By Dale Cameron Lowry with J. Scott Coatsworth and Sarah Hadley Brook
When the news started coming out of Chechnya about the organized police campaign of torture, imprisonment and murder being conducted against men perceived to be gay, it hit me hard.
Growing up in the Netherlands just a few decades after World War II, I learned to dread authoritarianism and genocide — authoritarianism’s frequent offspring — early on in life. On school and family outings we visited houses with secret rooms where families had provided refuge to Jews as they sought to escape Occupied Europe. Every summer, we would drive through northern Germany to see my cousins, and my mom would announce the sites of former concentration camps we passed along the way.
I felt compelled to do something about the situation in Chechnya — but what? How could I possibly help from the other side of the world?
I started talking about the topic with other LGBT authors. Fantasy author Olivia Helling volunteered to organize a charity auction. Over the next week or so, Readers & Writers for LGBT Chechens grew into an effort that now includes more than fifty writers, publishers, and other book people.
We’re raising money for organizations that are saving the lives of LGBT people in Chechnya:
- donating royalties
- an online charity auction that runs through tomorrow, May 13, at noon CDT (6 pm BST; 3 am Sunday morning AEST)
- letting our readers and fellow authors know how they can write a letter, sign a petition, or find other ways to get involved
- Scott Coatsworth, who is participating in Readers & Writers for LGBT Chechens by donating naming rights for one of his characters to the auction, talks about his motivations for getting involved: “I first heard about what was going on in Chechnya a couple weeks ago. In Nazi Germany, they came for the gays and no one complained. I never thought I would see something like that in my lifetime, and yet here we are. … Silence = Death. I will not be silent this time.”
Sarah Hadley Brook, who donated an ebook of her MM baseball romance Caleb’s Choice to the auction, gave her perspective on why this issue is important to MM romance readers: “The reason I got involved is simple—nobody should ever have to fear for their life for being who they are. What is happening is barbaric, and it astounds me this is happening in this day and age. We need to show those men that we support them and will not stand by quietly and let this continue.”
How to Help
Check out the items up for auction.
Bidding closes Saturday May 13th at NOON CDT*
*6 pm BST; 3 am Sunday morning AEST
Authors, publishers and freelancers have donated so many incredible prizes, from a handmade, cozy reading quilt to signed paperbacks to original stories to gigantic ebook collections. Browse the items here.
Wish someone would write that trope or relationship you’ve always been looking for? Now is your chance. Bid on one of the original stories.
Check out Books Save Lives
These authors are donating their royalties to one of the organizations evacuating LGBT men from Chechnya. Find your next read here.
Share the word on social media and your blog!
- Share the auction (here’s a page to share and here’s a Facebook event).
- Or share the Books Save Lives.
- Or share them all!
- The hashtag for English efforts is #chechenrainbow.
Donate directly to the Russian LGBT Network
Since much of their website is in Russian, Dale Cameron Lowry put together an FAQ to help you magically change it to English and guide you through the donation process.
Dale Cameron Lowry (Twitter: @daleclowry) is a romance and speculative fiction writer living in the Upper Midwest with a partner and three cats. Queer Mormons, immigrants and emigrants, people with disabilities, multilingual folks, and others who spend their lives navigating multiple cultures often appear in Dale’s writing.
- Scott Coatsworth (Twitter: @jscoatsworth) was indoctrinated into fantasy and sci fi by his mother at the tender age of nine. He devoured her library, but as he grew up, he wondered where all the people like him were. He decided that if there weren’t gay characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends. He runs Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband Mark, sites that celebrate fiction that reflects queer reality.
Sarah Hadley Brook (Twitter: @SarahHBrook) lives smack-dab in the middle of the Heartland and is the mother of two wonderful young men, as well as two cats. During the day, she works in the nonprofit world, but reserves evenings for her hobby-turned-passion of writing, letting the characters she conjures up in her mind take the lead and show her where the story will go.