Today’s guest post is by Paulette Mahurin, the author of The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap. In case you haven’t read the book, a short synopsis is included before the guest post, to give you the flavor of Mahurin’s work. I admit that I wasn’t familiar with her writing before this blog tour, but I’m definitely a fan now. Her novel is fast-paced and keeps readers wondering, or dreading, what will happen next. In addition, this wonderful woman donates proceeds to a no kill animal rescue. She reflects her values in her writing and through her actions.
Feel free to comment and ask questions. Paulette will be checking in today to talk to everyone and reply to your questions.
THE PERSECUTION OF MILDRED DUNLAP
By Paulette Mahurin
The year 1895 was filled with memorable historical events: the Dreyfus Affair divided France; Booker T. Washington gave his Atlanta address; Richard Olney, United States Secretary of State, expanded the effects of the Monroe Doctrine in settling a boundary dispute between the United Kingdom and Venezuela; and Oscar Wilde was tried and convicted for gross indecency under Britain’s recently passed law that made sex between males a criminal offense. When news of Wilde’s conviction went out over telegraphs worldwide, it threw a small Nevada town into chaos. This is the story of what happened when the lives of its citizens were impacted by the news of Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment. It is a chronicle of hatred and prejudice with all its unintended and devastating consequences, and how love and friendship bring strength and healing.
Paulette Mahurin’s Guest Post
Voices For Change
I spent the last fifteen years of my life half-dead, homebound, stricken with Lyme disease, from a tick I got after rescuing a dog destined for death in a kill shelter.
While the downside was obvious to me immediately, the debility, the cardiac valve enlargement, meningitis, crippling arthritis, exhaustion unrelieved by any rest; the upside is still becoming apparent to me, even after I have regained 95% of my health, and that is my thinking has changed. I have come to realize that the heart knows what the mind can never comprehend, of all that is possible. It is from this realization that I write today, perhaps in a hope (however naïve that may be) that there will be a heart that will awaken to something new, about tolerance.
During the years of illness, I wrote, and completed my novel, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, a story about the impact of the imprisonment of Oscar Wilde, for homosexual activity, on a small Nevada ranching town, a lesbian couple in particular who had not as of yet been found out. I spent an enormous amount of time researching the history of Gays and Lesbians; needless to say what I found was sobering. It haunted me. It changed me. In my acknowledgment, I wrote the usual thank you mentions to my family, friends who helped with the read, my editors, my publisher, and then I wrote, Lastly, to all those silent voices that have perished at the hands of hatred, I am grateful for your lives. I have to wonder if I heard your agonized whispers in the middle of the night. Wake me up you did, to what it is to suffer at the hands of prejudice over the color of your skin, the legacy of your genetic heritage, your sexual preference, and in many, your authentic selves that dared to differ from the norm.
If they could speak to you today, what would they say?
“I am a lesbian, in the closet, born in 1862, by the time I was fifteen and in love with another woman, I knew I had to hide it. My worst fear became realized when we were discovered together; she was tortured and murdered and I was thrown into a mental institution, labeled insane. That wasn’t the worst of it. My treatment was rape. I remember my doctor, my doctor, laughing while he entered into me, saying this was going to cure me. That was my treatment for being born a lesbian, rape.”
“I am a black man. I was born to a slave mamma who was good to me and tried to protect me from being ripped away from her, to be sold. I missed her so much I ran away, to try to find her. I was only twelve years old. They found me, a group of them, all screaming and carrying on with their jugs of booze and their barking dogs, must have been ninety of them. The last thing I remember before passing out was the rope around my neck.” Was this what Billy Holiday was thinking about when she sang, Strange Fruit?
“I am a Muslim woman who watched the men surrounding me laugh, as I bled to death, after my genitals were mutilated.”
“I am a Jewish man, breathing in my last breath, of toxic fumes.”
“I am a nine year old girl, with a wonderful family, and by no fault of theirs my upper lip had a big gap in it when I was born; they call it a hair lip. The kids at school tormented me till I couldn’t take it any more. Oddly enough, the razors didn’t hurt when I slit my wrists.”
“I am Oscar Wilde…” I will let his words speak for themselves, and I quote from an excerpt of De Profundis, a letter he wrote to his lover while in prison. When first I was put into prison some people advised me to try and forget who I was. It was ruinous advice. It is only by realizing what I am that I have found comfort of any kind. Now I am advised by others to try on my release to forget that I have ever been in a prison at all. I know that would be equally fatal. It would mean that I would always be haunted by an intolerable sense of disgrace, and that those things that are meant for me as much as for anybody else – the beauty of the sun and moon, the pageant of the seasons, the music of daybreak and the silence of great nights, the rain falling through the leaves, or the dew creeping over the grass and making it silver – would all be tainted for me, and lose their healing power, and their power of communicating joy. To regret one’s own experiences is to arrest one’s own development. To deny one’s own experiences is to put a lie into the lips of one’s own life. It is no less than a denial of the soul.
“I am the one who is intolerant, who says it’s wrong that you’re different, or that you are not what I believe you should be. I am the voice that says you can change your preference, or you should know your place, take what you get, and obey me. I am the voice of groupthink that doesn’t allow logic, reason, or contemplation for self. I am the voice that hates what doesn’t conform to what I believe is right. I am hubris. I am one who does not see that what I am looking at is my own humanness. I am the voice of projection and I refuse to take responsibility for my way of thinking. I refuse to go outside my belief system, or faith, to let my heart entertain the possibility that maybe there’s another way to look at something. I am the voice that is reading this and thinking it’s preachy, or stupid, or against God’s will. I am the voice that doesn’t see all was created by God, all the differences that we as human possess. I am the voice that sees differences as bad or wrong, not different. I am the voice that sees change as my way or the highway, and not in accepting another for who they are, one that can no more change than the leaf can live without carbon dioxide. I am the voice of intolerance.”
“Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.” Luke 23:24, King James Bible, Cambridge Ed.
Readers of Today’s Post
Feel free to comment and ask questions. Paulette will check in today to talk to everyone and reply to your questions.
About Paulette Mahurin
Paulette Mahurin, an award-winning author, is a Nurse Practitioner who lives in Ojai, California with her husband Terry and their two dogs–Max and Bella. She practices women’s health in a rural clinic and writes in her spare time.
SHELTER PROFITS GOTO:
All profits going to animal rescue. The first and only no-kill animal shelter in Ventura County, CA where
the author lives, the Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center:
This is a guest post on the author’s blog tour to promote her latest book. The post, excerpts, photos, and opinions are solely those of the author.