In honor of Pride 2019, I'm posting one more excerpt from my newest release, A STARR IS BORN. Of course I'll continue to post free excerpts all year long, but not as often as I have been during Pride Month.
Here's a link to Amazon, and here's the excerpt, below.
14 Celebrities Who've Come Out So Far In 2019
I never take these things for granted. There are still millions of LGBT people who have not come out yet, for their own valid reasons, and I think it's wonderful each time someone does come out. Coming out for anyone is a personal, individual decision that can never be taken lightly.
And it's not always as simple as people think it is.
As society accepts the evolving definitions of sexuality and gender, the process of coming out has become more complex. Stars like Sam Smith and Jonathan Van Ness – celebs we already knew as gay – are now publicly celebrating their nonbinary gender identifies.
Here's a link to more, with a list of 14 celebrities along with photos.
For the next week and a half, they rehearsed The Last Man every afternoon until Morton couldn’t get it out of his head. They had to take a break on the weekend because Morton explained to Harrison that he had previous commitments that had been booked months earlier at LGBTQ venues in New York. On Friday night he was booked as part of a drag revue in Brooklyn, in a club he’d played many times before. On Saturday he was booked at one of the biggest LGBTQ bars in Manhattan to perform with some of the biggest names on the drag circuit. And on Sunday he had to go to a club in Philadelphia to perform with a few old friends of his dads. It was an afternoon benefit and he didn’t get paid at all to perform in the Philadelphia club, but he did that charity show every year as a favor to his dads’ old friends. Plus, he had that ‘never say no’ rule, and he would perform anywhere anyone asked him to perform.
When Harrison heard his schedule, he smiled and said, “Well that’s perfect.”
Morton tilted his head sideways. “Why is that perfect? It’s what I normally do. I’ve done these performances thousands of times.”
“It’s perfect because you’ll be in Philadelphia on Sunday,” Harrison said. “I have a concert in Philadelphia that’s going to be huge. It’s been sold out for months. You can join me there after your benefit. I’ll send a car for you and you can meet me backstage.”
“I don’t know,” Morton said. “That’s an awful lot of running around for me. And by the time my benefit is over, your concert will just be beginning. I won’t have time to change.”
“So come in your usual costume,” Harrison said. “Come in a dress.”
“Are you sure it’s not an imposition?” Morton asked. He still wanted to play it safely with Harrison. As much as he cared for him, he noticed that everything Harrison did was so spur of the moment and confusing. He acted on impulse and Morton was used to planning well in advance.
“If it was an imposition I wouldn’t have asked you in the first place,” Harrison said. “Besides, I want to see you. I won’t see you on Friday or Saturday. At least I’ll see you on Sunday.” Then he put his arm around him and kissed him on the mouth, and Morton couldn’t resist him.
On Sunday afternoon Morton took the train to Philadelphia and got ready for his performance in the dressing room in the back of a small Center City Philadelphia gay bar that had been in business since the 1970s. He wore his usual black knit mini-dress and black stilettos, but without the long blond wig. He wanted to travel lightly so that everything he needed would fit into the satchel he carried around everywhere. The only make-up he wore was red lip-gloss, a little bronzer, some eyeliner and false eyelashes. He’d been working harder on his look so that he’d appear more gender neutral on stage. Even though he knew a lot of the other drag performers were whispering behind his back, he seemed to resonate with audiences much better when he wasn’t trying too hard to impersonate a woman. It all seemed to work better for him when he just went out on stage to sing as a man who was more interested in gender bending in a sexy, provocative way.
While he was waiting to go on stage to perform at the benefit, Harrison texted him and said there would be a car outside waiting for him the moment he finished. He replied with a simple “K” and prepared for his entrance. There was a huge crowd in the bar that afternoon and he wanted to be good. The moment they introduced him, he took a deep breath, lifted his head high, and walked onto the stage with a huge smile. While they applauded, he started singing one of the old songs he used to perform with his dads. And by the time he finished his act, they were waving their arms and shouting for him to do just one more. It was a good audience that afternoon, and he didn’t want to let them down. So he did one more number, and then he ran backstage, shoved his things into his satchel, and ran out to the street to find the car Harrison had sent for him.
It took about 20 minutes for the car to reach the concert hall where Harrison was performing that evening. The driver dropped him off in the back at the stage door and he found Sam waiting for him there. As he climbed out of the car, Sam waved him inside and said, “C’mon. We’re ready to begin. He won’t go on stage until he knows you’re here.”
“I’m rushing as fast as I can,” Morton said. “It’s not easy to run in stilettos.” His regular clothes were in his satchel and he planned to change inside as soon as he could. “Why on Earth won’t he go on without me? That doesn’t make sense.”
