Raging Down Under

Nick from October Rage was awesome and gave me an interview about where his band is and where it could be going (spoiler alert: back to the US!) Check it out!

I’m happier than I’m coming across. I promise.

I should be crying. I should be celebrating. I should be shouting from the rooftops. I’m not.

Okay, I am. The more I wake up, the more it sinks in. As of today, I could go grab my girlfriend, go to the courthouse, get married, move to New Mexico, and our marriage would still be recognized. As someone who doesn’t believe in the institution of marriage (despite how often I write about it in my stories), I’d never do it. But believe me when I say that I’m celebrating for those who now choose to participate. I am applauding and crying and laughing – all internally. I am so happy that the Supreme Court finally ruled the way civil rights attorneys have been talking for decades – that the 14th Amendment covers the Queers too.

But when I checked facebook this morning, my feed way gayer than it had ever been. Rainbows EVERYWHERE. A plethora of rainbows. Rainbows rainbows rainbows. And it should have been. It should be. It should be full of what it is, quotes from the ruling, and people singing that love has won out, and now we don’t have to use stupid terms like “opposite sex marriage” because marriage is fucking marriage and it doesn’t matter who you are.

I just wish it wasn’t the end all, be all for the queer community. I wish that we were rallying behind our Trans* sisters who are languishing in detention centers, our family who is being murdered, our children who are being bullied, our communities that are being erased. While we’ve been fighting for MARRIAGE OH MY GOD MARRIAGE around the country, Planned Parenthood Centers are closing and abortion rights are being rolled back and despite the ACA it’s harder than ever for some women to get birth control. There is still a wage gap. Churches are burning. Police are killing young black men and women. Indigenous women are disappearing and no one is talking about it. Today a pastor is laid to rest because a young racist man decided to open fire in a church. Queer People of Color are still not safe to come out in many communities. STD rates are rising. Children as young as 12 are committing suicide. Trans* and Sexually Fluid people are still being erased from even the President’s Comments about today’s historic ruling.

When you think about it, the fight just to level the playing field seems so overwhelming. So of course we want to celebrate every fucking victory. Without these victories, nothing seems to matter. Nothing. Without these victories, it’s hopeless. So you bet I’m so thrilled. I really am. I’m also just so fucking exhausted. Because in his victory tweet, even the President singled out gays and lesbians. Hey guy, we’re over here too.

Today I say FUCK YES to the Judges who ruled in favor of, you know, legality. I say HAPPY MARRIAGE or HAPPY ENGAGEMENT to the people who are racing off to FINALLY make those unions legal. I say SCREW YOU to the assholes who want to hold us back (light myself on fire guy? where are you now?) And I say okay, we got this done …

What’s next, Queer America? Cause we sure as HELL ain’t done.

Fandom is a funny thing …

It’s 12:43. I should be asleep but the coffee’s got me awake and so I’m waiting for the wine to kick in. (Shut up, it’s healthy in some universe.)

Anyway. I’ve been making some changes in my writing life over the past couple of weeks. Now that Pride is over, I’ve been looking more and more at freelancing work – you know, so I can stop saying I’m a writer and actually be a writer. There’s some connection in there about showing and not telling, but it is later than I should be awake.

But the other thing that I’ve been doing since Pride is getting established with the Sick Puppies World Crew Ambassador crowd. It’s been an interesting process because as I’ve been doing it, I’ve been reminded about the power of fandom when you want it to succeed, when fandom has the potential to be family.

If you aren’t aware of the Sick Puppies, don’t worry. A year ago, I wasn’t either beyond “Oh, they’re the guys who sing Maybe.” I was introduced to them at a concert, one I’d attended because of Lacuna Coil. Imagine my astonishment when the veteran Italian rockers were not the headliners but instead this upstart trio – who proceeded to blow the doors off of the terribly designed venue. Never have I been so glad to stick around.

There’s something special about a band that just wants to rock, but few bands out there have transcendent talent. (Halestorm’s Lzzy Hale is one of those, but you can see my fangirling for that in earlier posts.) The truth is, what makes Sick Puppies isn’t just the kickass awesomeness they bring to a show, but the rhythm stylings of Emma Anzai, who commands the stage and the bass she wields. And that was what I took away with me after the show.

