Category: apologies

Magic Johnson’s Gay Son; Jonah Hill Remorseful; Bonus Excerpt: An Officer and His Gentleman

Magic Johnson’s Gay Son

Magic Johnson’s son is gay, and he’s letting people know how thankful he is to have a family that loves and accepts him and didn’t throw him out in the street like so many others. He credits his parents for helping to make him the strong young man he is today.

He points out that as LGBT civil rights victories continue to happen at a dizzying pace, hundreds of thousands of parents are still kicking their kids out of the house.

An estimated 320,000 to 400,000 LGBT youth face being homeless each year, Johnson points out.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I find that number staggering. Painfully staggering. The fact is that there are still many homeless gay teens.

I wrote about a gay homeless youth in An Officer and His Gentleman who was thrown out by his parents and had to live as a victim of his circumstances in order to have a roof over his head. In this case, he lived with a nasty old man who made him walk around all the time without clothes. This book reviewer, Book Utopia Mom, didn’t think that was realistic and she thought the character, Chance, should have found another alternative to those circumstances. This happened about five years ago, and the only reason I mention it now is because I still get a pain in my gut when I think that a straight reviewer would question my knowledge as a gay man, and the review is still up online as it was originally published. She even questioned the hero in the book who is the only person to help Chance out of his desperate circumstances. You can read that here. I can’t blame her totally because her knowledge of gay men obviously comes from limited sources that aren’t accurate, not even with regard to the erotic parts she questions. She obviously comes from a place of privilege. However, in this case, as the gay man, I think I should at least get the last word since I’m the one who has suffered the discrimination all these years. I think I’ve earned that.

Jonah Hill Remorseful

I posted about Jonah Hill lashing out at a reporter last week and using the word faggot. He’s since apologized time and again, and now he’s saying he doesn’t deserve forgiveness and he’s highly remorseful.

 But he offered no excuses.

‘How you mean things doesn’t matter. Words have weight and meaning, and the word I chose was grotesque. And, you know…no one deserves to say or hear words like that.’

The actor’s apology was in contrast to actor Alec Baldwin who used the same word in a paparazzi encounter last year. Baldwin has denied using the word despite it being captured on video by TMZ.

I know people who would disagree with me, but I actually think he deserves a break on this one. I think what he said is indicative of the way straight men are raised in the US and it came out offhandedly like it does with so many other straight men. These things are learned at an early age and I think that what happened with Hill will help to change things for the better. I also think his apology was sincere.

There’s a lot of gay discrimination out there, and it doesn’t always come in the form of words like faggot. A lot of times it comes in more subtle ways, like the way the book reviewer above questioned my experience as a gay men in An Officer and His Gentleman. I think it’s important to understand where it comes from, and how sincere the apology is.

You can read more here.

Bonus Excerpt: An Officer and His Gentleman

I don’t often post excerpts on Thursday, but since I mentioned this incident with An Officer and His Gentleman I figured I would post something else about it. I haven’t done that in a few years.

From the raw version before edits…because HTML is hard to convert. I’d forgotten about this, but the title of the book in my original file was intended to be An Officer and a Very Gentle Man. The publisher wanted the change, not me, to make the book sound more like the straight movie title, An Officer and a Gentleman, even though very few things in the book are related to the film…other than the Cinderella trope. It’s not fanfic. I’m not a fan of the film. It’s more like a loose version parody, with many, many differences from the film, and few social and political statements.

But there is a very happy ending.

He got dressed and went down the back staircase slowly, then out the back door and into the barn. Before he did anything else that morning, he wanted to see if there were any squirrels in the traps. And sure enough, there were four more brand new squirrels trapped in cages and barely moving because they were so frightened. He shook his head when he saw the poor things trapped like that, but he smiled when he took each cage out back, opened the trap doors and set them free again. He didn’t want to spray their tails that morning; it would have made Dan suspicious. He had to wait a few days so Dan would think the squirrels he’d driven to upstate New York had actually traveled back on their own accord.

            When the empty traps were back in the barn and reset, Chance went into the kitchen and started to prepare his special for the day. Because he wanted some free time to make a few notes for the recipe competition, he decided to do one of his classic specials, a simple mac and cheese that everyone loved. Betty Shack had pleaded with him to share his secret ingredient more than once: “There’s something in there that’s different, but I can’t put my finger on it; please tell me.”  But he smiled and told her he’d die with his secret. She never would have guessed that what made hismac and cheese stand out from all the others was plain yellow mustard and ground nutmeg (pre-ground, right from the can; you didn’t have to grate it yourself with a pretentious tool).

