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Codey

My little rant

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OK, so I?m screwed up. There have been some things going on in my life lately that have been taking up way to much of my time. I?ve found myself failing into the trap of negative thinking and it?s causing problems in my relationships with my grandfather and even some friends. I?ve been accused of being too vanilla or too white bread by some because of the things I believe and for a while I was beginning to think maybe they were right and I was wrong.

I admit that I?m vanilla and white bread but that?s the way I was reared. While my parents were alive, I was taught that if you see a wrong you try to right it, if you see someone who needs help you do all you can to give them the help they need. They, and now my grandfather, have taught me that just because something was a certain way it doesn?t mean it always will have to be that way or that the way some things are doesn?t mean that they can?t be changed for the better. I guess what I?m trying to say is that my outlook on life is at odds with many adults who have settled for life the way it is instead of working to make it the way it could be.

This acceptance of the way things are, or are perceived to be, is reflected in much of the ?gay? fiction on line today. It carries with it the message that there is no hope for change so just learn to endure. The emphasis on negativity and sex in most stories is sending the wrong message to teens who are struggling to even admit to themselves that they?re gay let alone admit it to the world. It is sending the message that there must be something wrong with us or things wouldn?t be so bad for us. In far to many stories, gay teens are portrayed as flawed in someway as if being gay means being flawed. Gay teens are no more flawed than their straight counterparts with the exception of issues raised by their perceptions of what their lives are going to be like as gay men or women. Without a more positive picture of what it means to be gay, these teens have only what they see online as models for gay life.

I, for one, am tired of being told I?m out of the mainstream because I don?t like stories with graphic sex or drug usage. I don?t like being told I?m an idiot because I see some of the stories on line to be harmful to some people. I don?t like being told that I?m not living in the real world because I refuse to believe that these things are reality and the way I think, believe and live is fantasy.

I can?t thank Mike, TR and Blue enough for their running interference for me and giving me heads ups about stories they know I?ll be uncomfortable with.

OK...rant over. Now maybe I can get back to writing my silly little poems and just being me.

Codey

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Writers write about what they know.

When I read stories online about happy, healthy gay teens with accepting parents, who don't get harrassed, humiliated and beaten on at school, I have to suspend my disbelief. When I hear about guys coming out to their dads and not getting hit, I find it a little shocking. When I hear about gay kids going to church and being accepted, I don't know what to think. When I hear about cops that actually give a damn and don't give you crap, I can hardly believe it.

I'm glad when I hear and see this stuff. I wouldn't wish some of the shit I've lived through on a dog. However, it is so far outside of my own experience that I have no frame of reference.

It's not my world, it's not my experience and frankly I don't see it. [Granted, I live in Mississippi which is only slighly gay friendlier than Iran.]

As for changing that world, you must first survive it. A whole lot of good people don't. I believe that shining the light of truth on things that happen in the shadows and are concealed by shame is the best way of raising awareness- the first step of changing the status quo.

Yes, it's disturbing. It's sometimes difficult to read about. It's MUCH more disturbing and difficult to live it.

You don't do gay teens any favors painting the gay world as rosy and being inhabitated with care bears. That is NOT the case. It has just as many tricks, traps and predators as the straight world if not more so. It is inhabitated by just as many angry, damaged and evil people.

In my experience, ignorance is not bliss. The things that hit me the hardest were the things that blind-sided me. If I can't change the world through my work, maybe I can explain a few things and perhaps warn a few people about those tricks and traps.

My way of attacking the darkness is by exposing it to light. It is not the only way but I believe that it is valid and useful.

Please don't take this as a flame. It is merely a difference in artistic vision and experience. The same sort of debate that Keats [a Romantic] and Kipling [a realist] might have had.

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codey,

i think your statements have much more to do with the adolescent world in general than just gay teens. sure, being gay is another thing to add to the awkward, strained and often painful years of adolescence, but i don't think it's what makes being a teen so hard.

i grew up/ went to high school in a place where homosexuality is no big deal. plenty of kids i went to school with were gay, and no one (except the total bastards) cared. we had coming out day assemblies, and project 10 east (the gsa) had to move its meetings to the cafe because the membership was so high. there were some gay kids who had trouble at home, (mostly the ones from catholic families) but there was a huge support network at school for both them and their parents.

anyway, my point in saying all this is that the persecution and depression you hear about amongst many gay teens was not the norm in my world. but that didn't change the fact that an awful lot of them (and the straight kids too!) used a lot of drugs, drank, and had orgy parties. wether wrong or not, those things are the norm for many teens. i personally never participated in those things, but i was in the extreme minority.

i went to a school of 2,400 kids from all racial and socioeconomic backgrounds (meaning, i went to school with everyone from who lived in projects and parents spoke no english to kids who lived in mansions and vacationed on their private yacht in the caymans every year).

they did an anonymous survey of the kids every 2 years, to see what kinds of risky behaviors they were engaging in.

