~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~it's all about the love~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Interview with actor Jared Allman - HAHBAT post #3

Welcome to my third post for the Hop Against Homophobia, Bi- & Transphobia 2015. One of my favourite things to post on my blog has always been interviews and today I have a special one. It's no secret that I have an extensive gay film collection and am a huge fangirl when it comes to these movies so I'm very excited to welcome Jared Allman to my blog.

Jared is an out actor, model and up-and-coming author known for a couple of movies I adore - Scenes From a Gay Marriage and More Scenes From a Gay Marriage. You can see his full bio at the bottom of this post. But now without further ado, please welcome Jared Allman to my blog.

~Hey, Jared, welcome to Chaos in the Moonlight & the Hop Against Homophobia, Bi- & Transphobia. I really appreciate you stopping by. Congratulations on your Best Supporting Actor win at the TLA Gaybies. How awesome is it that More Scenes From a Gay Marriage won 4 awards?

It's pretty incredible to think that the film and my friends/actors swept the awards when you think about all the notable talent that was also nominated. I was both surprised and humbled to have won. To be honest I did not expect it.

~Would you mind telling us a little about yourself? Do you have any siblings? Pets? Did you sit in the front row of your school classroom or did you prefer the back? Were you into sports or drama or band? Basically anything you'd like to offer up would be awesome.

I do have siblings. I've got 3 brothers and one sister. No pets. Def a back of the room kinda guy in every way. I like to go unnoticed. Haha, that’s the shy boy in me.

~As I've explained a little above, the hop is working in conjunction with the International Day Against Homophobia to spread the word about hope for a prejudice-free world—specifically regarding homophobia & transphobia. How did homophobia affect you in your younger years? I understand you came from a religious family, did that affect how or when you came out?

Coming out for me was a challenge and something that haunted me for most of my youth. I was terrified of being rejected by my family and being truly alone in the world. I got called “fag” and “gay” pretty regularly in high school. Because it was obvious I wasn’t interested in girls. Becoming aware of yourself is a task and loving yourself when you feel alone and misunderstood is even harder. 

Having grownup Mormon and in the South, I used to pray every day to have a desire and attraction to women. I just wanted to be like everyone else and not be different. Well, that prayer went unanswered or was it answered? I don’t mean to quote Garth Brooks, but it certainly fits in this context…“I think some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers” and I thank God for that unanswered prayer. He made me just the way he intended.

~I think you already know I'm a big fangirl for your movies, Jared. I adore Scenes From a Gay Marriage and More…" How did you get into acting? And your more recent accomplishment - modeling? Congratulations, by the way.

Well I have been acting/modeling for probably about ten years or so. It was always a hobby I enjoyed. Intially, I liked it because I could be someone else. I hated myself. I hated living a lie. I hated not being honest with myself and my family. I hated feeling dirty and unworthly of love. And if I was acting I didn’t have to be myself.

~I'm a sucker for a Happily Ever After ending in the movies I watch and in my books. That's one of the things I really like about your films. They take a more light-hearted approach to life. There's been a trend toward sad endings in a lot of gay films and I've read articles about the importance of dealing with reality in the gay community. Don't get me wrong, one of the most powerful films I've seen recently (& with a box of Kleenex at my side) was The Normal Heart. Do you believe both ends of the spectrum are important to portray and if so, why? 

I love a good happy ending too. But the older I get, I realize that true happy endings are just a fairytale, and it's up to us to grow and learn from the disappointments that is life on many levels. I think Leonard Nimoy said it best when he said, “A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory.” So I think that both endings offer a version of the truth. We all want the fairytale. I want the fairytale. J But reality is that tragedy is very much the end. And for us to learn from history, sadly, we have to be reminded or we forget and make the same mistakes that end in the same way.


~Does homophobia still affect you in your day-to-day life or your chosen profession? Do you think society has changed its attitude over the years? Is acceptance more common now?

