gay shame

FREE Gay Fiction Excerpt: Stepbrothers In the Attic; Hillary Clinton and Zach Galifianakis; Gay Teen Sues High School Over Gay Date

FREE Gay Fiction Excerpt: Stepbrothers In the Attic

When I was asked to write Stepbrothers In the Attic for Riverdale Ave. Books, I hesitated for a long time because I wasn’t sure it could be done as a gay parody. But after thinking about it, and after ideas started coming to me when I least expected them, I decided to take it on to see what would happen.

To be clear, this is not a book that’s identical to Flowers In the Attic. In fact, it’s a parody inspired by Flowers In the Attic. The dynamics are different because the main characters are gay. There’s no incest between the uncle and niece, in fact there’s no incest in this book at all, and that was intentional. The shame that my characters face comes from the fact that they are gay. And because part of the book is set in the 90s, through the technique of flashback, I thought it was a valid concept. Unfortunately, the gay shame is still valid today.

I will post more. But for now I’m posting a free excerpt below. The book hasn’t even gone to edits yet, so this is the raw version and there might be a few issues. You’ve been warned.

Hillary Clinton and Zach Galifianakis

Until I saw this video I never even heard of this guy…Zach. I’m not spelling his last name again unless it’s absolutely necessary…or someone pays me. I blog for free.

In any event, Zach did some kind of interview with Secretary Clinton that I would guess is supposed to be funny. But as the title of the article suggests, it does come off a little “awkward.” I’m sure it does resonate with people who can appreciate this brand of humor.

During the course of the five-minute interview, Galifianakis tells Clinton her pantsuits make her look like a “librarian from outer space, ” runs an ad from the Trump campaign in the middle of one of her answers, and asks a series of pointed questions, including:

“When you see how well it works for Donald Trump, do you think to yourself, oh maybe I should be more racist?”

You can read the rest here.  The comments are mixed, but no one sounded as if they were falling down laughing either.

Gay Teen Sues High School Over Gay Date

A young gay guy who attended a Catholic high school in Memphis is suing the school because they wouldn’t let him bring his date…a guy…to the homecoming dance.

Lance Sanderson, 19, asked permission to bring a male date to an upcoming dance during the end of his junior year at Christian Brothers High School (CBHS), an all-boys private school. He was told via email by his principal that he “really struggle[d]” with allowing Sanderson to bring a boy to the dance. When Sanderson posted the email to Twitter, he was reprimanded and told he could no longer be a school photographer, as he had been, even though he was not accused of violating any rules.

You can read the rest here. The article gets a lot more complicated and legal, but the bottom line is about what this poor kid has had to go through, and it’s a shame that good kids still cannot date the people they want to date. 

FREE Gay Excerpt: Stepbrothers In the Attic

        When it came to birthdays and milestone events, the Quinn’s were a family set in deep tradition. It wasn’t the kind of tradition that rivaled fairy tales, where they dressed in formal attire and used expensive china. They didn’t have perfectly pressed linen napkins, a long mahogany table with twelve matching chairs, and a sparking crystal chandelier. The Quinn family didn’t even have two matching chairs in the entire house. 

