Wednesday, June 26, 2013

25 years later, the Supreme Court gets it right

Then and now (photo on right courtesy Jennifer Durham)
I met and fell in love with Kelley 25 years ago today.

And this morning, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, which means that if you are, or become, legally married to a person of the same sex in a state in the US, you are entitled to federal benefits. (In Proposition 8 the defendant was ruled to have no standing, that is, Prop 8 is now invalidated without any intervention by SCOTUS. Same-sex marriage is now legal for lesbians and gay men in California, but the decision has no further ramifications.) Both decisions were 5-4 (I'd hoped for 6-3) but, hey, I'll take it because the rest--full, nationwide marriage equality--will now follow, inevitably as the phases of the moon.

It may take some years, though. So if you're queer and in a hurry, I advise you to move to a more friendly state.

I'm now going to rejoin my sweetie and get down to some serious enjoyment. We're going to have a fabulous day. I hope you do, too.
This blog has moved. My blog now lives here:


Monday, June 24, 2013

Westercon 66 schedule

For those planning to be at Westercon 66 in Sacramento over July 4th weekend, here's my schedule:

Thursday 7/4
  • 5:45 pm Joint reading with Kelley
"Hear how it's supposed to sound as Nicola Griffith and Kelley Eskridge, Guests of Honor, will read selections." Right now we're planning to read a never-before-performed-in-public piece...but that could change. (If you have a request, drop a comment below.)
  • 8:30 pm Opening Ceremonies/Meet the Guests/Fireworks
"Join our Guests of Honor and other participants for an opening reception. Stay for the fireworks from Cal Expo."
Friday, 7/5
  • 10 am my reading
I plan to spend about half the time talking and reading a couple of short selections (from Hild and maybe one other piece--if you have a request, drop a comment) and about half the time chatting back and forth with the audience, i.e. Q and A (I love that part).
Saturday, 7/6
  • 11:15 am panel, "Storytelling the Old-Fashioned Way"
An exploration of the oral tradition of storytelling and how it relates to writing fiction. Should be interesting.
  • 1:45 pm staged joint interview with Kelley, with Warren Frey
"Join our writer Guests of Honor, Nicola Griffith and Kelley Eskridge, to hear about how they met, how they write and all sorts of tidbits." This will definitely be interesting. I've no idea what questions Warren will come up with...
Sunday, 7/7
  • 10:00 am panel, "The Clarion and Clarion West Experience"
"For over forty years the Clarion Writing Program has been nurturing new writers through workshops and mentorship opportunities. The Clarion West program is about to celebrate its 30th anniversary. Join these Clarion/Clarion West alumni as they discuss their experiences in the program." With Kelley. We've both also taught the workshop, too, and Kelley is the immediate past Chair of the Board of Trustees of Clarion West. So, lots of info from all angles. Plus, y'know, war stories...
  • 12:30 pm panel, "Fantasy Series: Too Much of a Good Thing?"
"You read that first book and wait for the sequel. And then another...and another... Is it possible for a fantasy series to become unwieldy and out of control? What are the issues the author has to contend with? What happens if there is a media tie-in? Our panelists discuss several well-known series." I wouldn't be shocked if a certain book-to-film series came up...
  • 3:00 pm Closing Ceremonies
"Unfortunately, all good things come to an end. Join our Guests of Honor once more as we bring Westercon 66 to a close and hand off to the Westercon 67 team."
This, of course, is just the tip of the iceberg. I'll also be at most of Kelley's events (listed below for your convenience), at some of the parties, and hanging around the con suite (occasionally) and in the bar (a lot).

I don't know what the rules are for signing things at Westercon but unless the Powers That Be specify otherwise I'm happy to sign almost anything almost anytime. A big exception: when I'm eating dinner, whether inside or outside the con hotel. At lunch is probably okay (though not top of my list). Breakfast could be dangerous for you. Just saying...

Kelley's Schedule

Thursday 7/4
4:30 pm panel, "Becoming a Professional Writer or Artist"
5:45 pm Kelley and Nicola read together
8:30 pm Opening Ceremonies

Friday, 7/5
11:15 am reading
5:30 pm panel, "Gender Identity in Public Places"
6:45 pm panel, "Marketing for Writers and Artists"

Saturday, 7/6
12:30 pm panel, "Publishing Options: Traditional vs On-Demand and Self-Publishing"
1:45 pm Kelley and Nicola staged interview (with Warren Frey)
5:30 pm panel, "Matrons and Crones"

Sunday, 7/7
10:00 am panel, "The Clarion and Clarion West Experience"
3:00 pm Closing Ceremonies
This blog has moved. My blog now lives here:


Friday, June 21, 2013

SCOTUS, same-sex marriage, and my anniversary

At some point next week the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) will hand down its decisions on the Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California Proposition 8.

