Category: end of an era

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.

Romantic Times: No More Mr. Romance; WTF?

It was announced that the 18 year old tradition of the Mr. Romance contest has been eliminated. I’m really not part of the RT crowd and I don’t want to be. But WTF?

“Over the past few years our attendees have been bringing spouses and have become more interested in spending more time with the authors.”

So I guess that bringing a spouse to a convention, someone with whom you live day in and day out, hear snore every night of your life, and pick up after, is way more fun than watching hot guys compete in a Mr. Romance competition? So much for all that fun. And WTF does bringing a spouse have to do with the Mr. Romance contest? No further comment.

But more than that, is this l950? Gay people don’t have “spouses.” Dah! We have significant others, we have partners, we have life partners, but not spouses. We aren’t allowed to have spouses, by law. I honestly can’t believe they couldn’t even get this right in a public announcement. Talk about show, not tell. Couldn’t they at least f*^king placate us like everyone else does? There have to be some gay authors attending this thing, with a significant other.

What surprises me is that a lot of people in publishing believe book covers are the primary reason why some books sell. And the models on those covers are important. I don’t always believe this. But I know people who do. And frankly, I have, on occasion, bought a few books just because of the model on the cover. Call me superficial; at least I’m honest about it.

But don’t fret none yet Mr. Romance fans!!

There will still be cover models at the convention for those who want to meet them, have pictures taken with them, or dance with them. Cover models, both male and female, have always been extended a special industry rate to encourage them to attend. That has not changed.

Interesting. I wonder if I’ll be allowed to dance with any of the male models if I decide to go next year. Not that I’m much of a dancer. But I’d be curious to see whether or not I’d turn a few heads. Or whether or not any of the male models would actually dance with me. I’ve done a little modeling myself in the past, so I’m not exactly an amateur in this department. I think it would be an interesting test, to see just how open and honest events like this are when it comes to openly gay men dancing with other men. And I wonder how those spouses would feel. And I’m not talking about a campy, funny dance with another guy. You know, ha ha ha, buddy, dude. I’m talking about dancing seriously. This, trust me, is another post for the future.

They are covering their asses, though. They make it clear this is an experiment and they aren’t certain how attendees are going to react. I’m curious, too. This is one example of why I’ve never attended anything like this before, and most likely won’t in the future…unless I can figure out a way to spike things up on my own. You know, something that would make the old sweetie over at one romance blog in particular who thinks she owns romance shudder and cross her legs.

I do feel bad for the models. I’ve met a few and I think they always looked forward to the event. And even though it was mentioned “they” think they are closing the Mr. Romance contest on a high note, I have a feeling a lot of attendees are going to think they are just closing, period. It might even be the end of an era in a larger sense, because when the boring, boring, boring of them all take over, the masses disappear and the genre starts to suffer.

At least offer something as a replacement for those who don’t shudder and cross their legs all the time. And I’m not talking about a goddamn tea party.

Repeal of DADT: End of an Era

Today, in a 65-31 vote, the Senate ended the ban of gays and lesbians in the military. In my latest book, which hasn’t even been released yet, I focused on a theme that revolved around DADT and gays in the military, and kept thinking all the way through the book whether or not I’d see a repeal in my lifetime. It didn’t look good for a long time. It’s still almost too good to be true and I’m almost waiting for some kind of a catch…like what happened with Proposition 8 in California.

But for now DADT has been repealed, and it looks like it’s going to stick, ending one of the most discriminatory laws this country has ever seen.

For more information, Andrea Stone has written a full piece, here.

The End of a Blogging Era: Boys Are Ugly But So Cute

When I first discovered blogs and really got into reading them, I was working for doing reviews and interviews. One day I stumbled across a blog titled, “Boys are Ugly but so Cute,” and I couldn’t stop reading it. The posts were about young gay men living life and getting through their lives one day at a time, and I fell in love with them all.

By the time I was finished reading the entire blog, I had to contact the author for an interview. I was nervous. I thought he might turn me down. But this very young blogger answered my e-mail with the nicest reply and graciously agreed to grant me the interview. Since then, though my life has changed in many ways, from work to personal, I’ve continued to follow this blogger daily. I found out his name was Ryan, I found out we had a lot in common in spite of a fifteen year age difference, and we formed an online friendship that is just as strong as any other friendship I’ve ever had.

But it wasn’t always perfect. When you blog about your life or your work, there are always going to be negative people making hate comments and trying to ruin things, especially if you’re openly gay. I’ve experienced it so much myself that I’ve had to implement comment moderation. And I know for a fact that my blogging buddy Ryan has experienced more than his share of haters. The best we can do is post about it, get if off our chests with a few rants, and then focus on the positive things.

And this is exactly what Ryan has done all these years. Until this week. He finally had enough. I was shocked and saddened to learn that he’s decided to close the blog and discontinue “Boys are Ugly but so Cute.” But I do understand why he’s doing it, and I support him 100%. Everything, good or bad, eventually comes to an end. Even though a lot of readers are going to miss Ryan’s blog, he feels it’s time to move on and do different things.

Personally, I’ll miss his posts, including the rants. Most of the time I absolutely agree with his opinions, his politics, and his frustrations. We’ve already talked and I’ll keep in touch with Ryan once the blog is down. I might even ask him to do a guest blog here…if he agrees. But we both think our friendship goes beyond blogging at this point. And I can’t say that I don’t know how he feels. I do know and I’ve been feeling the need for a few changes myself. Maybe this decision by Ryan will spark me to make a few changes I’ve been pondering for a while, both career wise and with blogging. In coming months I have a feeling I’ll be announcing my own huge changes, too.

Good luck, Ryan. We’ll miss you. You made us laugh and cry. But we’re also very thankful to have had the opportunity to read your blog and experience so much of your life!!