#MondayBlogs: The Big Gay Fiction Giveaway is on until November 27 #amreading #LGBT #free #ebooks

#MondayBlogs: The Big Gay Fiction Giveaway is on until November 27 #amreading #LGBT #free #ebooks

The Big Gay Fiction Giveaway is the best thing that’s come to gay fiction all year!

Yeah, I know that I’m not a big fan of giving away my work for free, but even I am aware that marketing is necessary. I’m also one to help, and if I can help my readers, all the better. The Big Gay Fiction Giveaway is an amazing venture, and before I forget, I’d like to thank Mikael Jensen and Jeff Adams for organizing it. This is an incredible opportunity for readers to meet new authors, thanks to the ones they already read. Allow me to explain:

Don't miss this amazing opportunity. The Big Gay Fiction Giveaway will be live until November 27.

Don’t miss this amazing opportunity. The Big Gay Fiction Giveaway will be live until November 27.

Thanks to Jeff and Mikael, a good eighty (!) authors got together and set up this HUGE giveaway on Instafreebie of books for all of our readers. I’m in it with Jonathan’s Hope, one of my most popular titles. Now I presume that most of my readers and fans already read that book, so there’s nothing much to be gained for you from me, although, you never really know… But that isn’t really the point, that my readers discover me. Instead, you get to meet 80 other amazing authors. Some of my friends on that list are giving away their only title. Some are giving away a short story, some a chapter or two (you’ll know before you download what you get!)

No such thing as a free lunch you say? You’d be right. This is about marketing. Duh! It’s a chance for us to help each other reach new readers. We’ll expect you to subscribe to our newsletters, just the way you give away your click and browser history when you use all those free social media sites. The “cost” to download the book is to sign up to our respective newsletters. And since it’s through MailChimp, you can always unsubscribe again, although I would hope you give us a chance and read our newsletters, at least for a while. I only send mine once a month, and never in July, which means eleven e-mails a year, and I usually include a contest in mine with more chances to win books. But yeah, the unsubscribe button is always included.

This giveaway helps us to reach new audiences, because just like I’m beating the drums to get you excited about 80+ free books, so are the other 80+ authors: posts on Facebook, tweets on Twitter, images on Instagram, blog posts etc. Everywhere you’ll see us talk about the giveaway. So yeah, in a way, this is a total marketing plug, but you might as well see it as inspiration to do something similar. Does it work? Well, Saturday, since I’ve sent out my last newsletter last Thursday, I’ve already seen a 33% increase in audience for my newsletter. Needless to say, I’ve never had this many people subscribe to my newsletter before. It’s pretty amazing.

Now, if all of those people read Jonathan’s Hope, if half of those like it enough to give one of my other books a shot, that’s an amazing result. Mind you, we’re talking about ONE day, the week is still young. And from what I can see on Facebook, in the group where we discussed and prepared the giveaway, the numbers for the others are similar. So it’s all good. Win-win, as we say.

Are you interested yet? Well, there’s two places from where you can access the giveaway:

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http://michaeljensen.com/free-books/ or http://biggayfictionpodcast.com/giveaway/

Head on over and find your next new favorite author… Christmas came early this year!

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please share it with others. I love to connect with my readers, I really do, so feel free to interact with me on TwitterFacebookYouTube, and/or Instagram.

Have a wonderful week. And remember to love each other in these dark times…

Hans

Majority rules, minority rights: right now the minority is scared! #MondayBlogs #LGBT #election2016

Majority rules, minority rights: right now the minority is scared! #MondayBlogs #LGBT #election2016

Walk a mile in my shoes, please!

Empathy, that’s what we need right now, lots of it. Right now, going online to talk to my friends on Facebook is not a pleasant experience. The vast majority of my friends online were rooting for Hillary Clinton, and we had many different reasons to do so: partisanship, the possibility to put a woman in the highest office, equal rights, civil rights etc. Some of my friends rooted for Trump, and, as I explained the other day, I’m sure they had very good reasons to do so, too. The United States is ruled on the principle of “majority rules, minority rights”. Many fear those rights today.

However, and this is where it becomes so difficult. One side, my side, lost. And while some supporters of Trump may gloat, many have gone quiet. For them, the election is over, let’s move on. What we tend to forget is that Trump’s movement has stirred some very nasty elements. He’s turned stones that should never have been turned.

The endorsement from the KKK and David Duke for instance. As “unwelcome” as it may have been, it helped Trump get important votes. The endorsements from nazis, alt right and other white supremacists helped, too.

If you’re part of the majority of white heterosexuals in America, the result of this election won’t change your life much, and we have yet to see whether the economy will get better, or not.

But for many others, there is a lot of reason to be afraid, and I just want you (if you have nothing to fear), to read this, think about it, and to try to see things from these people’s point of view. I’ll start in America itself, as most of my readers are Americans. The implications of a Trump presidency are mostly international though, in terms of impact:

