GAY PRIDE MONTH; Day Twenty-Four, Special Guest Michael Murphy

Michael Murphy is an all-around great guy. And over the last few years, I’ve come to think of him as a friend.

The first book I ever read by him was called Little Squirrels Can Climb Tall Trees, and it was a delight! Not to long after that I saw him at GRL in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and he was autographing books and he had the most delightful swag ever—an acorn stress toy. You know those kind you squeeze on? I still have that acorn somewhere. When I finally find it—LOL—it is going to sit on my desk. Both to remind me of that book and my friend Michael.

Michael is a wonderful story-teller. You only have to check out his books to see that. In fact, that’s why when I had the idea to do an anthology called A More Perfect Union which would be comprised of novellas written by gay men who are legally married, but old enough to think it would never happen in their life time, I thought of Michael right off. And his story for that anthology, Jeordi and Tom, is a great one.

When I approached him about doing an essay for my celebration here at my blog on Fifty Years of Gay Pride, he mentioned that he’d been invited to teach a course at the university where he works about pre-Stonewall gay life and culture, I pounced. “Yes!” I cried. “Please! Make your essay about that!”

To my happiness, that’s what he did. I hope you enjoy it.

Thanks Michael!
And Happy Pride!
Ben

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Stonewall

by Michael Murphy

In 1974, I met my grandmother’s youngest brother. Her brother was about as gay as you could get. He was one of the first gay people I knew. It was exhilarating to a teenaged gay boy to see a sixty-year old man who was out, loud, and proud. He and his boyfriend attended family gatherings together as a couple. My grandmother’s brother did not deny who he was, he did not hide who he was, and he did not tolerate people giving him any crap about who he was.

He came out in the late 1930s. He was able to admit and embrace what so many others couldn’t.

It doesn’t matter if its 1930, 1830, or the year 30, the fact remains that it has never been easy to be gay. For countless generations, men and women were condemned, imprisoned, even executed, for simply loving someone of their own gender. But we have always been there, frequently in hiding, but we’ve always been there—waiting. Watching and waiting.

Stonewall was inevitable. What amazes me is that it took as long as it did for Stonewall to happen. But it was going to happen sometime, somewhere. That sometime happened to be New York City on a hot June night, June 28, 1969. It’s still not clear what the spark was, but something set events in motion that night.

When New York City police raided yet another gay bar—a very common occurrence—that night the people there said, “Enough is enough.” They refused to go quietly. They fought back. They kicked up a fuss. And the police didn’t know what to do. Gays had always been easy to control, had always been passive and cooperative—in other words, they had been an easy target. But that ended June 28, 1969.

For hours the men and women at the Stonewall Inn that night fought back. No longer would they go quietly and cooperatively. They resisted arrest. They threw bricks, they lit fires, they turned cars over, pulled parking meters out of the sidewalk, and instead of the police herding them, that night they chased the police and herded them into hiding.

It was a riot that was heard around the world. Immediately gay men and women understood that the old rules had been thrown out and it was time to create an entirely new rule book. Fewer than a dozen people gathered late that year and knew that this was their shot, their chance to change things for the better for future generations of gay men and women. Men like Marty Robinson, a youngster from Brooklyn who never shied away from a fight. Men like Tom Doerr, a graphics design artist who gave the new movement its first symbol—the Greek letter, lambda. Tom knew that every movement needs a unifying symbol, a brand, and Tom gave us the lambda.

And one year later, in June 1970, the world celebrated its first Gay Pride celebration. And here we are, fifty years after Stonewall, and what a journey it has been. There have been ups and downs, times when all appeared to be spiraling downward. But we always find our way back upright and forward.

When I marched in the annual DC Gay Pride parade this year, it was with a special pride and understanding and acknowledgement of all of those who have gone before us, paving the way for us today. But our journey is not over—it has only just begun and we have far yet to go. But what a journey it will be.

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About Michael Murphy

In a world of so many things, how do you settle on just a few? All my life I’ve been interested in everything around me, wanting to see new places, meet new people, tell new stories. Writing has been the culmination of a long-term dream. Being a part of the Dreamspinner family is priceless beyond compare.

Anytime I’m asked the question of who I am I have to stop and try to decide how in the world to answer. I might biologically be middle age, but inside I feel like a randy teenager anxious to explore the world. Dreams of writing have been a part of my life since I was five years old.

Two of the greatest influences on me as I was growing up were my two grandmothers. Both were strong women who had unbelievable burdens thrust upon them when they were widowed very early in life. Both of these incredible women loved stories. They loved reading stories and telling stories, and the stories they had to tell were incredible.