I went home, I researched the band, I got into their music, and I did what I haven’t done in years – I joined up with a webforum to meet other fans. I mean, wasn’t that what facebook was for?! Nope. I joined up. And it was then that I realized these guys had something special. So, I took the next step and this past week joined the ranks of the Ambassadors – those who are determined to help Sick Puppies achieve world domination. I’m highly amused by that tagline because my friends like to say that I’m trying to achieve world domination with my writing. I’m not sure it’s happened yet. ;)

But this cycles me back to my point – the power of fandom.

Used to be, those of us who were passionate about something, unless it was sports (Go Jazz!) were treated like outcasts. We were the geeks and the nerds and the laughter-snorting dweebs who sat around in dark rooms and watched our shows to the point of memorization and wrote fanfic and dressed up in costumes and … and … let’s not forget: Star Trek is a billion dollar franchise because fans kept it alive. Farscape’s mini-series was funded by fans.

But the truth is, nothing is supported without fans and fandom. If you look at the history of the rock/metal/punk world in the states, it was kept alive by fans trading garage recorded tapes and zines. Volunteers who got to venues early and stayed late and helped their friends do something amazing.

So here I am, getting involved in fandom again by doing something other than hanging out on message boards and posting fanfic. (Don’t ever knock fanfic.) This time I’m rolling up my sleeves and helping – whatever that might be. And it feels good because helping good music be spread around the world is a hell of a lot more fun than just hitting refresh on youtube videos and gushing about the latest song to my friends. And I hope that every single one of you out there has something that inspires you to engage. Something that inspires you to get involved. Something … fun that also matters to you.

I’m not sure if this makes sense, but it’s 1:06. So I’m sure it doesn’t.

Peace, to any of you who are reading.

Peace.

Pride Is …

I have the honor to speak at the first unified unified Dyke, Trans*, Sexually Fluid, and Poly Rally in Utah. These are my remarks.

Thank you.

My name is Shauna Brock, I am the co-founder of Utah’s 1 to 5 Club. I am a writer, I’d like to think I’m an activist. I am also bisexual and poly.

This is an honor I never expected to be a part of. To be standing here, during Pride, speaking about something that is, literally, a matter of life and death. I’m talking about recognition. I’m talking about representation.

We’ve all heard it. And I’m sure some of you have said it. Or laughed at it.

Bi Now! Gay Later!

You’re just confused.

It’s just a phase, honey. It’s just a phase.

Those words, words that the gay and lesbian community rally against – “It’s just a phase” are thrown at sexually fluid kids candy at a parade. Don’t worry, honey. You’ll be one of us someday.

See, when I was a kid, I knew something was different about me. But I knew that something wasn’t that I was a lesbian. So when I was sitting in history class and the students marched out in support of the Gay/Straight Alliances, it wasn’t just my fear of being grounded if I got suspended that kept me from joining them. I wasn’t gay. I wasn’t straight. So clearly, I didn’t belong with them.

It took years for me to realize that I did belong, that I wasn’t alone, that there were people who felt like I did. And once I did come out, I quickly realized how much I wasn’t wanted by a larger community because I didn’t fit their quick and easy media message.

In the last ten years the national conversation about sexual fluidity has started to change, but this is still not a safe world for so many. This past week, bisexual 16 year old Adam Kizer committed suicide after years of bullying. He is only one of so many and so many of their names are not spoken to anyone.

Across this country, the sexually fluid members of this queer community face higher rates of rape, partner violence, mental health issues, and a lack of medical care from doctors than their gay and lesbian counterparts. Isolated from straight and gay communities alike, the closets that our sexually fluid brothers and sisters live in are dark and terrifying. Report after report shows that sexually fluid people are less likely to be out at work, out in groups of friends, and out to medical and mental health professionals. Little wonder, when reports show that some psychotherapists still blame the sexuality of bisexual victims of rape. Claiming that they are confused about what they really want.