         They used paper napkins from the dollar store, or sometimes even folded paper towels, depending on whether or not their dad who did all the shopping, Marcus Quinn, remembered to buy paper napkins. Their forks, spoons, and knives were as mismatched as their chairs, and the dining table Marcus had found in a thrift shop wobbled a little whenever someone leaned on it too hard. They kept their used birthday cake candles in the junk drawer, along with old books of matches and empty tape dispensers. And yet if passersby happened to slow down near the Quinn’s front walk on any given evening, they would hear nothing but music, laughter, and the voices of a family who put love first and everything else second.
            Every year in late September, they celebrated Marcus Quinn’s birthday the same way since Marcus and David had adopted their two oldest boys, Eric and Brad. At six o’clock in the evening, all four children would scatter to various sections in the living room and hide in the most innocuous places. On this particular year, Eric hid behind the squeaky, tattered gray Chippendale sofa that flanked the fireplace. Eric was the oldest and the tallest and he needed a place to hide with the most leg room. Brad hid behind a wing chair on the other side of the fireplace. Although Brad was only a few weeks younger than Eric, he wasn’t as tall and he could fit into smaller spaces. Jasmine and little Kevin, the two youngest children, crouched down beside a scratched, tuneless upright piano near the picture window at the front of the living room. And they would all wait patiently until Marcus opened the front door to shout their birthday greetings.  
            When David Quinn walked into the living room and saw his children hiding that year, he pressed his palm to his chest and smiled. He smiled because he was so blessed with so many things he never thought he’d be able to have in life. Their house was nothing special. It was a three bedroom 1960s ranch style with dingy pale green aluminum siding and a fake brick facade that only went up to the bottoms of the front windows. The front lawn had more patches of brown than green, the aluminum storm door bent inward at the bottom, and the water stained roof hadn’t been replaced in over twenty years. Even though the interior was filled with mismatched pieces of furniture that ranged from traditional to Danish modern and the drapes were a little frayed at the edges, it was also the cleanest and most interesting house on the street. David and Marcus had raised their children to say thank you, please, and you’re welcome. They cleaned up after themselves, and now that Eric and Brad were old enough to do outdoor chores, the old established dark green yews lining the front of the house remained perfectly pruned all year long.
            All this love showed everywhere David looked that night. He could see it mostly in their bright faces as they waited for Marcus to open the front door. They whispered and giggled, as if something as inconsequential as their other dad’s birthday was the most important event of their lives. For a moment, when David saw Eric crouched behind the sofa, he tried to memorize everything about him because he had a feeling it wouldn’t always be this way. Eric and Brad were almost men now, and David wasn’t sure how much longer these traditional family celebrations would last. He knew he still had more time with Jasmine and Kevin, but if he was lucky, he might get one more year at the most with Eric and Brad, and he wanted to hold on to this moment for as long as he could.
            When Marcus finally did open the front door, he pretended to be stunned the same way he’d been pretending since they’d adopted Eric. He threw his arms up, dropped his briefcase, and grabbed the top of a rickety old Bentwood rocking chair as if he was about to topple over from the shock of it all.  
            “What’s all this?” Marcus asked, pressing his palm to his throat. “You people nearly scared me to death. Is it someone’s birthday?”
            As the kids all jumped up from their hiding places to wish their other dad a happy birthday, David stood between the living room and dining room smiling. He’d always worked hard to make Marcus’s birthday special. He knew Marcus hadn’t had it easy and he often felt guilty about that. Marcus didn’t actually have a full time job. He’d been the dad who had chosen to stay home and raise a family of four while David went out into the world to make an honest full time living. To make matters even more complicated, David worked as a traveling salesman for a small farm equipment company and he often spent more time on the road than he did at home with Marcus and his kids. There hadn’t been time enough for Marcus to focus on a full time career of his own, not dealing with four children all by himself most of the time, so he worked part time as a youth counselor a few afternoons a week just to bring in a few extra dollars.
            When the kids finally calmed down, David walked over to his husband and kissed him on the cheek. “Happy Birthday, my love,” he said. “I have several very nice surprises for your birthday this year and you’re just going to have to wait and see what they are.”
            Marcus grabbed him by the waist and pulled him closer. He kissed him on the lips and said, “Tell me now. I hate to wait.” They’d always made it a point to show affection in front of the children because they wanted them to see how happy couples behave. Even though they were waiting for same sex marriage to become legalized on a federal level so they could get married officially, and they had a feeling that would happen in a few months, they lived their lives as if they were already legally married and never gave it a second thought.
            David pushed him away and took a step back. “Nope. You’ll just have to wait and see. I’m going back to the kitchen to finish getting dinner ready. That pitiful old gas range is acting up again and I don’t want it to ruin your birthday. Go into the bathroom and wash up. It should be ready in about fifteen minutes.”
            “You’re an evil person,” Marcus said, as he headed toward the master bedroom. “How could you make an aging father of four wait so long?”
            David turned toward the kitchen and said, “You’re not even forty years old yet, and you don’t look a day over thirty. So you’re not getting any sympathy from me, my dear. Now go wash up so we can have our traditional family dinner and then open presents.”
             “Are we having your famous Brussels sprouts and roast beef again?” Marcus asked.
            “Of course we are,” said David. “Only the very best for my handsome husband on his birthday.” Then David stopped and sent his husband a backward glance. Marcus stopped at that exact moment and they exchanged a smile. David marveled at the reality that Marcus really didn’t look a day over thirty years old. His body was as lean and muscular as it had always been, and his hair as dark and brown. If the children hadn’t been in the room and they’d been alone, David would have walked over to Marcus, pulled off all his clothes, and dropped to his knees. They’d been together since college and the passion seemed to grow stronger as each year passed.
            Before he turned toward the master bedroom, Marcus sent him a smile and a wink. If the children were watching them, David didn’t realize it. For that one brief moment, the only thing in the world that mattered to him was Marcus’s expression.
            Then reality set in again and David had to separate Jasmine and Kevin because they were arguing about what they wanted to watch on TV. David walked over to the sofa, took the remote from Jasmine’s hand, and switched the TV off completely. He smiled at them both and said, “It’s pointless to argue about what you’re going to watch on TV now, because we’re going to sit down to dinner in a few minutes and celebrate your dad’s birthday. Now be good and go help Eric and Brad set the table. I want to sit down the minute your dad gets out of the bathroom.”
            By the time Marcus returned from the bathroom the table was set, the kids seated, and David was ready to carve the roast beef. If David had asked Jasmine and Kevin what they’d been arguing about a few minutes earlier he doubted they would even remember. After everyone’s plate was filled, they said grace the same way they said it before every meal. It wasn’t exactly a show of religious devotion because neither David nor Marcus had ever been religious men. Their particular brand of grace before any meal in their home was more about gratitude and humility, only without the guilt that’s so often associated with organized religion. It wasn’t long and verbose. There were no big words and no showy palms lifted up toward the sky. It wasn’t even scripted and tended to vary from time to time. That night they all simply glanced down at their dinner plates while Marcus said, “Let us all be thankful for this wonderful food, this wonderful home, this wonderful life, and for each other.” And he didn’t end it with an amen.

