Pride Never Ends

I don’t know how Pride Month 2020 was for the rest of you, but due to COVID-19, it was pretty difficult in the Chase Connor household. There were no parades or parties to go to, no marathons. People from the LGBTQ+ community couldn’t gather to celebrate our queerness as we do every year in June. I always really look forward to all of the rainbows and fun outfits and costumes, seeing my LGBTQ+ family taking to the streets to show how happy and proud they are to be exactly who they are.

So, June 2020 was kind of disappointing.

Keeping up social distancing to make sure everyone stays as healthy and safe as possible is important. So, I don’t want to complain too much. Everyone being able to stay alive is more important than pretty much anything else. Still…I missed celebrating Pride in the same way that I have in the past.

Regardless, I also have to acknowledge that Pride has a designated month, but it is something we should celebrate year ’round. Whether it is January, June, or even Christmas Day, queer people should be proud of their queerness. Maybe we weren’t able to celebrate en masse this month like we’re used to, but Pride can’t be stripped away that easily. If you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I hope you feel what you feel during June all year long.

Because it is the last day of Pride Month, I thought I would share LGBTQ+ media (movies, books, and music) that has helped shape who I am as a queer man. Things that have informed me, educated me, molded me, brought me joy, and moved me.

Of course, this isn’t a definitive list of queer media, but I think it will be a good start for anyone wanting to become more well-rounded when it comes to queer media.

Hopefully, you will find something on this list that makes you feel seen as a member of the LGBTQ+ community.

Movies

Hedwig and the Angry Inch – I love musicals and I love queer things. How could this rock opera about an East German trans woman looking to become a star in America not appeal to me?

Love! Valour! Compassion! – In Terrence McNally’s play, brought to the screen, 8 men gather over 3 different weekends at the country home of one of the friends. It was the first LGBTQ+ movie I saw that addressed being queer, HIV/AIDS, friendship, and relationships. Funny, heartwarming, heartbreaking, I watch this at least once a year.

Paris Is Burning – A documentary about the Harlem drag ball scene in New York City during the 80s. It is an important piece of queer history, educating the viewers about how Black and Latinx people built the foundation our culture is built upon. It also offers important glimpses into the lives of the LGBTQ+ people from the “houses” involved in drag balls. Required viewing for all LGBTQ+ people.

Laurence Anyways – Laurence, a French teacher and author, tells his fiancée, Frédérique, after his birthday that he is a trans woman and wants to live her life as the woman she is, while asking for Frédérique’s support. A gorgeous movie about a couple’s on-and-off again relationship as they try to figure out what happens when one of them is trans.

Room In Rome – Two women spend a night together in a hotel room in Rome. As they grow increasingly more comfortable with each other, they share not only their bodies, but their deepest thoughts and desires. Gorgeous with (in my opinion) a perfect ending.

The Life and Death of Marsha P. Johnson – Marsha P. Johnson, a black trans activist, Self-described “drag queen” and integral in the gay rights movements that erupted after Stonewall, her story is our story. This is another documentary that should be required viewing for all LGBTQ+ people. And it’s available exclusively on Netflix!

But I’m A Cheerleader – One of the most heartwarming and funny LGBTQ+ comedies I’ve ever seen. The jokes are many, but so are the profound moments.

Jeffrey – A gay man decides he’s had enough with the dangers that come with sex (and how unromantic safe sex can be) in New York City in the 90s. So, he writes off romance and sex altogether. Of course, that’s when the perfect guy waltzes into his life. Not all gay love stories have to be tragic–and Patrick Stewart is absolutely hilarious in this movie!

Naz & Maalik – Two gay black Muslim teens who are in the closet get swept up in the War on Terror due to how secretive they have become. A powerful, sometimes funny, movie about sexuality, religion, and bias. Absolutely adore this movie.

Books

You can check out the LGBTQCrew Books here – but here are other recommendations:

Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin – Baldwin is a phenomenal writer, we all know that. But Giovanni’s Room has always been my favorite of his. No one quite captures the complexities of the human condition, and how the human heart really works, quite like him.