For as long as I can remember I’ve been writing stories. What has been different over the last several years is that I’ve finally been brave enough to allow someone else to read what I’d written. When that happened, I found that others liked what I’d written which made me beyond happy.

In addition to writing, my other love is photography. Taking photos of some of the beautiful men of the world is my current focus. One of those photos graced the cover of a Dreamspinner novel You Can’t Go Home Again. My partner and I have traveled the world, trying to see as much as possible. When not traveling, we live in Washington.

Please stop by http://www.gayromancewriter.com to learn more.

Stranger in a Foreign Land

After an accident stole his memory, the only home American businessman Patrick knows is Bangkok. He recovers under the tender ministrations of Jack, an Australian ex-pat who works nights at a pineapple cannery. Together they search for clues to Patrick’s identity, but without success. Soon that forgotten past seems less and less important as Jack and Patrick—now known as Buddy—build a new life together.

But the past comes crashing in when Patrick’s brother travels to Thailand looking for him… and demands Patrick return to Los Angeles, away from Jack and the only world familiar to him. The attention also causes trouble for Jack, and to make their way back to each other, Patrick will need to find not only himself, but Jack as well, before everything is lost….

Purchase Stranger in a Foreign Land and many more of his books at Dreamspinner Press by CLICKING HERE or Amazon by CLICKING HERE.

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GAY PRIDE MONTH; Day Twenty-Three, Special Guest Edmond Manning

I first saw Edmond Manning at Gay Rom Lit in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I first met him in a hot tub at that same event. I liked him immediately. He is funny, intelligent, and a sexy as heck bear. What’s not to like? After that particular GRL, I just kept bumping into him. It was always a nice experience. (you should see him host the penis charity at GRL!)

Not long after that I read his remarkable book, King Perry (The Lost and Founds, Book 1). I loved it. You can’t help but love it.

Awhile after that, I got the go-ahead from Dreamspinner Press to do an anthology about bears called A Taste of Honey. In male gay culture, a bear is often a larger or obese hairier man who projects an image of rugged masculinity. It is also a culture that is about loving men for who and what they are, instead of holding up muscle men and runway models as the ideal of beauty.

I made sure he was personally invited–because I think he is the best of what bears are supposed to be, and he’s such an amazing writer. He turned in a story called Hunting Bear: A Fairy Tale with a Very Hairy Ending. And it was fantastic. One of the best submissions I got out of about a hundred. And I knew I wanted his story. He agreed. Anne Regan and I decided to make it the last story in the anthology because it was perfect way to end the book.

It’s too bad that anthology isn’t in print any more!

But King Perry is still in print. Along with the other books in the series, plus I Probably Shouldn’t Have Done That and…well, you’ll just have to look at that one to believe it! LOL! His story telling is unique and often hilarious and frequently brilliant. Check him out. And check out his very…unique…essay on Fifty Years of Gay Pride. Leave it to Edmond to turn in something…completely different.

Happy Pride!
BG

Take it away Edmond…!

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Muscle Love

by Edmond Manning

When I was in college, I fell in love with weightlifting champion named Bob Paris. I did not love him for his incredibly muscular body, thick slabs of oily beef bouncing with giggly glee from every corner of him. Nope. I loved his smile. His warmth. I was far beyond those puerile lusts accrued during teenage years, despite noticing Bob’s chest contained perfect geometric proportions of muscle to cuddle ratios.

No, I loved him for him.

In the early 1990s, he did a photo spread for some muscle magazine promising a body like his in 12 days eating green beans while doing lunges. I bought it with equal parts dread, humiliation and titter as if I had purchased soft core porn. (And I did. In one photo his left ball hung out of his shorts while he demonstrated the proper form for thrusts. There it was. His nut in a national magazine. Of course I bought it.)

Bob was ideal. I even loved the name Bob, the ideal boyfriend name to call out when you wanted more Cheetos and he was already in the kitchen. As happens with college romances, we grew apart. I discovered more accessible men on campus, and in turn, he never knew I existed as a human being.

One day, Bob Paris got married.

To a man.

He married another professional bodybuilder, one with a porn-tastic name, Rod Jackson. Please. Rod wasn’t worthy. Attention and praise were lavished upon them for how courageous these two competitive athletes were, coming out, going public with their relationship. Lots of photo ops of them holding hands and saying, “We’re just like normal couples!” All I know is that I personally lost that competition. Bob Paris—name of a Greek god—married the guy whose name sounded like he won the first season, fourth episode of “American Hand Job.” I hated Rod.