I wish I could speak of happiness and rainbows. I wish for me that Pride was a celebration. Not a reminder of national figures like Dan Savage who last week said that bisexual women were nothing more than sexual objects for straight allies. I wish it wasn’t a reminder that Orange is the New Black not only erases Piper’s sexuality, but mocks it. I wish it did not  remind me of each and every time my ex partner told me she could not trust me because of my sexuality or how she told me she would not tell her friends and co workers I was bi, because it didn’t matter. She was with me and everyone thought I was a lesbian. I wish it didn’t throw me back to how I have had to change my own writing because publishers would not accept bisexual characters unless they ended up as gay by the end of the story. I wish I could stand up here and celebrate marriage equality in Utah without the reminder of the time a leader in this community told me that there was no such thing as bisexual marriage, only gay or straight marriage.  Yes. A leader in this community telling me that I did not deserve the very rights that I was helping to fight for.

I will stand up here and speak of progress. Every day, more celebrities across the spectrum come out as bisexual, asexual, and pansexual – even though their relationships and sexualities are often outright ignored by the media. Every day the studies conducted about the sexually fluid community bring more and more light to the struggles we face. Every day, we are able to regain that which has been erased. Every day, more allies join with us.

I will speak of Utah’s progress. Of moments like this intersectional march. We have a thriving community that is based on support! We are based on the idea that each and every identity is valid, because we are fluid creatures, moving throught this spectrum. And the only way we do not drown is to support each other.  After all, to me, THAT is what Pride really is all about.

If you happen to be curious: THIS for the record, is PRIDE

If you haven’t had a chance to adopt your new Queer Queen, this is your chance. Lzzy Hale of Halestorm, who penned what, in my not so humble opinion, SHOULD be the anthem that all Pride Festivals are singing. I’ve been trying for weeks to pen a commentary of the song that offers her the respect she is due, but after attending the show tonight, after seeing Halestorm perform it, I realized that as in all things, Mz Hale speaks only for herself.

So, in honor of Pride, of the bullshit and the crazy, I give you what it really boils down to:

0603152219b

“New Modern Love”
I’ve got a forbidden love

I’m not giving it up
Not giving it up
I’ve got a new modern love
I’m not giving it up
Not giving it up

I won’t pretend that I don’t feel
The way I feel
I can’t forget the taste of something hat’s real
Step into my closet and maybe you’ll find
Something that’ll scare you
Something that you like
Your old familiar logic is poison on your lips
It’s nothing in the water
That’s just the way it is

[Chorus:]
I’ve got a forbidden love
I’m not giving it up
Not giving it up
I’ve got an uncommon love
I’m not giving it up
Not giving it up
I don’t care if you don’t want it
‘Cause I, I got it
I don’t care if you don’t get it
‘Cause I, I still want it
I’ve got a new modern love
I’m not giving it up
Not giving it up, no

You can’t rewire these circuits any other way
Yeah, you can twist the signal
The message is the same
Step out of your bubble and
Maybe you will find
Something that’ll save you
Something that you like
Your old familiar logic is poison on your lips
There’s nothing in the water
That’s just the way it is

[Chorus]

Step into my closet and maybe you will find
Something that’ll scare you
Something that you like
There’s something that you like
There’s something that you like

I don’t care if you don’t want it
‘Cause I, I got it
I don’t care if you don’t get it
‘Cause I, I still want it
I’ve got a new modern love
I’m not giving it up
Not giving it up, no

Not giving it up
Not giving it up, no
I’m not giving it up
Not giving it up, no

Thank you, Lzzy. Thank you.
New Modern Love can be found on Halestorm’s most recent release, Into the Wildlife.

Things not to say to your friends who are writers when they get a rejection letter …

1) Everyone’s been rejected.
Yes. We know this.

2) Just keep trying.
You keep trying.

3) How often have you submitted it?
Doesn’t matter. First or 100th letter still sucks.

4) This is why people have real careers.
Writing isn’t a hobby for some of us.

5) I have a whole host of them myself.
That’s great. I’ll care about that tomorrow.

