Wednesday, June 30, 2021

The Publishing Industry Remains Stuck In the Past, Discrimination Exists For LGBTQ Indigenous People In Mexico, Ryan Field Books

The Publishing Industry Remains Stuck In the Past

I haven't posted anything about publishing in a while, but I thought this was a good time to mention a few things I've observed. For one thing, I wrote a memoir recently and I decided to shop it around to agents. I did this because publishing nonfiction and fiction are two different things. I know nothing about publishing nonfiction and I would feel more secure having an agent who has my back. It was a dismal experience at best. These literary agents are still hocking the same old crap. You'd think it was 1999. 

The problem is that nothing at all has changed in publishing since I was querying agents almost 20 years ago. It's still the same old hopeless query process that never worked, we are still dealing with gatekeepers who consider themselves the most elite people on the planet, and there's so much straight white privilege that they can't even see it themselves. They're also still practicing cultural appropriation and they think they're getting away with it. But most of all, these gatekeepers are not going to let go of the control easily. 

With that said, here's a good piece about publishing being as white now as it was four years ago. You could apply this to anything gay as well. Call Me By Your Name was written by a straight author, just like Brokeback Mountain. The most interesting thing is they claim to be so liberal in publishing and yet they don't think they're doing anything wrong. And it's not just agents. It's big publishers, too. 

As the controversial novel American Dirt raises questions about representation for US publishing, a survey has found that – despite efforts to diversify – the industry “is just as white today as it was four years ago”.

Here's more. Did you know there are still agents who will NOT take e-mail queries? How backward is that? I picture someone sitting at a table reading a print newspaper. They actually want us to use paper. It's like while the world has been changing for the past 20 years they've been sleeping. I can't even tell you the last time I went to the post office for anything. 

If you think I'm joking about that, here's proof. This is a link to Spectrum Literary Agency, where they refuse to allow authors to query through e-mail. You can't make this up. 

Spectrum will not accept/respond to queries that arrive by fax, e-mail, or telephone.  

Seriously? Is this 1988? Here's the link. 


Discrimination Exists For LGBTQ Indigenous People In Mexico

Here's another one of those LGBTQ topics that doesn't receive as much attention as it should. Indigenous people in Mexico are dealing with all kinds of horrors. This is serious. 

In 2020, at least 79 LGBTQ people were killed in Mexico, about 6.5 per month, according to Letra S, Sida, Cultura y Vida Cotidiana, a civil organization dedicated to the defense of LGBTQ people that has been registering cases since 1998.

You can check it out, here. It's a good piece about the multiple layers of discrimination people are experiencing. It gives a good example of what other LGBTQ people are still experiencing in this world. 








The Straight Pride Parade
The Straight Pride Parade


 Don't Be Afraid of Virginia's Woolf

Image


Once Upon a Castle by Ryan Field

A Different Kind of Southern Love Story




What readers are saying about "Uncertainty"

Amazon

"A wonderful story that I loved. The characters were well developed, and strong. Gus: A sweet young man. Doing something for all the wrong reasons. Craig: his boyfriend, he'll go along with anything Gus say. Henry: Gus father a no nonsense man, who's husband died last year. I enjoyed this story."

Uncertainty by [Field, Ryan]

What readers said about "Altered Parts"
"Best Gay Novel In Years. This story will stay with you and you will feel you know every character and the beauty of their home in the mountains of North Carolina."
In paperback or e-book. #gayromance #Wednesday

Altered Parts


Altered Parts by [Field, Ryan]



 


Tuesday, June 29, 2021

The NFL's New Video "Football Is Gay" In Support of Carl Nassib, He Had to De-Gay His Voice For Work, Ryan Field Books

The NFL's New Video "Football Is Gay" In Support of Carl Nassib

We're finally hearing from the NFL with regard to Carl Nassib's recent coming-out announcement, and it's a good, positive message. 

According to a report in OutSports, the video — entitled Football Is for Everyone — is meant not just to support Carl Nassib, the first active NFL player to come out as gay, but also let other players, as well as LGBTQ+ fans, know they’re just as important and welcome.

Here's the rest. I think they mean "titled." But even that's debatable nowadays. The message here is that the NFL is supporting out gay people. I'm glad they mentioned other possible gay players. 