It's possible it could happen on Monday, June 24th, but my guess is it will be on June 26th or 27th. That is, the day of or the day after the 25th anniversary of the day I met--the day I fell in love with--Kelley.

It's my belief that by June 28th any marriage of one women to another, or man to another, will be eligible for all the federal rights and privileges pertaining to heterosexual married couples. For why, and what this means exactly, see previous posts on marriage equality and the Supreme Court.

I know my silver anniversary will be a happy one. But I'm sincerely hoping it will be a fabulously happy one.

How about you?

This blog has moved. My blog now lives here:


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The first same-sex couple Guests of Honour at a major SF convention?

From: Jack Hastings

I am curious. Are you and Kelley Eskridge the first same sex couple co-Guests of Honor at a major science fiction convention?

I must say that I hope so. As a Sacramentan it would make me very proud.

In any case I am an admirer of you both, singularly and in tandem, and look forward to seeing you both at the convention.
Kelley and I are the joint writer Guests of Honor at Westercon 66 next month (Sacramento, July 3 - 7). It's definitely a major SF convention. We're definitely a same-sex couple. We're obviously Guests of Honour. But are we the first to claim that honour? I haven't a clue; it's never occurred to me to wonder. Huh.

One queer couple I know of who do this kind of thing are Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman. They've done Gaylaxicon and Mythcon and Darkover Con. Offhand--as I say, I've never thought about this before, and a cursory web search gives me nothing--I can't think of anyone else. (A big Sorry! if I'm being utterly clueless here. I'd be delighted to be corrected.)

Hmm. So, okay, let's say that if by "major science fiction convention" you mean "big general science fiction convention" we're among the first. ETA, because I had been thinking purely of writer guests Particularly when you consider the other guests at Westercon this year!

How cool! Sort of. Because...wait, what? It's taken this long? Seriously? I mean it: if Kelley and I are not the first same-sex couple to be GoH's at a major con I will be deliriously happy to be corrected on this.

Being kind-of first* for anything is kind of cool. And kind of not. It's not always easy or comfortable going first. (See list below.) Obviously mostly it's turned out well, but at the time each and every one was hard. Except, okay, the digital immigrant/digital native thing. That was just fucking cool.

But back to Westercon.

Westercon 66 is going to be a blast--the most fabulicious convention ever. Kelley and I are going all-out to really have a tub-thumpingly amazing time and to help everyone else there overflow with joy and ideas and conversation and connection. What I want more than anything is for people to talk to each other--about books, about their lives, about writing, about story, about love, about the future and the past and the present.

We don't have our schedules yet--I'll do another blog post when we do--but we'll be on panels, we'll do readings, we'll do a staged interview, we're having a Clarion/Clarion West/anniversary party, an Outer Alliance get together, we'll hang out in the bar a lot, and--if I'm feeling particularly wicked--I'll bring my ukulele.

This is a convention that allows registration at the door, and one-day registrations (I think). So if you're in the area, I urge you to drop by at least for one of our readings. And a party or two.

Why the party? Because it will be the 25th anniversary of when Kelley and I met at Clarion. This is a big deal: our silver anniversary! And our Class of '88 will be having a reunion at the convention. And it's Clarion West's 30th anniversary. So how can we not party??

We hope you'll join us. 

* Because, really, how can we ever know? If a human being has thought about it, a human being has done it, somewhere, somewhen, with/to someone. But here are some things that, maybe, I/we have been one of the first to/with:
  • Kelley and I were the first same-sex couple (as far as I know) whose wedding was announced in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and who registered at Macy's. It was in 1993. (And, oh, that's a story, a whole set of stories, for another time...) 
  • I was one of the first, apparently, to talk about the concept of digital native/digital immigrant. Which I still find difficult to believe. When I read it on Marc Prensky's blog my jaw dropped. I mean, this stuff was in the air, people. I'm sure a million people were talking about it. On the other hand, I distinctly remember the rush of pleasure that "immigrant in your own country" realisation gave me--a rush I associate with the click of understanding, and with novelty. 
  • My immigration case made new law: an out lesbian being given a National Interest waiver by the State Department. 
  • I suspect I might have been the first UK writer to join the Clarion workshop.
  • And, hey, woo ho, we're definitely one of the first queer couples to GoH a major con. I'm not seeing any way for this to be horrible!
This blog has moved. My blog now lives here:


Friday, June 7, 2013

My night at the Lammys

On Monday Kelley and I were at the big queer lit bash known as the Lambda Literary Awards. I was there to get the Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Prize. It comes with a juicy cheque (which isn't that rumpled piece of paper on the podium. Not sure what that is. I didn't take any paper out with me. Probably an acceptance speech by somebody else who abandoned it in a hurry of spirits when wandering star struck off the stage clutching their lump of Lucite--or, if you're from the UK or Australia, Perspex.)