I don’t deal with it in my day-to-day life.  Luckily, my profession is pretty open and accepting. In the artistic world differences are celebrated not shunned. But I think the overall climate is changing.  People are much more accepting because people are living more honest lives. I'd say that nowadays everyone has someone that is LGBT in their family. It's hard to hate when it's yours. Love usually wins.

~I live in Calgary, Alberta and over the past few years more mentoring programs for gay teens have sprung up in the city. Have you ever been involved in mentoring, either for yourself or as a mentor? Do you think these programs are a good step toward helping the youth of today?

I can't say I have been involved directly as either, but any time I can speak and make a difference I do. Whether it goes noticed or unnoticed. I think those programs are vital especially in the rural communities that are off the beaten path.

~I believe it's important to speak about homophobia in a positive way since the more people that read, hear or see, and become aware of the cause, the better chance one day we won't need days like The International Day Against Homophobia anymore. Do you have any words of wisdom or just plain words to offer on the subject of homophobia? Anything you'd like to say to young men who haven't come out yet or are struggling with doing so?

I think coming out is your own story to tell. I think it should be respected and no one should pressure you or take that away from you. In many ways I would compare it to running a successful Presidential campaign. First you have to decide you want to be president and come to terms with it yourself. Then you have to build a team of supporters—your close family and friends—before you can start winning over key states—be open to the world. And now you're not alone. Reach out to someone you look up to. Someone you admire. Tell them you feel alone and ask them for help. I can nearly promise with 100 percent certainty that they won't let you go through it alone.

~Now, before I let you off the hook, I like to do a little game with my guests at the end of an interview. Here we go.

Beach or mountains - Beach

Coffee or tea - Coffee

 Apple or orange - Orange

Long-stemmed roses or wildflowers – Long-stemmed roses

Pecs or abs - Abs

Smile or eyes - Eyes

Dog or cat - Cat

Top or bottom J - Top


Thanks so much for stopping by. I look forward to seeing more of you on the silver screen.

~*~*~*~

Jared Allman's easy, Southern charm and killer, good looks are just two of the reasons his film career continues to rise. A favorite of indie director, Matt Riddlehoover, Allman has garnered acclaim with leading roles in the filmmaker's recent titles, West Hollywood Motel, Scenes from a Gay Marriage, and the sequel More Scenes From a Gay Marriage - all of which played to rave reviews on the film festival circuit. (EDIT - Jared won Best Supporting Actor for More Scenes...) Allman has rounded out 2014 co-starring in the feature film, Les Wolf (renamed Dark Moon Rising), and the upcoming short film, King Simon, from director Richard Norman.

In the TV world, Allman has appeared in several country music videos and docu-series on the Travel Channel and Disney Channel. He made his biggest small-screen splash as a key player in season two of the Sundance Channel's reality series, Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys: Nashville -- the highest-rated original series in the network's history.

Allman relocated to Atlanta in 2012 following a year-long stint working at WME's office in Nashville. An East Tennessee native, Allman is also in the final stages of turning his unique life story into a memoir, Kinda Good at Everything: Growing Up Southern, Mormon, and Gay.

~*~*~*~

Thanks for joining Jared and I, everyone. My giveaways are still up for grabs so check out the Rafflecopter instructions and leave me a comment if you're so inclined. 





Keep on hoppin'


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Families aren't always blood. A personal post for the HAHBAT.

Hi and welcome to my second post of the Hop Against Homophobia, Bi- & Transphobia. This is the actual third day of the hop and I hope you've found some interesting posts to promote awareness. Today my topic is a little more personal.

If you know anything about me, you'll know I'm open about the fact that I suffer from clinical depression and have for over twenty years. My illness has forced me into hospital many, many times, and it was during one of those stays that I met John* (name has been changed).

I hadn't been published yet but by the end of the year my first book, Finally Home, would be sailing through the webisphere. It was several months before that when I made a friend in the hospital - yes, on the psychiatric ward. I'll call him John for now. If you've ever been in a psych ward, you'll understand it's usually not the most comfortable of places, there can be little to occupy your mind, and there are some people who scare the hell out of you while others you might just leave a lasting impression on you.