these were the results for my senior year (2002):

88% drank alcohol at least once a week

76% used marijuana at least once a month

62% were sexually active

83% of those who were sexually active used condoms

32% tried cocaine at least once

48% used a hallucionogenic drug (shrooms, acid, etc.) in the past 6 months

68% seriously considered suicide in the past month

80% participated in an "extremely violent" (meaning bloody) fight in the past 6 months

23% paid for or charged money for sex

there were other results, such as how many used steriods, and how many people cheated on tests, etc. but these are the results that it think are the most relevant for what you're talking about.

more power to you codey, for wanting to improve the world and for sticking by your beliefs and not participating in activities that you don't agree with. but that doesn't mean you should ignore the fact that those things go on, and a lot more than they probably should. i believe that part of being able to "right the wrong" as you put it, is being able to recognize that wrong and speak about it, ignoring it won't make it go away.

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This acceptance of the way things are, or are perceived to be, is reflected in much of the ?gay? fiction on line today. It carries with it the message that there is no hope for change so just learn to endure. The emphasis on negativity and sex in most stories is sending the wrong message to teens who are struggling to even admit to themselves that they?re gay let alone admit it to the world. It is sending the message that there must be something wrong with us or things wouldn?t be so bad for us. In far to many stories, gay teens are portrayed as flawed in someway as if being gay means being flawed. Gay teens are no more flawed than their straight counterparts with the exception of issues raised by their perceptions of what their lives are going to be like as gay men or women. Without a more positive picture of what it means to be gay, these teens have only what they see online as models for gay life.

I agree with the statement that in many stories, gay teens are portrayed as flawed. However, I disagree with the interpretation of this. In many stories (of all genres), characters are portrayed as flawed. This is not unique to gay ficition. A question has been made previously about WHY having flawed characters should be considered to be bad. After all, people are generally flawed.

What I DO agree with is that gay teens need positive encouragement as well as education on the dangers they can face. A balance of the two is needed. I learnt this lesson from the feedback I got on Falls Creek Lessons. Readers enjoyed what was essentially a romance. I've promised myself I'll write another one at some stage, but I also find the other, more angst-ridden, stories equally important.

I, for one, am tired of being told I?m out of the mainstream because I don?t like stories with graphic sex or drug usage. I don?t like being told I?m an idiot because I see some of the stories on line to be harmful to some people. I don?t like being told that I?m not living in the real world because I refuse to believe that these things are reality and the way I think, believe and live is fantasy.

Unless I am in the mood for what I saw someone call "text porn", I usually skip graphic sex scenes in stories. Drug usage usually leaves me with a "ho-hum" feeling. I don't like seeing it, but if it doesn't start to dominate the story, I don't have a major concern. The only recreational drug I've ever taken is alcohol, and while I've considered others a couple of times, I've never really been that interested. I can see how reading about it could influence some people, and for that I think your concern has some merit.

While reality has some sway with fiction, it should not be used as the rule. As an example, I recently tried writing a short story with how I felt a gay teenager SHOULD be treated. I gave myself a challenge and decided I wanted to write a "happy" story. Unfortunately, the muses have gone away at the moment, so the story is sitting half written.

Ficition can be used for a number of purposes. It can educate people about what is happening in the real world. It can let people escape from the real world. It can help someone understand that they are not alone in the real world.

All of these are legitimate uses of fiction. Insisting on "reality" means that the story can't be used to escape. Denying that certain things DO occur means that the story can't be used to educate those ignorant, or help readers realise they aren't alone.

OK...rant over. Now maybe I can get back to writing my silly little poems and just being me.

Codey

Excuse me? I didn't realise you wrote silly little poems. I've only seen the good stuff.....

Graeme

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You know, there's room in gay fiction for a variety of styles and points of view. Unlike the aforementioned republican statement, this is not a whitewash. Codey's point of view gives me hope, and James' point of view grounds me in the reality that we still have a long way to go. We need both.

Is there something wrong with believing that the world can change, and become a better place? no, I don't believe so. Should we write about that, and maybe give some hope to someone somewhere who needs it? yep, that's a good thing too.

On the flip side, there's nothing wrong with writing about the shit that can happen either. Do not be deceived--living in the world is like swimming in a shark tank. There's a lot of predators out there, and maybe knowing something about how they operate will help someone avoid them...though I find that most people learn by direct experience, rather than by reading something.

cheers!

aj

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So many replies to reply too. I guess I?ll just take them in order.

James Savik: You don't do gay teens any favors painting the gay world as rosy and being inhabitated with care bears. That is NOT the case. It has just as many tricks, traps and predators as the straight world if not more so. It is inhabitated by just as many angry, damaged and evil people

I don?t believe I?m painting a rosy picture of gay life but I do believe it?s realistic. You say you have no point of reference for my reality but that goes both ways. I?m sorry you?ve lived the life you have but it is not what the majority of gay teens experience. What they do experience is a fear of being gay based on the negative stories they read on line and hear about from other sources. Do you want some scary statistics? The suicide rate among young gay males ages 13/19 is four times the rate for straight guys in the same age group. In interviews with some who survive the suicide attempt, one of the main factors in trying to kill themselves was their perception of what kind of life they were going to have to lead as gays. Where do they get these perceptions? Most say from stories on the internet.

