Consider This My Pride Month Post

Far be it for me to be all “buy stuff!” during Pride Month. Because there are far too many companies out there who just make their logo all rainbow-fied on June 1 and pander their asses off to get the less straight among us to part with our money.

Rainbows: they exist year-round.

(I mean, how else do you explain this?)

But then I remembered…duh, I’m LBGT myself! I oscillate between bisexual and pansexual, and there are times when I consider myself asexual as well (because sexuality is fluid and frustrating and occasionally stupid)…to say nothing of all the LGBT representation I have in my books. So, if I can’t hawk my wares during Pride Month, when can I?

Below is a breakdown of the LGBT rep in my books (both my current library and one of my WIPs). Note that for the most part, I don’t write LGBT stories (as in, my characters’ queerness is not the story itself). Those stories are important and have a place, but it’s also important to write stories in which LGBT characters simply exist. Because that reflects real life. LGBT people exist.

Anywho…

Jill Andersen Series
My police procedural/superhero series features multiple LGBT characters, starting with protagonist Jill Andersen. The war veteran/homicide cop/superhero is also decidedly ace, and I make that point explicitly clear on multiple occasions (because representation doesn’t count if it’s simply hinted at or thrown in after the fact–right, JK?).

There is also M/M romance in the series, between Ramon and Jorge; they’re engaged when the series starts, and in Behind the Mask (book four), they get married. I’ll never be confused for the romantic sort, but it’s important to show queer relationships that just…exist. See two paragraphs up for a refresher.

In Behind the Mask (book three), I introduced Mitch, an open trans woman. I won’t say too much more here, because that would venture into spoiler territory, but rest assured that Mitch has a huge role in Bitter End (book six, coming soon), where her story undergoes a massive shift.

Notna
Dr. Jack Corbett, the protagonist of Notna (or…co-protagonist, depending on your point of view), is a bisexual Black man. Though his sexuality has no bearing on the story, and his bisexuality is only referenced once in a humorous way, I felt it important that there be a bi male presence, particularly one who isn’t white. Because too often, bi means white and female and cis (it seems like to some, a character’s queerness is only viewed through the lens of a heterosexual man’s lustful gaze…but that’s a different essay for a different day).

Also…yes, Jack is in a romantic relationship with a cis woman. He’s still bi.

Summertime, Assassins, and Other Skullduggeries (in-progress)
The closest thing I’ll probably ever write to a true love story, protagonist Summer Rhoades and sometimes-antagonist Lola Haskins are assassins. And lesbians. And former lovers. In fact, the last time they saw each other, it was at gunpoint and there’s a ton of angst there. But in a way, things develop into a will-they-or-won’t-they-(again) kind of back-and-forth as the book progresses and as Summer tries to keep from dying.

And hey, if you like HEAs (Happily Ever After, for the uninitiated)…this might be your book. Because I typically don’t do HEAs. But for this book, I’ll make an exception. Because honestly, aren’t we all tired of seeing queer romance that ends with one person dead? Especially if they’re lesbians?

(Glaring at you, The 100 and Atomic Blonde and too many other examples to count…)

About J.D. Cunegan
J.D. Cunegan is known for his unique writing style, a mixture of murder mystery and superhero epic that introduces the reader to his comic book-inspired storytelling and fast-paced prose. A 2006 graduate of Old Dominion University, Cunegan has an extensive background in journalism, a lengthy career in media relations, and a lifelong love for writing. Cunegan lives in Hampton, Virginia, and next to books and art, his big passion in life in auto racing. When not hunched in front of a keyboard or with his nose stuck in a book, Cunegan can probably be found at a race track or watching a race on TV.

Follow J.D. on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

On Orlando and the Importance of LGBT Characters

I woke up this morning to news that 103 people — many, if not all, of whom were LGBT individuals — had fallen victim to a gunman. A terrorist, a bigot who had managed to get his hands on a semiautomatic weapon and take out his homophobia in what is being called the worst mass murder in American history.

50 people dead, 53 more injured — all because one man’s hate and ease of access to weapons coalesced into the perfect storm of hatred and bloodshed.

I won’t use this space to argue for tighter gun control laws — though we need them. Nor will I use this space to argue that hateful rhetoric has consequences — though it does. I will briefly remind everyone that the actions of one individual do not reflect the views of entire religious faith — one shared by billions worldwide (including the late, great Muhammad Ali).

But I will say this: the tragedy in Orlando, Fla. means LGBT visibility is more important than ever. But why mention that on a page like this?

Because, dear readers, I am bisexual.

Because not only am I part of the LGBT community, I make it a point to reflect that in the books I write. Jill Andersen, the protagonist of my first three novels, is openly asexual. Her partner on the Baltimore police force, Ramon Gutierrez, is homosexual — engaged to marry his longtime boyfriend Jorge Santos.

Mitch, who I introduced to readers in Behind the Badge, is a young trans woman.

This hasn’t yet been explored, but supporting character Whitney Blankenship is bisexual.

Dr. Jack Corbett, the protagonist in my upcoming novel Notna, will be openly bisexual. And as long as I continue to write books and tell stories, LGBT characters will feature prominently throughout. Not just one character per story, either; multiple characters — across every gender, race, ethnic, and religious background.

Why?

Because these people exist. We are among us every single day. You might not ever know it, but LGBT people are there.We go to school. We have jobs. We drink coffee with our friends and we go dancing at clubs and we have all of the same dreams and aspirations as everyone else.

And the more visible we are, as a community and as individuals, the more we challenge the stigma and the hate that leads to tragedies such as Orlando. Obviously, not every LGBT person can be out — for several reasons — and those reasons are to be understood and respected. Still, we must fight for a society where LGBT individuals are more accepted, more welcomed… and that starts with visibility.

If he could, I’m sure the Orlando terrorist would put a bullet in my head, simply because I’m bisexual. And if someone ever does decide that’s my fate, then so be it. But atrocities such as this will not eradicate the LGBT community; if anything, it will strengthen us — as well as our allies.

We are here. There’s nothing anyone can do about that.

And I happen to believe fiction — the stories we tell — can go a long way in removing the stigma and the hate. LGBT representation (when done correctly and without falling into dangerous tropes) is an important step in that ongoing process, and I pledge to continue doing my best to make sure my works are properly representative on LGBT individuals across the spectrum.

It may not sound like much, but it’s my way of telling the Orlando gunman and those who think like him that dammit, we are human and we are not going away.