Sam took him by the arm and guided him into the building. “Nothing Harrison does ever makes sense. You’d better get used to it.”
As they ran through the back part of the concert hall, he kept telling Sam to slow down, but Sam kept saying they didn’t have time to slow down. When they finally reached the backstage area he heard the band playing and he could smell marijuana coming from the audience. At the exact moment he lifted his head and looked forward, he saw Harrison standing in the wings with his arms spread out and a huge smile on his face.
“You’re here,” Harrison said.
“Of course I’m here. I said I’d be here.” He had a feeling Harrison had been snorting coke again. He seemed extra-animated and far too happy, as if nothing could have ruined his day. Morton had seen that look before. His dad, Albert, who had the drinking problem did coke sometimes before a show. Albert used to smile and say, “It’s just a little pick-me-up medicine.”
Harrison grabbed him and kissed him on the mouth. “I knew you wouldn’t let me down.” He hugged him and patted him on the butt. “You look great. No one else on Earth could pull that off except you.”
“Well thanks for your approval,” Morton said. “Now get your ass out there and sing. Those people are stomping on the floor now. They paid good money to hear you.” The only thing Morton cared about was the show. It wasn’t even his show, and yet that was his only focus at that moment. He truly believed those people deserved to get what they came there for, and he didn’t want Harrison to screw it up for them.
“Here I go,” Harrison said.
As he watched Harrison run onto the stage, he took a quick breath and hoped it would be a good show without Harrison pulling any of his ridiculous pranks again. The audience was cheering and shouting his name, and instead of being elated Harrison looked as if he wanted to get even with them. He seemed to have a self-destructive tendency that didn’t make sense to anyone who knew him well, especially Morton. He’d just finished a small time drag show, in a small gay club most people would never know about, and he didn’t even get paid for it. Morton had shown more respect for his audience than Harrison seemed to have for all those thousands of people screaming his name.
Sam and Morton exchanged a quick glance, and then Harrison picked up his microphone and started singing his signature song. This was the song that had made him a superstar, and the song that he’d made popular in households all over the world. It was the kind of rock music that was as classic as it was pop, with strong lyrics and a melody that was hard to forget.
A few seconds into the song, however, Harrison stopped singing and said, “This is bullshit. I’m sick of this goddamn song. I’m sure you’re sick of it, too. I’ve got something really special for you guys tonight. You’re going to love this. You’re going to meet Morton Starr, the man I love.” Then he put the microphone down and started walking backstage.
The audience started to roar.
Morton looked at Sam. “What the hell is he doing now?”
Sam shrugged. “I have no idea.”
Harrison went into the wings where Morton was standing and said, “C’mon, you’re going out there with me. We’re singing The Last man.”
Morton took a step back. “The hell I am.” He looked at Sam. “Do something.”
Sam shrugged again, as if he’d already given up on Harrison and he expected to see him fall on his face.
“C’mon,” Harrison said. He had his arm and he wouldn’t release it.
“I need rehearsal,” Morton said. “I’m not going out there to perform without rehearsal.”
“We rehearsed this song all week,” Harrison said.
“I want it to be perfect,” Morton said. “I need to check the lights. I need to know my mark. I can’t just go out there come hither as if this is a high school production. Now let go of my arm and get your ass back out there and sing for those people.”
Harrison grabbed his arm tighter and gave him one good yank. He practically dragged him to the middle of the stage, and the crowd roared even louder.
Morton’s heart started to race and he felt cold and clammy all over. His palms were sweating and he wanted to run back into the wings, down the hall, and all the way back to New York.
But he didn’t move. He stood there while the people screamed and Harrison picked up the microphone again. “Ladies and gentleman,” Harrison said. He gestured to Morton the same dramatic way a ringmaster would gesture to a circus act. “This is the love of my life, Mr. Morton Starr. He’s a wonderful, talented performer and he’d going to sing with me tonight. It’s a very special song, and you’re gonna love it. Now shut the fuck up and listen.”
The audience started to boo and hiss, and Morton grabbed Harrison’s black T-shirt and said, “They don’t want to hear me. They want you. Let me go backstage.”
“Fuck them,” Harrison said. He turned to the audience and said, “Fuck you, assholes.”
Morton felt a little nauseous. “Oh, dear God. We’re all screwed this time.”
It was too late to do anything by then. The band started to play the intro to The Last Man, and Harrison put his arm around Morton and kissed him on the mouth in front of all those people. Morton had no choice but to play along with him. If for no other reason than to save Harrison’s ass from total embarrassment, he had to focus on the rehearsals he’d done that week with Harrison. He did know the song, and he wasn’t a total amateur. He knew he had to sing, and he had to be good. His own willingness to go along with this was the only thing that mattered.