You?re right that the world isn?t just inhabited by care bears but they are out there and when I find one I take it into my life and heart. You don?t see the life a lot of gay teens live but where are you looking? You won?t find them in the bars and pick up joints. You?ll find them in the schools and in churches and playing ball with their friends. You?ll find them at the parks with their families on a picnic or at the beach with friends.

It?s true that bad things happen to good people but bad things happen more often to people who have made some bad choices in their lives and put themselves at risk.

plasticreality: Your statistics were shocking and drove me to research to verify them. What I found was your school must have been an anomoly. The instances of violence and drug and alcohol use was above the norm by factors ranging from X3 to X10.

http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/factsheets/yvfact...ts.htm....Among students nationwide, 33% reported being in a physical fight one or more times in the 12 months preceding the survey (Grunbaum et al. 2004).

http://www.health.org/govpubs/rpo990/...Twenty-two percent of youth under age 18 report drinking at least once a week. l "res19"

http://www.healthcalculators.org/calculato...lcohol.asp...In a medical study of 11,426 teens, almost 18 percent indicated they drank alcohol at least once per month. About 10 percent said they drank alcohol at least once per week

http://www.marijuanaaddiction.info/marijua...htm...Marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug in the United States. It tends to be the first illegal drug that teens use. Nearly one in ten teens ages 12 to 17 currently used marijuana in the United States. Nearly a quarter of eighth graders reported that they had already tried it. A 1997 survey of Michigan high-school students showed that 48 percent of students surveyed had tried marijuana and 28 percent were current users....Marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug in the United States. According to the 2000 NHSDA, an estimated 14.0 million Americans were current (past month) marijuana users. This represents 6.3 percent of people aged 12 or older and 76 percent of current illicit drug users.

http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/public...cocaine/...this site has graphs showing only 7.8% of seniors in 2002 had tried cocaine in their lifetime.

http://www.nida.nih.gov/Infofacts/HSYoutht...s.html....shows 12% have used hallucinogens in their lifetime

Studies have shown that approximately 20% of teens have considered suicide but that only 1% of that 20% actually make a suicide attempt.

http://www.kron4.com/Global/story.asp?S=793347...SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) -- There are an estimated 400,000 children under the age of 18 involved in prostitution nationwide, or 1 out of every 22 teenage girls across the country....44,000,000 million kids 10/19...this shows the national average to be less than one percent of teens involved in prostitution.

with only .75 of one percent of teens nationwide involved in prostitution, maybe the 23% at your school needed the money to pay for their drug and alcohol habits?

There are many sites on line other than the ones I?ve listed, that have basically the same numbers. I can only conclude that there was a serious problem at your school that was being ignored.

Having lived with this I understand that it is your reality but again as with James, this is not the reality most teens live with.

My favorite Aussie, Graeme:I agree with the statement that in many stories, gay teens are portrayed as flawed. However, I disagree with the interpretation of this. In many stories (of all genres), characters are portrayed as flawed. This is not unique to gay ficition. A question has been made previously about WHY having flawed characters should be considered to be bad. After all, people are generally flawed.

I think if you reread what I wrote I was saying that I objected to them being portrayed as flawed because they were gay. The next sentence in my rant explains that I recognize we are all flawed but no more flawed than the people in the straight world.

Graeme: All of these are legitimate uses of fiction. Insisting on "reality" means that the story can't be used to escape. Denying that certain things DO occur means that the story can't be used to educate those ignorant, or help readers realise they aren't alone.

I don?t deny these things happen or that they should be explored in our stories. I know kids are abused and that some lose their homes and families and it is heart breaking but the picture painted by the prevalence of negative stories on line tends to lead, people searching for answers, to believe that this is what generally happens instead of it being what happens in a small minority of cases.

For instance, you cite your story Falls Creek Lessons. It deals with not one but a possible second gay rape. You handled it brilliantly. It was dealt with and you were able to show that Paul, with help from Chris and other friends, was learning to cope unlike Dan?s friend who tried handling it on his own and ended up dead. Through Paul?s concern, you were able to show what to look out for...a good lesson for your readers.

Graeme: Excuse me? I didn't realise you wrote silly little poems. I've only seen the good stuff.....

Hummm...maybe your monitors broken or you need new glasses? LOL (Thanks BTW)

Codey

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One thing that is not being taken into account here is that there is a significant difference between what James grew up with and what Codey is now experiencing. Fortunately, for the most part, being gay is not something that is thought to give others an automatic license to abuse us.

In my experience during school, being gay is subject to ridicule and places one in a category slightly below earthworms, but was not something that provoked physical beatings. It simply was not discussed with any sincerity.