John was in his late 20's early, had been admitted into the unit before me, and at first we merely said hello in the dining room and maybe watched television together just to get out of our rooms...until we found the stash of puzzles. We started out slow, easier ones to just get our brains accustomed to being used again between bouts of changing meds and emotional stress. You never want to bite off more than you can chew after all, and I'm pretty confident that neither one us wanted to get stuck on our first time out.

In the beginning, we had helpers. Patients and even staff who would wander by and add the odd piece or just give an opinion on what and how we should put it together. But that puzzle and all the ones following belonged to John and I. Eventually, we tried bigger and more difficult ones. We had even arranged a special table with two chairs facing across from one another, and we spent more than just puzzle time together. We were usually the nighthawks of the unit, just sitting with each other, sorting the puzzles into at first edges/border pieces then sectioned off groups of colours or recognizable objects. I'd found someone with the same organizing-OCD as myself and I was ecstatic to have also made a friend who I really, really liked.

Our conversations began as light and casual, two people trying to make the best of an uncomfortable situation and environment. I felt like I could tell John anything and I did. I starting talking about what books interested me and how I read and wrote fan fiction that was a little out of the norm. I told him how compassionate I was about all things related to gay rights. I talked about a roommate I briefly had in college who was more flamboyant than not, about how he had to stay as butch or manly as possible because of the redneck, Alberta town we lived in.

Revelation happened one night as John and I sat across a puzzle from one another, snacking, drinking pop, chatting, laughing, and basically just basking in the friendship we'd been lucky enough to forge in a place that could be less than friendly. We both had our heads down, carefully inspecting puzzle pieces as we neared the end of a very difficult puzzle. It was a comfortable silence but suddenly, John whispered something. His voice was low and barely audible, plus he kept his head down so I had trouble hearing him.

"Did you say something?"

"I said I have something to tell you."

I instinctually froze, my mind whirling into many different possibilities for his statement. And being the person that I am, I immediately thought I'd done something wrong, something to upset him.

"I'm sorry. Did I do something wrong?"


"I'm a trans-man."

John kept his eyes glued to the puzzle but his breathing became audible to me, his knee shaking a bit under the table where it touched mine.

"I don't want to sound stupid...and I don't want to offend you, but does that mean you are transitioning male to female?"

He shook his head, finally looking me in the eye. "No. I'm female to male. I used to be girl."

Now please understand that I'm not a naive or uninformed person with regards to what John shared, but I will admit it freaked me out a little. Except not for the reasons most people might think. His sexuality or gender wasn't an issue for me. He was my friend. What surprised me though was that I honestly couldn't tell and had no clue whatsoever, and maybe that just showed my arrogance or naiviety. 

Let me tell you about John. He wasn't tall, around 5'6" maybe. His frame was average but not slight. He walked with a confidence and swagger, and to be honest, I'd admired how nicely his butt filled out his jeans. I'd seen him in a hospital gown which definitely didn't hide whether the wearer had breasts or not. He was good-looking, none of his features screamed female, but he did have the most beautiful, wide green eyes and gentle smile. I'd even witnessed his five o'clock shadow.

We were silent for a while and I could see the nervousness in John's face. I reached across the puzzle, took his hand and held it for a few moments.

"Are you freaked out?"

I shook my head. "Just a little surprised that I didn't know."

He laughed, squeezed my hand and said, "I guess the hormones are doing a good job then."

After that, I found myself checking him out whenever we were together, looking for little hints that this man I'd become attached to had at one time been a woman. I never found any. I also did a little politically incorrect questioning - did he prefer to date men or women? 

"Women," he replied with a smirk. "I guess I'm sort of a lesbian in a man's body." You can probably see that despite John's tumultuous time in the outside world, he was a very giving and gentle person.

Then something happened that made John panic. He had been switched to another room, one that housed a patient that was a little more intrusive and ill than the others. He had become violent on more than one occasion, been strapped to his bed. I believe he had some brain damage because he just really never knew where he was. He was also known to have no sense of privacy and would barge in the bathroom door in the room he was in.