Some days you just don’t want to put on a brave face and be the strong, stoic artist. Some days, you want to throw a fit and cry into your drink. So, especially if you aren’t a writer, just remember this: when a friend gets a rejection letter, tell them you’re sorry and then offer chocolate. Sometimes, we just need to pout.

Why yes, we’ve noticed I’m not buzzfeed. I’m not posting gifs. Why? I’m lazy.

Lies my blog tells me

I was screwing around on twitter the other day (because when you should be writing, nothing is better than twitter, right?) and caught this headline, tag line, something about how us writers shouldn’t be worrying about our blogs so much. Now, I didn’t actually read the article because why should I? (That would be logical.) But the headline did give me a moment of relief because I mean … think about it. This thing never gets updated.

I think it doesn’t get updated because I always want to say something deep and sensitive and all “writer like” and really, let’s face it, usually I’m just rocking out to Halestorm or Sick Puppies and trying to make sense of whatever character is loudest in my head at the time. So I go post my ramblings in LiveJournal because, you know, that’s cool right? And leave this to languish because I’m not cool enough to be awesome all the time.

LIES!

Anyway, I’m not sure what I’m saying tonight other than I felt the urge to come over here and ramble about the writer life rather than, you know, write. I did write tonight. 737 words of pure crap, but it was words at least. I’m in that horrible place where the draft is trying to figure itself out so I’m just writing and hoping it sorts itself out in the end.

I’m also waiting to hear back from a publisher, so it isn’t like my brain can focus on anything other than that chance that the unread email in my inbox won’t be from MoveOn but instead, you know, the publisher.

It’s funny. I have so many big ideas for this blog. A new short story posted every week. Rambling thought processes on everything from music to writing groups to what it’s like to be a queer writer in Salt Lake. And then reality hits me and I’m reminded there are only 24 hours in a day and I try to devote at least 4 of them to writing.

This reminds me – I did get to see Neil Gaiman in person last week. This is definitely worthy of a rambling blog post because he was absolutely amazing. Absolutely. See, again, lies my blog tells me: I will write amazing things to share with the people who follow me and then, you know, it all crashes up against the brick wall of things like sleep.

I’m so interesting.

Anyway, I felt the urge to get back to this, so here I am. Trying. We’ll see if it lasts. ;)

LiveJournal Q&A, December Edition Question #1: How Does Music Influence Your Writing?

A meme went around LiveJournal (yes I still use it! it’s awesome!). The meme was a challenge, asking for blog posts to be done for each day in the month of December. I didn’t get 31 questions, but the questions I did get were awesome. So, I’m answering them here.

It’s funny you ask this because often, writing influences my music. I have discovered over the years that while I have a core set of music styles that I like, it’s often my characters who direct certain musical choices. I’ve discovered artists and genres because a character likes a certain style of music. I’ve become obsessive over some bands because the character identifies so strongly with them that it literally changes how I think and react to it. (Current example: Sick Puppies.)

Outside of the people in my head who direct everything from music to book to clothing choices, I am personally drawn to more hard rock and heavy metal elements which means that it is more likely for my characters to listen to those genres and bands. But the biggest example of how music influences my writing is in my chosen genre, which is Rock Fiction.

It’s true that my writing is peppered with queer characters and could be labeled Queer Fiction, but in the end, my genre is rock fiction. There isn’t a book or a story that doesn’t have that hard rock element as a central part to at least one character, if not the entire plot. That musical element is what drives me as I seek to find the answers in the shadows beyond the spotlights on stage. (See what I did there?) The soaring guitar riffs tell my soul the story while the bass line fills in the gaps and the drums bind it all together. Outside of Tori Amos, I almost never write with singer/songwriters on repeat. Instead it’s Sick Puppies, All That Remains, Five Finger Death Punch, Shinedown, Queensryche, Halestorm, Royal Bliss, Nine Inch Nails, Rob Zombie, Ill Nino, Stabbing Westward, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Rage Against the Machine … they are the ones who are put on repeat as the characters run away with my soul. I fall into their music, their lyrics, their stories while the universe in my head unfolds to tell me about the guitarist who is dying of AIDS, the basketball player who is in love with the rock star, the runaway who is saved by the timeless band, the actress who finds peace in the silence of her guitarist boyfriend, the suicidal bass player who would be dead if not for the instrument in her hands, the young father who reconnects to his Spokane heritage through his lyrics.