Before leaving my small home town, I had only met two same-sex couples- both in their later years. The female couple both taught my seventh-grade core classes. The male couple were retired. My parents said they were "good friends".

Anyway, experiences change as time goes on. That doesn't make my experiences, or James experiences, or Codey's experiences any less real.

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This is Trey of The Mail Crew. The Advocate said that Mississippi is the most gay-unfriendly state. New Jersey got the best score, 97, and MS got less than zero. (Less than zero???)

We get email from all states and some other countries. We have learned that reaction to gay students varies a lot within a given state and even in different sections of the same county. It even seems like some parts of California are as bad as Mississippi. But over all, things are improving a lot faster than some publications would make us believe.

Yes sir, James, there a lot of us gay teens who go to church and are accepted there, and a lot of us who are accepted by our parents. It was tough for me at first but now my dad accepts me. There are a lot of gay teens who are accepted by fellow students and by teachers and coaches. We do have a lot of care bears, but we face some sharks, too.

I have to agree with Codey about the need for positive stories for GLBTQ teens. That?s why we only host positive stories on our website.

I think our Aaron said it best in a post he wrote at another site. Here is part of it: ?Sure, we're young and idealistic, but we know that our Generation Y needs positive things to look forward to, even more than we need warnings of possible dangers.?

I started reading the big sagas by Brew Maxwell, Sequoyah and Don Hanratty when I was 15, before the authors had finished writing them. I will be 19 in August. I am glad those were the first gay stories I read. They made me feel okay about being gay and they gave me hope for my future. Mainly because of those stories I have been involved with email groups for high school students for almost three years and with our website for almost two years. During that time I have seen emails from thousands of gay and lesbian and not sure teens. I know that they are very much influenced by the positive stories and they need more of them.

I grabbed some parts of a few emails that I will paste in. Most of these quotes are from emails about our website or email groups, but they also mention stories:

This one came from a girl, 16, a junior in high school who wrote to compliment our site: ?Also the writing is great, the stories are not all about sex but about importance in relationships with struggles. My teacher also wanted to say thanks for helping kids she appreciated it.?

This one was from a boy, 14, after we recommended some stories to him. He didn?t want to read negative ones, so he asked about some we recommended: ?I read all of the stories by Dewey about Brian & Pete already, and the ones by Drake on Draketales, you know, about Chris, Brian's friend? I like the ones that are about kids my age, so. the other ones you talked about, do they got anything really bad in them, like with abuse and stuff??

This came from a guy, 17, who needs to read positive and informative things about being gay: ?Am I a straight guy with gay fantasies? Or I'm I bisexual? I don't know and I'm tired of running, I need to be honest with myself, but I need help.?

This is from a teacher who gave our URL to his school?s administration: ?One of my students tried to commit suicide Sunday night. You would think after 25 years of teaching I would get used to it. This one blind-sided me a bit. After going through the usual list of "wish I would have...." or "could I have helped if I had done..." I know the only thing that matters now is that I make sure she knows there is a place at school where she can find somebody who cares and thinks she is a terrific person.?

This is from an Irish boy, 17: ?I think your site is a must for any gay, bisexual or confused teen to read, and has helped me a lot. In rural Ireland it seems that there are no other people like me to talk to or share problems with, and you have convinced me that I'm not alone in the world.? He was mainly referring to the stories on our site.

From a boy, 16: ?I read some of Grasshopper's stories because you mentioned it in your last email... and what can I say but wow!?

From a boy, 15, who read positive stories and then had the courage to ask another boy out: ?I felt comfortable talking to him.Then we kissed in a seculded spot. My first real kiss!!! But I didn't get that silly happy feeling I expected.?

Guess what? It?s not just the teens who get so much good from the positive stories.

This one is from a much older man who wrote to compliment our site: ?Most of the authors that you mention are on my favourite list of authors and I have learned so much from their stories since I accepted my sexual orientation four years ago (I soon turn 80).?

This is from a 50+ year old woman in Australia: ?I've been gleefully reading the stories on your site. I'm reading Brew Maxwell's "Foley Mashburn Saga" today. The Christmas story (the author's name escapes me at the moment) made me sniffle.?

From an adult, unknown age: ?I am writing you about Drake Hunters "A Yule Tale". As I said to Drake in my email to him this story has joined "Miracle on 34th Street" as my co-favorite of all Christmas stories. I have rarely seen such great craftsmanship from any author. I want to thank you for hosting this terrific story!! I also want to suggest to you that you feature "A Yule Tale" at your site each year at Christmas time. I will look forward to reading this story each Christmas as long as I experience them.?

It is the positive and uplifting stories and their authors that are remembered. We know of people who have read even the longest sagas over and over again. Stories by Driver, Grasshopper, Brew Maxwell, Dewey, Drake, Sequoyah, Don Hanratty, and now Graeme, Ryan Keith and others will be remembered for a long time because of their positive impact on the lives of readers. We hope the dark and negative stories are mostly forgotten soon after they are read. They are temporary reminders of the negative elements that we all face, but they offer little or no hope.

