Friday, July 18, 2014

FREE GAY Excerpt; Courage: Michael Sam; RIP Elaine Stritch; Gay Pride Commentary; "Supernatural" Queer Baiting

Courage: Michael Sam

Michael Sam received the Arthur Ashe award recently, and when he made his speech emotions grew so intense people actually cried. I think his comments reflect more than just one emotion, and I also think so many can identify with his struggles in life. The magnitude of it all hits hard at times.

 “To anyone out there, especially young people feeling like they don’t fit in, or that they'd never be accepted, remember this: Great things can happen when you have the courage to be yourself,” Sam said Wednesday night.

You can read the rest here.

I still find it almost overwhelming to think that so much has changed so fast. And yet at the same time it's taken years of hard work to reach a point where men like openly gay Michael Sam can stand up and make a speech like this.

I hope no one ever takes this for granted.

RIP Elaine Stritch

Admittedly, I know very little about Elaine Stritch. But I do know she's a huge icon within the LGBTI community and many are now mourning her passing. I did once watch a documentary about her, and her personal struggles in life, and I did gain a new respect for all she went through in one lifetime. I find it ironic she dated Rock Hudson.

Stritch had many LGBT admirers and always returned the love, and she had gay connections too numerous to list — to name just a few, she’s one of the greatest interpreters of the work of Noël Coward, who built the musical Sail Away around her character, and Stephen Sondheim, who gave her the song that became her signature, "The Ladies Who Lunch," in Company. In addition to her stage work, she had a significant TV and movie career. On TV, she famously played Alec Baldwin's domineering mother in 30 Rock, and her films included A Farewell to Arms, starring Rock Hudson, whom she even dated.

You can rad more here.

Gay Pride Commentary

Here's a commentary that seems to be focused on where the "gay" in "gay pride" went. I hadn't even noticed this has been happening. On a subconscious level I don't even say gay pride anymore. I just say pride and don't even realize I'm doing it.

Notice what word is absent in all of them. We have said goodbye to "gay."

LGBT people decided that they "wanted to show American they were 'regular' people," to echo a story in the The New York Times —"the kind that live next door."

It's a very interesting commentary, and also very long. However, I think it represents many sentiments that echo the thoughts and worries a lot of gay men have right now. Just today alone a young writer from a Philadelphia publication posted something on social media about how he's tired of people saying we don't need to use the word "gay" anymore when talking about an entertainer or public figure. And I tend to agree with him on that. By not using the word "gay" we're still promoting the shame we've all been working so hard to get rid of. And there's no shame at all in being gay. None.

The difference is subtle but far from trivial. Calling a neighborhood "diverse," saying that we're "the neighbors next door," and uttering the phrase "Pride Parade" — all of these are rhetorical moves that detach the neighborhood, neighbor, and parade from any particular community. We are no longer primed to think about sexual orientation at all.

I think this way of thinking and speaking is dangerous.

I actually agree with most of this article. And while I don't take offense when I hear people say they can't wait until we're living in a society where no one needs a label anymore, I also know those people don't fully understand because they've never experienced that brand of discrimination. It sound's good on the surface, but underneath it's just another way to promote shame. I cringe a little inside because that's not only taking away a good part of my own identity as a gay men it's also suggesting there is something wrong with being called gay.

You can read it in full here.

"Supernatural" Queer Baiting

I've been seeing a lot of this lately...or at least what seems to be queer baiting. First, queer baiting is when the media (in this case a TV show) suggests there's going to be a gay relationship at one point and never actually shows a gay relationship. They do this, supposedly, to attract gay viewers. I've seen it so far on True Blood and Big Brother 16. And now they're saying the TV show "Supernatural" is doing it, too.

Here's one tweet from a fan:

how do you feel about the fact that your show is the first result on google when you google queerbaiting?

I checked that, too. On my computer it came up as the second result, right beneath the urban dictionary definition I linked to above.

I don't watch the show so I can't comment. But I have seen this before and I will say that it backfires eventually.  There's more here. James Franco does a lot of queer baiting. I used to like him. Not so much anymore.

FREE GAY Excerpt:

No, this is not queer baiting when I use this as the title of a blog post. I'm writing gay fiction and I'm delivering it. I'm not just fucking around and pretending I'm producing gay material to get attention.

This is an excerpt, in raw unedited form, from my newest book, Small Town Romance Writer. Please keep in mind the novel is 113,000 words long and it covers a twenty year span so some technical things had to be written as they were in the 1990's. You really did need to key in a pass code to retrieve voice mail from a cell phone back then.

Travis planned to move into Scottie’s apartment in Providence that January until they made the big move to Iowa that coming summer. Scottie’s landlord agreed to allow Travis to move in, even though he hated renting to more than two people at a time. But when the old guy saw how much they loved each other he said it reminded him of when he’d met his husband many years earlier and he agreed to make an exception. But more than that, he refused to take more money each month and he offered the use of a small office in the garage so Travis would have a place to work. Mike didn’t mind Travis moving in for six months. He thought it would be cool to have Travis around for a while. He claimed no one he’d ever met sucked dick better. Mike was a sweet guy and Travis took it as a compliment. He had a feeling Mike’s IQ was in the double digits.

            Because Travis had been living in Scottie’s apartment on weekends for so long, the move wasn’t much of a shock to him. He only brought his clothes and the things he needed for work. The only real shock Travis experienced when he first moved into Scottie’s apartment happened on a Wednesday night. He would never forget it as long as he lived. He was sitting between Mike and Scottie on the sofa watching a late night talk show on TV. Mike had returned an hour earlier from a basketball game and he’d been horny, so Travis blew Mike and Scottie in the living room during the eleven o’clock news and they all sat back to relax for a while before they went to bed.