Uncertainty – New Adult Gay Fiction

Student Who Outs Teacher Karma; Kicked Out For Being Gay; Bisexual Teen Found Dead

Student Who Outs Teacher Karma

Here’s an allegedly true story that was posted on reddit by a guy who outed his teacher in a show of revenge, and how that mean decision followed him around for years afterward.

I wanted revenge. I wanted him to feel as uncomfortable as I did. I wanted things to be awkward for him. I decided to start a rumor. It would be easy. It was his first year teaching. No one knew anything about him. Why, exactly, I chose the rumor that he was gay I’ll never know. The memories are too fuzzy. Most likely, it was because of the other way he’d “slighted me.” It wasn’t just the girls in the class that had a crush on him. I did too. That’s some heavy shit for a 13 year old guy to process. Somehow that crush I had was his fault too.

So “he’s gay” was the rumor I settled on. It took very little effort on my part. Just a few “you know what I heard…” type comments in earshot of the school’s biggest gossips. It spread like wildfire.

You can read the entire story here. 

And the saddest thing of all is that this kind of mentality is still around today. The shame that is associated with being gay is still there in many places. And that’s what needs to change. There should be no such thing as starting a gay rumor and dealing with consequences. It shouldn’t matter. No one spreads a rumor that someone is straight and suffers any consequences…at least not in this context.

Kicked Out For Being Gay

Here’s the story of a Lebanese man who was kicked out of his home because he’s gay.

 YouTuber Elias describes himself as “Just a regular degular shmegular Lebanese boy living in Australia,” and he shared his story of being kicked out of his home for being gay, complete with disturbing religious undertones.

You can watch the video here.

Once again, this is what needs to change.

Bisexual Teen Found Dead

Unfortunately, it gets sadder. Here’s one about a bisexual teen who was found dead after allegedly telling his mom he was targeted.

19-year-old Nicholas Hawkins made a frantic call to his mother and told her that acquaintance Joshua Adam Reese was trying to kill him. Three days later, Hawkins was found shot to death and Reese was arrested and being held as a person of interest in the crime.

You can check that one out here.

Next time you hear someone say there’s not much to do because we won legal gay marriage, relate a few of these stories to them.

 
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Will the Gawker Story Change the Shame? Pastor Suffers Gay Hate the Most; You Can’t Be Fired For Being Gay

Will the Gawker Story Change the Shame?