He Had to De-Gay His Voice For Work

This is something I think all gay men are forced to do at one point or another in their lives. And it happens in various ways. I know a lot of gay men de-gay their voices to fit into the mainstream straight world of privilege, and I even know some who de-gay their homes for when straight family members come to visit. That means they hide anything that might be associated with gay culture in their homes. 

This guy did it with his voice to land a job. This was the advice he received from a straight woman when he was having trouble getting job as an attorney in the 1990s. 

“I think it’s your voice,” she said. She set me up with a voice coach who told me that no one would ever take me seriously as an attorney, because I sounded like a 10-year-old girl from Mississippi. Also, I should keep my hands in my lap, as I was too expressive with my hand gestures. In other words, “Don’t be so gay.

Here's more. And it worked. He landed a great job in Washington, DC. Unfortunately, it's still happening today. We don't get the same opportunities that straight people get. They might not call us names anymore, they might even bake us a wedding cake without any issues, but we do not get the same benefits straights get. Just try shopping a gay book to a mainstream literary agent and see how far you get. We are still fighting for every opportunity.








The Straight Pride Parade
The Straight Pride Parade


 Don't Be Afraid of Virginia's Woolf

Image


Once Upon a Castle by Ryan Field

A Different Kind of Southern Love Story




What readers are saying about "Uncertainty"

Amazon

"A wonderful story that I loved. The characters were well developed, and strong. Gus: A sweet young man. Doing something for all the wrong reasons. Craig: his boyfriend, he'll go along with anything Gus say. Henry: Gus father a no nonsense man, who's husband died last year. I enjoyed this story."

Uncertainty by [Field, Ryan]

What readers said about "Altered Parts"
"Best Gay Novel In Years. This story will stay with you and you will feel you know every character and the beauty of their home in the mountains of North Carolina."
In paperback or e-book. #gayromance #Wednesday

Altered Parts


Altered Parts by [Field, Ryan]

Monday, June 28, 2021

Why Openly Gay Is An Offensive Term, A Gay Cop Pens His Opinion About Being Left Out of New York Pride Events, Ryan Field Books

 Why Openly Gay Is An Offensive Term

I'm always curious about the way language and communication are constantly evolving, and it looks as if this time it's the term "openly gay" that's about to change. It's a commentary by Rickie Jackson suggesting that the term, "openly gay," is as toxic as so many others we've had to deal with. Keep an open mind with this one. At one time, they went ballistic when we took the word "gay." But it evolved. 

“Openly” applauds audaciousness, signaling that an out LGBTQ+ person is not the norm and this particular LGBTQ+ person isn’t as shameful as warranted. The term is for straight people, not for us. It is their marker, not ours. 

Here's the link. Jackson prefers the word "out" instead of "openly gay." And I can't say I disagree with him. I use the term, but there's always been something about "openly gay" that's bothered me. 


A Gay Cop Pens His Opinion About Being Left Out of New York Pride Events

Here's a piece that was written by an out gay police officer,  Ravi Satkalmi, member of the Gay Officers Action League. For those who don't know, the loudest members of the LGBTQ community in New York City (and other cities) decided to ban the police for the next 5 years from all Pride events. It's interesting to me because when I was a gay kid who was terrified to be a gay kid and I heard about police officers coming out of the closet as gay, I felt so much better. I knew I wasn't alone. 

For the NYPD, that story begins with Sgt. Charles Henry Cochrane Jr., who in 1981 became the first active out gay officer in the then-136-year history of the department.

Here's more. They get into the history of gay cops coming out.








The Straight Pride Parade
The Straight Pride Parade


 Don't Be Afraid of Virginia's Woolf

Image


Once Upon a Castle by Ryan Field

A Different Kind of Southern Love Story




What readers are saying about "Uncertainty"

Amazon

"A wonderful story that I loved. The characters were well developed, and strong. Gus: A sweet young man. Doing something for all the wrong reasons. Craig: his boyfriend, he'll go along with anything Gus say. Henry: Gus father a no nonsense man, who's husband died last year. I enjoyed this story."