So for me, it’s a cycle. I wouldn’t be writing at all without the inspiration I find in the music I am already drawn to, but my characters definitely expand my fascination with music because they take me on their journeys, teaching me what they like and what inspires them, which in turn, inspires me.

Oh, “Man Up,” Rock 106.5

To me, there is nothing sexier than a Man. A Man with a capital M. Long hair, biceps, a bit of scruff, and a fucking heart of gold that wouldn’t let a woman get knocked down in a mosh pit unless she’d made the choice to put herself there. Even then, he’s the first to help her, and any of the guys, up from the floor. And the rock and metal world is full of these guys. Problem is, popular culture is full of another kind of guy and unfortunately, these assholes seem to permeate the dj culture over at Salt Lake’s newer rock station, 106.5.

106.5’s tag line is “Man Up” and you know what, I don’t fucking mind it. I actually kind of like it. Because Rock and Metal is in part a male dominated culture that prides itself on strength, power, and in many ways, honor. It also prides itself on knowing how to have a great time. The problem with this whole Man Up thing is that 106.5 is taking the fucking FUN out of rock.

Twice in the last week when I’ve turned on the radio in the afternoon, I’ve heard the DJ shaming women, shaming body choices, shaming the trans community, and shaming people with addiction issues. Honeypie, have you forgotten your rock and metal history?! We wouldn’t have rock and roll without Sister Rosetta Tharpe! Have you forgotten just how tight Robert Plant’s jeans were on stage? (I know I haven’t …) Have you forgotten that Ann and Nancy Wilson do Zeppelin better than Zeppelin? Have you forgotten that Ozzy Osborne is barely functioning because of addiction issues? That Rob Halford is gay and Freddie Mercury was bisexual!? Have you forgotten that the kick ass men in Poison, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, and Motley Crue all made better women than most of the women on the strip in LA? Rock 106.5, you have forgotten your roots!

Don’t get me wrong. I know full well that the metal and rock world is full of bullshit. It is full of the same amount of bullshit as a lot of other sub-culture. I know full well how hard it was for women to break onto the stage in rock and, even worse, how the media still refuses to treat them as equals. I know it’s full of sexist, racist pigs who think that because they grow their beards out and pound their chests that they’re reclaiming some sense of a lost generation of power. I laugh at the so called libertarian singers and guitar players who come across as pro-power republicans in support of the military and militarized police all the while calling for a revolution. I struggle every day with the body image pressure that is seared into my mind thanks to Bobbie Jean Brown and the like.

But I also know full well the culture that shaped me. I know a culture that embraced men in makeup and women in torn jeans. I know a world that empowered women to never be ashamed of sex or their sexuality and that taught them that sexuality doesn’t take away a woman’s power. I know a world where men take the stage and scream love songs while shredding guitars and where women punch and grind with the best of them. I know a world where the mosh pit stops the minute someone hits the ground and that protects those who don’t want to be a part of it. I respect how these men and women stand up for soliders who come home to nothing after doing a job no one else fucking wants to do. I know a world that fought like hell against the PMRC. I know how family is created the moment that the lights go down. How people who will only ever connect at the show, that night, will bang their heads together and scream lyrics that saved their lives, become brothers and sisters in a moment. There is no shame in this culture. There is only pride.

So when I hear the utter bullshit spewing from 106.5’s airwaves, it turns my stomach. Don’t get me wrong, KBER’s unending blathering on air makes the station almost impossible to listen to and more often than not I find myself catching racist sketches or gender based battles of wills. And it pisses me off because this is not the culture I grew up in nor the culture I still embrace.