You see, John had traveled to the US to have a double mastectomy and reconstruction surgery, but he hadn't yet decided whether to have genital reassignment surgery. In other words, he didn't urinate standing up and he was terrified that his new roommate would walk into the bathroom when he was in there. And that had been known to happen.

During the same week something else stressful happened to John. A new nurse appeared on the unit and when John saw her, he practically bolted from our little puzzle oasis and into his room. John had gone to nursing school as a woman and this new nurse had been one of his friends. Can you imagine the circumstances of him seeing her again after everything that had happened? Add that to the fact, John had been admitted to hospital after trying to hang himself and the whole situation was almost surreal

At one point, he was in a state of complete anxiety and panic. I took him into one of the private family rooms and we sat there a long time. It was obvious that his reason for being certified (forced to stay in hospital) was on his chart, as well as all the other information he'd only shared with a handful of people - his male to female transition. Together we decided it might be best for him to take the bull by the horns and speak to the nurse. He asked me to sit with them, and I did. It went well and I was so proud of my friend for speaking about his fears and anxiety.

Another week past and John was moved to a different room again, one that was far more stable for him. The calm was short lived though as John received a phone call that his parents were in town and would be up to see him. The anxiety returned, the panic visible in his eyes as he sat across from me again. John grew up in a small town, a farming community, and had moved to the big city for nursing school. He'd gone through his transitioning there with minimal contact with his parents. Minimal contact until John finally came out to them.

They traveled to the city then, too, and John admitted the horrific way they treated him, the things they said, the names they called him, the understanding that he wasn't part of their family anymore. These things had been the catalyst for John trying to hang himself. Of course, his parents were listed as his personal contacts when he was admitted to hospital and it took them 5 weeks to finally make the trip.

John was mere weeks away from being discharged. He'd been networking with a social worker to join a transgender group amongst other things to help support him once he was out. But the day his family visited, I saw a change in John. I saw him crawl into a shell I hadn't witnessed before. I watched him become insecure in talking to anyone, his eyes directed at the floor, his stance nervous and unstable. I listened to him breakdown when his family would call him. You have to understand that there isn't much in the the way of privacy in a psychiatric unit, especially if you're using the phone in the dining room.

He never talked much about what happened with his parents and I didn't ask anything to make him relive it. I do remember him saying his life had been easier without them in it and that he thought he'd never get what he truly wanted. We talked about that, about how he just wanted to live as a man, do his own thing, be his own person, but the shadow of his parents was always hanging over him. He'd tried to cut them out on more than one occasion but their hold was tight. And let's face it, your family is supposed to be there for you over your entire life. That's hard to just throw away.

A week after his family had been there, John started being allowed to take day passes to leave the hospital for a few hours at a time. He did really well at first, coming back at his assigned time and seeming to be at peace with leaving the hospital for good. He'd been back to his apartment where his suicide attempt had occurred and that was something we both worried about. His parents had cleaned it up, made the rope and other things associated with that fateful day disappear. John had succumbed to the depression he'd suffered since their rejection. He said the place still creeped him out a bit, still held a little of his old insecurity inside its walls, but that he was getting treatment to overcome that and looking for a new place as well.

One day John was late getting back from his day pass and several hours after he was supposed to be there, he called on dining room phone to speak to me. He was crying, despondent, barely able to speak but what I did manage to understand was that his parents had shown up during the day without warning. I told him to get in a taxi and come back. I'd pay for it when he got there even if I had to break out of the damn unit myself.

He said he had a way to get back so I shouldn't worry. He asked me to not tell the nurses I'd talked to him, said he'd get himself under control then be back to finish the puzzle with me. I sat there for another hour, my mind twisting this way and that - should I tell, should I wait a little longer, what the hell was the right answer? I chose to tell the one nurse I trusted implicitly on the unit. She tried calling John's phone, then with my information and the fact John had missed his curfew so to speak, a crisis team was sent to his apartment along with the police.

I wish I could say this story ends like the ones I write - with a happy ending. But I can't and I apologize if revealing the truth upsets anyone who reads this post. John died that day, his apartment not quite as clean and clear of his previous suicide attempt as his parents had thought. He used the same rope.