Yes, the bad elements are all around us and we read and hear about them everyday in the news. They involve the straight world and the gay world. I just want to say that teens are very much influenced by what we see, read and hear, and that doesn?t make us idiots. We need more of the positive and less of the negative. We cast our votes for leaving the negative out of gay fiction, at least gay fiction that involves teens. The news is negative enough ? why add that element to gay fiction?

And the stories with explicit and unrealistic sex scenes? Some young kids believe that stuff. We have gotten emails from kids as young as 13 who have gone out to parks, restrooms, truck stops, etc. to look for sex, because they read about things like that in stories. They write to us because they are hurting and scared and ashamed and worried they might have gotten diseases. Some of them do.

Well, that?s my rant.

Trey, for The Mail Crew

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Someone sent us this in an email after I posted my rant:

"THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

You have articulated better than I could why positive stories are needed. I will note that all of the stories you mention that I've read, ALL include negative aspects, but have an overwhelming positive feel.

You can add me to the list of those who have used those stories to help me understand and accept who/what I am."

I'm glad he mentioned that those stories that have helped us and a lot of others do include negative aspects, but over all they are very positive.

Trey

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I really, really, really, didn?t want to reply to this entire thread because of the emotional investment I would have to make. However a certain person asked me too, so I am. Invariably, someone will take offense. Happily, being an arrogant SOB, I won?t care :) I am stubborn, strong-willed, arrogant, and anything else you want to call me. And, I can live with it because after all these years, I?ve also learned that I?m usually right. I guess that makes me smug too :D

First, Codey....

<<I?ve been accused of being too vanilla or too white bread by some because of the things I believe and for a while I was beginning to think maybe they were right and I was wrong.>>

That, sir, is horseshit. People shouldn?t ACCUSE you of anything because of what you believe. But the fact is people will and do. What you need to do is understand you have to be YOU. If people don?t want to be around you, that?s their business. If you end up with NO friends because of your choice of who YOU are then you get to decide if that?s good or bad. Frankly, I don?t see much about you that?s a problem so you?re probably on the right track and the accusers aren?t.

<<I admit that I?m vanilla and white bread but that?s the way I was reared. >>

I probably am too, but SO WHAT? If that?s the worst thing that?s wrong with someone that?s fucking fantastic!

<<I was taught that if you see a wrong you try to right it, if you see someone who needs help you do all you can to give them the help they need.>>

You were brought up well.

<< that the way some things are doesn?t mean that they can?t be changed for the better.>>

Change the world and make it a better place. Exactly.

Want to know what burns my ass? People who complain about the political climate and then you find out they?re not registered to vote. If you aren?t making an effort to correct the problem, please, shut the fuck up. You have no right to complain. If you aren?t trying to fix it, you?re part of the problem. Good for you, Codey.

<<I guess what I?m trying to say is that my outlook on life is at odds with many adults who have settled for life the way it is instead of working to make it the way it could be.>>

As my history teacher taught me in 10th grade: the masses are asses. Codey, you?re trying to be more and you are to be applauded.

<<The emphasis on negativity and sex in most stories is sending the wrong message to teens who are struggling to even admit to themselves that they?re gay let alone admit it to the world. It is sending the message that there must be something wrong with us or things wouldn?t be so bad for us. In far to many stories, gay teens are portrayed as flawed in someway as if being gay means being flawed. >>

Here?s where you?ve gone wrong. You?ve made a logical jump that?s in error. Teenagers, as a general rule, are flawed people. Before you all jump down my throat, allow me to explain. Part of becoming mature and a more perfect person is growing up. Teenagers are not done growing up. They haven?t been through life. They have flaws in their characters, many of which will correct over time ? and some which won?t.

As a writer, I portray all my characters as flawed because *ALL* people without exception *ARE* flawed. There is NO SUCH THING as a perfect person, myself included :)

<<I, for one, am tired of being told I?m out of the mainstream because I don?t like stories with graphic sex or drug usage. >>

No story I?ve ever written has graphic sex because, frankly, I can?t write a good sex scene. I?ve tried and failed. But (to use one example) Perry & Jesse has a few graphic sex scenes in it, but they are a relatively small blip in a very, very long story. And they serve a VERY important purpose: to relieve the unbelievable amount of sexual tension.

The number of teens having sex is escalating at the same time at the age at which they?re having sex is declining. (Go look it up ? it?s a fact). This is a societal ill. Teens are expecting more and more instant gratification and no longer are patient about these things. I *admire* people who wait to have sex and I don?t have a lot of respect for most teens who are proud they lost their virginity at 14. That IS NOT A BADGE OF HONOUR.

