Greetings folks. June is Pride Month, and while for some it means rainbow flags and marches, for others it’s a time to reflect. What does it mean to celebrate the LGBTQ community and all of the folks that are included in that varied spectrum? I can’t speak for all, in fact for a long time I didn’t want to speak for anyone, but this year Pride has taken on a bit of a different meaning for me after some soul-searching and realizations.
I never came out to anyone, but I’ve always known I was different, and now I have a word for it. I’m queer. What does that mean? I have been pondering that for a long time, and it means different things for different people. I didn’t have a word for it growing up. Back then it was a negative. You were a girl or a boy. Period. If you were a girl you liked boys or if you were a boy you liked girls, unless you were in the movies and then there were magical places where it didn’t matter who you liked. I didn’t grow up seeing people like me in real life so I did what I thought I was supposed to do. I wore dresses and makeup and whatever clothes fashion trends stated were appropriate for me, and I hated it. Okay, I don’t hate my super fun goth/rockabilly/horror-inspired dresses, but I gave up on the other stuff a long time ago. I was a cheerleader, gymnast, and dancer, and never fit in with those girls. I hate feeling pressured into skincare routines, diets, exercise programs (for any other reason than health), and other domestic activities that women are supposed to be good at. No right or wrong, it’s just me. I’ve tried to stop judging folks for the way they choose to spend their lives or who they want to spend them with, and that means I need to stop judging myself for not being a domestic goddess or the right kind of woman. Although I do bake a mean batch of oatmeal chocolate chip cookies...
I love being a woman, even though I struggle with it. I’m proud of the things I’ve accomplished and the fact that I was able to conceive two amazing kids and watch them grow up into beings that taught me so much about what gender identity actually means. My kids made me more aware, they questioned things, and they went through their own experiences, all of which caused me to peel away layers of thinking or beliefs about myself. I married my best friend, who happens to be a dude, I became a teacher and then a counselor...and then I started writing. And I met the most wonderful people along the way. I also spent years feeling depressed and I struggled with my interpersonal relationships. I don’t think that will ever change because I am loud and obnoxious, passionate about things almost to a fault, and I’ve pushed a lot of friends away because of my inability or refusal to change. Not sure if that’s okay or not okay, but it just is. Female friendships have always been awkward for me, and I think that’s because I don’t think like or behave like other women I know a lot of the time, and I’m constantly reminded of that difference. I’ve always tried to support folks who were other, tried to make my students feel safe and accepted, and I think in a way I was doing it for the girl in me who never fit in and refused to try even though it hurt sometimes.
Now, here I am. I’m 47 years old. My kids are almost grown-ass people and they still challenge me. I’ve been married for almost 21 years and we’re still stupid happy together. So where does Pride factor into all that?
I guess it’s me finally realizing that others have felt as I do, experienced what I did, and we made it. The 70s and 80s were a weird time for kids who didn’t know if they wanted the Bionic Woman to be their best friend or girlfriend, who fantasized about hanging out with Bo and Luke Duke because you dug fast cars more than because they were cute, or you watched Purple Rain over and over, but really you were watching Apollonia…If I would have been a teenager now, with the vocabulary and research that queer kids have these days, things would have likely turned out different for me. I wouldn’t change anything about my life now...well except this damned pandemic, but I digress.
For me, Pride is about realizing that the work I do as a teacher or in the romance community, or how I live my personal life is important, especially if something I write makes someone think, or if a student feels better in my class upon seeing my Orgullo bracelet, or if a friend has a child who is questioning their identity or orientation and needs someone to talk to. And I’m okay with that. I’m happy. I’m successful. And I’m doing what I want to be doing with my life. I write stories about folks in all kinds of relationships that focus on hope because we all know how much that is needed right now. I still have so much to learn about other folks on the LGBTQ spectrum, but I’ve found a community that supports me and that means so much. I want that for everyone.
So for me, Pride means reflecting on all of those things about myself and the things that I do every day to try to make this world a better place.
Plus, I really dig rainbows.
Thank you for being here. If you want to do something to support folks in the LGBTQ community during Pride, how about picking up this charity anthology Love Is All Volume 3! All proceeds will be donated to the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, which works to bring awareness to the struggles of our Black Trans folks who really need our support, especially in light of recent events. I also have a wacky paranormal series out that’s part of the Magic and Mayhem Universe and you can find that here. Thanks to Love Romance Reads for having me today!
Stay Tuned for more Rock ‘n’ Romance..
Love Is All Vol. 3
Seven bestselling and award-winning authors bring you brand new stories celebrating love is love! All proceeds from the sale of the anthology will be donated to the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, which protects and defends the rights of Black Transgender people.
Custard and Kisses by Sophia Soames
Falling Faster by Susan Scott Shelley
Pole Kisses by Wendy Gold
Hands Off by Connor Peterson
I Want More by R.L. Merrill
The Start of Something New by Megan Hart
To Build a Home by Xio Axelrod
More About R.L.
R.L. Merrill brings you quirky and relatable characters and romance full of Hope, Love, and Rock 'n' Roll. Whether she’s writing about contemporary issues that affect us all or diving deep into the paranormal and supernatural to give readers a shiver, she loves creating compelling stories that will stay with readers long after. Ro spends every spare moment improving her craft and striving to find that perfect balance between real life and happily ever after. Winner of the 2019 Kathryn Hayes “When Sparks Fly” Best Contemporary award for Hurricane Reese, she writes LGBTQ romances for Dreamspinner Press, contributes paranormal hilarity to Robyn Peterman’s Magic and Mayhem Universe, and works on various other projects that tickle her fancy or benefit a worthy cause. You can find her lurking on social media, where she loves connecting with readers, educating America’s youth, raising two brilliant teenagers, trying desperately to get that back piece finished in the tattoo chair, or headbanging at a rock show near her home in the San Francisco Bay Area. Stay Tuned for more Rock 'n' Romance.