Category: ed koch

Giovanni’s Room Shuttering for Good; Larry Kramer’s AIDS Comments

Giovanni’s Room Shuttering for Good

It’s believed to be the oldest LGBTI bookstore in the US, and this May Giovanni’s Room will be Shuttering its doors forever. I’ve been shopping there myself for a long time and it was the first LGBTI bookstore I ever visited. The owner, Ed Hermance, had planned to sell the business but the buyer couldn’t come up with the funds. Hermance also said the money he’s lost made it impossible to keep the bookstore open any longer.

He blamed retailers such as Amazon for the tough environment independent bookstores are currently facing.

“The government is allowing Amazon to tighten their fingers around the throats of the publishers and drive their retail competitors out of the business by clearly monopolistic methods,” he said.

Hermance said there is a possibility that Giovanni’s Room could be resurrected in some form, but said ideas would have to change in order for it to be successful.

“Whatever it is that they do, it will have to be something different than what we are doing now. If won’t survive if it isn’t different,” he said.

Read more: PGN-The Philadelphia Gay News. Phila gay news. philly news – PGN exclusive Giovanni s Room to close next month

There’s a press conference tonight, and if there’s anything worth repeating I’ll follow up on it tomorrow.

While I find it a shame to see GR close, because it’s really the end of an era in many ways. I don’t believe Amazon or other online retailers made it a tough environment alone, nor do I think anyone has their fingers around the throats of publishers. In the past decade never before in the history of publishing have there been as many LGBTI books published and self-published. Never before have writers had the opportunity to make even a slight living by writing LGBTI books. But most important, never before have readers had so many choices when buying LGBTI books. If anything, the old publishing system had its fingers around the throats of writers, and gatekeepers, including bookstore owners, only gave a select few the opportunity to be heard.  

The fact is that life has changed, reading habits have changed, and we’ve been moving toward a new era for at least the past five years. And I’m only talking about publishing now, not everything in retail.

You can read more here.

Larry Kramer’s AIDS Comments

With the date to air The Normal Heart film adaptation in May approaching fast, Larry Kramer has been on a major public relations binge that’s only going to increase in the next few weeks. In this article he talks about how making this film is a highly charged personal political statement, and he makes a few good points and a few I’m not sure I understand. You see that’s because I was there, and I lived through those times, too. I was very young, but missed nothing. And my own experiences with AIDS didn’t just stop in the 1980’s, and I’ve never made a dime from those experiences.

Kramer says in a new promo video released by HBO: ‘How do you get attention when the mayor (Ed Koch) doesn’t care? When the president (Ronald Reagan) doesn’t care? When the commissioner of health doesn’t care? When the gay world doesn’t care? The gay world did not want to know about this illness.’

I do recall the silence with both Mayor Koch and President Reagan. All politicians went dead silent. It’s almost the same kind of silence we’ve seen with politicians like President Obama and Hillary Clinton with gay marriage up until recently. They weren’t very vocal about it either. This is what politicians do in all things too controversial.

However, I don’t recall the same silence Kramer mentions within the gay community, at least not within my circles. We knew what was happening, we wanted to know what was happening, and many of us took precautions because of what was happening. I can recall a time when gay men would go to a bar and order straight alcohol instead of a mixed drink thinking that the straight alcohol would kill AIDS germs. It sounds ridiculous now, but that’s because we really didn’t know all the facts about AIDS back then. No one really did. As we learned more, all that changed.

So while I’m sure certain people within the gay community didn’t want to know about AIDS, I can state from personal experience that many did want to know about it and they cared about what was happening. I have one of the first works of fiction I ever wrote for an AIDS organization in Philadelphia in my files waiting to be re-released. I only have it in hard copy but I’m going to scan it eventually and publish it here on the blog…for free.

I’ve also had my own personal devastating experiences with people I know who have had AIDS. I can tell you everything you need to know, from PCP to IRIS. So Larry Kramer doesn’t know all there is about AIDS or what happened back then. I’m not trying to diminish his personal experiences, but I don’t like it when other gay men speak for me, or about me. There are many of us who know as much, if not more, only we haven’t tried to make money on it. Most of us have been trying to make money FOR AIDS. I’ve always thought it uncouth for me to write about my personal experiences with AIDS, as intense as they have been. But I’m starting to rethink that, especially when I listen to Larry Kramer promote his experiences.