I thought Bob was unwinnable because he was straight, but all this testicle-showing-on-page-34-time, he was into dudes. I refused to celebrate their union.

That all changed in 1994 when they posed for a Diesel jeans ad by photographer David Lachapelle.

The power of this image.

The longing.

The raw sensuality of these two men in love with each other—at last I accepted it. They loved each other. I mean, look at their massive boners rubbing up against each other. This ad was fairly risqué. I mean, not like 1994 was Puritan times or anything…and we were beginning to be a lot less shocked by gay-everywhere acceptance. These guys didn’t get laughed out of their competitive field, they were celebrated.

I decided to honor their love (but mostly Bob). Sure, I now accepted Rod and their union but I might still be a little frosty to him at Thanksgiving for those first few years, if they had invited me. I created a frame to celebrate all the men who lived during the 1940s and earlier who possessed equally incredible love stories, and yet could not share them with the world. Who would ever tell their stories?

I acquired the photograph from a magazine and managed to both crumple it and spill coffee on it, which was surprising because I don’t drink coffee. I decided I loved it partially destroyed, loved the worn and rough look of the not-quite-centered ad, soldiers glued and painted around the exterior, protecting the perimeter. Some of those soldiers were all business and others were staged—I admit it—in awfully lewd acts. The kind you can only do with green army men.

After reading Kaje Harper’s Into Deep Waters, the ad represented Jacob and Daniel. I realized someone *is* telling the stories of those who came before us. Lots of people are telling their stories from all kinds of times in history.

Today I celebrate Rod Jackson, Bob Paris, and the other brave men women, and fellow travelers under our rainbow spectrum umbrella—all those who loved fiercely before we had the right to make parades. They lived with as much pride as we did. Because of world circumstances, they were forced to save it for moments alone, stolen glances. Quiet relationships that didn’t overly-draw attention, though sometimes they did. People in pre-parade eras knew some sorrow for possessing this Pride. But they carried the flame so we could raise up a torch.

Love yourself this Pride,
Edmond Manning

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About Edmond Manning

Edmond Manning has always been fascinated by fiction: how ordinary words could be sculpted into heartfelt emotions; how heartfelt emotions could leave an imprint inside you stronger than the real world. Mr. Manning never felt worthy to seek publication until recently, when he accidentally stumbled into his own writer’s voice that fit perfectly, like his favorite skull-print, fuzzy jammies. He finally realized that he didn’t have to write like Charles Dickens or Armistead Maupin, two author heroes, and that perhaps his own fiction was juuuuuuust right, because it was his true voice, so he looked around the scrappy word kingdom that he created for himself and shouted, “I’M HOME!” He is now a writer.

In addition to fiction, Edmond enjoys writing non-fiction on his blog, http://www.edmondmanning.com. When not writing, he can be found either picking raspberries in the back yard or eating panang curry in an overstuffed chair upstairs, reading comic books.

You can find Edmond Manning’s books at Amazon by CLICKING HERE and all your favorite book sites!

GAY PRIDE MONTH; Day Twenty-Two, Special Guest Lloyd A. Meeker

Meeting Lloyd Meeker was a very nice happenstance. I was going to have lunch with Rick R Reed (the R means romance!) in Atlanta, GA, during Gay Rom Lit in 2013, and he joined us. Or did I join them? I don’t remember! But it doesn’t matter. I was immediately struck by what a nice man he was and I knew I would be looking out for him in the future. I saw him at several GRLs and a good number of the Dreamspinner Press Author Workshops as well and yes…he was always so darned nice!

I was also fascinated by his background. Amongst other things, he’s a mystic, writer, healer as well as a minister. It is not surprising that one of his books, The Companion, is about a character named Shepherd Bucknam who is a Daka, someone who coaches men in the sacred art and mystery of sexual ecstasy (which reminds me strongly of a gay men’s workshop called Body Electric, which delves into the mysteries, delights, and life-affirming power of sacred Eros).

The point is that all you have to do is read Lloyd’s profile to see what a fascinating man he is, and once you read the description of any of his books, I think you’ll want to read them. Then tack on to that his wonderful guest post, What LGBTQIA+ Pride Means to Me, and I think you’ll be as hooked as me.

Thank you, Lloyd for joining in on my blog’s celebration of Fifty Years of Gay Pride. You made my day with this one!