Uncertainty by [Field, Ryan]

What readers said about "Altered Parts"
"Best Gay Novel In Years. This story will stay with you and you will feel you know every character and the beauty of their home in the mountains of North Carolina."
In paperback or e-book. #gayromance #Wednesday

Altered Parts


Altered Parts by [Field, Ryan]

Sunday, June 27, 2021

The Weak Response From the NFL When Carl Nassib Came Out As Gay Is A Lot Like Michael Sam, Ryan Field Books

The Weak Response From the NFL When Carl Nassib Came Out As Gay Is A Lot Like Michael Sam

I remember posting a good deal about Michael Sam when he first came out as an openly gay football player. The response from mainstream straights...all of them...was not that overwhelming. They either went blank or said something stupid. One reporter even wondered how he would use the locker rooms. It was a straight woman reporter. In all her straight white privilege that's all she seemed concerned about. And we all know what happened to Michael Sam. 

I’m sorry, but do we not remember what happened to Michael Sam, the star college defender who never ended up playing a down in the NFL after coming out as gay in 2014? Does Whitlock forget how much Sam was mocked and ridiculed after kissing his boyfriend on national television? That prominent NFL figures, such as Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy, said they wouldn’t have drafted him because of the distraction his gayness would cause?

Here's more. In any event, this is a great piece about how weak the response was from the NFL with regard to Nassib coming out. It wasn't the greatest show of support and it's a good example of how the straights usually respond to things like this. It's also a form of homophobia...even from our so-called straight allies. I think it's partly because they don't understand it all yet. They're still thinking of gay people in terms of Will and his Grace and not a pro football player. And they have absolutely no idea about how many more gay men are still in the closet. 







The Straight Pride Parade
The Straight Pride Parade


 Don't Be Afraid of Virginia's Woolf

Image


Once Upon a Castle by Ryan Field

A Different Kind of Southern Love Story




What readers are saying about "Uncertainty"

Amazon

"A wonderful story that I loved. The characters were well developed, and strong. Gus: A sweet young man. Doing something for all the wrong reasons. Craig: his boyfriend, he'll go along with anything Gus say. Henry: Gus father a no nonsense man, who's husband died last year. I enjoyed this story."

Uncertainty by [Field, Ryan]

What readers said about "Altered Parts"
"Best Gay Novel In Years. This story will stay with you and you will feel you know every character and the beauty of their home in the mountains of North Carolina."
In paperback or e-book. #gayromance #Wednesday

Altered Parts


Altered Parts by [Field, Ryan]

Saturday, June 26, 2021

How Gay Neighborhoods Used HIV Traumas to Help Cities Fight COVID, Ryan Field Books

How Gay Neighborhoods Used HIV Traumas to Help Cities Fight COVID

Here's a good article about how gay neighborhoods seemed to be more prepared to help deal with the COVID pandemic. 

We find that the lessons learned and trauma experienced early in the HIV/AIDS pandemic helped urban gay areas respond to COVID-19 quickly and effectively – especially in the face of early federal government paralysis.

Here's more. It goes into a lot more detail about HIV/AIDS and how gay neighborhoods handled that years ago in cities. And also, the history of gay neighborhoods, in general, is worth reading.









The Straight Pride Parade
The Straight Pride Parade


 Don't Be Afraid of Virginia's Woolf

Image


Once Upon a Castle by Ryan Field

A Different Kind of Southern Love Story




What readers are saying about "Uncertainty"

Amazon

"A wonderful story that I loved. The characters were well developed, and strong. Gus: A sweet young man. Doing something for all the wrong reasons. Craig: his boyfriend, he'll go along with anything Gus say. Henry: Gus father a no nonsense man, who's husband died last year. I enjoyed this story."

Uncertainty by [Field, Ryan]

What readers said about "Altered Parts"
"Best Gay Novel In Years. This story will stay with you and you will feel you know every character and the beauty of their home in the mountains of North Carolina."
In paperback or e-book. #gayromance #Wednesday

Altered Parts


Altered Parts by [Field, Ryan]

Friday, June 25, 2021

FREE Gay Book Excerpt THE WIZARD OF PRIDE by Ryan Field

FREE Gay Book Excerpt THE WIZARD OF PRIDE by Ryan Field

My newest gay romance, THE WIZARD OF PRIDE, just dropped with Riverdale Ave Books in New York City and I thought I would give out a free excerpt that hasn't been published anywhere else. Keep in mind you're getting the unedited version. It's not totally unedited, but this is from my own files and it's what the story looked like before it went to final edits with my publisher. 

Here's the book description first. I'll post a few links below that. I know the publisher is distributing it far and wide. The Excerpt below is when Darius first lands in the Land of Pride. 