You can read more here.

Matt Bomer Fifty & Shades Again; The Vegas Shark; RIP Mayor Koch

I haven’t posted on this for a while, but the interest in actor, Matt Bomer, playing Christian in the film version of “Fifty Shades of Grey” has not subsided much. I’m not sure it will either, at least not until the part’s been given to someone officially.

Would Bomer be the best Christian? I think he could do anything and play it well. I’m actually looking more forward to him in the upcoming HBO film based on Larry Kramer’s “The Normal Heart.” In other words, he just might be too good for Fifty Shades. While I don’t think anyone should ever be defined by their sexual preferences, Bomer has, in a way, defined a generation of gay men without even trying. He’s taken the old stigma about being gay and famous and turned it around, which in turn will make it easier for the next generation.

In any event, Bomer was recently asked about how he feels about playing Christian, and this is the first time he’s responded in public:

“No comment. That’s my line on that. But it’s very flattering I’ve got fans who would like to see me in these things.”

Well done, sir.

The Vegas Shark: ending a novel with the first line you started with.

My upcoming novel, “The Vegas Shark,” will be released next Tuesday as part of the ongoing gay romance series about bad boy billionaires I’ve been doing this year. This book was interesting to write for many reasons, some of which I’ve talked about. But one thing I haven’t talked about is how well the book worked out for me in a structural sense. I like order; I like novels to fall into place the same way things often fall into place in real life sometimes. And one of the things I like most in a novel is when I can end it, in the very last line, with the same line I began with on page one.

That doesn’t happen often for me. It’s not something you can really plan either. Tying up the lose ends in any novel can be tricky, and ending a novel with the first line you started with is almost impossible unless you force it too much. And I like those things to come naturally. And this time it did. I’ll post a little more about this novel next week before the release, but here is the line I’m talking about. It’s the first and last line of this book, and I don’t think it’s a spoiler.

Whenever Treston had a man of his own, he felt special in a way that gave him both hope for the future and peace of mind about his sordid past.

It would be nice if every novel was able to end this way, tied up so neatly and precisely. But that’s not always how it works.

RIP Mayor Ed Koch

When I was a kid, Mayor Koch was a daily fixture in the local news. I remember him being almost a caricature of himself. He was the kind of man who seemed to command attention even when he wasn’t trying too hard. He could be tough, abrasive, friendly, and often unpredictable. And he did something a lot of Mayors aren’t able to do: he created an era of his own while he was mayor.

He passed away earlier this morning from congestive heart failure. He was 88 years old. He was also the best kind of politician:

The mayor dismissed his critics as “wackos,” waged verbal war with developer Donald Trump (“piggy”) and fellow former mayor Rudolph Giuliani (“nasty man”), lambasted the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and once reduced the head of the City Council to tears.

“I’m not the type to get ulcers,” he wrote in “Mayor,” his autobiography. “I give them.”

When President George W. Bush ran for re-election in 2004, Democrat Koch crossed party lines to support him and spoke at the GOP convention. He also endorsed Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s re-election efforts at a time when Bloomberg was a Republican. Koch described himself as “a liberal with sanity.”

We don’t see that kind of bipartisanship much at all anymore. But more than that Koch was never married and never spoke about his personal life in public:

During the 1977 mayoral campaign against Mario Cuomo, posters that read, “Vote for Cuomo, Not the Homo” mysteriously appeared in some neighborhoods as Election Day approached.

A lifelong bachelor, Koch offered a typically blunt response to questions about his own sexuality: “My answer to questions on this subject is simply, `F— off.’ There have to be some private matters left.”

He never did talk about his sexuality again either. And I understand that completely. He came from a generation that guarded privacy and he didn’t want a label. He also came from a generation that was taught we don’t discuss certain topics aloud because they are wrong or bad, homosexuality being one of them. Though we’ll never really know whether or not Koch was gay, I’ve never heard anyone say he was straight either.

As I said, I understand his reaction to questions about being gay because of the times in which he lived. But I also would like to see an end to the negativity that always seems to revolve around all gay people. In other words, we should not have to worry about whether or not it’s right or wrong to admit we’re gay, because there should be nothing wrong with telling the world the most fundamental part of our being.