            The most important ingredient he always included in all his recipes was love. The love of food and the ability to love the food enough to know how to choose the perfect combination of ingredients that made a recipe stand out. Ah, he’d seen too many cooks try to follow a recipe that never turned out very well; they didn’t have the love; everything they cooked tasted like sawdust. So when the large pans of mac and cheese were baking in the oven, he began to work on his presentation for the food network. Though he still wasn’t sure he’d even be selected (that was random luck; and he wasn’t lucky), he figured it was best to be prepared. The lasagna Bolognese was simple enough to set up, but he wanted to show the people at the food network it was a recipe where the entire family could participate. Small children could mix and knead the pasta dough while an adult arranged the Bolognese sauce and the béchamel sauce. Then, when all the ingredients were prepared, the kids could help layer the lasagna pan because there really wasn’t a wrong way to put it together. He sat back and smiled when he envisioned young children with spots of flour on their faces helping adults create something wonderful for the family meal. He missed that living at Dan’s market; there was no family and no love.

            He thought it was important for young children to learn how to get around in a kitchen, too. Cooking was fun, but it was also serious business. Young children had to understand that only adults could handle sharp tools, and older kids had to know how to use sharp tools safely. There was nothing more fun that family cooking, but you couldn’t take anything for granted either. He made notes that morning, carefully imagining how children might react during the cooking process; the animated expressions on their faces when you taught them how to crack an egg or mix a bowl of cake frosting; the way they smiled when they licked a cake batter bowl. And most of all, he wanted people to understand that the ingredients for basic family oriented recipes, whether it be lasagna Bolognese or Beef Wellington, did not have to cost a small fortune. When he watched cooking show hosts on TV, there were times he shook his head and squeezed the sofa pillow as hard as he could. They used outrageously expensive ingredients, like saffron and truffles. Most families watching couldn’t afford to buy things like that; they weren’t cooking in expensive restaurants. He even threw the sofa pillow across the room more than once when one particular cooking show host enforced using “the best cocoa money can buy; always use the most expensive ingredients when baking a chocolate cake,” she said. She made the audience believe they had to buy an outrageously expensive imported cocoa, when regular old Hershey’s would have done just as well. He’d learned, through experience, using the most expensive ingredients money can buy is nothing more than hype and myth in most cases. It was all about the love of food and how you incorporated the ingredients that really mattered; not how much they cost.

            When Dan walked into the market that morning, he wasn’t banging his fist on the counter and giving orders as usual. Though he wasn’t actually smiling, the squirrel traps were empty and all was well with the world. But he did stare at Chance for a moment when he saw the band aid on his neck. “What’s-a wrong with your neck, you?”

            Chance was leaning into the deli case and turning the potato salad over so it would appear fresh. He looked up and said, “I cut it shaving this morning. It’s no big deal.” But he bit his bottom lip and prayed the bruises on his ass would go away by the time he had to go upstairs and walk around naked.

            “Ah,” Dan said, “I’m going out to get new tires on the truck today. I’ll be back by lunchtime.” He didn’t bother to ask how bad the cut was or if he needed stitches. Chance hadn’t bled to death and that was good enough for him.

            Sarah walked through the front door at nine. When she looked at Chance, she was smiling so wide he saw all her teeth from across the market. He had just finished slicing a quarter pound of Swiss cheese, extra thin, for Mae Conklin and he was wrapping it up. Mae was a soft spoken, mousey woman in her seventies, the last old maid left in town. He handed the cheese to Mae and then followed her to the cash register so he could check Sarah’s cash drawer. When he looked at Sarah, he pressed his palm to his throat and stepped back. She was wearing a very low cut, tight tee-shirt that morning: her large tits were busting out. It was black, which created a severe contrast against her pale white skin. At the bottom of her neck, and just above her ample line of cleavage, there were two large, obvious love bites. The one on her neck was the size of a quarter; the one on her bosom was two inches long and an inch wide, with small red teeth marks.