            By that time, they’d removed the nightstand that separated the twin beds and they’d pushed the twin beds together to create one huge bed they all shared. Travis often went to sleep with Mike on top of him, but he always woke up in Scottie’s arms. It was the oddest thing. It was as if they were magnetically connected and didn’t even know it. At some point in the middle of the night when they were all sleeping Mike would turn over on his side to sleep alone, and Travis and Scottie would wind up in each other’s arms.

            That night on the sofa Travis was naked and he was leaning back against Scottie’s chest and Scottie had his arms around him. Mike was still wearing his basketball shirt and shoes, but he’d thrown his basketball shorts on the coffee table and his jock strap was hanging on the left side of the TV. When a TV commercial came on Travis started to daydream about leaving the small apartment in Providence and moving to Iowa again. Even though he didn’t have an emotional investment in Mike, he would miss him and he would miss the time they spent in that small apartment all the same. It always smelled like a combination of men and sex. But while Travis was staring at Mike’s jock strap on the corner of the TV, and Scottie was rubbing Travis’s chest muscles, the commercial ended, the talk show resumed, and the host of the show said, “Please welcome up and coming gay romance author, Ethan Holmes.”

            Travis sat up and hunted for the remote control beneath Mike’s basketballs shorts on the coffee table.

            “What’s wrong?” Scottie asked. He spread his legs and adjusted his balls. He was naked from the waist down, too. He’d been dozing off and he’d missed the introduction.

            “I think that’s Ethan,” Travis said. “On TV.” He’d been speaking regularly to Ethan and Lance on the phone, but he’d been putting off a visit and he hadn’t been concentrating on them as much because of Scottie. And he knew Ethan was on some kind of a book promotion tour. Ethan couldn’t wait to boast about the way everyone was treating him.

            Then Ethan walked onto the stage, hugged the talk show host, and sat down in a chair opposite the desk and smiled at the audience. They applauded for him as if he’d won the Nobel Peace Prize and they didn’t even know who he was, which Travis found mildly amusing.  

            “Did he tell you he was going to be on TV?” Scottie asked. “That’s odd.”

            “No,” Travis said, and then he remembered he hadn’t checked his voice mail in a few days. Scottie had talked him into getting a cell phone after he’d rented out his apartment and turned off his land line in Provincetown and Travis was just getting used to the cell phone. He hated the fact that you had to remember so many numbers in order to listen to messages, and he missed his old answering machine where all he’d had to do was push a button to get his messages. All these technical things that were supposed to make his life easier kept making it more complicated.

            While they watched the interview and listened to Ethan talk about his new gay romance with that hideous book title the publisher wanted to use, Travis went to get his phone and he called Ethan out in Los Angeles. He knew the talk show had been taped earlier that evening and he figured Ethan would be home waiting to see it on TV when it aired on the west coast.

            When Ethan picked up, he said, “Where the hell have you been? Why didn’t you return any of my messages? You’re really starting to piss me off.”

            “I keep forgetting the number to dial to get my messages,” Travis said. “I’m watching you on TV right now. Why didn’t you tell me you were going to be on TV? You could have e-mailed me, or you could have called Scottie.”

            “I left you ten messages about it, and I wanted to talk to you, not Scottie,” Ethan said. “And since when did you start checking e-mails?”
            “I check my e-mails daily,” Travis said. “It’s the first thing I do before I start working every morning.”

            “Oh, that’s rich,” Ethan said. “Weren’t you the one who swore you’d never have e-mail and that you’d always work on that rusty old typewriter?”

            Travis sent Scottie a smiled on the sofa. “Things change. I’m in love.”

            “How do I look on TV?” Ethan said. “I’ve never been so fucking nervous in my life. I’ll bet I sound awful.”

            From what Travis could see, Ethan was charming the host and the live audience. Everything that came out of his mouth incited a reaction that seemed positive with the audience. And in his black suit and white shirt, he’d never looked better. “You’re wonderful,” Travis said. “They love you. But how the hell did you get on TV?” The last author Travis had seen on TV was Jackie Collins. Most writers don’t get TV gigs, especially those who wrote gay fiction of any kind. He remembered reading that Truman Capote used to be on a lot of talk shows, but that was mostly because he was so flamboyant and out of this realm.

            “Lance knows somebody who pulled a few strings,” Ethan said. “A scheduled guest cancelled at the last minute and they called me. I only had a few hours to prepare. I was lucky Jacques on Rodeo Drive could fit me in between his regular customers. I told him I would literally die if he refused to take me. Could you even imagine going on TV without having a professional stylist?”

            Travis rolled his eyes. “God forbid.”

            Ethan ignored his sarcasm. “How is the audience reacting to what I’m saying about the book?”
            “I’m not sure,” Travis said. “They just cut to another commercial. But everyone was applauding. They sounded happy.” His mixed emotions came rushing back, and he felt a pinch of jealousy once again. He knew when an author got an opportunity like this books would start selling fast, especially a trashy gay romance with thinly veiled Hollywood actors as characters in a western. In the same respect, he was thrilled for Ethan and he did wish him well.

            “I have to go,” Ethan said. “That’s it. I only had that one small segment on the show. We’re having a few people over to watch the show when it airs out here in a few hours. I’ll call you later tonight when it’s over.”

            Though Travis knew it would be the middle of the night in Providence by the time he called, he nodded and said, “I’ll take my phone to bed with me.”

            When he closed the phone and set it on the small dinette table, he returned to the living room and found Scottie and Mike with their legs open, stroking their erections. He shook his head and climbed over the coffee table. Travis sat on Mike’s lap first and said, “I’m starting to feel like a plastic blow-up doll, like I’m only good for one thing around here.”

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