  • Illegal immigrants. Yes, they broke the law coming here. No need to explain that. Hence the term. However, their children are American citizens. Yes, parents made a mistake, but is it fair to have the kids pay for it? Try not to judge. Just picture yourself a five year old girl in say New Orleans, an American girl, seeing the police haul off her parents. How would you feel? Don’t you think we need to tone down the rhetoric and find solutions that are balanced?
  • Picture a trans boy in middle school in North Carolina. He’s finally come out and is beginning his transition. Try to imagine what it is like to live in a body that isn’t right, regardless of “why”. This boy needs to go to the bathroom and is forced by his state to use the girl’s room… Do you think the girls will applaud a boy in their bathroom? Do you think he’ll feel safe?
  • Imagine yourself a young lawyer in a prestigious law firm in Texas. He falls in love, marries his dream partner. His life is happy and he’s on track to make partner at the firm. Until he’s fired. Why? Not because he’s a bad lawyer. No, but because he married a man. How would that make you feel, if you lost your job because of the person you love? Personally, I don’t think Obergefell is going to be reversed (these things take forever), and to pass an amendment to the constitution is literally impossible these days (and we have elections again in two years). But there are so many ways legislators can hurt the LGBT community with their “freedom of religion laws” and bathroom BS. Losing your job is just the beginning. The next step could be refusal of first aid. A couple of states already have that on their books, despite Obama…
  • Imagine being a seventeen year old woman who is “legitimately” raped. Despite the odds, she becomes pregnant. How would you feel if you were forced by the state to carry to term and raise a child that constantly, every second of your life, reminds you of the worst time of your life? I don’t think Roe is in any immediate danger either (given how long it takes for court cases to process), if that’s any consolation, but we’ve already seen what states can do by cutting funding to abortion clinics, and free health care clinics. We are likely to see a lot more of that in the coming years.

But it gets worse. Already there have been over two hundred incidents of violence against blacks, other people of “color”, LGBT and women. They tell blacks to go back to Africa, yet fail to realize that they, the white supremacists, should, consequentially then go back to Europe (shows you the level of intelligence at play here). America is the land of the Native Americans, proud peoples of color. You used to call them “redskins”… Some still do.

These fears are legitimate, not just because Mr. Trump has done little to nothing to assuage us, but because he is surrounded by people who would like to go much further. Much, much further.

There are people in Trump’s campaign (not just voters!) who would like to do the following:

  • Punish women who have abortions (according to Trump himself)
  • Make abortions illegal. Period (VP-elect Pence)
  • Force gays to go through “conversion therapy” (VP-elect Pence)
  • Round up LGBT people in concentration camps (Senators Rubio, Cruz, Trump advisor Ben Carson et al.)

People are scared, very much so, and they have good reasons. Some compare Trump to Hitler. I don’t think that’s helpful. Hitler was very open about his plans to eradicate the Jewish people whom he designated scapegoats for all of Germany’s problems. Donald Trump has done no such thing (if only Hitler had built a wall instead…) Besides, Donald Trump cannot simply send Congress home, the way Hitler did. America, luckily, is a stable democracy with a long history, a history the Weimar Republic didn’t have, when the NSDAP attacked it. That’s not to say there aren’t risks associated with a Trump presidency.

Having said that, I also believe it is vital for us to learn from history, understand the mistakes made by the other leaders around Germany and within the country itself. The media play a role here, the opposition plays a role, but also our civil society, including organizations like the ACLU and other civil and human rights organizations. We need to make sure that our voices are heard, loud and clear when the “evil forces” (there really is no other word for them) begin to to do their devil’s work, even the so called “christian” ones…

But mostly, we just have to be kind, considerate, and care for each other. Love they neighbor, as the good book teaches those who believe (and I think it’s a great rule to follow, because it’s logical), and to treat all our fellow humans the way we wish to be treated, according to the Golden Rule of all great human religions (again, a very logical rule, even for an atheist).

Let us live our lives the way we did until last Tuesday, our heads held high, but vigilant, and ready to defend our lives and our fellow humans, no matter their creed, color, age, sexuality or gender. We having nothing to fear but fear itself. It is that fear that I see paralyze my friends and allies out there these days, and that is where the real danger lies, to all of us!

Have a good week!

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please share it with others. I love to connect with my readers, I really do, so feel free to interact with me on TwitterFacebookYouTube, and/or Instagram.

Hans

How the election was lost: lessons democrats won’t like to read… #politics #LGBT #election2016

How the election was lost: lessons democrats won’t like to read… #politics #LGBT #election2016

Why people voted Trump in the 2016 election

Hindsight always leaves us wiser. Well, at least some of us. And as I wrote in a post on Facebook the other day, and as I said in my video the other day, and on the blog here on Monday, there are very good reasons for (American) voters to vote the way they did, and to fall for populists and demagogues. So what happened in this week’s election?

Obviously, “shy” voters were underestimated by pollsters, and as Nate Silver writes, two percentage points make all the difference in this election. Mrs Clinton won the popular vote and suffered a huge loss in the electoral college. Had she had one percent more votes, and Trump one percent less, she’d won, as predicted in the polls.

Then WHY? Why did she lose the election?

I think there are several factors at play:

  • It’s the economy stupid
  • Distrust in the federal government aka “the establishment”
  • DNC overconfidence in group flock behavior by “blacks”, “Latinos”, “women”, “unionists”, “LGBT” etc.
  • Sexism/misogyny
  • Partisanship

Let me begin with the economy.

“It’s the economy stupid”

Well, yeah. It is, and this statement from the 1992 Clinton campaign proves true, in every single election. Eight years ago, at the height of the economic crisis, Bush and the Republicans were (rightly) blamed for the excesses of Wall St. and punished. Now, two terms later, many working class Americans (and what is left of the middle class) still struggle. Working double jobs, triple jobs, or no jobs at all. The simple fact of the matter is that entry level jobs, manufacturing jobs, and jobs that do not require college education are thinning out. They are outsourced to countries were labor is cheaper. Believe this or not, but even China is outsourcing labor these days, to places like Bangladesh, Cambodia. Even to African countries. On a global scale, this is amazing, great news, as more and more people will be able to leave poverty behind and more and more people will be able to put food on the table and a roof over their heads.