            Chance ignored the marks. He opened the cash drawer and started counting the money while Sarah rang up Mae Conklin’s Swiss cheese. But Mae leaned back when she noticed the offensive love bite on Sarah’s neck; she actually gasped when she saw the larger one on Sarah’s bosom. Poor Mae, she started to rock on back and forth in her brown vinyl mules, and her bottom lip started to quiver when she reached into her little brown change purse for money; she tried to look away when she handed Sarah three one dollar bills and thirty-nine cents in exact change (older women were always exact change), but Sarah’s big tits were practically in her face. There was a small crumpled piece of blue foil leftover from an old pack of lifesavers attached to one penny, but Mae didn’t bother to remove it like she normally would have. Sarah took the money and Mae grabbed the Swiss cheese and ran out the front door without even asking for a bag.

            Chance closed the cash drawer and said, “Why don’t you just wear a sign that says, ‘I got fucked last night.’”

            “Hey,” she said. Her voice became nasal and loud. “I had fun. Mike played with my tits for so long I thought they were going to fall off! And if you think these marks are bad, you should see the ones in other places. He bit me so hard down there I thought I’d scream.” Then she reached for the top button on her jeans and pulled it open.

            “No,” he said, “I’ll take your word for it.” He raised both hands in the air. The last thing he wanted to see was the love bites on Sarah’s ass; he didn’t want to hear any of the details either. He was very happy for her, but Chance didn’t believe in gossiping and bragging about sexual escapades. Certain things were private, and should remain that way.

            Sarah raised her right eyebrow and put one hand on her hip. “Don’t get so high and mighty with me. I see you’re wearing a band aid on your neck this morning.”

            “I cut myself shaving.” He smiled and left her standing there so he could get back to work. As he crossed toward the deli counter, it occurred to him he could still feel Brody’s penis in his body; he could still feel the fullness and power. He smiled and stared at a large barrel filled with long sticks of pepperoni. Then he took a deep breath, smoothed out his apron and went back to re-organize the spice shelf.

            Later that day, while Dan made him move all the heavy produce stands from one side of the market to the other, he fell back against a tall metal shelf stacked with pretzels and potato chips. He didn’t hurt himself; it wasn’t an accident. He’d been planning to fall back against something, when Dan was in the market watching, so that when he removed his clothes later that night he’d have a good excuse for all the bruises on his ass and the backs of his legs.

            And it worked, too. When he took off his clothes and walked past Dan that night, the old man clutched the arms of his chair and leaned forward. “You had some fall this afternoon.” He rubbed his chin and ran his fingertips over Chance’s bruised ass. “You got some good bruises back there; but it’s good youdidn’t really hurt yourself. Then you would have cost me money.”

            “I’m fine,” Chance said, “They look worse than they are.” Thankfully the red handprints had faded during the day and now they looked more like authentic bruises from a fall. He shrugged and sat down on the sofa to watch TV.  

            Chance was dying to watch the food network, to see if they would mention anything about the recipe competition. But Dan wanted to watch a show on the discovery channel about monkeys. He loved sit in his chair, scratch his balls, and watch monkeys; he thought they were comical. And his eyes became glued to the screen when he saw a show about little people and dwarfism. At eleven o’clock he scratched his balls, lifted his leg and farted; and slowly stood to hobble back to his bedroom. He said he had a headache. “I’m going to take a sleeping pill tonight.”

Chance remained on the sofa for another half hour, but he couldn’t find a comfortable spot; he moved from one side of the old leather sofa to the other and kept sighing out loud. When he looked at the candle stick on the coffee table, he started to think about Brody. And when a chef on the food network began to prepare a boiled dinner of Kielbasa and Sauerkraut, his penis started to grow. The old man was snoring so loudly he could barely hear the TV chef speak; all he saw were the guy’s great hands holding a mammoth Kielbasa. So he stood up and crossed back to his bedroom to get his car keys and a clean white apron.  

It was dark out because the sky had been overcast with clouds all day, and the car was facing in a downhill position. He slowly inched his way out of the gravel driveway in neutral. He was sitting behind the wheel in his bare feet, wearing nothing but a white chef’s apron. When he was far enough away from the market, he started the car and clicked the light switch. He squeezed the steering wheel tightly and took a deep breath; Brody might get mad at him for showing up unannounced, and wearing practically nothing, but he needed to take that chance…he needed Brody to fill him up again.

When he pulled up to the big old house, the front light over the door was on and Brody was sitting on the veranda in a rocking chair. While Chance opened the door and stepped out of the car, Brody put his hands on his hips and walked down the front steps. He was wearing the same sweat pants that Chance had washed; his feet were bare and he wasn’t wearing a shirt. He took one look at Chance, standing there wearing the apron, and rubbed his chin. “I was expecting you tonight,” he said.