In the year 1939, discretion is a way of life for young men like Darius Krasner. However, when he gets caught making love to one of the young farmhands by the wicked Agnes McCain, and she threatens to expose him and take his dog, he’s forced to run away from the only family and home he’s ever known.

In his rush to leave, Darius stumbles across one of the most wonderful, handsome young men he’s ever met. Unfortunately, there isn’t much time to get to know him because there’s a storm approaching and Darius decides to run back home to make sure his family is safe.

By the time Darius reaches the farm, there’s a twister in the distance and he escapes to the house for shelter. On his way, a piece of flying debris hits him on the head and knocks him out. When he finally regains consciousness, he’s in the most unusual place called The Land of Pride. And according to The Good Fairy, Miss Glitz, his only way back home involves a pair of magical pink stilettos, a silvery gilded road, a place called The Rainbow City, and a man they call the Wonderful Wizard of Pride.

It’s an LGBTQ+ fairytale filled with references to gay culture and LGBTQ+ Pride that’s long before Darius’s time, but he’s well aware there’s no shame or hate in The Land of Pride. In his quest to find The Wizard of Pride, he meets other people like himself, and one in particular who teaches him that he can fall in love and live happily ever after with a man, which is something he never thought possible.








Chapter 6

            When the sparkling chandelier reached the silver path, Darius saw a puff of silver glitter and a second later the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen from a distance materialized before his eyes. Her hair was long and blond and highlighted with silver sparkles. She wore a silver gown studded with crystals that had a long slit up the right side exposing her long shapely leg. Her silver stilettos matched her gown, and her earrings mimicked the large chandelier that had brought her down from the sky. She even had a large elaborate ring on every finger, long white manicured fingernails, and so much make up on her face it resembled marzipan.

            While Darius stood there without saying a word, the woman took a step toward him, smiled in his direction, and asked, “Are you a good fairy or a bad fairy, doll?” She spoke with a deep, husky voice.

            Darius gulped and said, “I don’t know what that means.” Even though she was dressed and made up like a woman she sounded like a man, with that deep throaty voice and those strong angular features. At a closer glance, he had a feeling she was a man dressed as a woman and he didn’t know how to react. He’d read once there were men who dressed as women and they were professional entertainers. Of course in his small world in Uranus that wasn’t common knowledge. He’d only read about it by accident while browsing through a book store on a class trip to the capital of his state. But most important, he knew deep down inside they shared something in common. He was still too young to put this into words, but all his instincts told him they were connected.

            “Well, doll, it’s like this,” said the woman who was probably a man. “The Rainbowers summoned me because they said a fairy fell out of the sky and right on top of our evil Wicked Fairy of the East.”

            She pointed to Darius’s old farmhouse and Darius blinked. At the foundation of the house, near the front steps, he saw two ankles and a pair of the most beautiful pink stilettos he’d ever seen. “How did that happen?” Darius asked.

            “Listen, doll, you don’t have to pretend with me. You dropped that house right on top of that mean old fairy on purpose. And now I’m asking you, are you a good fairy or a bad fairy?”

            “Well, I’m not a fairy at all,” Darius said. “Fairies aren’t real. They’re make-believe and they live in storybooks. I’m just a simple guy from Uranus and this is my dog, Sparky. Have you ever seen Uranus?”

            “Honey, I’ve seen it all.”

            Darius heard the sound of giggling, as if there were people hiding all around them and listening to them speak.  “What’s that? Who’s laughing?”

            The beautiful woman who could have been a man smiled and waved her long fingernails. “That’s the Rainbowers,” she said. “And they’re laughing because fairies are very real, indeed, doll. I’m a fairy, a good fairy, and that’s why they summoned me. My name is Miss Glitz and I’m the protector of all the Rainbowers here in the Land of Pride.”

            Darius reached out to shake her large hand and said, “I’ve never met a real fairy before, especially one as beautiful as you. Can I ask you a question?”

            “Of course, doll. You can ask me anything.”

            “Are you really a man pretending to be a woman? Not that it matters. You’re still beautiful. I’m just curious, is all.”

            “Have you ever heard of drag?”

            Darius shook his head.

            Miss Glitz laughed and said, “I’m a good fairy who’s a drag performer. In other words, I’m a man but I get dressed up as a woman because it’s what I love. You can use any pronoun you want with me and I won’t get offended. I’m only here to do good work and serve the Rainbowers.”

“Okay,” Darius said, “I think I’ll refer to you as a woman because you’re so beautiful.”

“Aren’t you a sweet little thing,” Miss Glitz said.

“May I ask you what Rainbowers are?”

“I’m sorry, doll, I should have known. You don’t even know about drag, you poor little helpless thing. How could I expect you to know about Rainbowers. Well, the Rainbowers are all the wonderful dogs who once lived and played on earth. This is where they come after they pass away. It’s not very widely known yet, but someday in the future you’ll hear more about it. It’s going to become very popular. The dogs cross something called The Rainbow River to get here and they become Rainbowers for all eternity.”

Darius glanced down at Sparky and smiled. “Well isn’t that wonderful. Did you hear that, Sparky?”

Sparky jumped up and barked.

Miss Glitz lifted her arms and waved them around above her head as if she were about to start dancing.

“Is everything okay?” Darius asked. Every move she made tended to be so dramatic and exaggerated he couldn’t tell if she was happy or in distress. “Are you ill?”

She smiled at him, and then started to turn in graceful circles while she repeated two words: “Come out, come out, come out. Come out of your closets and come out of your homes.”

            While she turned in circles, Darius saw images appear from behind shrubs, trees, houses, and walls. They were dogs, but they were all dressed as humans in elaborate costumes that reminded Darius of old fashioned French paintings he’d seen once in a museum. There were beagles, poodles, bull dogs, and terriers. The males wore velvet waistcoats and the females wore lace-trimmed satin gowns. Dogs acting and behaving as humans suddenly filled the silvery path and started dancing and singing as if they were celebrating something wonderful and magical.

As each one came into view, he noticed every dog breed imaginable, including mixed breeds. They were large and they were small. Some wore hats and others eyeglasses. They moved like dogs and yet they all seemed to have the ability to walk on their hind legs. But more than that, unlike Sparky and all the dogs Darius had ever known, they all had thumbs. Dog thumbs, not human thumbs. But the dog thumbs allowed their paws to function like human hands.

While Darius stood there gaping at them, they started singing and dancing and cheering all around him. A male poodle wearing a black tuxedo jacket took Darius’s left hand and a male boxer wearing a red velvet waistcoat took his other hand and they guided him to the center of the silvery path to a large round circle. Miss Glitz, the good fairy, stood on the sidelines watching and smiling with her large hands clasped together and her knees slightly bent as if she were about to curtsy. A cocker spaniel in a pink ruffled dress gave Darius the biggest chocolate bar he’d ever seen in his life, and a sweet little Yorkie wearing a black fedora gave him a bag filled with rainbow colored caramel corn. They seemed to be celebrating something only Darius had no idea what it was. He kept glancing at Sparky to see how he was reacting to all these animated dogs dancing and singing, but Sparky looked just as confused as he felt.

When they finally settled down and the singing and dancing subsided, a German shepherd wearing a tall black top hat walked up to Darius  and said, “We shall now present you with the top honor in our land. You have done the impossible, and we will forever be in your debt.” He handed Darius a gold star with the word “Hero” written in the center.

As Darius reached for the star and thanked them for being so kind, there was a puff of yellow and gray smoke on the other side of the silver path and all the Rainbowers ran to the sidelines for cover as if they were terrified for their lives. Everything had seemed so festive and light-hearted a moment earlier and now everyone hid and cowered in small clusters. He remained standing in the middle of the circle, with the gifts of love they’d given him in his arms and the gold hero star in his hand.

An image appeared from the gray and yellow smoke that resembled the heinous, mean-spirited Agnes McCain. It wasn’t Agnes McCain, but it could have been her twin sister, and she was wearing a dark brown plaid suit and chunky heeled lace up oxfords with square toes. He’d never seen such a horrible outfit in his life. It was so bad it hurt his feelings. As she glared in his direction and took a few steps closer, she pointed a crooked finger at the house that had fallen on the Wicked Fairy of the East and said, “You killed her.”

Miss Glitz walked over to stand beside Darius. “Don’t worry, baby, everything will be all right.”

“But you said the bad fairy was dead.”

“This is her identical twin sister, the Wicked Fairy of the West,” said Miss Glitz. “That was the Wicked Fairy of the East. This one is even worse, doll. She’s built her entire life on bad spells, too much gin, and a whole shitload of regret.”