Mostly everyone has heard about a story Gawker ran about a married “straight” exec with ties to the Obama administration and the exec allegedly looking for sex from a gay pornster for hire. The pornster allegedly wanted something from the exec and it all devolves from there. Gawker has received huge backlash for publishing the piece, enough to remove the article. Of course that’s been truncated and it goes much deeper.

Gawker nevertheless reported that Geithner planned to go to Chicago to meet a gay porn star and escort, and was prepared to pay $2,500 for the encounter. David Geithner reportedly cancelled the meet-up after the escort tried to get him to use his political connections to help with a housing dispute. Previously, the anonymous escort had asked Republican Sen. Ted Cruz’s office for help with his housing dispute, the online article said.

And then there’s this:

Readers pointed out that publicizing Geithner’s possible sexual orientation did nothing for the public good: he’s not a public official or political candidate who has advocated against gay rights, for instance.

“This guy is not an antigay politician whose hypocrisy needs to be outed. Why would anyone care if he wants to hire an escort?” wrote reader Mike Johnson of Los Angeles on Gawker’s Facebook page.

I wouldn’t have published anything like this. I believe coming out is personal and private. But I can’t help thinking about the shame that’s still involved with being gay. That’s all. I’m not taking this to another level. I’m only talking about the shame right now. If this guy had allegedly tried to hire a female sex worker would all these people be up in arms on twitter about that?

It reminds me of the old Hollywood days when every single topic was safe to report on except one…don’t tell anyone that the star is gay.  Think Rock Hudson. Hell, think J. Edgar Hoover. And that’s not the way it should work anymore. I don’t mean we should start outing people. But the shame shouldn’t be there.    

You can read the rest here. 

Pastor Suffers Gay Hate the Most

A brilliant gay man literally saved a church from going under, but when they discovered he married a man he was let go. Think about that. Here’s a brave gay man who isn’t hiding anything, he isn’t hiring male whores, he isn’t worth millions of dollars, and he now can’t work at what he loves doing anymore because he’s gay. That’s the kind of guy we should all be tweeting and supporting.

Thankfully, people are speaking up for him, which I’ve noticed has been a trend lately.

When it was discovered that Hutchinson had married his male partner, church officials told him he was “unfit” to lead the congregation. He was fired the same day.

Now that same congregation — the one he built — is speaking out in Hutchinson’s defense.
“This church was dying when he came here, they weren’t far from closing the doors. It was real close. He came in, worked on it, got people to come…He brought life back into that church,” said Kevin Hershberger, a church member.

You can read this here. 

I can’t tell you much, but I can tell you this. This guy has nothing at all to be ashamed about.

You Can’t Be Fired For Being Gay

This almost sounds too good to be true. I don’t know enough about it to comment in depth because, oddly, it didn’t seem to filter into any of my news feeds today. I find that disturbing…that I read all kinds of other articles that weren’t nearly as important as this one is.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, created to enforce and implement the 1964 Civil Rights Act, ruled this week that workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation is illegal.

The ruling states that employers who discriminate against LGBT workers are violating Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employment discrimination “based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.”

It’s a new interpretation of the law with wide-reaching potential.

In the past, courts have ruled that Title VII doesn’t apply to sexual orientation because it isn’t explicitly mentioned, but the new interpretation accounts for LGBT discrimination under the umbrella of sex discrimination.

“Sexual orientation discrimination is sex discrimination because it necessarily entails treating an employee less favorably because of the employee’s sex,” the EEOC concluded.

You can read the rest here. THIS is big news. I just hope there isn’t a catch somewhere. 

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The Shame of Gay; A Nun with Holy Water; Philadelphia Equal Rights Bill

There are no links to this part of the post, about the shame of gay. And that’s because it’s a personal story I’d like to share about something I once experienced. But I’m going to fast forward to the present first.

Yesterday, a Catholic nun splashed holy water in my face. Tony and I are dealing with a close family member who is very ill right now and we’ve been driving two hours away to their home at least once a week for the past month. We’re helping with long term insurance to make sure they are getting assisted living with a private insurance policy they’ve had for the past fifteen years. We’re dealing with doctors, private nurses, and all the therapists that go along with in-home care. We’re not strangers to this, and we don’t mind doing these things for family at all. The only really awkward part is that the person we’re helping is very Catholic. And yesterday a nun in full habit came to visit as we were leaving and she splashed holy water on both of us. It came without warning; I’m not exaggerating. We were on our way out the door and she flung a small bottle of holy water at both of us and it hit me right in the face.Tony and I exchanged a quick glance, and we smiled. But I had to wonder if there was a hidden meaning to this. Would she have flung holy water in such a ridiculous way at my straight brother and his divorced wife? And then I wondered why I would even wonder about this in the first place.

