coming out

Robin Roberts Inspires; Pretty Boy Dead Best Book; Wicked Gay Blog

Robin Roberts Inspires

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Robin_Roberts_at_Heart_Truth_2010_cropped.jpg

In the summer of 2007 Robin Roberts disclosed she had breast cancer. By August 2007 she had surgery and the follow up treatments she underwent continued into 2008. At the time, I followed her story closely because that same summer Tony was going through his life/death crisis. And the bravery Roberts showed during her own crisis left an impact on me personally and I think helped give me a sort of indirect support to deal with all the things I was going through that summer. She was a huge inspiration to me, and I never forgot that. And once again, Roberts recently became an inspiration to millions of LGBT people in disclosing that she’s a lesbian and has been with the same woman for ten years.

Unfortunately, Roberts was diagnosed with a bone marrow disease in 2012 and it gutted me to hear that after all she went through with breast cancer she had to deal with something else. You’d think once in a lifetime would be enough, but we all know that’s not how it works. Once again, Roberts has showed the same strength, dignity, and grace she showed while battling breast cancer.

On December 29, 2013, Roberts came out on Facebook:

 “At this moment I am at peace and filled with joy and gratitude. I am grateful to God, my doctors and nurses for my restored good health…I am grateful for my entire family, my long time girlfriend, Amber, and friends as we prepare to celebrate a glorious new year together.” Roberts and Amber Laign, a massage therapist, have been together for 10 years. This was the first time Roberts publicly acknowledged her longstanding same-sex relationship.

You can read more here. Photo is in the Public Domain.

The support I’ve seen for Roberts has also been inspiring. This isn’t just fandom. It goes way deeper than that.

 Pretty Boy Dead Best Book

I usually don’t post these things because I find that any best book list tends to be fundamentally flawed at best, and highly subjective at worst. In small genres like M/M Romance where there are thousands of wonderful “best” books, best book lists also put writer against writer and book against book in ways I don’t always think are fair. It’s also a way for aggressive book bloggers to promote themselves and garner hits. As a small, humble blogger I absolutely refuse to do these things to exploit authors. I don’t mind doing it to other bloggers. But not to authors.

In the same respect, there are exceptions to every rule. The reason I’m mentioning the book, Pretty Boy Dead, by Jon Michaelsen, is because sometimes book bloggers do get it right and sometimes best books are given the credit they deserve. As it happens, I’m right in the middle of reading Pretty Boy Dead and it’s such a great book I wanted to post something about it. There’s a “best” book post up at the now defunct Jessewave web site, and Pretty Boy Dead is listed as one of the best books of 2013. In this case, I couldn’t agree more with this choice.

You can read more here. Along with Pretty Boy Dead, there’s a list of other best books for 2013. Some I read, some are excellent choices. But one or two leave me wondering…without the ambition to comment further because they’re so bad. Like I said, it’s all highly subjective. 

Wicked Gay Blog

Once in a while I come across a blog that’s for gay men that makes me smile. In this case, it’s a blog titled, Wicked Gay Blog, and you can check it out here.

I’m not going to link to any post right now because I like the whole package as far as blogging goes. I just want to give examples in a general sense to nudge people over there. There are posts about gay news, posts that are more personal, and topics discussed that are geared for gay men without a hint of judgment. And the photos are excellent, too. I have no idea how they get permission to use these photos, but I can only assume they have taken copyright into consideration, they are aware of how litigious people can be nowadays, and they know what they are doing.

They do have ads, but I don’t find them intrusive or annoying. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Obama Picks Gays for Olympics; Coming Out to Rejection: Jonathan Allen

Coming Out to Rejection: Jonathan Allen

I’ll never forget one book review I had for An Officer and His Gentleman about four or five years ago where the book reviewer mocked the main character’s choices and slammed him for not changing his circumstances. Chance, the main character of that book, was thrown out of his home when he told his parents he was gay and had no other choice but to live with a mean old man who made him walk around naked all the time. What shocked me most about the review was that some people think this sort of thing doesn’t happen to younger gay men anymore. As if we all live in places like San Francisco and everyone welcomes it with open arms when their kids come out of the closet. But that’s not the case. And I haven’t read anything more definitive of this than the article to which I’m linking right now. Jonathan Allen, a finalist in America’s Got Talent, came out and his ultra-conservative family kicked him out of their home.