Well. Darius wasn’t sure what to do so he moved closer to Miss Glitz and waited to see what the Wicked Fairy would do. While she shook her crooked finger in his direction, she screamed, “You killed my sister. You’ll pay for this.”

“I didn’t kill anyone,” Darius said. He resented her tone. “The house did it.”

Sparky barked and growled at this mean fairy version of Agnes McCain.

“It was your house that killed her and you’re going to pay for this,” said the Wicked Fairy.

At a closer glance Darius noticed that the Wicked Fairy even had the same long crooked nose as Agnes McCain. “It was an accident. My house didn’t mean to kill her.”

Before the Wicked Fairy could say another word, Miss Glitz said, “Aren’t you going to get the pink high-heels, you nasty old hag. They’re very special high heels. I know I wouldn’t let them go to waste if I were you. And from the looks of it you could use a decent pair of heels, doll.” She glanced down at the Wicked Fairy’s ugly chunky-heeled Oxfords and scowled.

 “The high heels,” said the Wicked Fairy. “I have to get them.”

She turned and crossed back to the house so she could retrieve her sister’s pink glittery high heels. As she bent forward, a puff of pure white smoke appeared and vanished within a matter of seconds. When the clear white smoke was gone, the exposed ankles of the Wicked Fairy’s dead sister were all shriveled and decayed and the pink high heels were nowhere to be seen.

The Wicked Fairy turned fast and glared at Miss Glitz. “What did you do with those high heels, you nasty queen?”

Miss Glitz laughed in her face and said, “Doll, I take care of my own.”  She patted Darius  on the back and smiled.

Darius looked down at his feet and noticed that he was now wearing the pink glittery high heels. Even though he had never thought of himself as a woman, he had always wanted a pair of high heels just like this. He never in his life would have had the guts to wear a pair of shoes like this, because in his day and time men weren’t allowed to cross gender lines this way. He always thought it would just be a dream and that’s he’d live out his life fantasizing about wearing shoes like this. Because that’s what men like him were expected to do, especially if they wanted to survive.

Then Darius noticed his entire outfit had changed. He’d been wearing the typical homemade beige muslin farm shirt, worn overalls, and boots that most farm boys wore in Uranus. He’d always had one good suit and a good pair of black shoes to his name, and his overalls and boots were his daily outfit. Now he looked down at what he was wearing and he couldn’t believe his eyes. Instead of overalls, he was wearing black leather shorts and a black formal Tuxedo jacket. His shirt was pure white and open at the collar, and the entire outfit reminded him of a men’s formal tuxedo, with the exception of the short pants and no black bowtie.

He turned to face Miss Glitz and said, “What happened? Why am I dressed this way?”

“Doll, you don’t think I’d put you in those adorable high heels wearing those tacky old overalls, do you? Miss Glitz is no amateur, hon. She knows what she’s doing, and you have great legs, hon.”

The Wicked Fairy turned and glared at Darius’s feet. “Give me those shoes this instant. If you don’t give them to me I’ll destroy this entire Rainbow Village and everyone who lives here.

“Don’t you threaten me, doll,” Miss Glitz said. “You have no power here or over me. I’ll turn you into that old tired straight woman who lived in that ugly shoe and you’ll have so many kids you really won’t know what the fuck to do.”

“You wouldn’t dare.”

Miss Glitz smiled. “You don’t wanna find out, doll.”

As Miss Glitz lifted her arm slowly, the Wicked Fairy took a step back and her expression filled with fear. But she didn’t back down totally. “Give me those shoes. You’re not a fairy. You look ridiculous in them and you don’t even know how to use them.”

Darius glanced down at his feet and checked out the pink glittery high heels again. He kind of liked them. He’d never been the type of man who cared all the much about women’s clothing, yet in the same respect he suddenly felt empowered by these shoes for the most unusual reason. Ever since his house had landed in this odd place called the Land of Pride he didn’t feel the same social restrictions he’d always felt back in Uranus. He’d always been attracted to other men, which had always made him overly self-conscious about the way he behaved. He’d always taken precautions not to appear too effeminate, and he’d always been conscious about the way he carried himself in public. Half the time he didn’t even realize he was doing this. It just seemed so natural to hide who he really was. Now that he was in this Land of Pride he didn’t feel the same need to self-censor every move and gesture he made, and the high heels he was wearing didn’t bother him the same way they would have bothered him back in Uranus. For the first time in his life he felt as if he was expressing himself in a different way, without judgment, shame, or restrictions.