1950s: Building the American Dream. Image: Envisioning the American Dream

1950s: Building the American Dream. Image: Envisioning the American Dream

On a national level, it is demanding. And America and many other countries struggle with this. The U.S. in particular, as it lacks the social welfare system net to catch those who lose out. As a father and husband, I know that my first priority is to feed my family, to make sure we have a roof over our head. I also worry about health insurance and maybe putting aside a bit of money for my 401K (pension for non-Americans). I have friends in American who can’t afford health care. To them, Obamacare is a luxury they cannot afford. They also don’t have the money to insure their belongings, and when they’re burglarized or robbed, they lose everything. If you can’t afford food on your table or winter clothes, you don’t worry about insurance, and health insurance only becomes a priority when it’s too late.

The democratic election campaign was beautiful, hopeful, warm. It spoke of a united country, where we each pursue our dreams and hopes. It spoke of civil rights and everybody’s equal value. Yet those things don’t get you a job when your factory moves out and the last supermarket shuts down. Those things don’t pay bills.

While I personally supported that campaign and its positive and hopeful message, I had no choice. As a member of a ‘threatened’ minority, I felt spoken to. But does a straight father of kids care about how we treat illegal immigrants? Who might (or might not) be perceived to have stolen jobs? He does not. It doesn’t even rock his world. Nor do women’s rights to abortions. His wife carried her kids to term. He never cheated on her or was otherwise even close to such a discussion. And LGBT rights? He may view gays as “strange” but probably accepts us as long as we don’t hit on him. But would he vote for a campaign because of our right to marry? Or our right to choose a bathroom? Of course not. Do not be delusional. Neither will the mother in that family. What do they care about? Paying bills, making mortgage and credit card payments on time, cheap gas to drive kids to and from school; a job to pay for all that.

Distrust in the Federal government, the establishment

It’s the economy stupid! Oddly, James Carville, the very man who coined that phrase and won Mr. Clinton his election in 1992, recently published a video about the “Day After” a Trump victory. Well, we have the result of the day after, and even though I said so before the day before the election, here’s his claims and I quote his “literally, there is not a thing that’s exaggerated” from the video:

  • “Dollar lost half it’s value against the Yen.” – Didn’t happen. The dollar lost against the yen, yes, about 2% but has since gained more than that back.
  • “Australian stock exchanges stopped trading.” – Didn’t happen. The ASX 200 closed down 0.57%
  • Hang Seng down 50%, Nikkei down 49,5 down. The Hang Seng was down 2.16% and the Nikkei 5.36% (which were more than gained back on Thursday)
  • “Putin in a t-shirt on the Red Square, massive crowds.” No, didn’t happen.

This is called fear mongering, and coming from a democrat I have to say I was very disappointed. The American indexes were up yesterday, contrary to what happened when Obama got elected (twice). Now I don’t pay much attention to a day here or there on the stock markets, but given Mr. Carville’s claim that his claims were NOT “exaggerated”? No they were not. It was a flat out lie. I’m sure the Washington Post had awarded you four Pinocchios for it. Then again, who reads the WaPo?

When America Was Great Still...? Leave it to Beaver, CBS 1960

When America Was Great Still…? Leave it to Beaver, CBS 1960

However, that isn’t even the point. The point is that when Washington political pundits, journalists and politicians make claims, and Mrs. Clinton and her surrogates made plenty of them, they simply aren’t credible to the average American, no matter how true they might be. In a combination of having been betrayed since the 1960s by politics (aka Washington), this notion that America was great way back when June & Ward Cleaver ruled television, that feeling is very strong with Americans. America was a different country then. It was before the civil rights movement, the only Latinos and blacks (on TV) were maids or nannies, America was lily white and the word LGBT wasn’t even invented yet. Asians? Yeah, they probably ran the local laundromat… America, land of stereotypes!

In many ways, this is the America many long back to, the America Trump refers to when he talks about “Make America Great again”, yet most people are too young to remember June & Ward. But the pictures, the references, the cars, they’re iconic, and for the white majority, a time when everything was just fine. Plus America was still winning its wars…

Today, most Americans are completely unaware of what the Federal government does, or doesn’t, and when people demand to dismantle it, they’re unaware that all Interstate highways, every national park or monument, airports and social security checks, Medicare or Medicaid would disappear, too. All they see is “Washington”, lobbyists, lying politicians (of all colors) etc. Mrs. Clinton, from that vantage point, is the very epitome of the establishment: she’s been around forever, she was a first lady “meddling” in politics, a senator, secretary of state and, last not least, lied about her fucking e-mail server. The real woman, the caring politician, the fighter for women’s and LGBT rights around the world? You had to look really hard, and you need an understanding of the business of politics to see her. How many have been in politics to truly be able to see through all that and understand what a “political compromise” is all about? Or that humans make mistakes? Just saying..

When Obama ran on his change platform, he was already a well established politician in Illinois, and as senator for the state. But he ran on a platform of bringing change and a breath of fresh air to Washington, and after two generations of Bush (!), the same (?) people who didn’t want a second Clinton in the White House, elected him president. Obama ran the way Trump did (minus all the despicable attributes of misogyny, racism and what not). Did he change Washington? No, of course not. By doing things his way, stubbornly, he only garnered more opposition from a GOP already well underway to become the racist and populist party it is today, and that combination of birtherism, racism and Obama’s principles made bipartisan agreement impossible after the 2010 midterms.

