Introduction: Valley of the Dudes by Ryan Field
I posted the new introduction to Valley of the Dudes below. I wanted to talk about some of the things that inspired me, and some of my concerns while writing a gay erotic romance parody.
I will put up links for this soon. I still haven’t received them.
Trump Chooses Pence?
I don’t even think it’s official yet that Donald Trump has chosen Gov. Pence of Indiana as his running mate, however, this article seems fairly certain. I still think it could change, but I wanted to post about it anyway…because of Pence’s anti-gay record on LGBT rights. And even though I usually recuse myself from all politics, this one was too important to LGBT people to ignore. That’s the one time I draw the line.
Please keep in mind that even though I’d never vote for a candidate like Pence, I wouldn’t have written an article quite this way. However, emotions are running high this year.
He’s also an antigay buffoon. Pence has a long history of opposing LGBTQ equality. He was a vocal opponent of repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tel, complaining that it would “mainstream homosexuality.” He voted against the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes law because it advanced “a radical social agenda.” He supported a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage and wanted to divert HIV funding to conversion therapy programs. Needless to say, in this year’s presidential race, he endorsed Ted Cruz.
You can read more here. If you do a simple search for “Pence and anti-gay law” you’ll come up with more than one interesting article from reputable sources that talk about facts this time…anti-gay facts.
Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which I’m sure many of you remember. I remember it well.
Gays Told To Stop Hugging In Canada Amusement Park
If you think gay discrimination ended with legalized gay marriage, think again. And this time it happened in Canada.
Oh, Canada, what have you done? You were supposed to be better than this: an employee at Canadian amusement park Wonderland ordered a gay couple to stop hugging each other “because this is a family park.” What’s worse, the park has reportedly refused to institute sufficient sensitivity training — which probably explains why homophobic harassment is a problem there.
Here’s the rest. I don’t think they would have told a straight couple to stop hugging.
Introduction Valley of the Dudes
When I was first approached about writing a gay erotic romance that loosely parodied Valley of the Dolls, I hesitated because I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it…or that I could do it. It wasn’t the first time I’d been asked to write a gay parody, with sex scenes, on a well-known book or film, but it was the first time I was asked to parody something I’d always considered a game changer in publishing, pop culture, and in film. I’ve always believed Valley of the Dolls was part of the forefront of the sexual revolution, and it broke those proverbial grounds that lead the way for other books like it to enter the mainstream.
With my previous gay erotic romance parodies, the focus had always been to give gay readers, and straight people who love reading gay erotic romance, something they never had before. I wanted to give them something I never had growing up: a storyline with which I could both identify and escape at the same time. And I wanted these gay erotic romance parodies to be uplifting, and, to have happy endings. When I was growing up and I was searching for gay reading material I cannot say that I ever found anything that had a happy ending. And back then a gay person got a slap in the face at least once a day. But more important, there was nothing, absolutely nothing, in the mainstream with which gay people could identify. Unless you stepped into the fringes of pop culture, you had to watch or read heteronormative mainstream story lines and try to imagine what they might be like with gay characters. And that’s exactly what we did. We imagined. We had no other choice.
I first read Valley of the Dolls years after it had been published, and I was only a teenager at that time. I also saw the film years after it had been produced, and by that time it had become a pop culture classic. I was so young at the time I didn’t even realize the magnitude. I wouldn’t realize it until I was in college taking a contemporary fiction course as an English elective and I had to re-read it. And through the years, I’ve re-read Valley of the Dollsseveral times, and I’ve interpreted the story line and the characters with each different reading in a slightly different way. It’s amazing how you view certain books and characters so differently when you’re in your late 30’s as opposed to when you’re in your late teens. I think that’s especially true for gay readers who never had much content with which they could identify.
So when I agreed to write a gay erotic romance parody of Valley of the Dolls, I didn’t do that lightly. I also wanted readers to know that’s exactly what I was doing, and I didn’t want to be glib. But I didn’t want to take myself too seriously either, which is why I tended to exaggerate a few of the sex scenes in a way that gay men might exaggerate them in real life. I knew there was no way I would ever compete with Jacqueline Susann, and I wasn’t even going to try. In all honesty, even though Susann is one of my favorite authors of all time, I can’t even say this was a tribute to her or her books, at least not in a literal sense. I think I would be fooling myself if I tried to pull that off, and I would be fooling readers as well. You can parody a good book or movie, but you can never reproduce the original, and I knew that when I started. However, I did want to show that you can take one of the best novels ever written and humbly try to show that it can be done with a gay storyline and gay characters. And in doing that, if you’re lucky, you might be able to pay tribute to the original.
I also think it’s a little ironic, if not symbolic, that the 50 year anniversary of Valley of the Dolls coincides so closely with the 50 year anniversary of the Gay Liberation movement. Valley of the Dolls and Gay Liberation were both part of an era that helped define sexuality and equality today. And whether Jacqueline Susann realized she was doing this or not at the time doesn’t negate the fact that Valley of the Dolls helped change the world, and influence a generation of readers, in its own distinct way.