See, the culture I grew up in boiled down to one idea: if you could handle the pit, you could stay in the club. Didn’t matter anything else. It was a culture that changed music, changed ideas of what it was to be a man – all the while embracing primal consciousness. It was a culture of respecting those who were different and bringing them into the fold, protecting them, all the while mocking and ripping the masks off of the white-bred suburban bullshit that so many of those who sing the music grew up in.

So don’t fucking sit there and mansplain what it means to be a man. I know what it means because I’ve seen men weep when the music overtakes them and I’ve seen the power in a curled fist and felt the bond of a mosh circle that is protecting those on the outside from being harmed. Fucking Man Up, Rock 106.5. Right now, you’re fucking wussy, whiny, and down right idiotic.

And by the way, you guys have a tendency, every time you play your Man Up drop to play some 80’s Hair Rocker band. So, I LOVE the fucking irony there.

GOD I miss the guys at The Blaze. They knew how to run a rock station.

“Discussions” with my brain at 6 AM …

I think every writer out there can relate to this …

Me: *stretches and wakes up a bit*
Brain: Hey! Let’s have a conversation.
Me: It’s too early and I haven’t had any coffee yet.
Brain: So what! I’m up. You’re up. Let’s talk.
Me: It’s six in the morning and I’m hot and tired. Can this wait?
Brain: So here’s what I’m thinking. You know that whole “follow your bliss” thing?
Me: It’s six in the morning. My bliss is going back to sleep.
Brain: Okay, I can’t argue with that logic. But, seriously, we gotta talk.
Me: What did I say?
Brain: Come on, you’re up and arguing with me. So, what I was thinking was this …
Me: I’m not going to win this one am I?
Brain: So what I was thinking was this – you are really ready to take your writing to the next level, right?
Me: Yeeeahhhh …
Brain: So maybe you need to quit your job and just do the freelance thing.
Me: Or I can build up a freelance reputation and then quit my job.
Brain: But … bliss …
Me: But … bills.
Brain: You know, those words are almost identical.
Me: But not.
Brain: Kind of.
Me: No, really. Not. I appreciate this pep talk but it’s now 6:15 and I have to get up in a bit and I’d like to get some sleep.
Brain: *sends pain to nerves* You still want to sleep?
Me: YES! You made it so I can’t.
Brain: Sorry about that. But I’m following my bliss here.
Me: So what did you want again?
Brain: Bliss.
Me: Look, yes, I would love to drop my job and hit the road as a merch girl or writer A-La-Almost-Famous or something. But I’m in a good place right now too.
Brain: Because 8-5 is really your style? When was the last time you actually got to work on time?
Me: That isn’t the point and you know it.
Brain: What is the point?
Me: …. can we do this later?
Brain: *grumbles* Fine. But, hey, listen to this –
Me: What?
Brain: You write rock fiction for a reason you know.
Me: Yeah, because I love the themes and the characters are fucking sexy.
Brain: Well, maybe there’s a lesson there. I mean, the real rock stars, they give up everything and take that risk. Maybe it’s time you thought about that too. Not saying you have to take off on the road or anything but it might be good if you changed things up.
Me: You’ve been saying this for a while.
Brain: Yeah, but not at 6:45 in the morning.
Me: I love my day job though. If I leave it and have to get a day job I hate I won’t be writing as much.
Brain: Life is risk.
Me: I’m going back to sleep.
Brain: Now you’re being logical.
Me: On a couple of levels.
Brain: I know, I’ll create some dreams for you about what it’ll be like if you are able to follow your bliss.
Me: Whatever. But if you do, create a savings account I can live off of so I can in fact follow that bliss.
Brain: Oh …yeah.
Me: This was funnier an hour ago.
Brain: It wasn’t meant to be funny.
Me: I know.
Brain: We’ll get there, right?
Me: Yeah.
Brain: Sleep doesn’t matter, right?
Me: You’re the one keeping me awake right now.
Brain: Oh yeah.
Me: Mind releasing those pain receptors?
Brain: Hmmmmmmm. Nah. I think I’ll leave them.
Me: Jerk.
Brain: Last I checked, we were connected, Sweetheart.
Me: Don’t call me sweetheart.

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