The Dancing Turtle by A.J. Stiles – A fellow indie, Stiles crafted a perfect debut, in my opinion. Part travelogue, part ode to food, and part romance, this book left me speechless. I’m still stunned by how good it is months later.

ICARUS by Adam Wing – While the author is not a member of the LGBTQ+ community, this is one of the most gorgeous mythology retellings with LGBTQ+ characters. I’ve ever read. Wing took a story many people are at least vaguely familiar with and to which we know the ending. He still managed to make the story fresh and exciting, made me hopeful…and still heartbroken, even though I knew what was coming. An absolute masterpiece.

Butterfly Boy by Rigoberto Gonzalez- A stunning work about the intersectionalism of race, religion, culture, class, and sexuality.

Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman – Lush prose, scenes you can hear, smell, and taste. A visiting college student has a summer-long affair with the teenage son of the professor he is studying with. Heartbreaking and stunningly gorgeous (let’s just pretend the follow up doesn’t exist).

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides – The first LGBTQ+ book I read specifically about being intersex. An absolutely gorgeous book told over the span of eight decades about the intricacies of gender. I could not put this book down and felt forever changed by it.

We Are Everywhere: Protest, Power, and Pride in the History of Queer Liberation by Riemer & Brown – A powerful story told in photos about gay liberation from the early 19th century up to the present day. I often find myself pulling this book off of the shelf to pour through the photos and remind myself what it means to be queer, and how I am standing where I am today.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky – The first YA Book I ever read with a character that made me feel seen. To pick up a book at such an early age and see yourself represented when you have always felt misunderstood and invisible is a powerful thing. Adore this book.

Music

Like the other two lists, this one is obviously incomplete. However, these are some songs by queer artists that mean something to me in some way. Whether they make me want to get up and dance my little gay heart out or just sit back and ponder the deep lyrics, they’ve all meant something profound to me.

Never fails to make me dance. Never. Fails.
Another one that makes me dance. Even in the shower. Which is why I have a scar I named “Janelle Monae.”
My favorite Elton John song of all time.
I could listen to Gladys Bentley all day long.
This song just hits me somewhere I didn’t even know existed.
I was introduced to Beth Ditto/Gossip and this song by a friend, and I listen to it at least twenty times a week.
I almost always play this while making a big Sunday meal.
And this is reserved for weekday meal prep.
An intoxicating song that makes me want to both relax and also dance around.
How can you not dance to this?
I mean…Brendon Urie? Come on.

So…those are some of my favorites to watch, read, and listen to at the end of Pride Month.

But Pride never ends. And LGBTQ+ writers, auteurs, and artists should be supported every day of the year. Pride should be celebrated every day of the year. I’m proud to be LGBTQ+ and proud to call you all my family.

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase

The Easy Way Out

Blog post days–what most people would refer to as “Tuesday”–come around way to often sometimes.

Sometimes it’s hard to think of something fresh and interesting to blog about every Tuesday. Especially when my brain has been mush for a few weeks now with so much work and life being what it is for all of us.

So, this blog post day, I’m taking the easy way out. I’ve given a synopsis and final book cover reveal on Twitter here…but how about a free peek at a scene from A STRAIGHT LINE (my next release, which I co-authored with J.D. Wade of THE ADVISOR fame)?

Below, you’ll find the book cover, synopsis, and a little sneaky-peeky to give you an idea of what to expect from the book.

Enjoy!


Harry looked positively unsettled from our interaction in the bedroom, which only made my eyes roll back in my head as I shuffled over and lifted myself up onto one of the empty stools on the other side of the island.

            “Drama queen.” I mumbled.

            “I’m sorry, darling.” Uncle Harry quipped, the highball glass halfway to his mouth. “Lower your voice. Everything is positively deafening over the whisper of your outfit.”

            Uncle Vic slapped at Uncle Harry’s shoulder reproachfully as he listened to the person on the other end of the phone.

            “I get it.” I grumbled. “My clothes are boring and plain. I’m a bad gay man. Shoot me.”

