts of people, because not to do so feels oppressive. It feels like living a lie.

Moreover, when our allies talk about being “closeted” about something as simple as reading/writing LGBT fiction, it reinforces the impression that anything LGBT-related is inherently shameful. That our allies are ashamed to be reading about queer lives. And how do you think that feels to those of us who are living queer lives?

Why does the word “gay” stick in your throat when you tell a friend or parent or sibling or spouse what kind of romance you read?

I’m not saying go into work and announce to your conservative boss that he should rethink his political position because two men getting it on is hot, but why can’t we use LGBT fiction to start a debate about LGBT equality? Perhaps if we heard the word “gay” a little more often, it wouldn’t stick in so many throats. It wouldn’t be synonymous with shame and guilt. If more people spoke up, perhaps the voices that sounded loudest wouldn’t be right-wing zealots spewing hate and lies.

Perhaps, if more people spoke up, we wouldn’t need closets at all.

#HAHAT Blog Hop Winners

I used Random.org to select four comments left on the Hop Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia blog post, and the winners are:

Main Prize: Signed paperback copy of The Slave and £15 AKT donation

Jenf27

Runners Up: Backlist ebook of their choice

Angela

KimberleyFDR

Alaina

The winners have all been emailed (check your junk folder! — email me at author {at} kateaaron {dot} com if you can’t find it). Thanks to everyone who commented and participated in the hop. Keep on fighting!

Unmasking Piracy

So we all know as long as there have been digital files, there have been people stealing them. Generally I don’t lose sleep over my books surfacing on torrents or forum websites. I know in 90% of cases they’re using my title to hide a virus, and the people downloading them wouldn’t have paid money for my books anyway, etc etc. I know in the grand scheme of things, I’m not losing much in real terms from piracy. That doesn’t mean I have to like it, or condone it, and you can bet your ass when I find it, I report the shit out of it. I can write DMCA notices in my sleep.

Plenty of people argue that if it doesn’t hurt, why fix it? I’ve heard people say that piracy is going to happen whatever I, and authors like me, do to prevent it, so why bother? But you know what, none of the bad things that happen in this world would happen but for the inaction of good people. If I see somebody getting attacked in the street, intervening won’t stop all violence from happening, but I’ll have stopped one instance. That’s all any of us can hope to do.

In order for the little people to make a difference, however, we need the big organisations to support us. We need the criminal justice system to penalise antisocial behaviours. We need proper recourse when we have been wronged. And we need corporations to stand with us and say, “Not in our name.”

So when a fellow author stumbled across an open and public group on Facebook, freely sharing copyrighted book files, you’d assume they’d respond quickly to a report, right?

Wrong.

report-declined Unmasking Piracy

“We reviewed the group you reported for containing theft or vandalism and found it doesn’t violate our Community Standards.”

Community Standards which are in breach of American copyright law, I hasten to add. Sadly, however, DMCA notices (legally binding for American companies) can only be issued by the author or copyright representative of the title being pirated, meaning unless they get involved, we are at the mercy of Facebook’s ridiculously unequal TOS. Show two shirtless guys almost kissing and you’re banned for months. Illegally share copyrighted work and they’ll look the other way.

Noted, Zuckerberg.

And just in case you think I’m being melodramatic about the reach of this group, here’s a screenprint of the files being shared right now.

free-novels-download-group-300x204 Unmasking Piracy

That’s Twilight, 50SOG, George R. R. Martin, Dan Brown, and countless others, for those who can’t be bothered to embiggen.

And here, from the group description:

description Unmasking Piracy

“Only copyrighted material gets uploaded to this group.”

How brazen do you have to be?

Here’s the thing, when we say “pirate” we all think of a happy-go-lucky band of scallywags, likely led by Johnny Depp, who cause trouble for the establishment but make the underdog laugh with their foolish japes. It’s bullshit. These people are thieves, no more or less, and they deserve our contempt.

You are not the hard-done-to underdog if you don’t want to pay for a book you want to read. It’s called budgeting, and we all do it. There are plenty of films I’d like to watch at the cinema, but I wait until they’re out on DVD or Prime because it won’t cost me half as much to view them. If I want a book but don’t want to pay the list for it, I’ll wait until a site like ARe has a rebate and get it half-price. Hell, most Kindle books are loanable and there are plenty of groups which will set strangers up to do loan exchanges so you can read a title for nothing without the author being ripped off. Sites like Scribd offer subscription services to read as many books as you want for a flat fee. There is no excuse for stealing books. None.

I know there will always be pirates thieves, but I’ll be damned if we just turn a blind eye and let them flaunt their thefts in public. The harder we make it to find pirated books, the less people will consider the theft worth the effort or risk. I know I wouldn’t download anything from a torrent in case it wiped my hard drive. Some people will always choose to steal rather than buy, but let’s push them back to the underbelly, where they belong. Groups like this have no place on reputable sites, and shame on Facebook for not removing this one immediately.


Update: after a veritable flood of reports, success!

removed-300x191 Unmasking PiracyWhile we won this battle, this group was far from alone on Facebook. The only way to win is to keep reporting them, keep the pressure up, and make these big corporations accountable for their actions until they decide to remove illegal content when they find it, not when there’s an outcry. It shouldn’t be so difficult to get a large company to do the right thing.

 

 

 

Roundup: LGBT #PushBack Fundraiser

So, it’s over. 224 authors, bloggers, and publishers of LGBT fiction clubbed together to reward anyone who could give a little bit of time or money to charity over the past two weeks. 161 people took us up on those offers and we conservatively estimate we raised over $1000 for various LGBT charities all over the world.

rainbowpizza2-300x217 Roundup: LGBT #PushBack Fundraiser

All the donors have now been contacted, and should be getting in touch with their winner(s) this week. Everybody who participated won at least one book/gift card (some lucky people won two, so don’t panic if a second author contacts you!). If you entered the Rafflecopter and haven’t heard anything within a week, please contact me (author at kateaaron dot com), AJ Rose (ajrosefiction at gmail dot com), or Meredith King (diversereader at yahoo dot com) and we’ll chase up your donor to make sure there isn’t a problem. (Equally, if you’re a donating author/blogger/publisher and you haven’t heard from us, please send an email!)

Don’t forget to check your junk/spam folder!

To everyone who took part, everyone who shared the links and read the post and gave their time, money, and books to give something back, thank you. The money we’ve earned over the last few weeks will make a huge difference to so many lives, providing food, shelter, and support to people in desperate need, and that’s something we can all be proud of 😀