Again and again I have hit a wall when I've tried to rewrite this book. The question at the crux of the conflict seems to be this: Why am I writing this book?
Sure, I think the subject matter is socially relevant. The gay rights movement is the up-and-coming civil rights movement of the 21st century. (How I somehow became a gay rights activist, I am not entirely certain, but I've got both feet in the pot now. Thanks, Oberlin.) What drew me to the story initially was the absurdity of it all--the way people's stories cross each other's, the way everyone is connected, the way the conspiracy stretches far beyond the people throwing around accusations, into the legal system and the community. I was shocked at the drama and publicity, particularly because I think the story would be much less widespread if the accused were heterosexual. In that sense, I hope to write a novel worthy of a place in the gay rights movement, to expose the undercurrent of distrust and the quickness to accept horrible accusations and rumors as true, just because of someone's sexuality.
Part of the moral battle in this story comes with my own hesitations to defend an accused "rapist." I think that creating a heroine who has worked for women's rights, who has worked as a rape counselor, who has been outspoken about punishment for rapists, and then throwing her into a situation where she has to defend an accused rapist creates the inner conflict I need to make the book really work.
These two issues aren't necessarily at odds with each other, but I don't want to bog down the reader with a bunch of moral judgments or propaganda. I am seeing two separate witch hunt stories here: one where people target the gays, and one where people are falsely accused of rape. The point I want to make with the book is that people who are different are being targeted, whereas the people really committing the acts are getting away scott-free.
Maybe the solution would be to expose the seedy-doings of everyone else in the town as the heroine searches for evidence of the "victim's" innocence. Affairs are brought to life, gambling, practicing without a license, tax evasion. So that in the end, everyone's secrets are out, and it is all about "casting the first stone." However, I don't want to minimalize the issue of rape here. Someone has to pay. I'm pretty sure that one of the secrets will be that the accuser was abused by his father. There will be a suicide. Someone may kill someone else. A few people will end up in jail.
There. I feel much better now. I might even have a halfway decent book brewing.