            “I would need to lay down drop cloths first, but you seem to be wearing them.” Harry sniped before taking another sip from his drink.

            “Sooooo bitchy,” I said.

            “My dear nephew,” Harry lowered his glass as Vic finished up his phone call, “I don’t point out the glaringly—and offensively—obvious fashion faux pas I see to not be called a bitch.”

            My eyes were rolling once again.

            “Thank you, that would be lovely,” Vic said into the phone. “Goodbye.”

            Vic pressed a button on the phone screen with his thumb and laid his phone down on the island before turning his attention to me.

            “You look handsome as always, Russ.” He smiled. “Don’t let this old fart tell you otherwise.”

            “Old fart?” Harry nearly choked on his drink. “I’m simply trying to get the boy to understand LSP, Victor. Is that so wrong of me?”

            “L…SP?” I asked.

            “Lesbian Safety Precautions.” Uncle Vic waved me off as he turned to Uncle Harry. “Stop it. Drink your bourbon and relax. The caterers will be here in thirty minutes. Things will be fine.”

            “It will be nearly six o’clock then, Victor!” Harry was scandalized. “The party starts at seven!”

            “Professionals can set up in minutes, Harry.” Victor reached over to pat his hand. “Stop worrying so much.”

            “Fine, fine.” Harry lifted his drink again, his head still wobbling slightly. “But you know Dan and Rafi will show up early enough to qualify as hosts.”

            “Just as I know Bang Bang will be hours late.” Uncle Vic agreed. “That reporter from The Gazette will be here at six-thirty to talk about the party and the end of an era.

            “What’s Lesbian Safety Precautions?” I asked.

            Uncle Vic rolled his eyes as Harry sipped his bourbon.

            “Your Uncle here,” He jabbed a thumb in Harry’s general direction, “has a theory that the lesbians will absorb any wayfaring young gay into their inner circle and get them to do their bidding. He has a severe dislike of—”

            “Distrust!” Harry corrected him.

            “—distrust of lesbians.” Vic shrugged. “Though we count many as friends. It’s probably old age and senility, honestly, and—”

            “The year before I met your Uncle Victor,” Harry interjected, “I was spending a summer—”

            “Lord help us.” Vic sighed.

            “—in New York. I was very shy then—”

            “If you can believe that.” Vic added.

            “—and totally hopeless when it came to approaching other guys at the bars. So—”

            “Now he just drags them around the dumpster behind Taco Bell.” Vic winked at me.

            “—I struck up a conversation with a seemingly harmless lesbian—cute as a button, no taller than my shoulder, honestly—”

            “Which used to be higher.”

            “—if you don’t shut the hell up, Victor!” Harry snapped. Uncle Vic smiled at me, then turned to busy himself at the sink. “Well, we got to talking, one thing led to another, and I found myself in upstate New York helping a legion of lesbians raise a barn for some commune they planned to start. Upstate New York, Russ! To think of it now—”

            “I’m surprised you can remember it.” Vic mumbled.

            Luckily, Uncle Harry didn’t quite catch what Uncle Vic had said.

            “—makes me shudder. If it hadn’t been for their exceptional abilities in procuring weed and finding the best artisanal cheese shops, it would have been a total loss. Either way, I still returned home after summer with a bowl cut, two pairs of Dr. Martens from a thrift store, and still a virgin!”

            “Imagine.” Vic mumbled again. “That was once pure.”

            “I didn’t see a single cock the entire summer!” Harry stated with finality before raising his glass one more.

            “Don’t say ‘cock,’ Harry.” I winced.

            He gave a dismissive wave before slamming the rest of his bourbon.

            “Look, I’ll change if it’s that big of a deal.” I shrugged.

            “Don’t you dare, Russ,” Uncle Vic said, shooting a look at Uncle Harry. “Tonight is a celebration of being exactly who we are for the last forty years. You look very handsome.”

            “You look like you want to raise a barn and ruin my summer. Which could be my last.” Harry corrected him. “But I suppose Victor is right. This party is about all of us and not just your dreadful shirt. Maybe a nice kerchief or—”

            “I’m not wearing a kerchief.”