Allen came out to his conservative parents and was kicked out of their home but, thankfully for us, he’s since persevered with one of his natural gifts intact – his voice. Allen was a semi-finalist this past summer on NBC’s competition series America’s Got Talent where he shared his story and blew away the judges – Howard Stern, Heidi Klum, Mel B and Howie Mandel – with not only his commanding voice but also his self-effacing wit and natural charm.

He looks like a great kid. You can read more here. I find the story even more interesting because my character in An Officer and His Gentleman also wound up being a contestant on a reality cooking show in the book, and he depended on his best talent to get him through the worst of times…in his case it was cooking.

The review I’m talking about that slammed the Chance character can be read here. I’m glad the book reviewer left it up because I like having this point of reference when I’m writing posts like this. This is a quote from the review:

I had hoped from reading the blurb and excerpt that it would end up being quirky instead, but Dan treats Chance so abysmally, it might as well be abuse.And the problem is, Chance takes it.This was one of my biggest stumbling blocks in the entire set-up.Chance is an incredibly talented cook.He’s young.He’s reasonably bright.He’s a hard worker.How am I expected to believe this is his only alternative?

As a gay man I failed to understand there would be people who don’t realize these things still happen, or that I would be questioned as a gay man for knowing more about the gay community from personal circumstances than someone who is straight. It’s not good enough to show these awful things happen. You need to tell them, in detail, sometimes that we all don’t live in the loving accepting, cliched world of Modern Family. I wouldn’t mind the review at all if the reviewer were to have put up a disclaimer stating she’s not gay. You can’t fault people for not knowing something. However, I wouldn’t question Toni Morrison or her experience as an African American in African American culture and I don’t like being questioned as a gay man in gay culture. But what do I know?

Obama Picks Gays for Olympics

After an aggressive effort on the part of gay rights groups urging the President to include prominent athletes from the LGBT community in a delegation representing the US at the Russian Olympics this winter, Obama has chosen some impressive names making a clear statement to Russia. Billie Jean King will be part of this delegation at the opening ceremonies.

White House spokesman Shin Inouye said that the delegation “represents the diversity that is the United States” and that Obama was proud to cheer America’s athletes on at the 2014 Olympic Games.

“He knows they will showcase to the world the best of America — diversity, determination and teamwork,” Inouye said.
 
 
Frankly, after hearing the most recent statement by an actor in Russia who wants to burn gays alive in ovens, I’m still for boycotting completely. I wish I were more of an optimist and that I had the faith some people have. But I don’t think anything we do or say in Russia at this point is going to change how they think. Sometimes you just have to order them to “take down that wall,” so to speak. We need strong leaders for this, not mediators who can give good speeches.
 
But it should be interesting to watch, and even more interesting to see how Russia treats gays this time next year. I don’t have much hope from what I’ve seen so far. History always repeats itself.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sean Hayes Apologizes; What Is a Book Blogger? A Book "Influencer?"

Sean Hayes Apologizes

I love when LGBT people with high profiles back me up this way. I’ve often posted about how I’m not fond of National Coming Out Day, and how coming out is such a personal thing no one should ever feel pressured about it. And now actor, Sean Hayes, from Will and Grace, made a few recent comments about how difficult it was for him to come out, and why he didn’t do it sooner.

“I was so young,” Hayes said. “It made me go back in the closet [with the media] because I was so overwhelmed at 26 or 27. I didn’t want the responsibility, I didn’t know how to handle the responsibility of speaking for the gay community. I always felt like I owed them a huge apology for coming out too late. Some people in the gay community were very upset with me for not coming out on their terms. They don’t stop to think about what’s going on in somebody’s personal life, and the struggles that they’re having. It was all very scary. We got death threats. It was a really rough time for me, but I was also having the time of my life.”

For me, that’s heart wrenching. If I were in the room with Hayes when he said that I would need a box of tissues. But that’s not all. It gets even deeper when Hayes talks about how gay news organizations like The Advocate slammed him for not coming out sooner. And what really bothers me the most about this is that those who scream for tolerance the loudest always seem to be the most intolerant. I don’t think Hayes owes anyone an apology.