Happy Pride!
BG

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What LGBTQIA+ Pride Means to Me

by Lloyd A. Meeker

In my experience, the most consistent—and important—element of coming out stories is an awareness at a prepubescent age that we’re somehow different from the people around us, even within our own family—often long before we have any clue as to what that difference means. (I believe the same is true for those who have chosen not to come out, although those stories are by definition still hidden from the world.)

The awareness of being different in some way that is both important and difficult to articulate comes to all non-heterosexuals, in or out of the closet. I think it’s the first conscious hint of the precious and challenging gift of queerness we’re given. The gift that shapes and informs our lives.

This is important. Our first awareness of being different is not about sexual attraction or tastes. It’s more about feeling out of sync with what seems to be expected of us.

A few years ago, Gail, an old family friend now in her 80s told me a story of babysitting me when I was five. Gail was thirteen at the time. Rose (my older sister), Glenda (Gail’s younger sister) and I were playing with an older boy named Billy. We decided we’d have a wedding. I wanted to be the bride. Unfortunately for me, Glenda also wanted to be the bride. As it turned out, Billy was the groom, and I had to be the minister.

But I wanted to be the bride and play-marry Billy. In 1953. Long before I understood the first thing about sex. Where had that come from? That was my true self speaking up and serving notice, although armed with my religious beliefs I fought that true self tooth and nail until at 47 I couldn’t fight it any longer.

I’ve come to understand that at its core, our gift of different wiring is spiritual, psychic, and psychological, not sexual. That is, any differences in gender identity or sexual orientation are ancillary to that deeper spiritual, psychic, psychological gift.

Put another way, we are not different because we relate and love outside the heteronormative box. We relate and love outside the heteronormative box BECAUSE our internal wiring is so profoundly different that one of its several requirements is that we relate and love differently. We’re supposed to be different, and we’re supposed to be a minority. Nature got us exactly right.

This understanding lays the foundation for healthy pride—honoring how important we are—as our true selves—in the body of humanity. We are different, and we belong. We are needed for wholeness.

You belong in the world because individual uniqueness aside, down at your core wiring you are already unlike 95% of the people on this planet. Your difference is needed—for balance, for insight, for the mysterious and exquisite and disturbing gifts that can come into the world only through queer people, the two-spirited.

Your very existence is a message of simultaneous difference and belonging. Your presence in the world makes a difference. You see the world through the lens of the other, the sensibilities of the other, the wisdom of the other. Your contribution is essential to the health and well-being of humanity, and is worthy of respect.

How the world responds to our difference is another matter. Far, far too many of our stories are laced with excruciating tragedy wrought by zealotry, ignorance, prejudice and fear. Fiercely, compassionately held boundaries are the only answer. Such stories must inspire us to greater defiance, greater courage, louder celebration, and perhaps most important, greater kindness toward each other, our queer tribe.

Although we won’t be done staking out our basic rights in my lifetime, it seems to me our next big task lies there, growing a culture of kindness and understanding amongst our own.

Happy Pride!
Lloyd A. Meeker

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About Lloyd A. Meeker
I’m a mystic, writer, healer, lover, cancer survivor, father, friend. I write (mostly) gay fiction featuring all those paths and more.

Having led what can only be described as a checkered life, I can honestly say I’m grateful for all of it. I’ve been a minister, an office worker, a janitor, a drinker, and a software developer on my way to finishing my first novel in 2004.

But basically, I’m just a weather-worn psychic empath still learning how to live in the world just the way it is. The thing is, I experience the world as so much more than is generally accepted. That’s the challenge. Writing stories is the best way I’ve found to examine and share the questions, the wonders I engage daily.

My husband and I have been together since 2002, married since 2007. Between us we have four children and five grandchildren. We’re based in south Florida, and work hard to keep up with the astonishing life we’ve created for ourselves.

Find me at http://www.lloydmeeker.com

The Companion

Shepherd Bucknam hasn’t had a lover in more than a decade and doesn’t need one. As a Daka, he coaches men in the sacred art and mystery of sexual ecstasy all the time, and he loves his work. It’s his calling. In fact, he’s perfectly content—except for the terrors of his recurring nightmare and the ominous blood-red birthmarks on his neck. He’s convinced that together they foretell his early and violent death.

When Shepherd’s young protégé is murdered, LAPD Detective Marco Fidanza gets the case. The two men are worlds apart: Marco has fought hard for everything he’s accomplished, in sharp contrast to the apparent ease of Shepherd’s inherited wealth—but their mutual attraction is too hot for either of them to ignore.

Shepherd swears he’ll help find his protégé’s killer, but Marco warns him to stay out of it. When an influential politician is implicated, the police investigation grinds to a halt. Shepherd hires his own investigator. Marco calls it dangerous meddling. As their volatile relationship deepens, Shepherd discovers his nightmares might not relate to the future, but to the deadly legacy of a past life—a life he may have to revisit before he can fully live and love in this one.

Purchase The Companion and Traveling Light at Dreamspinner Press by CLICKING HERE or Amazon by CLICKING HERE.

GAY PRIDE MONTH; Day Twenty-One, Pride Music

So far, I’ve presented two of my personal and very favorite songs that stir my Pride. First, Heather Small’s Proud, and then Johanna’s Pride. Today I “proudly” present a song I mentioned in that first post, the song, I Am What I Am, originally from the Broadway musical, La Cage aux Folles, book by Harvey Fierstein, lyrics and music by Jerry Herman and based on the 1973 French play of the same name by Jean Poiret. It was also a French movie as well, and of course there was the well-known American version, The Bird Cage starting Robin Williams.

I didn’t get to see the musical. I still haven’t. So the version that stirred my soul and got me dancing around the living room, stereo blasting, was the 1983 version. At twenty-three, it was perfect.

Today I am going to present to you several versions of the song and let you choose which to listen to or which version(s) you like best. But most important, follow the lyrics! I don’t see how they can’t make you stand proud, whoever you are!

I am I am I am good
I am I am I am strong
I am I am I am worthy
I am I am I belong
I am I am I am useful
I am I am I am true
I am as good as you….

Happy Pride!

BG “Ben” Thomas

I will start off with the iconic Gloria Gaynor version. Like it or not, it’s the most famous one and it’s sung by a gay diva! The song truly says it all and truly is a great gay anthem! And even though the video includes the lyrics, I’ll include them anyway. Sometimes seeing the words right in front of me drives the meaning home even more…!

“I Am What I Am”

I am what I am
I am my own special creation
So come take a look
Give me the hook or the ovation

It’s my world that I want to have a little pride in
My world and it’s not a place I have to hide in
Life’s not worth a dam
‘Til you can say. “I am what I am!”

I am what I am
I don’t want praise, I don’t want pity
I bang my own drum
Some think it’s noise, I think it’s pretty

And so what if I love each sparkle and each bangle
Why not try to see things from a different angle
Your life is a sham
‘Til you can say. “I am what I am!”

I am what I am
And what I am needs no excuses
I deal my own deck
Sometimes the ace, sometimes the deuces

It’s one life and there’s no return and no deposit
One life. So it’s time to open up your closet
Life’s not worth a dam
‘Til you can shout out. “I am what I am!”

I am what I am
And what I am needs no excuses
I deal my own deck
Sometimes the ace, sometimes the deuces

It’s one life and there’s no return and no deposit
One life. So it’s time to open up your closet
Life’s not worth a dam
‘Til you can say. “I am what I am!”

I am I am I am good
I am I am I am strong
I am I am I am worthy
I am I am I belong
Ooh…
I am…
I am…
I am I am I am useful
I am I am I am true
I am as good as you….

John Barrowman – I Am What I Am

And if you liked him in that version…

And oh my gosh! Look at this one…! John Barrowman in full FABulous drag as Zaza! He looks like Joan Collins after hitting the gym! Amazing!

Maybe you prefer the always amazing Shirley Bassey? Here is the 1985, Cardiff Concert TV Special!

Here is Walter Charles doing a stage production from the actual musical where we get a bit of the dialogue and set up for the song. FABULOUS! And it’s really appropriate today in today’s politics. To understand, you’ll just have to watch!

FURRY FRIDAY: Gay Pride

 

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Fifty years ago this month a group of drag queens, butch dykes, trans people, and other disenfranchised “faggots” finally had enough. They were tired of being victimized and told they weren’t good enough. They fought back!

For any of you who have been watching, this whole month I’ve been dedicating my blog to Gay Pride. And when my husband Noah asked me if I was doing a Furry Friday, I told him that I’ve dropped the ball on the whole feature. And with all I’ve been doing with the Gay Pride feature and the guest posts and essays and such, I just didn’t have time.

Guess what? He volunteered to help (and maybe take over?). When he asked if I had any situations before he started, I said, “Well, it would be neat if we could tie it in with everything else that was going on. Could we do a Gay Pride bearded thing?”

It turns out we could!