Who is to blame Americans for distrusting a federal government that isn’t working, with government shutdowns, and a GOP Senate obstructing the very constitution they claim to adhere to? In Trump, many see a man who used to be a democrat, ran as a republican but they really see him as an independent, an outsider. A guy who takes on the speaker of the house just as he takes on lazy GOP senators. He’s said very little of the house democrats and senators, but boy has he been blunt about his own party. People like what they see, and believe that he will truly bring change to Washington.

Will he? That remains to be seen. I remain a sceptic! If for no other reason than the federal bureaucracy, a fierce and sluggish beast. To change course of an apparatus the size of the federal government will take time, a lot of time. And we’re less than two years from midterm elections…

DNC overconfidence in group flock behavior by “blacks”, “Latinos”, “women”, “unionists”, “LGBT” etc.

It’s unfair to solely blame the DNC, because in all fairness, the RNC and the media do it, too. However, the DNC has been the home for minorities and special interest groups for a long time, and with it’s socialist inspired ideology, democrats tend to fall into that trap, to label people, to group people. Socialism primarily sees groups, while liberals see people, individuals. And while democrats are often mislabeled liberals in the U.S., in fact, the Libertarian movement might be a better banner carrier for that label. The GOP used to be conservative, now they’re also racist, populist, anti-feminist, trans- & homophobe. Quite a feat.

The problem we’ve seen early on in this campaign was people’s dumbfoundedness when it came to groups and individuals who didn’t “behave” as predicted: Women for Trump, gays for Trump, Latinos for Trump, blacks for Trump, young for Trump. Exit polls show that Mrs. Clinton carried far fewer African Americans than Obama did, and while she won the female vote, a good third of women still voted for Trump.

How’s that possible? Let me try to make this easy: I may be gay, but I’m not solely gay. I’m also a man, I am middle-aged (don’t tell Facebook!), I’m of mixed race, I am an author, an artist, an educator, I have a post graduate education, I am a “global citizen”, I am married and I am a parent (plus probably a gazillion other traits), from wearing glasses to sporting a dad bod. My priorities may be vastly different from someone else who may be gay, but not married, or someone who’s suffering from HIV. What is important to me is highly individual, and not automatically related to the group or minority I “belong” to.

To claim that women will vote for Clinton because she supports “Roe vs Wade”, or because she is a woman herself, is way too simplistic. Some women are deeply religious, fundamentally so (Catholic, Muslim, Evangelical) and might therefore oppose abortion rights. They’d probably vote Trump just because of that, even if they are muslim, or Latinas. Other women don’t consider this an issue, period. Because they’ve never even come close to having to have one, it’s just not a prioritized issue for them, being on food stamps on the other hand, because the husband’s job got shipped to Mexico just might be. Others again may be unable to bear a child and might just oppose abortions because it would give them a better shot at being able to adopt?

The same argument can be made for Latinos, gays and any other group. Why would a man like Peter Thiel, openly gay, support Trump? The most logical answer (and not the socialist one that he is misguided) is probably that he, like Trump, is an entrepreneur, a disruptive one, and he values Mr Trump’s business savvy much higher than Mrs. Clinton’s Washington CV, and that he finds his finances a more important aspect of his life than being gay. But what we’ve seen from the exit polls is that many African Americans, many Latinos, union members and members of other minority groups voted Trump. The rational explanation (and again, this goes to the first bullet point about the economy) is that these voters value the economy higher than what was promised “their group” by the DNC.

Particularly if these individuals are also (but not necessarily!) a) less educated and b) not very interested to stay abreast on current affairs, politics and rarely watch the news. Allow me to exemplify: many Americans believe that anti-discrimination legislation to protect LGBT citizens is already federal law, because “duh!”, it’s the right thing to do, right? Most Americans aren’t interested in seeing us get hurt, but they also don’t care enough to make sure to be informed. As painful as this may be to realize, it doesn’t make it any less true.

Sexism/misogyny, aka the infamous glass ceiling

Did the glass ceiling cost Mrs. Clinton votes? I’m sure. How many? Only exit poll research will tell. Personally, I believe that the fact that she is “infamous” and the wife of a former president, all other things aside, are much more important for people to be skeptical. Had she been a muslim, jewish, LGBT or – gods forbid – an atheist, that would’ve disqualified her a lot more. Although, Oregon just elected an openly LGBT governor. There’s hope, let’s never forget that. It does, eventually, get better, but there’s a reason why we have a word called “setback”!

How could people believe, trust, and vote for Trump?

Apart from loads of partisan voting, I think we have to differentiate between believing, trusting on one hand, and voting on the other. Have you ever watched Geraldo? Ricky Lake? Judge Judy? Jerry Springer? The Apprentice? If you haven’t, you may need to brush up on your average American entertainment… If you have, why are we asking the question? I think people in general had NO illusions, none whatsoever, that Mr. Trump was honest, or even sincere. But people have enough conviction that his business success is genuine, and that said success might eventually trickle down to them, because – remember – it’s been promised to them by the GOP since Reaganomics. I have a nephew who has this unshakeable belief in the American Dream. He buys and reads book after book about how to become rich over night. He also always fails, miserably. The only people who profit are the ones who sell him “The Art of the Deal” etc. But the dream is part of his DNA, like maple leaves, seals and snow are part of Canada. Nothing will ever convince him that you cannot become a millionaire overnight, and he’s certain that he will, eventually, succeed. That propensity for an unfaltered belief in the American economic dream, no matter your circumstances, that is why people voted for Trump on election day: “he did it for himself, now he’ll do it for us.” What Trump is effectively trying to do right now is to cut out the middle man, politicians. Just look at his 100 day plan, his attempts at capping terms. No better way to cut off the balls of any powerful Senator or House Representative, whether they physically have them or not. To win an election is costly, and if you can only do it two or three times, you’ll have less time to build a broad base which will make politics even more susceptible to the Koch Brothers of the world.

