Writing about yummy man-love is fun stuff, but I don't just write about this because the idea of two or more guys is a turn-on for me. Like many other authors of GLBT erotic romance and that of the non-erotic kind, I believe same sex relationships should be celebrated and that certain issues should be eased into the story. So today's FF is all about organizations that try to promote understanding about GLBT individuals and issues.
1. HRC: The Human Rights Campaign. The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. In the opening scene of Any Ordinary Day, Paul mentions a ragged bumper sticker on his car, and hopefully most readers linked the description to HRC. Here in the Washington DC area, I see their logo often on cars and backpacks. From ending workplace discrimination to concerns about coming out, HRC is a great resource for GLBT individuals and the people who care about them. For an international perspective, check out the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC).
2. PFLAG: Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians & Gays. PFLAG's mission is to promote the health and well-being of GLBT persons, their families and friends by offering a network of support, education and advocacy for equal civil rights. God knows it's tough enough being a kid these days, but being gay on top of all that makes things even tougher. If you know someone who needs support in this area, PFLAG offers a Safe School resource section on its site. Out Proud is another organization doing its best to inform the public and support GLBT youth.
3. Keepers of the past. According to its website, the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Transgender Historical Society (GLBTHS) collects, preserves, and interprets the history of GLBT people and the communities that support them. The National Archive of Lesbian, Gay Bisexual & Transgender History is another resource in the U.S. They both feature online exhibits.
4. Butts out! Did you know that the GLBT community has the highest smoking rate of any minority group? This is according to the New York Times in 1999... let's hope that statistic has gone done since then. When I worked in a substance abuse library, one of my tasks was to find and archive articles about marketing tobacco products to different groups, and I was surprised to see exactly how tobacco companies targeted their ads to attract a particular audience. Hopefully groups like the Gay American Smoke Out [someone had fun doing their posters ;)] and Bitch to Quit are lowering the GLBT smoking rate.
Speaking of substance abuse, meth continues to be a big problem among certain populations of gay men. I'm currently grappling with how much of this to include in my WIP du jour.
5. When love hurts. According to the Gay Men's Domestic Violence Project, one in four gay men experience domestic violence. The rate of abuse among lesbian couples rivals that of hetero couples. The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs is trying to address any kind of violence committed against and within the GLBT and HIV-affected communities. Back in college, my roommate got an internship at a battered women's shelter. After her first day, she returned stunned--she had no idea that so many of the victims there were hurt by other women.
I hope this didn't come off as too preachy or depressing, but I do think about some of these things when writing. And I often find it difficult to know how much reality to slip into a story, but it's good to know there are a lot of resources on the web for when I need to do this research and, more importantly, for the people who need them.