Monthly Archives: August 2015

Being A Good Blogger: An Experiment

I’ve had this blog well over four years now, and I’m quite proud of it. I enjoy having my own space in which to rant or celebrate or discuss the news of the day. I can spend hours playing with widgets and plugins and colour schemes. What I don’t do is blog consistently, and I know that’s a mistake. Since switching to WordPress a couple of years ago, I’ve been watching my stats and know on any given day there are 50 people on my blog, even when I haven’t posted anything new in a month. I always feel a little bit guilty when I see that, even if those numbers are small fry in the blogging world 😀

So, it’s new leaf time! Starting tomorrow, I’m launching an exciting new regime of daily blogging. From now until Christmas, I’ll be filling the interwebs with 500-1000-ish words on a theme close to my heart: queer studies. From the history of how we moved from pederasty to homosexuality, politics, criminality, backlash, pride, and the equality movement, through brief biographies of the people who helped change the world — or were punished by it — and fictional representations of queerfolk from all dates and places. In a few short months, I want to travel from Ancient Greece to modern times; from Buggery Acts to same-sex marriage; from Zeus and Ganymede, Achilles and Patroclus, all the way to m/m romance.

I’ll be writing this stuff because I know and love it. Because it’s always pouring out of me and hell, I’ve got to use that degree somehow 😛 I hope you’ll find it as interesting as I do. Feel free to get involved in the comments, even if it’s only to disagree with me. The world needs more decent debates, and very little of what I’m going to say can be interpreted in black and white.

Before I take the plunge, some housekeeping. You’ll notice a lovely new tab at the top titled Queer Blogging: that’s where I’ll keep permalinks to all the posts, in order, so they’re easier to follow from the beginning as this project gets bigger. I’m anticipating something in the region of 125 posts, so it’s soon going to get messy otherwise! Posts will be split between history, biography, and fiction, and will move in roughly chronological order.

A note on the word “queer.” I’m going to be using it lots, because when we’re talking about same-sex attractions prior to about the 1860s, any modern term is redundant. I completely understand that plenty of people recoil from that word, and with good reason. I know it’s divisive. However, within an academic context it’s also useful for referring in general terms to non-cis/het folk without imposing upon them terminology or identities which are anachronistic or to which they don’t subscribe. “Queer” will be my compromise when I cannot be specific, and no offence is meant in its use, although I appreciate some will nonetheless be taken, and for that I apologise in advance. (I’ll also be using other words in some posts which might also make you cringe — sodomite, molly, etc. These will be used only within the specific context of the timeframe about which I’m writing, to discuss subcultures to which they applied. Times change, meanings evolve, and I won’t alter history to pander to modern sensibilities.)

The only other counter I’ll offer to “queer” is that we shouldn’t surrender words to our oppressors and allow slurs against us to stand unchallenged. Minorities benefit from reclaiming the language of aggression and rendering it redundant. And if you can’t accept that, I still understand, and hope you know that when I use terminology which makes you uncomfortable, I’m not referring to you, but speaking in the abstract.

And on that note, I’ll leave you until tomorrow, when I’ll start my epic history of homosexuality by explaining why there is no such thing as a history of homosexuality 🙂 I hope you’re looking forward to it as much as I am!

all-books-banner Being A Good Blogger: An Experiment

Bumps In The Road

a-bump-in-the-road-1519580-201x300 Bumps In The RoadThis is something of a confession. The last few months have been a bit of a mess for me. Visa stuff and family stuff and medical stuff, none of it very serious but all of it distracting, and my brain’s been turned to mush. I haven’t written much of anything since I finished Balls Up. I’ve got the sequel, Bottoms Up, all plotted out, but I’ve only got 15k written and it’s become increasingly clear in the past weeks that it isn’t right. There’s something missing and I can’t put my finger on what, but right now the book is sub-par. I’ve tried powering through but until I know what the problem is, I can’t fix it. So I’ve decided to pull up my big girl pants and made the difficult decision to shelve the book for the time being.

Instead, I’m turning my attention to a couple of characters who are speaking to me: Ryan and Sameer. I’m plotting a prequel to the Blowing It series right now, with them at the helm. This will be my first time writing full-on contemporary BDSM, so it’s going to be an interesting challenge, and I hope I can do it justice. (I’d better, or there will be a queue to lynch me, with AJ at the head!)

noah-1-1486926-638x423-300x199 Bumps In The RoadAs of now, the book is untitled, but I’m hoping all that will change in the next couple of months. I’m aiming to release in November, but I’ll be keeping the blog updated with progress so I should have more information soon.

I’d like to thank everyone who’s following the series and apologise to anyone I’ve disappointed with this announcement, but I promise there will be a third Owen and Magnus book. Their story isn’t done yet, it’s just percolating a little longer than anticipated.

