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Friday, January 23, 2015

It's Been Educational

I did something the other day I never thought I'd do.  I told my sister-in-law what I was writing.  She asked and I told her.  She insisted she wanted to read my book when it comes out.

(Insert shameless self-promo here: Strangers In The Night, March 11 from Dreamspinner Press)

Yeah, there was some hemming and hawing before I decided to stand up like the adult I am and just tell her: "It's gay, erotic romance." She, of course stammered and stuttered. She literally, at one point, said, "That's gay... I mean great!" I explained to her the characters were both men, because I'm sure she was thinking they were both female.

That led to a very pregnant pause.

I knew what she was thinking. You know what she thinking...

Her: "But, how do you...?"
Me: "Let's just say it's been very educational."
Her: (laughs nervously)
Me: "You can pretty much find anything on the internet. Including how long it takes a sunflower seed to travel the length of the digestive system."
Her: (laughs for real)
Me: "Like I said, it's been extremely educational."

And that's when it hit me - what I've learned in this last year or two - and it has nothing to do with sex: gay, straight, or otherwise.  And it's nothing to laugh about.

And so I started telling her - what I've learned - because everybody needs to learn this shit. Everybody.

  • There are 1.7 million homeless teens in the U.S.
  • 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBT
  • 50% of homeless youth report their parents told them to leave or knew they were leaving and didn't care.
  • LGB kids are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers
  • 50% of Trans kids have thought about suicide
  • 25% of Trans kids have attempted suicide

Those were the facts I'd learned by heart as I've interacted with all of you and become an ally and an advocate.  Below are a few more statistics I found that are no less heartbreaking:

  • Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in young people ages 10-24
  • LGB from highly rejecting families are 8.4 times more likely to attempt suicide than peers in no- or low-level rejection families
  • Each episode of LGBT victimization (physical and/or verbal) increases the likelihood of self-harm by 2.5 times.
  • 39% of homeless are under age 18
  • 75% of homeless teens use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate
  • The average age of homeless youth is 14.7

*Statistics quoted are from The Trevor Project and

We actually had a long, really nice conversation and she turned out to be surprisingly cool and supportive. Huh. Not the first real-life person to surprise me and hopefully not the last.

She continued to insist she wanted to read my book.  I told her what I've told everyone else in my real life. I'll give you another book in the genre to read first. If you enjoy it, let me know. Then you can read mine.  It'll feel less voyeuristic to me that way.

We ended our conversation agreeing that the world has a long way to go but with each generation, the level of discrimination gets diluted. As with everything, I believe it all starts with education. Why wait? When you know better, you do better.


  1. It has indeed been educational and for me not necessarily in a good way. Maybe it was because I grew up in Holland with parents who refused to allow me to discriminate against others for whatever reason or maybe I'm just naive but the amount of hate I've discovered over the past few years has been eye opening, shocking and heartbreaking.
    Yes it has been educational. My only wish is to educate the rest of the world so in the not too distant future those statistics will be a thing of the past.

    1. Yeah, I don't know why I'm surprised at the level of hate that still exists, but I am. How can people be so cold to another human being? I mean, I am not the biggest people-person on earth - I basically don't like people - but I have basic human compassion.

  2. Important post. Thanks for putting it out there.

    1. Thanks for the comment. I've never been one to remember statistics, but that top group shocked me so bad I remembered them. I did look them up to double check myself before posting and, sadly, I had them right.