Six years ago, I did a one woman show in San Francisco called Reading my Dad’s Porn and French kissing the Dog. And then my life exploded with horribleness, and my money situation changed and I wasn’t able to work on a second show—which totally sucked. My hard-earned reputation as a performer dissipated. People forget. To keep myself sane, and because I always have to have a project to work on, I started writing this book.
One thing writers will tell you sometimes is that you should write the book you want to read. So I did. That’s how I produced an extremely unsual, genre defying piece of trash (which is also how I describe myself).
The book you’re about to read, or maybe the book you’ve just read, or are thinking about reading, is about a group of people who represent a diverse panoply of different seexual, racial,and gender identities coming together to rescue gay and transgendered teenagers from abusive Christian religious households.Yes, they do it while codenamed after gillgian’s Island characters and drinking tiki cocktails. But they do it!. As I write this preface, it is three days after the shooting in Orlando, and it has never been clearer to me how much we need to educate and fight against homophobia, how very far we are from winning that fight..
I started this book as a NANOWRIMO (National November WRIting Month) project which I didn’t finish at the time, but I am stubborn. I keep going with projects–and relationships–way way past when any sane person would stop. I was reacting at the time to two other books:
- I had been reading Fifty Shades of Disgusting Narcissistic Abuse and Heterosexual Bourgeois Monogamous Propaganda Bullshit, and I cannot even tell you on how many many levels I hated it. And I even actually have sexual fantasies about sadistic bad boy billionaires! My friend Dixie says the book will help open people’s minds open some people’s minds to a more satisfying sex life. Maybe so. Personally, I worry men will use it to coerce their partners into feeling like they are uptight if they don’t like being sexually abused. But the real problem is not the book but the vacuum around it. Kink that goes mainstream is always male dominant, unless the woman is evil. WHERE is the femdom pop culture equivalent to this book? WHEREis the detective novel where an English teacher solves mysteries by analyzing grammar while a slave licks her feet? (answer—it’s my next book). WHERE are the books that show non-monogamy as viable sexual options? They are out there, but we need so many more, and we need them to be fun. I wanted to write a book and read a book that showed a variety of people trying to find sexual fulfillment in all different ways and configurations, and I wanted to celebrate sexual diversity.
- I also read The Girl with the Dragon tattoo, which I liked a lot better. But there’s that kickboxing lesbian, Miriam Wu, who gets her ass handed to her by a bad guy? And I wanted to read a book where kickboxing lesbians don’t get their asses handed to them. Where they kick ass.
I have come a long way personally since I started writing this book and I have learned a lot. One of the things I want to say in this preface though is that I know I always have more to learn about how to truly fight for the rights of LGBTQIA people and sex-positive feminists. If something here offends you, know that I am ready to listen, and I am ready to change my mind in the face of compelling arguments. This book is sex positive, pro ethically made porn, pro kink and pro sex work. If you have problems with any of that, this book may not be for you. But feel free to read it and see what you think. Just please register all compaints kindly, okay? I’m freaking sensitive.
This book takes on some weighty subjects for a light book, and it was researched a lot one way or another. Some of that research came from listening to people’s stories about their sexuality all my life, and listening to the stories that Dixe De La Tour presents at Bawdy Storytelling. If you read a particularly wild story in here and think that THAT could not have happened, please know that it almost certainly did. The wilder the story, the more likely it is that I didn’t make it up from nothing.
I relied on other kinds of research so that I could semi-accurately depict the state of sexism and homophobia currently infecting the evangelical Christian movement. And I hate to say it, but the situation is so much worse than I wrote here. There are Christian run “reform schools” where being gay/transgender is just one of the possible offenses—and there are a lot of such schools. The one in this book was inspired by–but not in any way based on–one such school in the Dominican Republic, and I highly recommend the documentary Kidnapped by Christ if you want to know more. At one point I sat down and talked to a survivor of another one of these hell holes. That survivor is severely traumatized by what they went through (they identify as genderqueer)—and who woudn’t be? And who can understand what they went through? But I feel like it’s part of my mission to help people understand what’s out there while offering narratives of hope, survivor fantasies of power. When I told the survivor I know that the young transboy in my story is not in need of rescue but the rescuer, tears came to their eyes. We need to fight to empower our youth against hatred. This book comes out of that conviction.