Kelley and I are seriously crap at remembering to take photos. So these two are by Jesse Blackadder and Tony Valenzuela (used, of course, with permission; see Jesse's Facebook profile and LLF's Flickr stream for more).

by Jesse Blackadder
by Tony Valenzuela, from LLF's Flickr stream
I'm wearing black and grey because, fuck it, it's New York. (And, y'know, you don't have to worry too much about clashing with whatever backdrop you stand against. Yes, I think about these things.) The man standing next to me is Trebor Healy, my fellow winner. (Who I thought looked great in those colours. But hey, he was just off the plane from California.) Trebor was very kind about holding one of my crutches while I gave my speech (the speech is reproduced here). I didn't speak for long--unlike some other people who ignored the guidelines and spoke at length (Trebor also was quick--yay!). I've talked before about the purpose of such speeches--be grateful, gracious, generous, and, above all, brief--but some of the award winners seemed a little confused and wanted to deliver a Message. It was a good humoured crowd (five hundred people coming together to celebrate 25 years of celebrating queer literature are in the mood to party) and the Great Hall at Cooper Union was comfortably air-conditioned, so no one threw anything. But, trust me, an awards podium is not the place to impart your prescription for a more harmonious society. It's just not.

But, eh, that's a rant for another time. For now let me say: I had a wonderful evening. I didn't get to talk to as many people as I'd like before the ceremony because I went backstage to figure out the access stuff and ended up hanging out in the Green Room for an hour or so with Janis Ian and Kate Clinton.

Kelley and I went back out onto the floor ten minutes before the ceremony started and then people came up to chat. That's when I met Jesse Blackadder (go read her books).

The highlight of the night, for me, was when Janis sang "At Seventeen." When I recognised the first two notes my heart squeezed, and a beat later I heard, and felt, the breath of the entire audience--like one giant mammal--catch in its throat. Kelley wept. I most definitely suffered blurred vision. Magical and magnificent:
Uh, I forget whether Tony or Jesse took this one
She got three SOs and deserved every one of them. Kate was, as always, sharp and witty. (The fringe on the podium? "So gay. They think of everything...") And, more to the point, extremely helpful with some of the access questions. I can't imagine the Lammys without her. So thank you to those two fine women with so much stage experience between them that they couldl figure out what I needed without batting an eyelid.

Then it was off to the after-party at the Skyroom, with its fabulous view of Manhattan. I ate lots of little tasty things, drank anonymous white wine and talked myself hoarse. I met so many cool people it's not possible to name them all here. But, hey, if you get the opportunity next year, you should go.

So thank you to the board, staff, and volunteers of LLF who made Monday night a true occasion. And who knows, maybe I'll be there next year with Hild...
This blog has moved. My blog now lives here:


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

My Lammy speech

At the Lambda Literary Awards on Monday night I gave a short speech. Several people have asked me to publish the text. Here it is:

I've spent my whole writing life feeling like a stranger in a strange land: the foreigner, the cripple, the queer. But tonight this award says: You belong here. We value who you are and what you do. We see you, we know you, you're one of us. And I like that. A lot. So thank you.
Thank you to the Lambda Literary Foundation--for hosting and administering all these awards. To Jim Duggins for the generous endowment that funds this particular prize. To those who supported my nomination, and to the judges. And thank you, Kelley, for 25 years of showing me what belonging, what home, really means. But mostly, thanks to you, all of you, for supporting this miracle that is literature. Story changes lives. Story saves lives. Story makes us who we are--as individuals and a culture. Thank you, very much, for making me part of this one.
As I've said, it is short. I'm a big believer in brevity. But people seemed to like it. I mean every word.

At some point there might be video (I hope so). And photos. And a lovely long blow-by-blow report of the evening, not to mention my entire week-long trip. Now, though, the laundry is calling...
This blog has moved. My blog now lives here:


Monday, June 3, 2013


Kelley and I will be at the Lammys tonight. If you're there, come and say hello!

This blog has moved. My blog now lives here: