“What does writing GLBTQ literature mean to me?”

The Follow the Rainbow Blog Hop was a good bit of fun, and is now over.  Many thanks to all the readers who hopped and left thoughtful comments, and Congratulations! to madisonparklove, the Winner of the $20 Amazon gift card.  If you missed the Blog Hop, I hope you will still enjoy learning a little about what I write and why I write it, and maybe start a Big Gay Bookshelf of your very own.  Welcome.

I’ve known I was gay my entire life.  Since way before I had the words to describe it, I knew I was “different,” and I knew it was OK.  But growing up in America is a funny process; all along our educational road, we have two things drilled into our heads with equal fervor.  1. You are an individual.  You are special.  There is no one else like you, and you can grow up to be whatever in the world you want to be.  And 2.  As long as you march straight down this incredibly narrow path of heteronormative behavior to your wedding day, your children, and an eventual gray-haired retirement that you will have no way to pay for.  For a society that stresses individuality and exceptionalism from Sesame Street, we judge our members against a very rigid criteria and forgive few missteps.  So yeah, even though the Universe and I had reached an understanding early on, coming out in Cow Town, Colorado during college was something of a process.  I was surrounded by cowboys, many of them large (and delicious, which isn’t the point), and it was unclear if the Universe had let them in on our little arrangement.  Now, as you know and I know, the real key to Coming Out is to reach the understanding that it doesn’t matter whether those cowboys are in on the deal or not; it has nothing to do with them.  Well, at least not with the ones that don’t fool around at frat parties.  I would have reached that understanding eventually, of course, but the GLBTQ fiction from which I was unable to tear myself away in those days cleared the path.  A gay guy’s life was peppered with glitz.  Or with mystery and intrigue.  Or with hilarity and madcap hijinks, depending on the particular book I was reading.  Few of the books I chose related specifically to coming out or to any drama around it.  The guys in these stories just were gay.  They didn’t have angst around it, they weren’t looking for anyone’s permission or approval, they just ran around solving mysteries or planning elaborate sham weddings to fleece wealthy relatives out of gifts, kissing boys and cavorting with straight-gal sidekicks, quoting show tunes and quaffing Veuve Clicquot and generally getting on with the business of being gay.  But the deluge of gay stories about gay characters written by gay guys did more than just make being gay look like a whole lot of fun.  Gay fiction was my window onto a larger world than the one I inhabited, and the gay writers I read in my teens and twenties showed me that I could indeed live my life, and eventually tell my own stories, my way.  They helped me realize that coming out — that living my life openly and honestly, for better or for worse (come what may, all that) — was the only possible life I’d even be able to consider. Continue reading

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These Are Days

I once knew a boy called Richard.  “Richard?” you say, “I must know more!”  Never let it be said that I don’t know how to scoot my reader to the edge of his seat.

After thirteen years in San Francisco, I am now back where I started, in Colorado.  Denver, to be quite precise.  Nineteen blocks from the house I grew up in, to be even more so.  When I visit the old neighborhood in San Francisco, a Big Gay Memory of some kind lurks around nearly every corner.  First dates, tearful good-byes; here is where I ignored the drunken heckling of a passing mendicant and slipped the ring on my husband’s finger, and there you see roughly where my pants hit my ankles while stumbling home from a particularly memorable Dyke March.  Yes, fond memories at every turn.  Who are you to judge me?!  Oddly, though, even though I grew up here, in Denver there is really only one such corner.  Probably due to its proximity to Cheesman Park, the one place in 1980s Denver that two men might not be harassed for holding hands, I had more than one Big Gay First (of most of which I’ll spare you the cowboy boot-related details) on the corner of 9th and Gaylord.  Richard’s mother worked with my aunt in Washington, D.C., on the staff of a Congressman from Oklahoma, and we had more than one Big Gay Adventure (last one, I promise) in the District, but when I think of him, I always remember him standing on the corner of 9th and Gaylord.  Where, in jean shorts and a cardigan sweater, he would secure his place in history as the First Boy Who Ever Kissed Me. Continue reading