Drug use? I abhor it with a passion. I will admit to having tried and used a few drugs of an unspecified nature. So when I say I hate, it?s from a PERSONAL experience and not some high-and-mighty pulpit. I have used it and I *KNOW* what it?s like and what?s wrong with it. I have written drug use into my stories for plot reasons, but those stories haven?t been made public.

<<I can?t thank Mike, TR and Blue enough for their running interference for me and giving me heads ups about stories they know I?ll be uncomfortable with.>>

It?s nice they do that, Codey. But I can tell you one thing. From your post *you* are mature enough to make that decision on your own. You ought to read a story and decide to stop because the sex is gratuitous or the drug use is wrong. Don?t let anyone else make that decision for you ? not even those three very well-meaning and decent people. Every person has their own ideas about a story. (Maybe they?re just giving you advice, and that?s great. Or maybe you asked them to, which is also fine. I?m just saying you ought to be making those decisions on your own.)

Now, on to Mr. JS :) who, having read the above, has probably already run away and stopped reading.

<<Writers write about what they know.>>

This is true with almost all authors. But, a really good author can write what he doesn?t know. When I first put out Alone, everyone thought I was British. I?m an American ? but I faked it enough to fool quite a few of her majesty?s finer citizens. This is a stupid example, but most of my better examples are not in published works. I can assure you, I could convince you I?ve been in the military, been a drug pusher, and had rampant unprotected sex during the 60s: NONE OF WHICH I?VE DONE. And I?m not that great of an author.

<<When I read stories online about happy, healthy gay teens with accepting parents, who don't get harrassed, humiliated and beaten on at school, I have to suspend my disbelief.>>

Fundamentally, you are correct. This comes down to REALISM which was the point you wanted to make above, but didn?t. You don?t have to KNOW something to make it believable, but you have to express yourself well, and you have to understand what it is inside of yourself. Another silly example: Tokien. If you?ve read his seminal LOTR, you absolutely, unequivicollay believe in that world. The epic science-fantasy did even exist, yet there it was and totally believable. And Peter Jackson, a man after my own heart, obviously saw the world as I did because he brought it to life. He believed it too.

Some gays DO go through life without all these bad things. I know one who?s not gotten the bad end of a deal. But he?s an exception. I think a good author could make you believe a totally positive experience, maybe that author hasn?t tried to write it yet. (I know I couldn?t do it.)

<<When I hear about gay kids going to church and being accepted, I don't know what to think. >>

I believe outside of San Francisco, this wouldn?t be the norm. Church is basically evil, I believe. But, again, there ARE gay friendly churches in many cities.

<<When I hear about cops that actually give a damn and don't give you crap, I can hardly believe it.>>

Some cops DO care. The vast majority are jaded. I knew lots of cops.

<<However, it is so far outside of my own experience that I have no frame of reference. It's not my world, it's not my experience and frankly I don't see it.>>

This is the real point

<<As for changing that world, you must first survive it. A whole lot of good people don't.>>

Only the good die young. That is a truism. We agree there.

<<I believe that shining the light of truth on things that happen in the shadows and are concealed by shame is the best way of raising awareness->>

That?s only half the battle. You have to get someone to want to watch what you?re showing them. Or in my case, get them to read. All my stories have messages. Alone has detailed, complex messages. Nothing is more rewarding than when someone actually writes me to discuss one. That?s happened, oh, like, maybe, twice. Someone even figured out why I named my lead characters the way I did. Nothing in that story is by accident. There are many levels to appreciate it on, too. Most readers just want an orgasm and not a good story. That?s why I *like* being here on AD. I don?t WANT readers who want to shoot a load after reading my story because my stories WILL NOT deliver that. I seriously doubt anyone?s even pitched a tent by reading my stories. However, I believe you can even in a story which is dark and negative deliver positive messages. But it?s not an easy task for a writer.

<<Yes, it's disturbing. It's sometimes difficult to read about. It's MUCH more disturbing and difficult to live it.>>

I?m sure it is which is why I will never leave the closet and have no desire to do so. I admire those of you who have left.

<You don't do gay teens any favors painting the gay world as rosy and being inhabitated>>

Allow me to re-write it: You don't do teens any favors painting the world as rosy.

<< It is inhabitated by just as many angry, damaged and evil people.>>

Humans, as a group are a despicable lot. I have little faith in humanity, little faith in my fellow man. Like you, I rely on my experience in the world. I do have some very close friends who have proven their worth but most people have neither the temerity, tenacity, or patience to try and get close to me. I am an expert at keeping people away without them ever figuring out I am keeping them away. Many of you will think that is sad and/or pathetic. That?s okay too because it works for me.