Is this the "positive" future of Washington politics on TV? Copyright: E!

Is this the future of Washington politics on TV? Copyright: E!

Yes, voters are convinced that Trump will walk away with even more money, just as they know that every secret tape, every grope, every insult, was true, but they also hope, need to believe, that good will come to them in the process. I pity them, because they’ve once again been conned. The only thing that really, truly works is hard work and commitment, not to become rich, but to pay your bills. Trump was born rich.

Most Americans aren’t alt right, they aren’t KKK, they aren’t white supremacists, and they certainly aren’t bad people. Most Americans simply “bought a bottle of Doctor Good” in this election, as Cher sang in 1971. They fell for a con man, just like my nephew did, so many times, and probably will, again. Sadly, I’m also convinced that the raw rhetoric we’ve seen in this election is a sign of what’s to come, with politics turning from a contest of ideas and philosophies to a battle of one-liners and insults, a sort of Jerry Springer does Washington… If we’re lucky, it’ll be more like the Kardashians, and I’m fully aware of the irony of such a statement.

What now?

After the election is before the election. If the DNC wants to win the next midterms in 2018, they need to start a true grassroots program, to reach out to people and get an educational program going. A trickle down movement where each member or sympathizer engages in x number of conversations in the coming months and years to talk to people about the complexity of today’s world, and how what we might take for granted isn’t really so, and how we, as a human society, need to also care and worry about that which we don’t have on our radar screens, that which we do not believe impacts us, a discussion about how some jobs are never coming back and how we need to become better educated, and the amazing opportunities a fossil fuel free future implies (e.g. Tesla). I also believe that a greater focus on local, district and state elections is needed, to counteract gerrymandering and follow up on the GOP argument to “leave it to the states.”

venn_a_intersect_bBecause on thing is certain, and I’ll use set theory to exemplify: Mr. Trump may not be a politician, he’s a business man, an entrepreneur (A). He’s (filthy?) rich. Politicians (B) are a different group, but there is an intersection between those groups: we might call it greed, or at least the desire to make shit loads of money (Clinton’s Wall St. speeches are testament to that). And that intersection, that is what Trump never once mentioned in his campaign.

No, he’s no politician, but he interfaces with those politicians who will do whatever they can to make sure that the rich will continue to make (more) money, and that spells out the following:

  • Free trade will continue wherever it serves their purpose!
  • Fossil fuel (coal & oil) will be used as long as possible (with no regard to the environment)
    • Middle Eastern politics will be governed by the need for cheap and freely flowing oil (including oil from Iran)
    • Syria is economically inconsequential from that point of view and will be handed to the Russians to deal with as they please
  • Human rights & the environment make for bad business in a fossil fuel economy and will therefore be disregarded in foreign relations
  • Civil rights? That’s the big question mark for me. Best case? Nothing happens on the federal level in the next two years. More likely? Vitriol language and anti-equality language in federal contracts and the next two federal budgets. But let’s not forget: it’s bad business to anger people needlessly! Problem is that some Congressmen don’t care about that.

If we really want to understand Trump, follow the money. What makes a buck, what does not! Does he truly care about his constituents? Of course not. They’re a means to an end, just like any unpaid (sub-)contractor, Miss Universe or Apprentice contestant ever was.

What is your take? Do you agree? Disagree? What can we learn from this election?

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please share it with others. I love to connect with my readers, I really do, so feel free to interact with me on TwitterFacebookYouTube, and/or Instagram.

Have a good weekend and remember, the sun will rise tomorrow (again)…

Hans

#MondayBlogs: One day from now, America will make incredibly important decisions #LGBT #equality #election

#MondayBlogs: One day from now, America will make incredibly important decisions #LGBT #equality #election

Trump or Clinton, what will it be when America decides?

I wasn’t gonna. I was so sure. And I didn’t wanna. Really. I swear. But in the end, I had no choice. Now before you read this, let me be open and tell you that #ImWithHer tomorrow, even though I’m neither a citizen, unable to vote and not a democrat either, although I haven’t been a registered Republican (I was registered with the young republicans back in 1985/6 in my High School) since forever. But those were the Reagan years, the world was at the brink of nuclear annihilation and the choices were easy: “rather dead than red!” That’s how I was brought up.

To say this election cycle is unique is an understatement. Both candidates, both parties are to blame, to a degree. The Republican party began an odd journey after Bush senior lost his election to a young Bill Clinton, and at that time, Republicans in Congress started to slowly turn the bipartisan collaboration off. Now Bill Clinton was no saint. In fact, as a man and husband, he was a pig and his behavior, although not unique, was a disgrace. Yet as a president, he was highly successful and his economic legacy something America can be proud of. But he and his First Lady were polarizing. When he left office shortly after 2000 began, and we’d all made it across the chasm unscathed, he was replaced by a Bush, again. As a democrat (not the party, but a fan of the political system called democracy), I’m not a big fan of dynasties, whatever the name: Kennedy, Bush or Clinton. But Bush Junior eventually became president and the GOP felt vindicated? Meanwhile, the world changed and all of a sudden, we were facing a choice between an old senator from Arizona (my home state) and a black guy. Obama finally turned the GOP into what the democrats were during the civil war: defenders of the past, a party for lily white men and women who felt that “things had been better in the past”. Obama won a landslide victory, for two reasons (simplifying): America’s face is tanning rapidly, and Obama appealed to the young, a generation who doesn’t care as much about color, faith or sexuality, but more about fairness, getting a real shot in life.