            Chance smiled. “You were not. You were just sitting there holding your dick because you couldn’t sleep.” He was younger than Brody, and by no means as worldly. But he didn’t want to come off looking like a sex starved slut.

Self-pubbed Star Hugh Howey’s Epic Rant

I hadn’t planned on posting about this incident with author Hugh Howey and his public rant, but since all authors are under scrutiny now more than ever, I decided to put it up just for my own sake, and record it on this blog. I often think of this blog as my own personal journal, and I reference it all the time. And this is news; this is interesting; this is current. I might want to go back and reference it once again.

For those who don’t know, Hugh Howey is a self-published author who has done well…very well. He has a deal with a big publisher, and from what I’ve read a nice movie deal. I haven’t read him; I know nothing else about him. He is what all self-pubbed authors dream of becoming. Well, most anyway. Not everyone wants that kind of fame and some writers just want to be career writers and continue working until they die. But I digress. Our culture promotes this kind of thing, and most people want it…but not all of us.

In any event, Howey met up with an aggressive young woman at WorldCon last year who wasn’t fond of self-publishing, made her views known openly, and went on her own little public rant. According to everything I’ve read she was quite obnoxious about it. Howey didn’t like this, and he went after her on his blog and on goodreads at a later date. (Interesting how goodreads always pops up during shitstorms.) I don’t know who this young woman is, but if anyone does know, I’d be interested in learning a little more about her background in publishing. Just curious.

It all started while Howey was standing in line with a group of people from Canada, listening to this aggressive young woman talk about how she was going to get one of these people from Canada an agent and help him/her with his/her writing career. That alone sounds suspicious to me. Again, who is this young woman? How is she going to do this? When Howey politely interjected, the young woman allegedly became belligerent and started to bash self-publishing without even knowing about Howey’s success in self-publishing. She actually asked him what awards he’d won. From what I gather, Howey remained calm and polite during this confrontation with the aggressive young woman and he did not respond to her attacks. But don’t quote me on that: getting *objective* information these days isn’t easy.

What happened after that is where it gets interesting. Again, from what I can gather, Howey didn’t actually do anything or say anything offensive to this pushy young woman that day. He went about his business and then wrote about this incident later. He talked about what he wanted to say to her as if daydreaming aloud, and what he imagined doing…in a blog post, after the fact. Not what he actually did do. And because he wrote about what he thought about doing on his blog and on goodreads, the Interwebs went berserk.

Interestingly enough, Howey received no attention for this for almost a week or more, and then someone saw it, and it has since erupted into what some are calling an Epic Rant about “vast and deep offensiveness.”

Get my smelling salts.

You can read more here, where they’ve reposted Howey’s original post that he’s since deleted. How they get to do that without his permission I’m not certain, but they did it anyway and I’m really not sure how those things work.

Romance author Courtney Milan made this statement in the article two which I’ve linked, and that’s exactly how I would have handled a situation like that, too. I’ve always believed that words have power, and a writer more than anyone should understand the magnitude of that power and never, ever, abuse it. It’s why I refuse to embrace the word “queer,” and find it just as insulting as the word “bitch” used toward women. You can quote me on that one!

“‘Crazy bitch who needs to be slapped’ are words that carry very different connotations than ‘rude, ignorant person who is wrong,’” noted romance author Courtney Milan.

Maybe I shouldn’t admit this aloud (and I don’t support what Howey did). But I also have hundreds of unpublished blog posts for a reason. I’ve been insulted, attacked, and denigrated many times, and I often write blog posts/rants for my own personal therapeutic reasons (Dear Abbey once said it was okay to do this with letters). After I write them, and I calm down a little, I realize that these are posts I wrote off the top of my head, during a bad mood, and they are not things I would normally write when I’m in a normal frame of mind. As I said, I don’t like words like “bitch” and “queer,” and I do think they are offensive. However, we all make mistakes and Howey has issued an apology here.

I apologized for the post and decided to leave it up. I didn’t want to run or hide from the mistake I made. Then I called my wife, who is currently on the other side of the globe from me, had a good cry, and listened to her advice.

I also strongly believe in forgiveness. It’s right up there with gratitude. And to ignore High Howey’s sincere apology would not make me a better person. One of the things I like most about our culture is that it is built around this type of forgiveness.