I was hit hard by Orlando, like everyone I know and love. Since I have been working on this book about rescuing gay and transgender teens from abusive religious households, the relationship of religion/authoritarianism to abuse is an obsession with me, and I’ve done a lot of research, specifically about the Christian evangelical movement. As I get the book ready for final publication, a question I never thought of until now occurred to me and hit me hard: am I gay enough to have written this book? The only person who called into question my right to post my opnions was a straight white cisgender male, and I went off so hard our friendship might be over. I feel on a deep and personal level that these are my issues. But why?
I started thinking about Sam. Sam was my stepsister. She was ten years younger than me and I was out of the house when our parents married, and they lived in Nebraska. My mother still does. I remember scolding Sam at age eight for saying homophobic things that she learned from her brothers. I was home from college in California and had gay friends I loved, so I snapped at her and told her those things were hurtful and untrue. When she was ten I visited Nebraska for about a month, and a few friends, a lesbian couple, came to visit. We spent an afternoon with Sam, and I saw her watch my friends in fascination and ask them indirect questions and afterwards they said, “You know you have a baby dyke there, right?” and I said, “I do now.”
I made a mental note that if she ever needed somewhere to go to get out of Nebraska, I would help her. but i never made that offer out loud and years went by. I visited Nebraska as little as possible because that place is a FUCKING SHITHOLE of conservatism and it makes me gag to step foot on its rancid soil. I’m sorry, I know there are some decent people there. But they will know exactly what I mean. Words cannot convey how much I hate that place. Anyway, Sam grew up and I didn’t see much of her: we didn’t connect. I remember once walking into her room when she was a teenager and seeing a bookcase that used to be mine. It was full of sports trophies and stuffed animals. When it was mine it was full of books.So we weren’t much alike. She grew up, became a soccer star in high school, and then went into the military and then…she killed herself. With a gun.
It was the days of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and she had broken up with her girlfriend–who intended to tell. I remember talking to another military lesbian years earlier, and she said this was a common pattern–the more out, obvious lesbian would have a relationship with someone straight-passing, and when the relationship was over, the straight passing woman would have an attack of guilt/shame/disgust/homophobia and report the relationship, throwing all blame on the less straight-passing partner. Hell, this used to be the plot of lesbian pulp fiction too: the evil dyke seductress and the young innocent who would eventually find dick and be “saved” while the other one died, often of suicide. My stepsister had untreated mental health issues, anger from her parents’ divorce, but ultimately I killed herself because of the rampant homophobia/authoritarianism/atmosphere of hate that told her she was worthless and disgusting because of who and how she loved.
My mother called me in tears. “We knew,” she said. “But we were waiting for her to tell us. We accepted her and she never knew it. Was I wrong? Should I have brought it up? Could that have saved her?” And what could I say to her? Yes, and no, and you did the best you could. and it should never have been something she had to bring up, and I failed her too, and she’s dead. So in the wake of Orlando I have been crying for all the gay teenagers out there who will be a little more afraid to come out, a little more likely to kill themselves, when we’ve lost way way too many of them already. This is just one of the many reasons why I see this as my fight. This is one of the reasons why I wrote my book. I don’t come from a Christian evangelical background. I come out of the toxic masculine authoritarian structures of the military, and I see the relationship. I feel it. In this book you will meet characters, many of whom are committed to doing what they do because they have seen close loved ones and friends killed or hurt by homophobia—but always lurking behind them is Sam.
This book is dedicated to the memory of Samantha Hill.