Plastic Reality:

Those stats make me want to puke. However, I find them amazingly hard to believe. They are so far out of the statistical norm I find them difficult to accept. If they were true, it shows what?s wrong with the world. I?m not sure if I should thank you for proving my point or bitch-slap you for ruining my day :)

Graeme:

<<Ficition can be used for a number of purposes. It can educate people about what is happening in the real world. It can let people escape from the real world. It can help someone understand that they are not alone in the real world. >>

Yes, or, sadly, in much gay fiction, you can get nothing but an orgasm because the story is devoid of any value whatsoever. (I am excluding this site and point to Nifty and the like)

FOR DUDE:

A suggestion. Why not have a rating systems of sorts. Each story can be tagged with the following codes:

L = Language

S = Explicit Sex

A = Abuse

M = S&M

B = B&D

D = Drug Use

U18 = Characters under 18

O18 = All characters over 18

EEEWWW = Straight Sex :)

etc

This would allow people to know what?s in a story. I?d gladly skip B&D/S&M stories for example. This rating system makes no effort to ?RATE? a story like the MPAA which would smack of censorship, but would clue the readers as to what?s in it. You could put it at the top of each story. The author could even provide it.

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i have to say, that the survey i cited is not a perfectly administered survey. there are several factors which could make the stats out of whack.

number one is that kids answering these questions while sitting in a classroom filled with other kids might want to impress each other with how many "bad" things they've done.

number two is that a lot of those national surveys are administered by healthcare professionals and other people in positions of authority, which could make the respondants want to downplay their participation in "bad" things.

also, please take into account that i went to school in an urban environment which as i mentioned, had plenty of kids from the projects in it. these are kids that smoke a joint on the way to school and have a 40 on the way home.

a lot are from haiti and other carribean nations where marijuana use is completely common.

there are also kids at that school that are relatively well off that have a glass of wine with dinner (that their parents serve them).

as far as coicaine goes, keep in mind it is found in extacy, so they lumped that stat in with the coicaine, maybe that made it a bit higher.

yes, i'm sure the stats for my high school are high compared to the national average, but the national average also includes salt lake city, if ya take my meaning.

but anyway, that wasn't my original point in making the post. my point was, that sex, drug use and other risky behaviors are not limited to the gay population. they are things that all teenagers engage in, and too often! i am not advocating any of those behaviors, i think they hurt and hinder a lot of great kids.

i personally lost my virginity at 13, and i'm not proud of it. i wish i hadn't. maybe i could write a story about having sex at a young age with an older partner and the kind of victimization it leads to? would that be innappropriate reading for a 14 or 15 year old? i guess i'd say it depends on the kid.

like i said before. codey, more power to you for sticking by what you believe in and wanting to right those wrongs you see in the world around you. i'm glad there are kids like you out there.

turning a blind eye to problems never makes them go away.

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Heh, I remember doing those drug/sex surveys in high school. Everyone just answered "yes" to everything, so that we could see "100% of student population admits to toad-licking and sex-orgies - Teachers and parents not surprised" printed in the school paper (man, I wish I still had a copy of that issue). I...wouldn't put too much weight behind any polls of high school kids.

Back on topic...

Codey -

There's absolutely no reason to do/read things that make you feel uncomfortable. Nothing wrong with being "out of the mainstream", as you put it. When has the mainstream ever been any fun?

And being out of touch with reality? Meh. Reality's overrated. So you're an idealist, a romanticist, an optimist? Nothing wrong with that. After all, you're a poet - that's like a free pass to be as flighty as you want. 8)

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Why do i find myself in these positions? I suppose it's because I can't let a statement like: "It is the positive and uplifting stories and their authors that are remembered." or

"We hope the dark and negative stories are mostly forgotten soon after they are read.", go unchallenged.

It's my observation that the opposite is actually true. Most of the great literature of the world is notably lacking in upbeat, uplifting tales. "Anna Karenina"? not known for it's levity. Conrad's "Heart of Darkness"? not exactly upbeat. Milton's "Paradise Lost"? Not terribly uplifting. Yet all of them are surprisingly enduring, even so.

I understand why your site features positive and uplifting stories exclusively: it's because your site has an agenda to maintain, and that's ok. It has been considered a worthy attempt to push that agenda by people whose opinions I respect.

Nevertheless, to dismiss those efforts which contain elements of 'negativity' out of hand as dreary reminders of an unpleasant reality, strikes me as pretty cavalier. When art becomes a tool to advance an agenda, it runs the risk of becoming propaganda.

cheers!

aj

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Why do i find myself in these positions? I suppose it's because I can't let a statement like: "It is the positive and uplifting stories and their authors that are remembered." or

"We hope the dark and negative stories are mostly forgotten soon after they are read.", go unchallenged.

It's my observation that the opposite is actually true. Most of the great literature of the world is notably lacking in upbeat, uplifting tales. "Anna Karenina"? not known for it's levity. Conrad's "Heart of Darkness"? not exactly upbeat. Milton's "Paradise Lost"? Not terribly uplifting. Yet all of them are surprisingly enduring, even so.

I guess I should have tried to somehow make it even more obvious that I was referring to gay-oriented stories found on the Internet -- the focus of my post -- and not to great literature. I apologize for any misunderstanding.