“Don’t listen to her, doll,” Miss Glitz said. “She knows how powerful those shoes are and she’ll do anything to get them. Besides, they look so cute on you.”

Darius looked at the shoes again and turned his right foot sideways. “Do you really think so? You don’t think they’re too much?”
            “Oh no, doll, they’re fabulous.  You’ve got the legs for them.“

“Well you haven’t seen the last of me,” The Wicked Fairy said. “I’ll be watching you, and I’ll be watching your dog, too. I’ll get those shoes back if it’s the last thing I do.”

Then the Wicked Fairy took a few steps back and lifted her arms high above her head. She screamed and snapped her fingers 3 times. A second after that, she vanished into a cloud of yellow and gray smoke the same way she’d arrived.

“It’s safe to come out again, Rainbowers,” said Miss Glitz. “The Wicked Fairy is gone.”

While all the Rainbowers gathered around in the town circle, Darius turned to face Miss Glitz and said, “What will I do now? How do I get back to Uranus?”

“You’ll have to figure a way out of Pride,” Miss Glitz said. “The Wicked Fairy will be plotting and planning to get you now and you won’t be safe.”

“I’d love to go back to Uranus,” Darius said. “I’d love to go back to my family and my life. But I don’t know how to do that.”

“Well, doll, you are kind of needy and pathetic. You can’t fly and you’re not a real fairy, so you’ll have to walk to the Rainbow City. That’s the capital of the Land of Pride. The Queen of Pride lives there and he can help you with Uranus.”

Darius tilted his head in confusion. “The Queen of Pride is a man?”

“Don’t be so serious, doll. Of course he’s a man. You really don’t know much. It’s just a harmless, campy way people like us sometimes refer to each other here in the Land of Pride. King and Queen are gender neutral terms here and they are interchangeable. It’s like the way we use the word fairy and the word queer here in Pride. There’s nothing harmful or wrong about either word. We’ve taken ownership of those words and no one can ever use them against us. Just go with the proverbial flow, so to speak, and never remove those high heels and you’ll be just fine. Although, some people still refer to him as the Wizard of Pride.”

“I think I prefer the Wizard of Pride, if that’s okay,” Darius said. All this was so new to him it felt as though he was part of a unique culture and he didn’t know how to process it all at once. There was so much to learn, and he needed time.

“As long as you’re wearing the high heels, you’ll have no problems, doll.” 

“Never remove the high heels? What about when I go to sleep?”

“Never, ever remove the high heels,” Miss Glitz said. “You’re safe from the Wicked Fairy as long as you’re wearing them.”

Darius took a few steps forward and turned all the way around to face Miss Glitz. “Which way is this Rainbow City? How do I get there?”
            The sparkling crystal chandelier appeared again and Miss Glitz hopped up and sat on one of the arms. She pointed and said, “Follow the silvery gilded road, doll. It will lead you directly to the Rainbow City where you’ll find The Wizard of Pride.”

As Darius was about to ask another question, Miss Glitz smiled and the crystal chandelier began to rise quickly. It floated up into the sky and it grew smaller and smaller until it couldn’t be seen anymore. All the Rainbowers, all breeds and genders, jumped up and down and their fancy clothes and cheered Miss Glitz’s departure as if they were bidding farewell to a goddess. While everyone cheered, two others handed Darius a purple satchel so he could carry the gifts they’d given him.

When Miss Glitz was nowhere to be seen, a tall black poodle Rainbower wearing a royal blue velvet jacket and a large royal blue hat with a huge white plume walked over to Darius and said, “Just follow the silvery gilded path.”

After he said that, the rest of the Rainbowers began to repeat it in unison. Darius and sparky took a few steps forward and began their journey to the Rainbow City to search for the Wizard of Pride. He had no idea where he was going and he didn’t stop to think about it for too long. He didn’t have any choice. If he didn’t find the all-powerful and all-knowing Wizard of Pride he’d never get back to Uranus and see the people he loved the most again. He did find one thing interesting, though, the pink glittery high heels were the most comfortable walking shoes he’d ever worn. In spite of his concerns about wearing such tall stilettos, he didn’t stumble or stagger once, and it felt so perfectly natural to him it was as though he was walking on marshmallows.