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.