I'm not entirely sure what to write about this now. I suffered a bit of a breakdown when I was told and had to be sedated. I asked the nurse to take the puzzle we'd been working on away because I couldn't bear to see it. I'm pretty sure I woke up every day after that expecting to see John in the dining room, having saved a place for me if I was late. But that never happened, and as far as I'm concerned John became another notch in the strangling belt of homophobia/transphobia.


He became another casualty to the disgust, disrespect, and lack of understanding that takes the lives of so many in this fight for simple acceptance. He became one of the reasons I was so passionate about starting this blog hop, one of the reasons I write the books that I do. 

This is the fourth year of this event and until now I haven't been able to share John's story. I hope you understand why I've been so blunt and also why I've shared the sweet moments along with the tragic ones.

I barely knew John for 5 weeks but I know he changed my life. He made me become even more aware and compassionate towards those who don't have a support system like they should be blessed with. John was strong. He was trying to get on with his life, but going against everything his family believed in, hearing them say they'd never accept him for what he was, beat him down to the point he couldn't get back up.

It's my wish that promoting awareness about these issues, about all the suffering the Johns in the world go through, will help other Johns who are still questioning themselves. I just want them to know there is help and support and love that they don't need to get only from their families. Don't get me wrong, I'm certainly not saying all families are bad because I know that's not anywhere near the truth, but I believe the following quote is something we can all try to remember.

"Family isn't always blood. It's the people in your life who want you in theirs. The ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile, and love you no matter what." ~~Anonymous

John will always be part of my life and he's definitely one of the reasons the Hop Against Homophobia, Bi- & Transphobia is so important. It's like the picture I've posted here says...


"With more visibility comes more understanding."

Thanks for letting me share this with you. Thanks to everyone for keeping this event going. You can check out the giveaways I'm offering in the Rafflecopter link, and leave me a comment if you can. I'd love to hear how you feel about my post. 

Tomorrow I'll have an interview with actor, model, and up-coming author Jared Allman (from the movies Scenes from a Gay Marriage & More Scenes from a Gay Marriage) about homophobia as he grew up Southern, Mormon, & gay. Make sure you hop by. Peace




Keep on hoppin'


Sunday, May 17, 2015

Hop Against Homophobia, Bi- & Transphobia has started!

Hi y'all. Welcome to the Hop Against Homophobia, Bi- & Transphobia. Thanks for hopping along with us. Today is the International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia http://dayagainsthomophobia.org/and this is our fourth year participating.

This will be the main post for my blog, but to be perfectly honest, I'm not prepared. So rather than trying to use my own brain, I thought I'd share a favorite author, poet and playwright of mine whose story is applicable to the cause we've all come together to promote awareness for.


Oscar Wilde was a man living far beyond his period in time. He was born in 1856 in Dublin, Ireland, and the way he lived and died have made him infamous throughout the world. Many people know Wilde for his novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and the various plays and movies that have been made about it. One of the more well-known films in recent years was Wilde starring the fabulous Stephen Fry. If you haven't seen it, check it out.



In 1891, homosexuality was classified as a crime in England. Wilde had been having an affair with Lord Alfred Douglas, the son of a marquee. The young man's father accused Wilde of being  a homosexual and Wilde in turn sued him for libel. His suit didn't go well, and the accusations snowballed until Wilde was arrested then judged guilty on the charges of gross indecency and sodomy. He was sentenced to two years imprisonment with hard labour.

Prison was the beginning to the end for Wilde and after being transferred from one prison to another, he wrote this:


From two o'clock till half past two on that day I had to stand on the centre platform at Clapham Junction in convict dress and handcuffed, for the world to look at.... Of all possible objects I was the most grotesque. When people saw me they laughed. Each train as it came in swelled the audience. Nothing could exceed their amusement.... For half an hour I stood there in the grey November rain surrounded by a jeering mob.


