I’ve been exchanging messages with a lot of fans of Daron’s Guitar Chronicles this week. Two different gun incidents happened in Orlando the same weekend, not only the Pulse shooting at a gay nightclub but also singer Christina Grimmie was shot while autographing after a show. Anyone who has read DGC knows that rock star life and coming out as gay and finding safe space to be one’s true self are the major themes that run through the series. So this hit really close to home for a lot of readers, as it did for me, too.
I’m deeply shaken by what happened. As I wrote in my author newsletter earlier this week: as a queer woman of color who spent a lot of time in gay bars in my 20s and just as a human being, I’m still struggling to absorb what happened.
Many of you have probably seen me wearing a T-shirt that says “Music Is My Salvation” on it. I probably wear it to almost every convention! It was a souvenir from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and I’ve worn it so much it’s almost worn through. It’s not an ironic statement for me.
Music is what brings people together in spaces like Pulse, to dance and find community, and to live shows and concerts, to find that ecstatic space of belonging that I think many people find in churches and other spaces of organized religion. Dance clubs and concert halls ARE my church. I worshipped this week at the altar of The Cure, a band that was all-absorbing to me when I was defining my art and my sexuality and my identity as a goth in my late teens and early 20s.
I last saw them in concert in 1989, more than half my life ago, but I saw them this week at the Agganis Arena in Boston. The show was amazing, transcendent, wonderful, and I couldn’t help but think that after David Bowie and Prince have both been taken from us this year, Robert Smith is the one left carrying the torch of “it’s okay to be weird.” That’s my religion, that’s what I preach: “It’s okay to be weird.”
That’s why so many of my protagonists are rock musicians and artists and nonconformists who can’t quite fit into a 9-to-5 world. Everyone has a right to be queer, in whatever way you are queer, whether in sexuality or in being not-like everyone else. You might be the same in some ways and different in others.
I learned in Bible camp (yes, I went to Bible camp) that our goal shouldn’t just be to go to heaven when we die, it should be to create heaven on Earth. My heaven would be one where everyone could be themselves freely without fear of being killed.
In particular it hurts that we are attacked for who we love or how we love. People sometimes ask me if I could be doing something “better” with my life. Right now I think writing stories about love and spreading a message that love is important and all kinds of love are valid is about the most important thing I can do.
But a lot of us are feeling helpless, powerless, angry, and empty since the attack. I know because you’ve been writing and texting and messaging me saying so. So I thought maybe I would propose a bit of collective action on the part of DGC fans and my readers at large: a donation drive.
Here’s how it’s going to work. You make an online donation to one of these three tax-deductible charities:
Equality Florida is a 501(c)(4) non-profit LGBT advocacy organization and this link goes to their specific fund for the victims, survivors, & families of those in the Pulse shooting. They’re trying to raise $7 million to pay for funerals, counseling, and much more. They’re at close to $6 million right now.
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence was begun by Sarah Brady after her husband Jim, President Ronald Reagan’s press secretary, was shot during an assassination attempt on Reagan. Jim was paralyzed for life. It took three more presidencies before the “Brady Bill” to limit handgun sales was passed and the Brady Campaign to this day still works to change gun laws in the United States. Their current fundraising campaign, simply called “#ENOUGH” is taking donations at this link. They are a 501(c)(3).
Rock the Vote is a 501(c)(3) non-partisan non-profit whose goal is simple: get more young people to vote. They provide information on how to register to vote, run voter reg drives, and other great programs to increase voter participation because they know that the more people vote the stronger our democracy is and the better it reflects the actual country. You can give at this link.
After you make your donation of any amount, even just $5, email a copy of your receipt/confirmation (either a screencap or a PDF or your paypal confirmation) to daron.moondog @ gmail along with your mailing address, and I’ll email you back the bonus Daron’s Guitar Chronicles story I’m about to write. (Haven’t written it yet, but I will! All I know right now is it’s going to be from Ziggy’s point of view.) If your donation is $25 or more I’ll also send you some additional DGC stickers/tattoos (send me your mailing address). If your donation is $50 or more I’ll send you one of the remaining DGC red notebooks that I will have extra after the Kickstarter rewards are fulfilled. While Supplies Last of course!
Please help me do something good in this world and I think we’ll all feel less helpless. You are all heroes in your own lives already when you fight for inclusion, equality, and tolerance among your family, friends, and social circles. Please join me if you’re financially able in this step toward bettering the larger world, too.
This campaign will run through July and in the first week of August I’ll report the total amount raised, sound good? Thank you.