Why We Fight: I'm a Pissed Off Faggot


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I was angry when I started writing the last At First Sight book.

And I’m angry still.

In my contemporary stories (think the At First Sight Series, the BOATK series), I have the tendency to avoid bigger, real world problems. I try and keep the focus to a single group of people, and the problems they face on a personal level. It’s not that I’m unaware of what goes on on a macrolevel, I just like to focus on the immediacy of a group of characters. But still, even when I’m writing comedy, there’s a bit of an edge to it, an underlying rage to it that while may not be explicit, is still there all the same.

It’s a little different with Why We Fight, and it’s because of Corey/Kori Ellis.

First things first: this book is a comedy. Absurd, ridiculous, over the top. That’s not up for debate. Just because I’m a little full of myself and think I HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY doesn’t mean I lost sight of what these books are supposed to be. This is the only post on this book where I’m going to rant a little, but for the book itself, you will laugh until you cry. I promise.

However.

This book is set (more by happenstance than specific planning) in the summer of 2016. Most Americans will know this was a time of great upheaval, where we went from saying that Donald Trump would never get the Republican nomination for presidency to watching him actually win.

For months after, I let my fury get the best of me. How dare people think he was acceptable? How dare people care so little about those of us put in harm’s way because of a man like him. Then, to make matters worse, I saw that I had readers who supported him, something I thought would be so antithetical to people who loved to read about men falling for each other. I was wrong. It turns out that people can still want to read about men falling for each other while supporting someone who named one of the biggest bigots in the United States as his Vice President.

I lashed out. I was a pissed-off faggot. I know for a fact I lost readers over, and I didn’t (and still don’t) care about that. The hypocrisy was astounding to me, especially when people responded with “Just give them a chance! It’s not going to be as bad as you think it is!” Or, my favorite: “You’re overreacting!”

In the end, I just…stopped talking about it at all. It exhausted me. I was yelling into an echo chamber. I wasn’t going to change anyone’s mind, and they weren’t going to change mine. I focused on my books, still watching in horror as a story came out that would have ended any other presidency, but for this one, could just be called Tuesday.

And then this last Friday, Trump’s ban on trans service members in the military went into effect.

So, you know. Here comes that anger again. Fuck you and the horse you rode in on, all of you who support this man. You may not agree with everything he does, but you own all of him.

I gave very brief thought to ignoring all of this when it came to Why We Fight. To ignoring the real world and just letting zany shit be zany.

But I couldn’t. I couldn’t do that as an author writing this book, and Corey/Kori wouldn’t let me do that to them. They’re not real. I know that. But they are real to me, and they were angry like I was.

The current president of the United States is mentioned only a few times in the book. I didn’t want to browbeat my readers with it. So, for those who look to books for escape from the world, have no fear.

That being said, Corey/Kori (which I will refer to using the pronouns “they/them” so don’t get confused) doesn’t take shit from anyone. They, in turn, are also a hypocrite, as I am. In the book, they begin to work for a LGBTQI youth center in Tucson during the summer before their final year of college. The kids in the youth center are of the mind that if you’re not with us, you’re against us, and most heterosexuals are against us. Corey/Kori tries to dissuade them of this, telling the kids that that line of thinking could be somewhat dangerous, as it could burn bridges that can’t be rebuilt.

Later on in the story, Corey/Kori and Jeremy have dinner with some of Jeremy’s…friends (acquaintances?) who all turn out to be white gay Republicans. Corey/Kori demonstrates his hypocrisy here by chalking them all off as a lost cause because since they’re not with us, they’re against us.

Life is hypocrisy. We say one thing, and we do another. It can be very confusing. But in this specific case, Corey/Kori is not confused, even if they are hypocritical. They see a difference between the kids at the youth center and what Jeremy’s frenemies are all about. I don't hold back. Because of this, Corey/Kori doesn’t either. This book is an indictment of all of our hypocrisies. Am I wrong to want to close ranks? I don’t know. It sometimes can feel wrong, but then I see people still feverishly supporting a man who is, at best, an unintelligent bigot and at worst, a wannabe dictator who wants to destroy everything he can touch.

Even now, I know some of you are reading this and rolling your eyes. He’s not that bad, you’re thinking.

This book isn’t for you.

This book can be read by anyone, yes. But this book is written for queer people with queer anger in mind. This book is for those of us who watch as our rights are getting chipped away, piece by piece. This is for those of us who see a rise in hate crimes against queer people (trans included), against people of color, against anyone who can be viewed as “different.”

Trump is not forever. He will be gone sooner rather than later. But we will remember those who were not with us. And a pissed off faggot is not someone who forgives easily. Trust me on that.

Man, do I feel better. For now. This is all I’m going to say on the matter regarding this book. The rest of the posts in the leadup to the release will be happy stuff and behind-the-scenes stuff.

Why We Fight is a celebration of queer life, of a group of queer people who love each other more than anything. Corey/Kori finally gets to tell their story, and in the end, they turn out to be one of the best characters I’ve written. I cannot wait for you to see what they’ve become.

On May 14, I ask you to return with me to Tucson one last time, to visit old friends and meet some new ones. This final book in the At First Sight Series (began six (!!) years ago in Tell Me It’s Real) has been a long time in coming, but I promise the wait will be worth it.

Next week, I’ll be talking more about my due diligence in writing a story about a trans person of color while still keeping in spirit with the series as what basically amount to dumb sex comedies. God, I love my job.

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