            Harry started to open his mouth again.

            “Or a pocket square, ascot or cravat.” I stopped him. “I’ll look like a rainbow if you had your way with my outfit.”

            Okay, so that wasn’t totally fair. Both of my uncles looked completely party ready without looking as though they were about to take the stage on a cruise ship. Uncle Harry, still wiry, but a bit shorter with age, had on black slacks, an emerald green button down, and a nice blazer over it. Uncle Vic, tall and broad, was adorned similarly, but red was his chosen shirt color. They looked like Christmas without the overdone parade. Without asking, I knew that they had coordinated with the other older gay men who were coming to the party so that they all wore a shirt with a color of the rainbow. I could imagine the Instagram pictures that would appear in the morning.

            “Let me just go see what I have that will suit you.” Harry was off his stool and out of the kitchen before I could object.

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase

Guest Post: W.D. Foster-Graham

Old School New Kid

Yes, that’s what my teenage Millennial son would call me in this age of social media, iPhones and Internet branding. How did I, that 21-year-old version of myself, survive without the bells and whistles of 21st century technology? But hey, I’m a Baby Boomer and I own it.

I am always fascinated and intrigued when other authors share their stories; every path to becoming a novelist is different. For me, it started early on, with countless trips to the library as soon as I could get a library card. Vivid imagination spurred short stories about animals and their families, where I actually wrote a series of short stories about a family of mischievous seals (go figure).

As an African American/Native American/LGBT man, those stories changed over the years, but my passion for writing didn’t.  How many people have written short stories based on dreams they had–better yet, remembered? I have. Still, life went lifing along, and in the timeless words of Gwen Guthrie, “Ain’t nothin’ goin’ on but the rent.”

I am so grateful for that psych degree I received, for it was a major boost on my road to writing my first novel. I made up psychological profiles of characters for fun, and a pastor friend of mine read them and said, “Why don’t you put them all together in a book?” Seed planted!

Now, the million-dollar question:  what to write about?  One never knows where inspiration comes from, and mine sprang from a need. Being a man of color in the 1970s and 1980s, I was ever on the search for fiction novels featuring characters who looked like me and came up short. I was dying to read novels of successful African American men as entrepreneurs in areas other than sports and entertainment. I knew such men existed in real life, like John H. Johnson, A.G. Gaston and H.G. Parks, Jr. However, it wasn’t reflected in fiction. And as for characters who were also LGBT….

Faced with the choice of complaining about this challenge or writing a novel on it myself, I did what my dad would do and chose the latter. Thus, my concept for Mark My Words and the character of Allan Beckley Christopher. Thanks Dad, for being my No. 1 fan and my greatest critic. Your stamp of approval on this character as representative of your generation meant everything to me.

Trust and believe, Mark My Words was a novel 17 years in the making.  Between written pages, typewritten pages and what was then a state-of-the-art laptop (oh, those days of floppy disks), it was written in 5 years. The new challenge was the next umpteen years getting it published, and everything that goes with being a new author. Fortunately, I was blessed with 1) the mantra “Never give up” and 2) a great support system.

Today, this “old school new kid” has embraced a new learning curve in marketing and social media as a self-published author. Believe in dreams and never give up.

W.D. Foster Graham’s books can be found here. He can also be found on Twitter and Goodreads.

Christmas In June

I’ve always loved Christmas. It’s not as great as Halloween (in my opinion), and I like the food more at Thanksgiving (Americans know how to use bread, that’s all I’m saying), but I like it. I have very fond memories of Christmases past and can’t wait for future Christmases. I love giving gifts, baking (and eating) all of the treats, Christmas trees and lights are gorgeous, and I love the snow.

But I prefer to keep everything Christmas related within the month of December, please.

However, when you’re an author who has a few short stories showing up in a Christmas anthology in the future, you’re more than likely going to be working on them outside of the Christmas season. In this case. Recently, I’ve been doing my edits on Christmas stories for Christmas 2020. Which is 7 months away…

It’s hard to capture the feelings I have at Christmas time during the beginning of summer.

