Fight For Your Right with Evan Gilbert

September 18, 2015

Fight ForYour Right

 

Evan Gilbert here. My latest novella, Love Turned Blue, releases on September 16, 2015 amid the continuing brouhaha of religious objection to the Supreme Court’s decision this past June affirming the constitutionally protected right of same sex couples to marry. The movement is currently personified by Kim Davis who, as I write this, has just been released from jail after defying court orders to issue marriage licenses in her capacity as a county clerk. Ms. Davis has essentially declared that God won’t allow her to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples. She claims God’s law and her sincerely held religious beliefs trump the US Constitution and the rights of LGBTQ individuals.
I have deep roots in the African-American community, where there are a lot of Kim Davises running around.  They take heated exception to any comparison between the campaign for gay rights and the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. The church is still the centerpiece of the community, and homophobia is perhaps a bit more heavily entrenched here than in the rest of American society. Such attitudes have always made it very difficult for gay African-American men to form committed relationships with each other. Unfortunately, even in today’s more open society, there are still gay black men who are afraid to come out of the closet, and who cheat themselves of the joys and benefits that come from having a loving spouse or partner in their lives.
Slade Thompson, one of the main characters in Love Turned Blue, started his adult life as such a man. He married a woman to please his parents, believing rightfully that they would disown him if they found out he was gay. He deprived both himself and his wife of real love and affection for many years. Fortunately for them, Slade eventually grew to embrace his same sex desires and embarked on a path that eventually brought him to Bruno. But he also brought along the fallout from his failed marriage, including a bitter teenaged son who hasn’t forgiven him for the turmoil he created.  These are not exactly the optimal circumstances for beginning a good, strong relationship.
Three people in my life inspired me to write Love Turned Blue. Two of them are middle-aged black men who have been in love with each other for fourteen years. They are a faithful couple, but they live in separate apartments and won’t even consider tying the knot now that their right to marry has been secured. They are afraid their families will be devastated if they live openly as gay men. The third person is also a gay middle-aged man. He grew up in the church and is a devout Christian. He firmly believes the Biblical admonition of homosexuality as an abomination in the eyes of God. He’s told me how lonely he is and how he longs to have a man in his life. But he denies himself that companionship because he believes the only way he can avoid violating Biblical law is to refrain from all homosexual activity.
The LGBTQ community’s fight for rights and equality is far from over. It is still legal in most of this country for a man to be fired from his job for being gay. Local, state, and federal legislatures are considering laws that would allow people with “sincerely held religious beliefs” to discriminate against LGBTQ citizens. Conservative courts will likely find ways to uphold many of these laws. In short, there is still a lot of stigma out there for people who don’t fall under the heterosexual banner. Thankfully, there are many LGBTQ men and women who continue to stand up and live their lives proudly. We need more movies, television shows, and stories about men and women of all ages and races who are not afraid or ashamed to be who they are. And that’s why I love writing about diverse men who find love and happiness with each other.
So, what do you think about gay love and marriage in the good ol’ USA? Should the right to religious freedom supersede the right of a gay man to live where he chooses or to marry the man he loves? I’d love for everyone to share their thoughts, so please leave a comment. You’re also welcome to write me directly anytime at EvGilvibes@gmail.com.

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