The past eight years have shown us an unprecedented partisan Congress. Let’s face it. The president isn’t alone making decisions. Yes, he or she may be the most powerful political figure on the planet, but the president doesn’t make laws. He’s the executive, and given the size of the federal government, there is a certain lethargy in changing things, which probably isn’t unhealthy. That will also hold true if Trump became president. He couldn’t do whatever he wanted, even if he tried.

This doesn’t mean there aren’t significant threats with a Trump presidency, but to disregard the Senate and House races is naïve at best. And this is where both sides have been grossly exaggerating. I saw a video the other day (which prompted me to write this post) from a senior democrat, James Carville, who claimed (and I quote: “there’s not a thing that’s exaggerated”) that Putin would speak on the Red Square in a t-shirt, that the dollar would loose 50% of its value against the Yen and that the Hang Seng would drop 49+%. These are not just exaggerations, they would NEVER happen, not on the morning after the election. Here’s why. While Putin has been seen shirtless, there is no  reason for him to appear shirtless in November in Moscow (why?), and the markets today are protected against major fluctuations. So even if they feel (and they probably  would), the markets would most likely close, i.e. seize trading, after a 10+% drop/hike. I like Carville, but that kind of talk isn’t helpful. It’s fear mongering at best.

The GOP is worse, and while a black president must’ve been a nightmare for a more and more racist party, to see him succeeded by a woman must’ve been just too much. I wasn’t a Hillary supporter back in 2008 and I wasn’t thrilled that she ran this time either. Not because she’s a woman, but because her husband already was in the White House. I’ve read the story about their decision as a young couple, letting him go first, because – as a man – he had better chances at being elected into office. Her’s being equal to zero at the time in Arkansas, duh, where they still are minimal. But for many, a woman president is just unfathomable, and the way Hillary Clinton has been treated is unprecedented. She’s made many mistakes in her life (who doesn’t?) and hers were always public. The way she handled the entire e-mail debacle wasn’t stellar (it sucks quite frankly), but she is just one of several in a long tradition of secretaries of state with a server of their own. Just saying. Not an excuse, just an explanation. She should’ve acted differently before and after. She didn’t. However, until today, she was never once committed of a crime. Yet she’s labeled “the most corrupt”, NO evidence, but certainly effectively spinned by the GOP and Trump.

What makes this election so different is the blend of blogs and news, and the inability by journalists to cover the candidates appropriately. When Trump opens his mouth, he blends lies, half-truths with his ideas and assertions, making it very difficult for anyone to follow. And he says what he knows the public wants to hear. Like all demagogues, he cares little about facts. And as a media expert, he knows how to play to the media. It’s almost painful to see his cronies cleaning up after him, trying to deny things he’s said. Even the candidate himself will deny things he’s said, even after having been played the tape where he said it. He loves the blacks yet treats them like slaves, he says he’d be great for Hispanics, yet calls all Mexicans rapists and gangsters. He says he’d further LGBT equality yet wants to reverse marriage equality and has a VP who is on record for signing a law that made the application for a same sex marriage license a felony in Indiana and who defunded not only Planned parenthood but also HIV funding.

And this is where I think this election becomes important. It’s not just about the president, because he can’t undo marriage equality. But the names he puts forward for the Supreme Court are important. But it’s the Senate who confirms them. And a president Clinton could name the best and brightest names, if the Senate is run by the GOP, they have already announced they’d refuse to hear any of them. We could soon see a SCOTUS down to six or seven members…  But President Trump? AND a GOP senate? I can’t even begin to imagine where women’s rights, equality and civil rights would go. Wade vs Roe down the drain, marriage equality overturned, not to mention continued gerrymandering of electoral districts skewed toward the GOP, and disenfranchising of Latino and Black voters…

But a Senate turned to the Democrats could not only cement our hard fought civil rights, it would secure Wade vs Roe, and who knows, it might even force the House Republicans to finally sit down and talk about bipartisan solutions for health care, social welfare and defense, to move the country forward in the right direction.

I’m not going to tell you who to vote for. You already know where I stand. But I will implore all of you who are eligible to vote and who haven’t done so already, to vote tomorrow Tuesday, and to carefully consider your vote. I understand that many white folks are worried about the future, about the privileges we’ve enjoyed for centuries, be it in terms of job opportunities, advancement, power etc. I get that, and if that truly is the most important thing for you, then I guess the GOP may be your choice. But if you worry about the future of your daughters, if you want them to have the same chances as your sons, if you are LGBT or have LGBT kids or friends, if you have no health care, or if you feel that the economy hasn’t been good to you, you should definitely consider voting for Hillary Clinton and democrats down ballot. They’re far from perfect, but they have solutions for the future that encompass everyone in America, not just some.

But most important of all: vote! Because on Wednesday morning, it’ll be too late.

Thanks,

Hans

#MondayBlogs: Getting ready for GRL (@gayromlit), literally the last second… #amwriting #amreading #LGBT

#MondayBlogs: Getting ready for GRL (@gayromlit), literally the last second… #amwriting #amreading #LGBT

Unpacking, laundry, washing horse hair and packing for GRL, all in a few hours…

Time to head out to Kansas City, for this year's final author event, the biggest, the greatest, the one and only GRL!

Time to head out to Kansas City, for this year’s final author event, the biggest, the greatest, the one and only GRL!