For now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a whole plethora of research to do….

The Cost of Immigration

An open letter to the man who said I should stay home because America has “enough foreigners” already.

immigrant-246x300 The Cost of Immigration

Dear Southern Man,

So you saw this blog post by my fiancee, excited I’ve finally (*finally* — we started this process last October) got the date for my visa interview, and you decided to piss on our parade with a fatuous remark about foreigners, like every immigrant to America is as ignorant as you are. I assume from your snide remark — with comments disabled, of course, so I couldn’t respond — that you think England is some sort of third world nation and I’m rocking up to suckle on Uncle Sam’s generous teats. Oh, how I laughed.

Just for giggles, here’s what moving to America has cost me so far:

  • Processing fee for relative immigration visa I-130, $420.00
  • UK police certificate (valid for 12 months), $70.00
  • Visa-standard photographs for police certificate, $15.00
  • Mandatory immunization shots, free (*smooches the NHS*)
  • Medical in Knightsbridge, London, $400.00
  • Visa-standard photographs for medical documents, $15.00
  • Train fare to London for medical, $120.00
  • Processing fee for visa interview, $265.00
  • Train fare to London for interview, $240.00
  • Visa-standard photographs for interview, $15.00
  • Courier fee to have visa shipped to me, $30.00

That’s almost $1600 just in processing fees, required documentation, and transport because there’s only one doctor in the whole of the UK the Embassy will accept a medical from, and it’s on the other side of the country to me. I haven’t even started on getting a last-minute flight to America (because from the moment the visa is granted, I’ve got six months in which to pack up my UK affairs, get Stateside, and get married) which is easily going to run me to another $1400 or so, the cost of shipping my belongings (bringing over only my books, clothes, and a PC is going to cost me approximately $1200), or considered the cost of all the flying back and forth I’ve done over the past couple of years, which adds several thousand more to what I’ve spent so far because I happened to fall in love with somebody from a different country.

And you know what? It’s worth it. She’s worth every last penny, and more besides. Once I arrive in America, we’ll have a marriage license to pay for, then application fees for me to get an Adjustment of Status (because all the visa means is I can enter America, not that I can stay) which costs another $1100 in filing fees alone. And until it’s all done and dusted, I am not permitted to get a job. Were it not for the fact I’m a writer earning royalties from around the world, I would be completely dependent on AJ to support me.

As a matter of fact, part of the visa application process was an Affidavit of Support AJ had to provide, giving the government permission to empty her bank accounts and take her house if I ever become a public burden. Not only am I not now or ever going to (be able to) sponge off the state, I’ve made America considerably richer just by applying to move there, all while expressly prohibited from attempting to support myself as the wheels of bureaucracy grind with soul-crushing slowness around us. We’ve joked more than once that I was financially solvent when we started this process, but by the time Uncle Sam expects me to prove it, he’ll have already drained my bank accounts.

I’ll also, of course, contribute to the American economy in other ways once I’m a resident. I’ll pay taxes, I’ll buy products, and the money I earn in royalties (the majority of which comes from America and at the moment get sent straight to the UK) will remain within the American economy, spent in American stores. I’ll have to buy a car and get a phone contract, pay bills, and maybe even feed and “cloth” myself as well.

As appealing as the idea of shuffling hordes in rags turning up with outstretched hands ready to grasp and take might be to your xenophobic little mind, the reality is far different. People don’t up and leave their place of birth and everything they’ve known unless they’re searching for a better life. Immigrants want to work, they want to contribute, and America was founded and became great off the back of them. I guarantee that’s why your ancestors moved there.

native-immigrant-223x300 The Cost of Immigration

Unless you’re full-blood native, you’ve really got no room to talk. Especially not to make vacuous assumptions that the only reason people would emigrate in America is to be supported by people like you. Rather, my taxes will go towards paying for welfare that I as a non-citizen will be prohibited from claiming. We are supporting you, not the reverse. And this in a country where net migration is relatively tiny — 2.45 immigrants per 1,000 in 2014 (compared to 2.56 in the UK, and all the way up to 83.82 in little ole Lebanon). The UAE is almost 84% foreign-born, and even Australia is pushing a third of its population, compared to less than 15% in the US. This in a country with a population density less than most of Europe, Africa, and Asia (85 people per square mile, compared to 660 for the UK, for example).

Whichever way you cut it, America has got the room for thousands more immigrants, and the result would be a benefit for all: a UCLA study estimated that overhauling the immigration system to allow currently undocumented workers to be validated would add $1.5 trillion to the US GDP over the next ten years. The DREAM Act alone would add $329 billion to the economy. Rather than telling us to stay at home, you should be welcoming us with open arms.