Trey

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One of the points that is key here and needs to be examined and discussed further amoung the writers and editors that Codey has placed under the microscope so deftly, is that of the story content.

WBMS indicated that almost all teens are flawed, owing to the natural processes of learning, growing, and maturing. This is a factual point that cannot be disputed, it's a means of natural development. As is the teen need to question, search, seek, for their place in the world and within the view they have of themselves.

We need also consider that today's teens live in a world much more so complicated than the world that anyone here over the age of 35 grew up in. A great majority of the good net authors fit into that category, and as such, write from their experiences growing up, and their perceptions. Examples of which include Driver9, Dewey, Drake, Father Sequoyah, PecMan, WBMS, Aj, Graeme, and the list goes on.

Naturally, there then becomes a generational difference. Trey for example mentioned Grasshopper's stories. Besides him, I would add Gabriel Duncan, Tragic Rabbit, and young Codey as a Poet to that list. They, write from a much more contemporary view.

My point, is that ALL of the aforementioned writer's and poets, generally have published works that taken in context, protray an accurrate depiction of Gay themes and environments albeit fictionalized. Now then, the debate rages over protrayal...... I can remember when Mike started the Forum here at AD, That was a hot and heavily discussed topic in the Writer's Workshop Threads. Codey asks the right questions, and from my vantage point, ALL of you have given the correct answers.

Why? Because as a good friend of mine, a college professor once taught in his courses to his students to make them aware of given life circumstances this idea;

"You, are who you are, because of where you were when."

Give it some thought.

Take Care All.

~Deacon

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I guess I should have tried to somehow make it even more obvious that I was referring to gay-oriented stories found on the Internet -- the focus of my post -- and not to great literature. I apologize for any misunderstanding.

I suppose I should have made it even more obvious that it doesn't matter whether we're talking about gay-oriented fiction on the net or great literature...there is no difference, in this case, between the two. The art of writing is no different, and the way in which it is used remains the same.

aj

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:arrow: 1

Some things I think I've learned, but I keep having to relearn:

Be true to yourself, to what you believe in and who you are. If who you are and what you believe doesn't satisfy you, work to change yourself.

Don't expect more from yourself than you do from others.

Don't let yourself be ruled by other people's expectations or perceptions of you -- even if those are laudable and good and the people are the ones you care about most.

:arrow: 2

It is realistic to show gay people are just as ordinary or extraordinary or well adjusted or flawed as their straight friends, relatives, and neighbors. That is such a simple and basic message, but so many readers need to read it, regardless of what their experience has been like, and particularly if they are unsure about being gay.

Yes, I've read stories that challenged my views, sometimes in unexpected ways. The ones that stick with me are the ones that say something important about being human and about being gay.

I'm grateful there are stories like that, and authors like that.

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I thought of something over the weekend that I find interesting. I don't know how many are aware of this. I read awhile back. In Star Trek: The Next Generation, each episode had a hidden message in. It was written this way.

So why couldn't the same thing apply to any story. The message in a story could be obvious and each reader could get something different out of it. Some will like the message, others will not. Some messages may be a negative one. Can you learn from it, yes. Some may see themselves in a story and think, Am I really like that?, and want to change. Others will not.

Whether the message is good or bad, you can learn from it.

TalonRider

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So why couldn't the same thing apply to any story. The message in a story could be obvious and each reader could get something different out of it.

Every single story I write has a message in it. Sometimes it's subtle and sometimes it hits you with a stick. That's really up to the author to do. And in my case, I do :)

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So why couldn't the same thing apply to any story. The message in a story could be obvious and each reader could get something different out of it.

Every single story I write has a message in it. Sometimes it's subtle and sometimes it hits you with a stick. That's really up to the author to do. And in my case, I do :)

Thanks for using that particular part. I realised I forgot to say, or not so obvious.

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Wow! Great response by WriteByMyself. I couldn't have said it better myself -- excellent job.

The only thing I have to add is that there are still kids getting harrassed for being gay (or even thought of as gay) in school. Don't tell me gay people are accepted everywhere, because it just ain't true. Hell, I work in the entertainment business here in LA, and I still occasionally hear anti-gay crap from people I encounter at work. When it's appropriate, I tell them I don't appreciate stuff like that, but it's not always possible to take a stance.

Quick example: I worked for years on many animated shows for Hanna-Barbera and Ruby-Spears in the 1980s. Once, a producer and a writer were lamenting about network censorship and other problems while I was working on their show. One quipped, "the network wants us to have positive role models for every minority in this show! They even want GAY role models, for god's sake! How could we put those in this show?" They laughed about that for a few moments.

During a lull in the conversation, I piped up with, "well, maybe the gay kids watching the show need role models, too."

The room got very quiet after that, and I went back to putting the show together for air.

We got a long way to go before gay people are accepted 100% in all parts of society. I figure we're at where blacks were in civil liberty, circa 1962. We got miles to go before we can say, "free at last, free at last, great god amighty, free at last."

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