In any event, I hope Hayes knows how much good he did for the LGBT community. And this is the absolute truth: I sometimes post about getting letters and e-mails from closeted gay men who can’t come out…or aren’t ready to come out. One of these people lives a truly closeted life because of his religion/culture, his family circumstances, and his background. And he’s recently been telling me that he has been watching old reruns of Will and Grace and it’s helping him a lot. So the things actors like Sean Hayes did for the LGBT community continue to evolve in many different ways so many years later.

You can read the full article here.


What Is a Book Blogger?

Someone asked me this question a few weeks ago and I’ve been wanting to post about it for a while. First, I looked all over for one set definition of what a book blogger is and couldn’t come up with anything definitive. In fact, the places where I’m linking today even state they don’t know the definition and it’s only their opinion. So it’s important to keep in mind not all things have set definitions, at least not at this point.

This web site discusses what book blogging means to her. She makes no claim to define book blogging:

When I began book blogging six years ago, I had no idea just how much of a community there was out there. Suddenly I found myself among likeminded people—people with a passion for books and writing—for talking about those books and other bookish tidbits. While we share in our love for books, our experiences with those books can vary widely. It gives me the chance to hear a different perspective, think a little differently, and branch out to try something new.

This next web site talks about something more definitive, and yet makes no claims to give a set definition of a book blogger. They’ve also created a book blogging directory, which is discussed with what I thought was a very open-minded approach.

So, what do we all think? Is an author a book blogger, or do they need to at least be chatting about other people’s books as well as their own to qualify? What about other types of bloggers who occasionally talk books? What about blogs that are attached to bookstores? Often there are reviews amongst their posts, but really the aim is to try to get people to buy from the store.

I find that interesting because I don’t consider myself a book blogger, not with this blog. I’m an author and I present information about my books to readers. I also review books on occasion here. I often discuss books I like. But I keep this blog more focused on pop culture, LGBT issues, and publishing in a general sense.

I even discovered there is a book blogger week, and this web site gives the most definitive answer of what a book blogger is that I’ve found so far.

Let’s step back, first, and ask, what is a book blogger? The answer is simple: it’s someone who blogs about books. About the books they love, the books they like, the books they hate. It’s someone who usually does it all on their own time: the reading, the writing, the posting, the commenting, the (insert all the stuff it takes beyond reading and posting to be a blogger).

But then what’s the difference between a book review site and a book blogger?

I won’t even try to define that because I think it’s vague at best. But I have always considered book review site more geared toward criticism…good and bad…than actual book discussion. But even then there’s a certain amount of book discussion on book review blogs, so it gets even more confusing.

A Book “Influencer?”

Now this was something I’d never seen before: a book influencer. And the blogger I’m linking to here asks the question, “What’s the Difference Between an Influencer and a Book Reviewer?”

I’m not exactly sure where or when the term Influencer originated. But in the publishing world Influencer is often used to refer to a reader who signs up to help in the promotion of a book in exchange for a free copy of that book. The author puts together a list of interested Influencers (a limited number), along with their addresses. The publisher then sends the book to those people (usually a couple weeks before the release).

The piece goes on to state that influencers are fans of the author, their goal is to promote the author and the book, and they do it in a variety of ways that may or may not include a book review. Then the term “Launch Team” is mentioned, which is a group of influencers who are strictly out to promote the author. I take this to be the same thing as a Street Team, but don’t quote me on that.

Essentially the terms are synonymous, except that an author may choose to keep a Launch Team ongoing via a Facebook Group or Email Loop.

Ultimately, this means that when you…the reader…see your favorite author on facebook getting tons of comments and photos posted to his or her timeline there is a good chance they aren’t coming from actual facebook friends or fans, at least no in the literal sense of fandom. There’s a good chance they are coming from influencers and teams of people who are only interested in promoting the author as much as they can so they can receive something in return. I don’t do this. Whatever you see on my timeline is coming from people that I didn’t solicit with gifts and free books. But it is common nowadays with many authors, and it’s getting easier to spot the more I see it. I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with it because in most cases the influencers are fans in a twisted ethical sense. But I do wonder what would happen if the authors who do this didn’t offer the influencers anything in return. In an offhanded way it reminds me of circus people who plant shills in audiences.