The music grew louder and Harrison kissed him on the mouth again. It was the first time Morton had ever been kissed in public in front of that many people. Even though gay men were getting so much support from the mainstream now, any sings of affection tended to be treated with caution. Most gay men didn’t kiss in public, didn’t hold hands in public, and rarely ever showed any signs of sexuality. So Morton wasn’t sure how this would all go over with people, and it’s not as if he had any choices about it either.
Then something interesting happened. Harrison handed the microphone to Morton and he started singing. At first, his voice was a little shaky, but after the first few notes the audience grew quieter and his heart stopped racing. He felt a sense of calm overtake his entire body, and the music flowed so naturally it was as if they were back in Harrison’s safe studio and they were the only two people on the planet. By the time he reached the end of the first verse, the only sound in that concert hall was his voice.
The Last Man was one of those rock songs that start out slowly and build to a grand, high energy finale. Even though it was a duet intended to be sung by two men in love, it was written to be one-sided on purpose and Morton sang the majority of the song. He took the lead and Harrison followed, almost as if he was a backup singer. They gazed at each other and it felt as though Morton could feel his soul penetrate Harrison’s. He’d never experienced energy like this before, and it gave him more confidence than he knew he had.
The music flowed through them, in between them, and all around them. By the time they reached the finale they were both so into the song it was as if they’d been performing together their entire lives. When they reached the ending, Morton didn’t expect Harrison to grab him by the waist, pull him up against his body, and throw his arms around him in front of thousands of people. There wasn’t much he could do. The audience was cheering and applauding so loudly he rested his palms on Harrison’s shoulders and submitted to his kiss completely.
Although Morton had become engrossed in the song and their performance, he was also thrilled to know that it was over and he could go backstage with Sam and watch the rest of Harrison’s show from a distance. He backed away from Harrison and turned to the audience and gave them a slight bow of thanks. As he did this, Harrison picked up the microphone again and said, “Thank you, thank you all very much. Now please quiet down so Morton can do one more songs for you, alone.”
Then he handed the microphone to Morton and said, “Knock’em dead, cutie.”
He disappeared backstage and left Morton there all alone with a microphone in his hand. The audience was still cheering, and he knew he had to do something, so he turned to the band and asked them to play a classic older song that had been done millions of times before. He knew it was in the public domain and he wouldn’t be infringing on anyone’s copyrights. He’d sung this song many times, and he’d learned it from his dads. It was one of those songs that never really go out of style, and it’s all about the way it’s done.
When he was finished, the audience started howling again, and he glanced to his right to see if Harrison was coming back. Harrison was standing next to Sam applauding with everyone else, and this time Sam was smiling even more than Harrison. He gestured to them both, and Harrison ran back out on stage to join him.
He handed the microphone to Harrison and said, “Take over now. I’m serious.”
Harrison kissed him again and said, “You’re the best.” He turned to the audience and
said, “Isn’t he the best?”
They were still applauding, for Morton and for Harrison. Though Morton wasn’t sure about whether they were applauding the performance or the kissing, he couldn’t deny it made him feel wonderful.
“You’re gonna break the Internet with this one,” Harrison said.
“What do you mean?”
“The whole duet we did is on video and Sam just uploaded it online where millions of people are going to view it,” Harrison said. “I heard we’re already trending on a few social media sites. They love you. They love us.”
The only thing Morton wanted to do now was go backstage and recuperate. He’d worked all afternoon performing, and that last performance in the concert hall had left him drained of all energy. He didn’t even know what any of this meant, and he wasn’t going to stand there and question Harrison about it. As it was, he’d already taken up too much time from the concert and those people had come there to see Harrison perform.
So he took a quick bow and thanked them again, and then he turned and headed backstage to where Sam was standing.
Sam was staring at his phone. He looked up and said, “They love it.”
“Everyone,” Sam said. “The duet is going viral and the entire world is now talking about Harrison Parker and his hot boyfriend singing a gay love song together. They love it. I haven’t seen one nasty comment yet.”
Morton looked at him and said, “So you were wrong about the song. People do like it.”
Sam smiled. “It’s been known to happen on occasion.”
After that, Morton waited with Sam until the concert was over, and Harrison joined them backstage. Harrison was so excited he picked Morton up and swung him around in a circle. Sam told them security said it was mobbed outside with reporters and photographers and Harrison took Morton’s hand. When they reached the exit, Harrison put his arm about Morton and pulled him through a large crowd of fans and screaming reporters. They were screaming for Harrison and for Morton as well. They wanted to know who Morton was, and what his relationship to Harrison was. There were photographers snapping photos, and some reporters were shouting questions. Morton and Harrison just kept moving forward toward the black SUV at the curb without looking sideways. Harrison couldn’t stop smiling, but Morton had a strange feeling that he’d crossed a line that night, and nothing would ever be the same again.