Wilde was released from prison in 1897. He moved to France and rekindled his relationship with Douglas, and wrote what to me is one of his most powerful poems about his time in prison, The Ballad of Reading Gaol. Once released, his health deteriorated rapidly and he eventually died from cerebral meningitis at the age of forty-six. I think he would have been appreciated for his talent and uniquenss if he was alive today, plus he was always ahead of his time in his fashion sense, too.


His remains were moved in 1909 to Père Lachaise in Paris where a large winged stone figure adorns his grave, inscribed with lines from The Ballad of Reading Gaol:


And alien tears will fill for him

Pity's long broken urn.
For his mourners will be outcast men,
And outcasts always mourn.

I guess my reason in sharing this is the fact that as far-fetched, disgusting, and barbaric Wilde's treatment was both in and out of prison, the thing to consider is that there are countries around the world who still create just as much chaos, pain and sometimes death for homosexuals. We see the news reports, read the articles, yet those things seem so far removed from the world we live in.


One of the goals of the HAHAT is to promote and spread this sort of awareness in any way we can. So when you're reading, listening, or seeing things that you love, there's always an opportunity to reach back into history to see what's applicable today. In closing I'm going to add a few links to some of my fave Wilde works.


The Ballad of Reading Gaol - http://www.neuroticpoets.com/wilde/poem/gaol/

A Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)
The Canterbury Ghost (1887) - http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/UBooks/CanGho.shtml#2
Flower of Love - http://www.literaturecollection.com/a/wilde/350/

Les Ballons


Against these turbid turquoise skies
The light and luminous balloons
Dip and drift like satin moons
Drift like silken butterflies;

Reel with every windy gust,

Rise and reel like dancing girls,
Float like strange transparent pearls,
Fall and float like silver dust.

Now to the low leaves they cling,

Each with coy fantastic pose,
Each a petal of a rose
Straining at a gossamer string.

Then to the tall trees they climb,

Like thin globes of amethyst,
Wandering opals keeping tryst
With the rubies of the lime.

~Oscar Wilde





"I have nothing to declare except my genius."


~Oscar Wilde~

Now don't forget to visit the other blogs on the hop and visit them often. Most will post more than once this week. As for me, I can promise a few more posts including an interview with an actor I adore who has starred in the gay films from Scenes from a Gay Marriage and More Scenes from a Gay Marriage. 


Don't forget to check out and enter my Rafflcopter giveaway - I'm offering three prizes. :) 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Keep on hoppin'


Saturday, March 28, 2015

New release giveaway! Love Between Peace & War

Greetings - the pic is a little misleading because release day is actually tomorrow - March 29, 2015 at Amber Quill.

But...

Love Between Peace & War

...is almost live and I'm offering up an ebook copy for a giveaway.

Just leave your name, email address, and tel me what comes to mind when you think about the 1960's (whether you were born or not). ;) Contest will be open until Saturday, April 4, 2015.


Love Between Peace & War.
Release date March 29 from Amber Quill


Blurb

Philip Dunlop grew up in a traditional family with a strict former-military father and a full-time homemaker mother. Now he’s graduated from the Air Force Academy with a promising military career ahead of him. 

Dusty Baxter’s upbringing was far more unconventional, with a free-spirited single mother who encouraged Dusty to follow his heart and forge his own path in life. So he does, wearing his hair long, writing songs of peace, and going with the flow in a world at odds with itself. 

In spite of their different backgrounds, Phillip and Dusty formed a firm bond of friendship as kids, a friendship that inevitably grew into love as they, and their relationship, matured. Now, Phillip’s family wants him to focus on his military career and settle down with a nice girl. They’ve known Dusty forever, but he’s still the very definition of everything they think is wrong with the turbulent world of 1970. 


As Phillip’s friend, Dusty’s politely tolerated. But if the truth of Dusty and Phillip’s relationship comes to light, the revelation just might be the wedge that tears apart not only Phillip’s family, but Phillip and Dusty as well. 

In a time of war-mongering and peace signs, can best friends find enough common ground to save their love and move forward together into the future?


Buy link and excerpt at...
http://www.amberquill.com/.../2156-Love-Between-Peace-War...