And that has to do with shame. About nineteen years ago, Tony and I met two gay men who were older than us and they had already been together for forty years. One was a high end antiques dealer in NY, the other was an architect who’d studied with Frank Lloyd Wright and also wrote fiction part time. We became best friends with them for the next eight years, until they both passed on within a year of each other. During that friendship, not one day passed when I didn’t at least speak to them on the phone.

In all that time I never realized the generational differences between us. When we were with them, they always seemed so open and honest about being gay and being a gay couple. But in hindsight I now realize that’s because we always got together with them in places that were either completely gay venues, or highly gay friendly. And we all live in New Hope, which is a gay venue in itself. In other words, we never went to Outback Steakhouse with them, not once. We never went to the mall with them in New Jersey. At the time, I never gave it a second thought.

After they both passed, I had the opportunity to read a memoir that had been written and published by the architect. I’d always known he had published books out, but he never spoke of them and I never paid much attention to that part of his life. He’d stopped writing altogether at one point, and in the eight years I knew him I only heard him mention once he’d been a published author. So I came across his book one day on Amazon after his death, and I ordered it. This happened about five years after he’d passed away. I thought I would get this great memoir with wonderful insights about what gay life was like back in the middle of the last century, from a good friends I’d once known, and instead I found something I hadn’t expected.

Now I knew these people well. I know they were together for forty years and I know they’d lived their entire lives as gay men. And yet in the memoir I read, which even mentioned him by name, I found this altered version of the life he’d led that mentioned nothing at all about him being gay or about his lifelong gay partner. In fact, I read the same stories in this book I’d heard him tell at dinner parties in person, only in the book he changed the pronouns and made all the gay men women. In other words, he made himself straight in his own memoir and hid the most fundamental part of his entire life.

My initial reaction was shock. My final reaction was sadness. I know why he did what he did in that memoir, and I know that men of his generation didn’t have any other choices if they wanted to publish anything in the mainstream. And gay fiction…or gay books of any kind…were not highly sought after by publishers or literary agents…unless there was a freak show angle. There’s still a disconnect in publishing with gay books, but I don’t want to get off track. My point in this post is that the reason gay men of my friend’s generation had to fake memoirs like that was because of shame. You can take it and twist it around any way you like. You can say he did this to protect people. Or he did this to protect himself. But when it all comes down to one single factor it’s always the shame.

Gay men of my generation don’t know this brand of shame as well as my old friend knew it. But we still deal with it on a daily basis ourselves, and it’s always a struggle. I think gay men who are younger than Tony and I still deal with it, too. At least that’s what I see when I read letters from gay men in their twenties who have read my books. And I think that’s why I felt the way I did when that rude nun splashed holy water in my face. She probably meant nothing by it, but I still couldn’t help wondering if she was trying to save the gay guys with her little plastic bottle of holy water.

Philadelphia Equal Rights Bill

Mayor Nutter of Philadelphia signed a bill yesterday that is going to provide equal rights for LGBT people.

“My goal is for Philadelphia to be one of, if not the most, LGBT-friendly cities in the world and a leader on equality issues,” said Nutter, adding that the signing struck a personal note because his friend, the late City Councilman John Anderson, was a gay man and a mentor who inspired him 30 years ago to pursue a life of public service.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Philly-mayor-signs-broad-LGBT-rights-legislation-4502562.php#ixzz2StwfxZuw

Although Tony and I live in the northern end of the Philadelphia area, and we spend a good deal of time in Center City Philadelphia, we are not allowed to vote in the city and we don’t get the benefits of a bill like this. If I did live in Philly, I would have voted for Mayor Nutter both times because this is the kind of Mayor he’s been since he was elected. It’s also one of the reasons why when Tony and I discuss our future, and getting older, living in Philadelphia is in our top ten list of places.

I also think leaders like Mayor Nutter, and many others in the US, are making a point of doing things like this right now as we await a decision from the supreme court on gay marriage this June.