As I write this (not that I have anything else to do tonight), it is seven hours and 17 minutes to the ring of my alarm clock, the time I’ll have to get up in time to make my ferry, to catch my taxi, to get to my flight, which connects to another flight, which – after a thorough immigration at O’Hare – leads to yet another flight, before I arrive in Kansas City to grab an Uber to my hotel, where, on Thursday, we kick off another GRL Retreat, or in other terms, the most biggest and most wonderful LGBT reader-writer conference in the whole wide world. Now, if my SEO engine doesn’t complain about the meaning I just wrote, then there’s something wrong with da thing.

We spent the past four days in Switzerland, at my home town’s annual county/trade fair, complete with pigs and cows and sheep and horses and anything else a kid’s heart could desire: which would also include rides, candy and cheap toys… My son was in seventh heaven, at least every now and then, when us adults did not engage in idle conversation or buy grandpa a new KitchenAid mixer for his diet’s new smoothies. Those were the times when Sascha looked absolutely dreadful and bored to death…

This is just a tiny detail of the amazing food we ate. Now I'm no fan of parsley, quite the contrary, but this little bouquet of herbs looked pretty and complemented the amazing food on the plate.

This is just a tiny detail of the amazing food we ate. Now I’m no fan of parsley, quite the contrary, but this little bouquet of herbs looked pretty and complemented the amazing food on the plate.

But we had a great time, ate amazing food and I was planning the final details for my trip to Kansas City. Now, as I wrote in my blog last week, the three days before Switzerland were crazy hectic, and while Switzerland was nice and calm, for the most part, the never ending walking at a huge fair with extensive grounds, the huge amounts of people, the stop and go etc. made for perfect reasons to be absolutely and totally exhausted at night. We walked a good seven miles, every day. Among a good 30K others.

We got home at 4:30 pm and we’ve been unpacking, doing laundry and getting the week ahead ready ever since. While I may board a flight in ten hours, that doesn’t stop my husband from going to work or my son going to school. Not to mention that there’s extra preparations to be made given that he’ll be on his own all week, or that we have a double surgery planned on the day after my home-coming. yay!

What? Horse Hair?

What? Horse Hair?

I know, I know, your mind is probably totally zoned out by now of boredom, or – more likely – still thinking “washing horse hair?” And I can’t blame you. I would probably, too. So here’s a photo to give you an idea. Not more. I would have to kill you if i did. And that would be rather boring, wouldn’t it?

You’ll just have to watch this space and see. Next week, on Monday, I’ll be sharing some images with you. If you ask nicely. So, I wish I could tell you more, but I can’t. Instead, I’ll bore you just a tad more with my preparations for GRL: I have a reading and a Q&A session, and on Friday, I’ll host a game show with nine other author friends. There will be a raffle with amazing (I’m not kidding) prizes to be won, attendees get to ask us authors embarrassing questions, which we – in case we don’t dare answering them – will lead to a fun dare.

Four days in St. Gallen, here with the view toward the old town, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Four days in St. Gallen, here with the view toward the old town, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

We’ll play Jeopardy, and the contestants get to win up to fifteen novels. I’m sponsoring GRL this year (again), with a lot of money, and I’ve not even done the math yet, but we’re looking at well over three grand by now.

Half-packed suitcase. Looks VERY heave already... and still stuff mission.

Half-packed suitcase. Looks VERY heave already… and still lots of stuff missing.

The organizers of GRL do an amazing job, so I wanted to help them out. Whether that pays out or if it’s worth it in the long run? I don’t know. I’m not really in the ROI business, at least not with monetary regards.. There are other, more important, aspects to my authorship.

Which leads me to the final picture for the day, my half-packed suitcase. Time to get that ready, and finish packing before I hit the sack. It’s already 9:28 pm, I have less than seven hours before I have to get up and I’m already an hour short of what I need to sleep every day, so…

Ciao, have a great week, and if you’re going to GRL, come by my table or any of my events and say hi. I don’t bite, not even if you ask me…

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please share it with others. I love to connect with my readers, I really do, so feel free to interact with me on TwitterFacebookYouTube, and/or Instagram.

Have a wonderful week!

Hans

PS: By the time this is published, I’ll hopefully be on my way to 30,000 feet, on my first flight from Gothenburg to Frankfurt, from where I’ll fly to Chicago.

Release Day for Jonathan’s Legacy, interview with a twist… #LGBT #amreading #asmsg

Release Day for Jonathan’s Legacy, interview with a twist… #LGBT #amreading #asmsg

Jonathan’s Legacy: meet Sean, the forgotten character

Today is the release day for Jonathan’s Legacy, the third and final book in the Jonathan Trilogy. And between this blog and all my interviews, videos and guest appearances, I think everything has been said about the inception of this unexpected trilogy, and I think I’ll leave it to readers to get to know the boys and the Jackson clan better.

Jonathan's Legacy Cover

The final book in the trilogy, Jonathan’s Legacy deals with questions of child abuse, homelessness among children as well as LGBT families, to just name a few.

However, there is one character, who is vital for the books, a character who played a major role in Dan’s early life and Jonathan’s much, much later, who never really got much space in the book. I still remember when I wrote about Sean, and how painful it was to write about his hunting accident, and the pain Dan felt, and everything he went through as a consequence. I got a chance to sit down with Sean recently, and chat:

Me: “Hey Sean. Glad you could spare me a moment.” – Sean: “Don’t mention it.”

“How have you been?” – “Hectic. And weird at the same time.”

“What do you mean?” – “Jonathan’s arrival kind of messed things up. But it’s all good. Dan is happy, Jonathan is happy, and so am I: It was just weird when he was with us, and not us watching over him.”