Christmas is whimsical yet solemn, bright yet dreary, magical yet exhausting–it’s like eating a bunch of cookies and throwing them up on a carnival ride, then going home and sinking into the couch feeling like the piece of shit you are. You had a good time, but at what cost?

So, editing Christmas stories in June when it’s hot, sunny, green, and I’m wearing shorts and t-shirts is…odd. I suppose we all have to do what we have to do, though.

Since I’m not used to short stories, and I have never really written anything Christmas themed, writing the stories was an interesting experience. As anyone who has read my work before knows, I usually write more realistic fiction, and some of the themes I’ve written about are dark and depressing. I’ve had more than one person tell me off for making them cry.

When I turned in my first drafts, I ended up having a very uncomfortable discussion with my developmental editor about whether or not I knew what readers expected from a Christmas story. Apparently, people want to be uplifted with cheerful stories of fun holiday things. They don’t want to hear about death and sadness.

Who knew?

“People want to feel the spirit of Christmas, be cheered up, uplifted, or laugh out loud. They don’t want to cry.”

I come from a long line of people with a cheerful, yet realistic outlook on life and morbid senses of humor. I can’t help myself sometimes.

So, I’ve had to adjust my way of thinking about story. I’ve had to adjust how I write because I’ve always written the things my mind conjured up with no expectation as to what my readers expect–other than a good story.

Taking an idea and shaping it around a holiday is a lot different than dreaming up characters and a plot and just seeing where it leads. When you’re writing a story (or novella/novel) with a holiday theme, you almost have to work backwards. Holiday theme comes first…then everything else. Sure, you have a great idea for characters and plot, but how do you make it a Christmas story? It’s a concept I’ve rarely had to deal with in my past writing.

Obviously, I don’t have much advice on how to make this work for other writers–I’m fairly new to this myself. However, maybe throw in a drunk uncle, some egg nog, and a Christmas Tree?

Regardless, it never fails to amaze me how most writers have to be willing to self-teach a lot of ways to write. There’s no blueprint for every possible thing you might encounter when crafting a story. Especially if you’re a multi-genre author. Additionally, no matter how long I am a writer, I’ll always wake up each day wondering what new thing I will learn or realize I don’t know anything about.

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase

Guest Post: Tiffany Christina Lewis

Influences: Why I Write Black Characters

It may seem obvious, but I don’t write black characters just because I am black.

My blackness has always been dotted with other cultural influences and I had excellent opportunities to see and experience different things as a young person.

I am from Oakland, CA. Some would say the area is a little rough, but if you look closer, you see the beauty of multiculturalism everywhere. Every black neighborhood had a token white family, just like white neighborhoods had their token blacks. There was a Chinatown and for miles up and down a particular street (aptly named International Blvd) you could find Elote before Elote was cool. Right on the corner, sold from a cart with questionable cleanliness, there was corn, cojita, mayo, chili powder and lime. And it was good. I won’t even get into how close biriyani, Korean BBQ, lumpia, Egyptian, Jewish and any number of foods or cultural experiences were to me at any one time.

Food wasn’t the end of it, as directly over the bridge (you pick which one) I could arrive in San Francisco where I could see any number of performances spanning dance, music, and theatre from a multitude of nations. Attractions that emphasized cultural awareness were ALWAYS cool.

We cherish cultures in the Bay Area.

In addition to that, my parents were very different people. My mom was straight up, old school R&B (Marvin Gaye and Al Green) while my dad was Rock and Roll (Joan Jett and Nine Inch Nails). Pile that on with the number of times we moved (including one special time we lived in Stone Mountain, GA…) and I was as open to differences as could be.

When I started writing, I was a middle schooler and we were back living in Oakland. Back then I just wrote about what I liked and modeled my characters after my friends. I drifted away from writing until about 2010 when I was invited to a Facebook writers group and that experience was eye opening. I made friends I’ll never forget and thank god for them because they showed me how important it was for me to express myself through writing again. I also learned about publishing and released my first book in 2014.

