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.