“I can imagine. I know how much you loved Dan. Must’ve been weird to see Jonathan pop up there by the cabin?” – “You know what? No, quite the contrary. I had fucked up royally, to put it bluntly. That accident with the gun? I can’t forgive myself for that. And when I saw how Dan retreated from life, to the cabin, stopped living, all because of me? I was devastated, and I prayed and hoped that someone would come to jerk him out of that vegetative state. Rascal tried, but well, he could only do so much. So when Jonathan came along, I was happy. Really happy.”

“No hard feelings toward Jonathan?” – “Never. I don’t work that way. I love Dan, and I was happy that he could live, again, and that he and Jonathan were able to live a long and very happy life. Why would I be jealous..?”

“Okay, let me ask you this: it’s been on my mind ever since Jonathan and Dan got married, and I knew you were waiting for them on the other side…” – “I think I know what you’re getting at. It doesn’t work this way. You see, the afterlife, heaven, paradise, whatever you want to call it, is nothing like the existence you know. Time isn’t linear, in fact, there is no time, so there is no sense of loss. Now, what you’re trying to hint at, ‘jealousy’, wouldn’t make sense. You see Jonathan and Dan living together again, in a ‘heavenly’ house, and you probably picture me as the fifth wheel, but that’s not how it works. I think the closest I can come to describe it for you is that our minds, our souls, our essence, exist together, in communion. We can talk, commune, but without time, it’s not like we’re going from one place to another. We don’t do things, and therefore we can’t do things to hurt each other, exclude one another.”

The forest plays a major role in the first book, and I like the way the light here falls onto the ground. Personally, I'd like to think that Sean had a hand in guiding Jonathan...

The forest plays a major role in the first book, and I like the way the light here falls onto the ground. Personally, I’d like to think that Sean had a hand in guiding Jonathan…

“But can a couple commune, talk one to one? I mean could Dan and Jonathan talk to each other without anyone else listening?” – “Of course. But again, you are still thinking in terms of time. In your existence, while they talk, you think I’d be left out, right?” I nod. Sean continues: “But in our existence, there is no time. Therefore, I’m not missing out on anything. Besides, even if I did, I wouldn’t be jealous. It’s not who I am. I’m just grateful for Jonathan and the role he played in Dan’s life.”

“I think I’m beginning to understand. Be sure to give the boys me regards, and thank them, for everything.” – “I will.”

“I guess it makes no sense to ask you about your days, since you obviously don’t have any… But what do you do when you’re not communing with others?” – “You’re funny, Hans. You just can’t shake that time thing, eh? But believe it or not, we are with the people we love. We watch over them, observe life.”

“Like guardian angels?” – “If that image helps you understand? We can’t interfere, but what we can do is let our presence be felt, which is difficult to explain, but whenever someone really needs help, we are going to be there, and we pour our love for them into their hearts and minds. It helps them to take the next step. They just instinctively feel strengthened, empowered. Make sense? But we can’t stop things from happening. We couldn’t stop a bullet or prevent an accident. But our presence is often all that’s needed to empower people.”

“Is that what happened in Jonathan’s dream? On the cruise ship?” – “No, that was different. A dream is just a dream, and that particular dream helped Jonathan understand the dilemma he was facing in a way he could understand. That was just his subconscious explaining things to his consciousness.”

The Jonathan Trilogy, is the tale of MY generation, a tale where even the worst background and the most hateful parents won't keep you from finding love, success, start a dynasty!

The Jonathan Trilogy, is the tale of MY generation, a tale where even the worst background and the most hateful parents won’t keep you from finding love, success, start a dynasty!

“I see. Let me ask you something about you then. When you first met Dan, way back when you walked into that bar, and you first saw him. What did you think?”  Sean smiles at the memory. “Are you referring to that night when he was sitting all by himself in that corner? How could I forget. I was going out with a couple of mates, and we walked into our favorite bar. It was still relatively early, and I noticed this guy sitting at our table. We’d walked up to the bar, as we usually would, to get our drinks before we’d sit down. But while my friends were ordering, I noticed Dan sitting there. He seemed so completely out of his element, like a fish out of water, at lost, his gaze was flickering about, and his hands signaled how uncomfortable he was. And he was so handsome, beautiful really. I fell for him. It’s cheesy, I know, but it was love on first sight. Took me forever though to convince him I wasn’t just a fluke, in it for a one-night stand. We were good.” A wave of sadness, regret maybe, washed across Sean’s face.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t want to bring up painful memories.” – “Don’t worry, Hans. It’s all good. We had a great time together. I was happy, completely content. I died the happiest man alive. And so are Dan, and Jonathan. There are no regrets.”

Hans M Hirschi

Hans M Hirschi, the author of the Jonathan Trilogy.

“Okay, if you say so.” I can tell that he’s restless, his mind is elsewhere, and I think our time is up. Sean may not live in our existence any more, but his feelings for Dan haven’t changed. I’m glad and relieved to see that he’s happy and not harboring any regrets. I want to ask him one more question and look up again, but the chair next to me is empty. Sean’s gone. Again.

If you are interested in reading more about Sean, Dan, Jonathan and the Jackson family, all three books in the Jonathan Trilogy are now available. I humbly submit to you to read them, and to maybe love those men as much as I do.

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please share it with others. I love to connect with my readers, I really do, so feel free to interact with me on TwitterFacebookYouTube, and/or Instagram.

Jonathan’s Legacy is available from my publisher, from Amazon and other online retailers around the world.

Thank you,

Hans