June 2016

This month’s prompt is in honor of LGBT Pride!

Write a story that in some way reveals the status of the LGBTQ rights movement from the year 2026. Consider the ways society has changed, for better or worse. As it’s fiction, you could go best or worst case scenario.

Think about the various issues faced by the community, not just gay marriage. There are plenty of websites to look at topics for inspiration, for example:

http://www.hrc.org/
http://www.naswdc.org/pressroom/experts/topics/lgbt/media-coverage-ideas.asp
http://www.poynter.org/2015/covering-a-parade-is-not-covering-a-community-5-things-to-keep-in-mind-this-pride-month/348533/

I realize it’s a rather broad topic, which could tempt us to write more than 500 words. Short stories in general, and flash fiction particularly, is about boiling something down to its truest and most concentrated form.  Stephen King said, ‘When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat. This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like murdering children, but it must be done.’ So if your piece starts out longer than 500 words, walk away from it for a little while. Each time you reread it, see what you can cut, until you can cut no more.


Response:

The Protest by E.M. Killaley

 

P.S.  When I set this month’s prompt, I had no way of knowing what the coming weeks would bring. I had no idea that this month, specifically set aside to celebrate the strides the LGBT rights movement has taken, to commemorate the losses the LGBTQ community has experienced, to continue to bring awareness to the struggles and injustices LGBTQ people still face, would this year be marred by such a devastating tragedy.

In the days following, I made a conscious effort to limit my exposure to news. I looked at Facebook less. Someone posted the preview for the 2015 documentary ‘Matthew Shepard is a Friend of Mine’, and I felt the renewed relevance of Ellen Degeneres’ words: ‘I am so pissed off. I can’t stop crying.’ I tried not to click every news article I saw shared or posted online. I wanted to look at them all, I wanted to read every status people were posting in response, but I didn’t think I could. More events followed Orlando, first a death in my husband’s side of the family; then the shooting of an MP, something practically unheard of since the UK further tightened the regulation of firearms in 1997 legislation that basically banned private possession of handguns. There are some times where the world just feels like such a terrible, terrible place.

And yet, we are not surrounded by just darkness.

At one of the many vigils held in honor of the victims of the Orlando massacre, I stood surrounded by people, as someone read out the list of victims. Like the thousands of other people who attended similar vigils, we lit candles, we mourned the loss of so many people most of us never knew, and many held hands or held one another.

It has been a difficult month, but in the wake such tragedy, many have raised their voices to remind us: Look for the helpers. Love will always win. And, to quote Gandhi, ‘When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall.’

People more eloquent than me have described how, despite what happened in Orlando, the LGBTQ community will not be silenced or frightened away. Pride celebrations have gone on, bittersweet amidst memorials and vigils, some parades even literally pausing in remembrance of Orlando.

The prompt asked us to look ahead ten years, and at the beginning of this month, I wanted to write something hopeful. But my heart is still heavy. I do have hope for the future, especially following HRC’s announcement that they will take on gun control, but I know how American politics likes to drag its heels—just look at the last sixteen years.

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