But this is a very honest article and I found it highly informative, especially the part where the author discusses the difference between a book reviewer and an influencer. She’s up front and totally honest, and I think this is one set definition we can trust.

In other words, a Book Reviewer’s goal is to help the reader make wise reading choices. An Influencer’s goal is to help the author with promotion.

As an author and a blogger it’s often hard to get into topics like this because one of my goals as an author is to promote my books and my publishers, and the other as a blogger is to provide honest objective information to readers with regard to any topic. Sometimes I’m not that objective. But when I do post about things like this I tend to lean more toward being a blogger than an author and I also tend to piss a few people off (other authors). A lot of authors don’t want you to know they have influencers or launch/street teams. Some of these authors are so promotion oriented they will cut your throat to sell a book that may or may not be a very good book. But in the spirit of full disclosure, as a blogger, I think it’s important for readers to know these things, and to understand what these terms mean so they can decide for themselves.


Howard Kurtz Bungles Jason Collins Story; Eight Gay Athletes Fear Coming Out

When I read about the way Howard Kurtz bungled the recent story about Jason Collins coming out, I went back to my original post about Collins and checked my own facts. I’m only an amateur blogger. I write fiction, not news. But I do post things that I think my readers will find interesting here on this amateur blog, and I don’t get paid anything for doing it. Clearly, not the figures Howard Kurtz receives.

In an embarrassing mea culpa of some magnitude, Kurtz, a former media reporter for the Washington Post as well as a CNN presenter, put his hands up to bungling a story about the first openly gay player in one of the major US professional team sports.

I’ve spoken about how the mainstream media doesn’t seem to focus much on anything gay related unless it involves sideshow appeal so many times it’s not worth linking now. I’ve also posted about how I basically stopped watching CNN after the 2008 presidential elections because of their lack of objectivity. And now this.

You can read more here.  

Eight Footballers Fear Coming Out

In a related story about pro-athletes coming out like Jason Collins did, eight footballers fear coming out because of backlash from fans.

In Britain, no professional footballer has come out and continued his career since Justin Fashanu in 1990. He stopped playing in 1994, but hanged himself four years later, aged 37. Fashanu had said that he had not been prepared for the backlash that followed his disclosure, and that his football career suffered “heavy damage” as a consequence.

I wonder if twenty years has made much of a difference. I was in my early twenties in the 90’s and I wasn’t completely out. I was for the most part in the sense that I didn’t say I wasn’t gay, but I also surrounded myself with gay people, chose to live in a gay friendly place, and remained separated from the straight community for the most part. In other words, I didn’t put myself out there in the mainstream. To a certain extent, I still don’t. It takes years of practice to survive as a gay person in this world, and old habits last. So I can’t help but wonder how this is all going to play out for anyone in the public eye who decides to come out. And I guess only time will tell.

You can read more here.

Jodi Foster Talks About Sexuality: Asswipes Speak Out

Not only did actress Jodi Foster win the Cecile B. Demile award at last night’s Golden Globes, she also won over the hearts of many LGBT people you won’t normally hear about by openly discussing a very private part of her life she doesn’t have to discuss.

Most people already knew she was gay, but I’m sure there were some who didn’t…maybe the Pope? Or that literature teacher I posted about in France yesterday? In any event, the fact that Foster talked about herself this way, with a topic that has been absolutely so utterly taboo in Hollywood since the film industry began, makes a huge difference to both LGBT people and society in general. As a side note, I watched a film the other night that was a memoir about Marilyn Monroe. There was an infamously well known actor portrayed in this film who knew and worked with Monroe back then and he was gay, in the closet gay. And not one single mention of this in the film. Not even a hint. So the pressure for actors and actresses to remain closeted still exists today. And even when they are dead, their families come out and dispute all facts as if there’s something fundamentally wrong with being gay. That’s where it gets tricky. You have to respect the privacy of everyone, but why is it always so wrong to say your gay?

But Jodi Foster took one more step in rectifying this mind set. No one should be forced to talk about this in public, nor should they feel obligated to do this unless they are ready to do it. However, when someone like Jodi Foster does something like she did last night it makes things easier for other people who aren’t as famous, don’t have as much money, and don’t know if they’ll ever be able to come out. In a word: Hope. And I’m not talking about the kind of hope our illustrious politicians promise us all the time and never follow through with. This is hope in it’s simplest, and most effective, form.

