Is there any HIV metaphor going on in the Firma world?
I haven't dealt with that. I probably won't with this series. I pretty much set up a consequence-free sexual environment. I know that's wrong.
Well, you did come up with the story 20 years ago.
That's true, and it pretty much was consequence-free back then, at least in my mind. It will probably make its way into one of my series, and probably into Firma at some point. I do deal with promiscuity and the anonymous sex issue, in terms of saying this is a really bad, unfulfilling way to live your life. One of the characters sort of learns that in the process of the series. That's as far as I've gone with it. I didn't go into a 'you're going to catch a horrible disease' type of thing. Just that it's not a really good way to live. It doesn't make you feel good. It doesn't really boost your self-esteem for any length of time. That kind of thing.
Yeah, by the time you wake up the next morning, it's like, 'what the hell...' Well, I've heard that. No first hand knowledge or anything. But yeah, it seems like, in the book, you can't go into some big after school special, lecturing thing. You just have to show the character's actions and the consequences. Put all the dots out there and let the reader connect them.
I'm pretty proud of the fact that I think any teenager can read this series without feeling, in any way, that they're being lectured or preached at. I tried really hard not to do that. That just shows a definite lack of respect for your audience. They're going to see right through that and tune out. It's much better to let people learn lesson unconsciously. Just absorb them without them being hammered in their heads.
So, you've got the best of both worlds. In Harry Potter, people liked reading about Harry, but they had to wait until Daniel Radcliffe took his kit off and did Equus before they saw him as sexual. But in Orphan's Quest, they get it all. They don't have to piecemeal it all together on their own.
Right. There is sex in my series. I've deliberately kept it non-specific and non-pornographic. I'm sure with a certain audience that would have sold much better, but I want to appeal to a broad audience. So, there's definitely sex happening in the series, but you won't read anything specific. There's just enough there to allow your imagination to work with it.
So, for hardcore elf porn, people should stick with finding stuff through Google.
Right. Find it somewhere else. You're not going to find it in my work.
So, what was your own coming out like?
There wasn't anything spectacular about it. I was one of those kids where everyone knew before I knew. Even I knew, since I was sexually active in high school. So I knew it but, in Maine at the time, there was just no such thing. There were no gay people. And why this generation has it so much better than mine, because I was all alone.
I knew no openly gay people whatsoever. To me, they were just ghosts. And, from what I've been told, very unhappy, miserable people. So, I went all through high school just burying it. And then, at 17, I went to college. I went a year early. And I met my first openly gay person the first week I was there. And I was out of the closet like a shot. All I needed was someone to say, it's OK and this is what you are. And I was, 'OK then. If it's OK, then that's what I am.' There were adjustments. I went through the whole 'maybe I'm bisexual' thing, but that didn't last very long because I wasn't really remotely attracted to women, so I couldn't pull that off for long.
Yeah, I did two days as bi.
Then, my parents found out because I guess I must have unconsciously done it on purpose, but I sent them a gender-specific poem that I had written, and I didn't even realize I had done it until I got 'the letter' from them, and basically they were accepting. It took them a while to get used to it. We went through the adjustment period with the parents, and I was going through the same adjustment period. By the time I found my first long-term boyfriend, they were fine with it, and everything worked out great from there. I've been completely out ever since, and I've had no memorable difficulties being out. It's worked out great for me.
Did they think the poem was your attempt to come out?
We never really talked about that. They were amazed that I hadn't told them such a big secret= earlier, but to me, I wasn't even saying that to myself, let alone to anybody else. I didn't start writing any gender-specific poems until I was in college. This was a poem I had just written the previous week after I had come out. Before that, all my poems were very carefully gender-neutral.
Very Melissa Etheridge of you...
Yes. As much for my benefit as anyone else's. I just wasn't ready to deal with it, to put a label on myself.
But you said you were sexually active in high school, that's with guys?
So, you're having sex with guys, but not identifying as gay?
I don't know. I compartmentalized the sex part. (laughs)
I guess so.
That was something I did, but it wasn't about being gay.
It just seems like if you're having sex with guys, you should know people who are gay.
Not necessarily, because none of them were openly gay either. These are things that just happened, and you never talked about it and, chances are, you never spoke to that person again after it happened. This wasn't like a boyfriend. This was more anonymous than anything else. Everyone was living in very heavy denial. It wasn't like now. There were no websites. Adults didn't sit you down and say, 'Have you thought that you might be gay because everyone is calling you a faggot?' Nobody ever addressed the issue. It just wasn't discussed. There was no outlet for you at all at that time.
Yeah, I think I would have come out earlier, but the exact moment I was sorting things out was when ACT-UP and Queer Nation was the only representation of gay people I saw, so it was just screaming, mad, against the church, and it was like, 'Yeah, that's really not the vibe I'm going for.'
I was equally turned off by that. I understand the need of that particular arm of the gay political movement, but to me, it's not the best way to change things.
I was totally fine with them after I came out, but when I was 15 or 16... and that was my only view into it.
Right, at that time, you're so unsure of yourself anyway. Even just admitting the fact is one thing. Going to a rally is quite beyond most people.
When I first came out, though, my heroes ended up being Larry Kramer and Michelangelo Signorile. So, I did go political once I came out. But I needed something more accessible earlier.
Yeah, I like the fact that there are places like Oasis on the web now, where people can go and realize it's not all about politics and there's as many different types of gay people as there are straight people. And that's a message I try and give straight people. I've converted a lot of homophobes to be, well, let's say not so homophobic by just knowing me and knowing I'm just a normal person, except I like guys.
Usually once they figure out I'm not interested in getting into their pants, they can be OK with it. Most of it just comes from fear of the unknown. You can be an ambassador to the gay community just by being who you are, and open about who you are, and not necessarily shouting and screaming and carrying banners. If that's your thing, great, but if it's not you can affect things another way.
That's a constant sentiment on Oasis, that the gay community doesn't represent me. But, really, until you come out of the closet, it does. Until you add your voice, other people get to play the role of the gay community.
It's the same thing, before I enter into a political discussion with anyone, I always ask them if they voted in the last election. If they say no, the discussion can go no further.
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