On Love, Bravery and Equality

I like stories that require a character to be brave, and which give them the opportunity to be a hero, their own or someone else’s. Sometimes that means killing the monster, sometimes that means outwitting the evil mastermind, sometimes that means telling unpopular truths, and sometimes that means being emotionally vulnerable.

Loving is an often overlooked act of bravery, and my favorite romances show that. I am a connoisseur of stories about romances that require a little extra bravery, that in some way challenge stereotypes. Loving within our given social boundaries is hard enough, but I have so much admiration for the people who find love that doesn’t fit into the boundaries prescribed by other people.

I have a theory that most of the unhappiness in the world comes from moments of cowardice when facing the pressures of societal rules. Not that societal rules are bad in themselves. In many ways, they are our primary safety net in any interaction with other human beings. And because of this, when faced with the choice of being unhappy or of going against societal rules, it is easy to take the way that is safe, to follow the rules.

Love is never safe. Even if our loved ones return our feelings unconditionally, agree with us on everything of significance, and never betray our trust, the world does not let love remain a safe activity. Every day people get sick, die, move to new places, face new challenges, grow and change. Loving someone is one of the most dangerous and bravest things we can do, and something the human brain is programmed to seek out. And yet love is also frequently twisted and misused. Perpetrators of the worst acts of terrorism, abuse and violence often attempt justify their actions with twisted misinterpretations of love: revenge for a loved one lost, or against a loved one who didn’t see love through the same lens; jealousy and fear of losing love; or out of love of a deity, homeland or ideal.

It’s cliche to say there’s a fine line between love and hate, and I go back and forth on whether I truly believe it, but I see a parallel to the line between bravery and cowardice. I like the definition of bravery as acting not without fear but in spite of it. Both bravery and cowardice occur in the presence of fear, and in the moment of choosing between the two, that line can be infinitely wide or almost nonexistent, depending on the choices available in the moment.

And there is no clear line between the kind of person who will choose bravery or the kind who will be cowardly. Someone who always faces monsters bravely may shrink from telling unpopular truths. Someone who can outwit any evil mastermind may throw up every shield available when faced with emotional vulnerability. And yet, even when a character follows these patterns to a T, there is always room for growth, for facing up to a challenge previously avoided at all costs. That is often the greatest type of bravery, for it faces the greatest fear. We always have a chance to be braver than we were yesterday.

All of my favorite romances that challenge stereotypes also have an element of equality. I believe that when there is a perceived/constructed/chosen imbalance of power in a relationship, the love and the risk it brings are unstable as well. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are unhealthy, just unstable in some way. My interest in equality does not mean that all my favorite romances are about people who are the same. In fact, what interests me most, and what I am exploring in my own stories is how to weight the scales of power so that both parties come out equal, even when they both thought they were too different to ever find equality.


Masquerade Plans

I’ve been working on this story for a while, but I suddenly realized that it was perfect to post for Halloween, so I pushed myself to get it finished. I didn’t quite make it, but two days past isn’t bad.

This is a story of budding romance between two men. There aren’t any sex scenes, but there is some kissing, and some cussing. Hope you enjoy!


Cameron had the perfect plan. After three years of planning, it should be perfect. No need to talk, check. He couldn’t screw this one up by choking on his own tongue. Unfortunately, that had actually happened on several previous attempts. Simple logistics, check. Nothing that could melt, burn, or otherwise required precise timing, which he had also learned from previous attempts. Easy escape if it failed, check. He was fairly sure he could pull off the “Oh, that was you? I totally thought you were someone else” excuse. Even if it wasn’t entirely believable, Enrique would probably let him get away with it. It would be awkward of course, but he doubted that kind of awkward would be any worse than the awkward he was currently suffering.

Read more

First Date

I’m hopefully meeting someone new today. We’ve talked a little, but never met in person. I really like the little bit I know. Here’s hoping the rest is just as good!

You’ve got me planning
Planning how to primp
How to dress
What to say
I want you to like me
I want to show you who I am
This is me
Wild hair and smiling eyes
Glowing knowing I’m alive
Crazy about everyday beauty
Loving nature-made art
Not just that sunset
All of it
I hope that when we meet
You can ignite a different passion
That all this planning won’t be wasted
This time
I hope you like me
I hope I like you too

Choosing to Stay

This scene came to me in my dreams. It’s complete fiction, and I have no idea why it showed up, but I was compelled to write it out. As of yet, I have no plans to make it into a longer story. I don’t even know what such a story might be.

Finally, I had made up my mind. I found him looking out a window, shoulders tense. When I called his name he turned, but he didn’t meet my eyes. I held out my arms and he stepped into them stiffly. Had he changed his mind? Didn’t he want me anymore? I kissed his cheek and he clung tighter, burying his face in my shoulder. I spoke softly.

“Did you… do you still want me to stay?”

“I just want you to be happy.” Read more

What You Mean to Me

I didn’t title this one when I wrote it, but I think it deserves I a title. It’s one of my longest personal/diary pieces, written on October 2, 2007. This is about a wonderful person who I connected with unexpectedly. Have you ever met someone you were convinced was enlightened? I think he might be. He has some of the clearest eyes I have ever seen on a human being. Jeff, thank you for being you.

I tried to tell you several times
Exactly what you mean to me
I don’t know if you heard what I meant
Threaded in between the words I said
Maybe you did
You’re good at listening to me
I wanted you to understand
That I’ve never met anyone like you
It seems we only just met
And yet
It seems as though I’ve known you for a lifetime
Somehow when you smile at me like that
Listening with more than just your ears
You open up my soul
Like the sun opens up a flower
And I’m not afraid
I know that you will come and go without trampling the grass
Without plucking the growing things
It took others years to find my secret garden
I don’t know how you got there so fast
But I’m glad to see you there
I’m not in love with you
But I think someday I will love you
Just as I love all my family
In you I see a road stretching out ahead
A road that is beautiful
A road that is terrifyingly new and strange
A future that has not been built on history
It just appeared when you walked into my life
So I will walk with you
To the end of that road
Where a wrinkled old woman
Smiles across a table
At a grey-haired old man and says
“I have known you for a long time”
And the old man smiles back
I tried to tell you what you mean to me
Several times
I don’t know if you could hear what I meant
But you probably could
You’re good at listening to me

On the bus

One of my earlier poems, probably 2003 or 2004. I was pining over an upperclassman who was really good at theater.

On the bus
I dream of you
That is my time to
Dream of you
I stare out the window
And pretend you’re next to me
I think of when
You looked at me
What were you thinking
Can you tell
That I dream of you
When I’m alone?
Who do you dream of?
Will you ever
Dream of me?