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 had to help these people in Chechnya — but what could I do 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, the idea grew into Readers & Writers for LGBT Chechens, an effort that now includes dozens of writers, publishers, and other book people.
We are running two fundraisers for human rights organizations helping LGBT people in Chechnya and the Russian Federation (which Chechnya is a part of):
- donating royalties to charitable organizations
- an online charity auction running through Saturday, May 13, at 12 noon CDT
MM romance and adventure author Jo Tannah has earmarked May proceeds from What A Difference A Day Makes & The Way You Look Tonight for the Russian LGBT Network when the titles are bought from Sea to Sky Books, an independent online romance retailer.
“As a writer so far away from these people in need, this is the only way I can help to raise the funds,” she says. “Why did I choose Sea To Sky Books to make this all happen? It’s because they remit the sales on a monthly basis direct to my PayPal account. This means, no waiting for three or more months from other third party vendors. This means I can send the money faster to the men in need.”
Andrew Jericho, an author whose works include the Rock Stars polyamorous MM romance series, writes, “I got involved in Readers & Writers for LGBT Chechens because I’m not only a writer, but an LGBT rights activist and humanitarian. … My desire is to provide a voice for those fighting to maintain their humanity, civil liberties, civil rights, and human rights. We’re all one. Love is Love…Period.”
Ways to Get Involved
To learn more about the situation in Chechnya — including news updates and how to make a direct donation to a designated charity — visit Readers & Writers for LGBT Chechens
- Buy books with royalties going to help vulnerable Chechens
- Bid in the Readers & Writers for LGBT Chechens online charity auction
- Sign up to attend our Facebook event and invite friends. It’s a great way to keep up-to-date.
Authors, Publishers and Artists
If you’re an author or artist who would like help out, please sign up at Authors & Publishers for LGBT Chechens. There, you can also find answers to frequently asked questions about royalty donations, the charitable organizations that are helping LGBT Chechens, and more.
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.
Jo Tannah (Twitter: @JoTannah ) is a wife, mother and blogger by day, a writer by night. She grew up listening to folk tales from her father and nannies and kept these narratives with her and finally wrote them down in a journal. Going through junk led to a long-forgotten box, and in it was the journal. Reading over the stories of romance, science fiction and horror she had taken time to put to paper, brought to light that these were tales she never met in her readings. The tales she writes are fictional, but all of them are based on what she grew up with and still dreams about.
Andrew Jericho is a gay romance fiction author for Siren-BookStrand Publishing, LGBTQIAP rights activist, humanitarian, and freelance journalist/photographer. His books explore gay men in real situations of life and love. Andrew brings romance, passion, and eroticism into all of his characters.