Unfortunately, the speech was met with criticism from some. It’s been referred to in many ways I’m not bothering to list here, because it just gets me too damn mad and I’ve promised myself I won’t rant or curse anymore in blog posts…unless I really, really can’t help it. But Perez Hilton tweeted something interesting:

Surprised that a lot of my gays on Facebook are roasting Jodie Foster for her speech! perez.ly/13tD6CX I applaud her!!!

Unfortunately, it doesn’t surprise me. And I applaud her as well.

Here’s part of what Foster said. I’m not linking back to anything in this post because the quotes are Foster’s own words and the article where I found the quotes is just dumb. It takes on a tone of “Wow, guess what?” You know, the same cheesy way they coax people to watch those Barbara Walters TV news programs all the time. And other articles I read were insulting to Foster and to the LGBT community in general.

“While I’m here being all confessional, I just have the sudden urge to say something I’ve never been able to say in public. A declaration that I’m a little nervous about. Not quite as nervous as my publicist, huh, Jennifer? But uh, you know, I’m just going to put it out there. Loud and proud. I’m going to need your support. I am — single,” she said. “I’m kidding.”

Foster later added that ”I already did my coming out about a thousand years ago, back in the stone age. In those very quaint days when a fragile young girl would open up to trusted friends, and family, coworkers and then gradually, proudly, to everyone who knew her.”

What interests me most is that she was obviously so anxious over doing this. Don’t get me wrong. That’s perfectly understandable, especially considering the reactions I’ve read today from some of the biggest assholes on the planet. But we often tend to think of people like Jodi Foster as being so strong and invincible that nothing bothers them. The fact that she’s such a great actress makes this image even stronger. So it’s important to put this into perspective and try to think like a lot of the closeted gay people in the world have to think. If this was a big thing for someone like Jodi Foster just imagine what it’s like for someone in a small town (or country) who doesn’t know where to turn.

Photo courtesy of Alan Light

2012: 50 Gays Who Came Out This Year

It seems that 2012 was a big year for gays coming out, at least for the following 50 people. Some didn’t surprise me too much. I’d either already figured or heard through the proverbial grapevine. Others did make me stop and think.

As a rule, I’m not fond of this huge pressure we tend to put on gay people to come out. I think that’s a personal thing, and no one should be forced or intimidated to come out. Privacy is also a huge concern nowadays with social media, even if you’re not a celeb. I never actually had the big “coming out” speech. I always knew who I was, I never lied about who I was, and I minded my own business.

“The fact is, I’m gay.” Anderson Cooper’s long-awaited announcement sums what it meant to come out in 2012. Again and again we heard the same sentiment — from pop singer Mika’s equally anticipated confirmation, “If you ask me am I gay, I say yeah,” to actor Andrew Rannells casually remarking about relating to a gay character, “I am gay in real life, so I definitely get it.” — proving that coming out today is in many cases a non-event, and certainly secondary to other achievements.

This one didn’t surprise me. In the same respect it never mattered to me one way or the other what his sexual preference was. It still doesn’t; I think he’s the best at what he does. And it’s nice to see that this is actually a “non-event” in many cases.

Although sometimes it is surprising when you had no idea someone was gay. I didn’t know this until I read the article.

Sherman Hemsley, the actor famous for his role as George Jefferson on All in the Family and The Jeffersons, never came out in life.

Hemsley didn’t actually come out, so this article is a little misleading. If you want to get technical, he was “outed” posthumously against his wishes. All I know is I feel a little guilty. I never thought of him as a good actor. In light of this information I now have a new level of respect for his acting abilities and what he did with his life…cuz it can’t be easy playing straight. It couldn’t have been easy keeping his sexuality a secret either. I can’t even imagine.

This one just leaves me speechless and makes me wonder how dumb they think we are.

“I am gay in real life, so I definitely get it,” actor Andrew Rannells said about his newly out character Elisha on HBO’s Girls.

It was the first time Rannells, who was nominated for a Tony for his Broadway turn in The Book of Mormon and also plays gay on NBC’s The New Normal.

