The First Gay Marriage Proposal On A US Marine Base

This past Tuesday (April 24th), Navy veteran Cory Huston proposed to his partner, Marine Avarice Guerrero, in the first gay marriage proposal to ever take place on a US military base! Well, possibly others have occurred under more private circumstances, but this one had reporters photographing it.

After a few minutes of emotional holding and kissing, Huston went anxiously down on one knee; looked up at Guerrero, who was dressed from head to toe in military fatigues; and produced an engagement ring and the time-honored phrase, “Will you marry me?”

Huston’s mild tremble, a result of hours and days of anticipation about this day, was quickly quieted by the one word every hopeful fiancé wants to hear: “Yes.”

“I was blown away,” Guerrero said, staring at the shining ring on his finger shortly after the proposal. “I was shocked that after all we’d been through, he would honestly want to spend the rest of his life with someone like me.”

Mormons Making “It Gets Better” Videos!

As I frequently tell people, I’m no longer Christian.  I turned away from Evangelical Christianity when I was in college, and unable to reconcile my faith with my identity as a gay man.  But I am a strong supporter of people of all faiths reaching out to one another, and particularly to the gay community.

Mormons have, unfortunately, had a particularly bad track record on tolerance, when it comes to the LGBT community.  But that’s why I’ve been finding attempts by the Mormon community to reach out to gays to be particularly significant and poignant.

The first I saw of it was an “It Gets Better” video made by a GLBT group on the campus of Brigham Young University (the fact that BYU allowed the group to form, in the first place, is an amazing step).  The video is simultaneously sad, frightened and hopeful:

(Here is the news article this was attached to.)

But even more wonderful to me, was a sort of response video, two weeks later, from Mormon parents and friends of gays:

(Again, here is the complete article.)

It saddens me that the comments on these videos point out these people don’t represent the Latter Day Saints Church, as if we can’t figure out that that organization is still very intolerant.  But I see a glimmer of hope in these videos that things may be changing.

It isn’t simply the LDS Church that is intolerant, of course, and it isn’t all Mormons, or all Catholics, or all Evangelicals or any other group.  But we need to see more people — of all faiths — speaking up against intolerance, if there is to be any hope of severing the association many gays have of religious faith equaling intolerance against the GLBT community.

“Seiðman” Has Been Sent Back To The Editor

I just spent the week going through the first wave of edits on Seiðman, and it was pretty overwhelming.  I’d done a ton of research over the past three years and had it critiqued by people in Iceland and Norway, but I still kept finding things that I would have to jot down in a list of notes with a little question mark:

Did they use miles?  (No, they used the measurement mil, in some parts of Scandinavia, but I gather it was closer to a league, which is about 3.4 miles.)

Would Kol and Ari pass a bottle of ale back and forth?  (No, bottles weren’t common.  I went with a drinking skin, instead.)

Would they see stars in the sky, when they looked up?  This one turns out to be extremely tricky for those of us who don’t live near the arctic circle.  Not only does the sun set very late in summer, but it also doesn’t sink far below the horizon when it does.  This means that during certain months the sky never quite gets dark before the sun starts to rise again, so you wouldn’t see stars, if you looked up.

But the biggest anachronism I found was that I had described several sailing ships as having decks and forecastles.  This is absurd.  Viking longships had neither of these things.  I can’t believe I never noticed this before I submitted the novel, and none of my readers caught it either.  At least, I caught it before it went into publication.

There was also a passage I used from the Völuspa, one of the best-known Norse poems.  It was probably written before Norway and Iceland became fully Christian, though nobody knows for certain.  I quote two stanzas from it, and I was initially using the translation by Henry Adams Bellows.  Since he died in 1873, his translation would be out of copyright.  But a writer I know was recently accused of plagiarism for coincidental similarities between his novel and popular gay indie film, and I really don’t want to deal with someone claiming I “steal” from other sources.  So my wonderful husband came up with an original translation, based upon the Old Norse.

Editing “Seiðman” and finishing the final draft of a new YA fantasy novel

I’ve made it through nine chapters of Seiðman, so far, and jotted down some notes about things to go back and double-check, as far as historical detail is concerned.

Time of day is also a big one, since Iceland only has about two hours during the summer when the sun is below the horizon and someone showed me a picture of the landscape at midnight on midsummer’s night.  It looked like twilight and the sky wasn’t dark enough to see stars.  This can really impact the story, when we’re talking about scenes in which the characters look at the stars in the sky or wake up “before sunrise.”  When, exactly, is sunrise, at that particular time of the year?  Are they waking up at 3am?

In between edits on Seiðman (which need to be turned in by the end of the week!), I’m frantically working to get my final draft of a traditional sword-and-sorcery fantasy (with gay characters, of course) called The Guardians Awaken.  It’s the first part of a trilogy, which my publisher isn’t keen on, because series are harder to sell.  But who knows?  It could take off!  She told me to submit it, anyway, along with a summary of the 2nd and 3rd books in the trilogy.

This is turning out to be a good idea, because I hadn’t realized until I tried to sum them up that I really didn’t know what happened in the next two books!  I had a general idea of how the story went, but hadn’t worked out any of the details.  My publisher only wants a page or two summary of each book, so it isn’t a huge amount of detail that I’m putting down on paper, but it’s really been helping me work out where things are going.  I have Book 2 outlined now, and I’m working on Book 3.

First Wave of Edits for “Seidhman”

I received the first edits for my novel, Seiðman, last night.  It’s pretty intimidating to think of going through 64,500 words, looking at every detail, including minutiae about Norse history that I can’t expect my editors to know.  I went through it all before submitting it, of course, but now I have just one or two edits to make sure I haven’t missed something.

Time of day is something I need to pay particular close attention to.  When I first had someone in Iceland review the story, she pointed out the fact that Iceland only has about two hours of “night” in midsummer, and that never really gets completely dark.  So I changed descriptions in some major scenes — got rid of starry skies, and so on — but I need to make sure I’m consistent all the way through.  That means checking time of year against a table of sunset/sunrise for that time of year at that particular latitude.  I’ll have to do this for Norway, too.  And maybe Sweden.

And it all has to be turned in by Friday, the 13th.  Good thing I’m not superstitious.

Dedications, Acknowledgements and…Maps?

My publisher sent me a form to fill out for the front matter of my novel, Seiðman:  dedications, acknowledgements, character lists, stuff like that.

The dedication is relatively easy.  It will be dedicated to my husband, Erich, who has seen me and the novel through years of drafts and all of my ups and downs on the way to getting Seiðman published.

There are a few people I’d like to mention in an Acknowledgements section, especially the women in Norway and Sweden who provided some wonderful feedback on my handling of the culture and history of their countries.  Also, my friend, Roxanne, who is a medieval historian and provided some great feedback from that angle.  And then there are various friends who read and critiqued it as a story.  But I might want to ask people if they want to be included.

The novel will also come with a short vocabulary list.  I think there were about twenty Old Icelandic words I used.

But the most intrigueing thing that was mentioned on the form was the possibility of a map.  This is probably something you see more often in fantasy novels, but I’ve read novels about Vikings which had maps at the beginning.  Seiðman takes place in the same Iceland, Norway and Sweden that can be found on Google maps today, but many of the place names have changed.  So it’s worth considering.  I don’t think it would be hard for me to draw.