That book, Inside Out, is about a detective working in Oakland to catch a serial killer.

And yes, my detective is Black.

His girlfriend is Black.

Lots of his co-workers (police officers) are Black.

The book reflected my life in Oakland as well, not just pure Blackness, because of course we don’t exist without other humans around us. The district attorney is Hispanic as well as my characters’ supervisor. The coroner is white as well as the quirky lab tech but at the end of the day, I wrote a story where the most important person is Black.

Now, I am getting to why I did that. Thanks for sticking with me.

My main character is Michael Taylor and outside of the fact that he is based on a certain celebrity that I had a crush on during that time, there was no way he couldn’t be Black. During the time that I was writing and releasing this book, I was keeping my eyes on the books around me. I was kinda bothered by the fact that so many of the books I’d been seeing, traditionally or independently published, showed Blacks in a less than flattering light. I was tired of seeing a ton of books about drug dealing and criminals in the Black community.

YES. Those things are a part of our culture, especially my Oakland culture, but those behaviors are a product of the negativity we have been forced to live with for hundreds of years. If every Black man or woman who engaged in criminal activity had a genuine choice to continue that or have a prosperous position that would help them feed their family, I promise they would pick the better path.

That’s why, my characters are Black AND doing well.

Michael is a detective above corruption, he’s not a womanizer, he’s intelligent, he believes in monogamy, he saves money, he wants to be better, he’s in good shape, he’s polite, loves his family, he’s tough and determined.

I wrote what I wanted to see.

I want people who read my books, Black, White or otherwise, to understand that Black people can be more than drug dealers, killers and gang bangers and that Black authors know about more than “the streets”.

Don’t box Black authors in.

We continually show that we have the capacity to create worlds that take readers away from their toil, we enlighten and entertain.

Additionally, I wanted to show people that reading Black characters is not a genre.

Just as Blacks should be accepted everywhere, so should they be in many kinds of books. Just as they can be villains, they can be hero’s. Just as they are killers, they can be healers. Just as they are criminals, they can solve crime.

I had many opportunities as a child to see positivity in my Blackness but not everyone has that experience, so, I write Black characters because they inspire me and because I hope my characters will inspire others.

Keep an open mind and you can be inspired by all the colors.

Tiffany Christina Lewis’ books can be found here.

She can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

What Now?

A MILLION LITTLE SOULS – my first YA Fantasy novel dropped on Friday, June 5th. If you didn’t pre-order or buy a copy, what are you waiting for? It’s also available on Kindle Unlimited if you have a subscription.

Of course, the work of an author is never done. I can’t speak for traditionally published authors, but I know us indies (or indie hybrids) don’t get to rest for long. As soon as one project is done, we’re moving on to the next. As soon as one book publishes, there’s another thing to write, rewrite, or edit. You have to be a bad bitch to be an indie author. I said it.

So, what’s next for Chase Connor?

I’ve mentioned a few times (read: a million) that I have several books with The Lion Fish Press in various stages of completion. We’ve been working on all of them closely together, deciding what’s next, what needs to be rewritten, edits that need to be done…it’s a never ending checklist, really. But I love it. I like to stay busy.

Regardless, it has been decided that A STRAIGHT LINE, a book I co-wrote with The Lion Fish Press author, J.D. Wade,, will be coming out next. It’s a pretty straight forward gay romance with a twist. J.D. released THE ADVISOR back in March. It’s a really fun gay political romance you might want to check out ahead of the release of A STRAIGHT LINE.

We’ll also be releasing my book, A BOY CALLED NEVER, an omnibus edition of the JACOB MICHAELS IS… series (all 6 books plus the short story, CARNAVAL) in ebook and paperback formats. That’s going to be a chonky paperback, folks! Additionally, I’ll have a few entries in the short Christmas story compilation The Lion Fish Press will release later in the year. We’re working on the audiobooks for BETWEEN ENZO & THE UNIVERSE and A MILLION LITTLE SOULS, and we’re translating ENZO into French! Maybe there will be a few surprises along the way…

It should be an exciting second half of the year, and I can’t wait to share everything with all of you!