It doesn’t always work this way. And I’m glad it doesn’t. But in this case was there ever any doubt?

Now this one below surprised me as much as George Jefferson. I’m actually a fan of Honey-boo-boo, and I wouldn’t have guessed Uncle Poodle was gay if I’d seen him on the street. At least not until we made eye contact anyway. The eyes are always the dead give-away for me. As a side note, I would never be attracted to Andrew Rannells if I met him on the street or in a club. I’m sure he’s a great guy, but not my type by any means. But if I met Uncle Poodle I’d be so attracted I might be rendered speechless, which doesn’t happen often.

 Alana’s Uncle Lee, affectionately called “Uncle Poodle,” became a breakout star after appearing, open, out and proud, alongside his supportive family. And like Rosie Pierri, Thompson keeps his sexual philosophy real: “I’m gay, but I’m as redneck as I can get. If you want people to accept you, you have to show you don’t have a problem with yourself and just be up front about who you are. If you do, you earn people’s respect.”

For those who don’t know, I have another blog on Word Press that’s basically everything I import from this blog. I keep it for specific reasons, and I might move there one day permanently. I recently had a comment from a young gay man who seemed slightly upset that I’d criticized “The New Normal” and other network TV shows for always portraying the stereotypical gays…men and women…for the sake of ratings and entertainment. And I tried to explain to him I’m not knocking the stereotypes at all. I’m not knocking effeminate gay men. I’d just like to see more gay men of all kinds represented in the mainstream. Because yes, there are “redneck” gay men. And all kinds of other gay men. Just as all groups or minorities have different types, so to speak. But if you watch reruns of “Sex In The City,” all you’re going to see is a very small segment of the gay community. And it’s not a segment with which I can identify as a man just as I’m sure someone like Bill Cosby couldn’t identify with the African-American stereotypes we used to see all the time in the mainstream. Thankfully, that’s ended for African Americans (for the most part). I think we’ll see the end of gay stereotypes as well. I just hope it’s in my lifetime.

Someone told me “The New Normal” was not renewed, and if this is true I’m not surprised. I tried to watch and I tried to give it a chance. But it just didn’t work for me.

A huge bravo for JoCasta Zamarripa for coming out as bisexual. The B in LGBT is probably the most unrecognized group in the world, and also the most underestimated. They tend to take a lot more unfair criticism as well, from both the straight and gay communities.

Wisconsin State Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa also helped elevate the B in LGBT this year when she came out as bisexual. And it was all in the name of full transparency, said the Democrat “It has always been my goal in office to be transparent and honest with my constituents. But before the primary in 2010, I didn’t have the valor and courage to come out. I feel remiss that I didn’t come out then.”

It’s also interesting to see someone in politics come out. As I stated earlier, I don’t think we should pressure anyone into coming out. But if you are living a public life this is one of the prices you pay sometimes. And Washington is probably the second most closeted town outside Hollywood when it comes to people guarding their public images.

In any event, it’s an interesting article and there were a few more surprises for me. You can get there from the link I provided above and read them all in detail at Towerload.

  

To Any Gay Person Who Has Ever Felt Bullied By Other Gays

I wanted to write this post and leave it up for a long time for a reason. I’ve been talking to a friend who is in the closet and I’ve been listening to him tell me how he’s being bullied and talked down to by another gay person who thinks he knows it all. There’s not much I can do and it’s frustrating.

I’ve seen this before. Unfortunately, there are some gay people who feel the need to push the idea of coming out on everyone that crosses their paths. And I don’t think that’s fair or healthy. Gay people who are in the closet tend to be more vulnerable and they begin to question themselves and every single aspect of their lives and the choices they’ve made. That’s enough for anyone to handle without being bullied by other gay people. They need time and patience; not intimidation and bullying.

So this blog post is an open forum for anyone who has ever been bullied by another gay person. Whether it’s politics, coming out choices, or relationship oriented, please feel free to comment and vent anonymously. You can rant, curse, and scream. I don’t care. I have no way of ever knowing who you are and neither will anyone else. I don’t track IP addresses and have no interest exposing anyone’s identity. So if you need to vent, feel free to do it here.

I won’t even jump into the comment thread with my own opinions. It’s just a place for you to express how you’re feeling, and maybe someone else might read it and help you feel better.