In the meantime, don’t forget that you can find all of my books listed on Chase Connor Books and catch me on Twitter.

Here’s to a better second half of 2020, and many amazing years to come. Thank you all for reading, being supportive, and just being the amazing, beautiful people that you are!

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase

Solidarity

Happy Tuesday, my reader friends.

This past week has been very difficult, but especially for Black Americans and Black people across the world. I can’t speak for everyone, but a lot of tears have been shed in this home over the murder of George Floyd and the countless Black Americans brutalized senselessly by police.

I’ve had a very difficult time making sense of these atrocities, why our police and government have responded (for the most part) with indifference and threats, and why protesters are being labeled as the “bad guy” in this situation.

I don’t have answers. I just have tears. But I also have abilities. I have the ability to contact my representatives in the Senate and Congress (which I’ve done). I have the ability to donate to the cause (which I’ve done), and support politicians who are running for office and will lead us towards a better future (which I’ve done). I have the ability to make a conscious effort to listen to Black Voices and confront my own biases and learn to be uncomfortable in communicating and working together in the search for justice, equality, and equity. Which I’m actively working on. I have the ability to elevate Black Voices without disagreeing or censoring–letting Black Voices be heard, and deep, soul-searching thought going into what is said without being defensive, then realizing that I don’t need to respond. I just need to hear.

Today’s post is not meant to be depressing or to bring you down. I hope everyone can find something positive and uplifting in the current state of America. We are living in a unique moment in history where you look out over a sea of protesters faces–and they’re all different. They’re all unified, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or religious affiliation to see justice and equality for all. We are seeing solidarity between people who know what is right. We see more people realizing that we cannot be afraid to be uncomfortable. We need to reach out to each other, listening, communicating, coordinating, and working together, we are in charge of what the future of this country looks like. Not our current squatter in the White House or any of our elected officials who refuse to truly represent us and do the right thing.

June is Pride Month.

I want to wish all of my LGBTQ+ family “Happy Pride.” I know “happy” is a hard thing to hear with what is going on in our world right now, but please try to make an effort to find some joy today. Of course, don’t lose that spark that keeps you angry and hungry for justice, but even in the darkest times, joy can be the light that shines the way.

For Pride Month, I’m working on bringing posts from Black Voices to you. I’ve spoken with a few writers already and posts are being worked on for this site. I’ll continue to reach out to Black creatives in the Writing Community. I’m working on making a list of books by Black authors that I have really enjoyed and would recommend for required reading or books with stories I simply enjoyed. This is something I should have done a long time ago, but I was uncomfortable reaching out to Black creatives with this idea for fear of coming off as pandering or playing “white savior.” But I’ve decided to stop being uncomfortable. I will reach out, and I will confront those feelings of discomfort. Some people will want to write posts and some will not–I fully respect and understand both decisions. Some may even say difficult things that are uncomfortable to hear–and I will listen.

Regardless, I would like anyone reading this to know that if you are a Black creative–or know of a Black creative who would be interested–I would be thrilled to feature your/their voice on my website. My platform is yours. It’s not huge, but I’m happy to share it.

In the future, I plan to open my platform to guest posts from writers from other backgrounds so that their voices can be elevated as well.

I’ll still be doing my weekly posts to share things about my books, process, and any Chase Connor Books news. However, this platform will also be welcoming to any marginalized voice that wants to be heard.

I can be reached via the “Contact Chase” page on this site, at chaseconnor@chaseconnor.com, or DM me on Twitter. I’ll respond as quickly as I can to all.

In the meantime, please be kind to each other. Reach out, communicate, listen a lot more than you talk, hold hands, give hugs. Don’t be afraid to be uncomfortable and have the difficult discussions. Put down your shields and don’t be defensive. Be willing to hear the things that make you uncomfortable. Let Black people know that they are important. Their voices are important. Their lives are important.

Black Lives Matter.

Tremendous Love & Thanks,

Chase