Thank you, baby bear. Happy Gay Pride! BG “Ben” Thomas

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B

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Love is in the Air

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GAY PRIDE MONTH; Day Twenty, Special Guest JP Barnaby

When I first discovered and started reading MM Romance, and I cannot express how happy I was to find out they were romances and not “just” erotica and right out porn (not that they don’t have their place), I found the Dreamspinner Press website and searched through their library for books I might want to read. It was a daunting task, but—LOL—that was about ten years ago and that library wasn’t a fraction of what it is today.

I right off the bat discovered the first of the Little Boy Lost series by JP Barnaby and boy oh boy what a angsty book! But as I am a queen, a drama queen, as in the kind that loves Hollywood/Dynasty/Sunset Boulevard/The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and I fell in love and I fell in love hard and fast with JP’s writing. I mean, as a teen, the made-for-TV movies Dawn, Portrait of a Teenage Runaway (with—OMG!—The Brady Bunch’s Eve Plumb) and Alexander:The Other Side of Dawn (with a very young Leigh McCloskey) were two of my favorite movies! I mean, runaway teenagers forced to sell themselves to survive and who then fall in love with each other? What better fare for an angsty teenager? And then, O-M-G!, when Alex sells himself to men? Guuurl! My heart pounded! In fact, Leigh McCloskey was one of my first teenage crushes and realizations that I “might” be gay.

So how could I not love JP Barnaby’s book?

But then…! Guess what? The series didn’t end! There were still pending books! Aaarrgghhh!

Then, thanks to Julianne Bentley, and editor and one of the founders of Dreamspinner Press and one of my earliest advocates and encouragers made sure I knew about Dreamspinner’s first Author Workshop. And it was in New York! City of the Empire State Building and Broadway musicals! What was not to love for a gay boy? I went!

Thing was, I arrived hours before my roommate did and I was tired and hot and sweaty and I desperately wanted (read needed) a place to put my luggage and to get a shower. Guess who jumped up, waving her hand? JP Barnaby! Author of the Little Boy Lost books!

She offered her room for luggage and her shower and she and she and I will forever tell various versions of the story of “How Ben/I was naked in my/JP Barnaby’s room!”

Of course, it was innocent even though she was quite the flirt. It was in that gay boy way, like I mentioned yesterday in my intro to Leo d’Entremont’s post. Neither of us were trying to get into each other’s pants. Just good old sexual double entendre extraordinaire!

I did neglect to tell you that I told JP that I did have to know the answer to one question.

Yes!” she cried before I could actually ask. “Yes, I’ve written all the Little Boy Lost books! They’re all coming out and Dreamspinner is publishing them so of course you’ll get a happy ending!”

I am revealing to her only now that the question she answered was actually my second question. But to this day I can’t remember what the first question actually was. That’s how happy I was about her answer.

If you love a book, a good book, with lots of angst and much redemption and love winning through the worst life has to offer, then do not miss JP Barnaby.

And today? Don’t miss her bisexual’s take on GLBTQ Pride. Because GLBTQ is about all those letters.

And today’s letter is “B”!

Thank you, JP!
And take it away…!

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Mrs. Barnaby’s Home for Bisexual Mermaids

by JP Barnaby

The year was 1989 and big hair was all the rage—for everyone, including our favorite bands. We rocked out to Def Leppard and Poison, giggled at Batdance, and rolled our eyes at Milli Vanilli. Depending on the day, I either wanted to be Molly Ringwald or Madonna—but usually ended up more like Ally Sheedy. I was 16 years old and that was the year I figured out I liked girls. Eventually, Madonna would push the envelope of diverse sexuality, but then, I had no idea if I liked girls because I was bisexual, or just scared of men because of my abuse. It took me a couple of years to reconcile those questions.

I told my mom, she said it was a phase. I told a couple friends, they said I was confused. When I fell in love with a girl named Lisa, I knew it wasn’t either of those things. I knew that something in me didn’t care if someone was male or female, as long as they were intelligent, caring, and we made each other happy.

Then, I married a man. Suddenly, people think I’ve “made a decision” or I’m “cured”, but really, I could have just as easily married a woman had I have found one who fit with me as perfectly as my husband. But just because I married a guy doesn’t mean I’m suddenly no longer attracted to women. It just means that the person I found happened to be a guy.

Ben asked me to write about what pride means to be. As a bisexual woman, I love my gay, lesbian, and transgender family—but sometimes I have to wonder if the “B” in LGBT is silent. We’re like mermaids and unicorns—everybody claims to have seen one, but no one believes we really exist. We do exist. We were standing beside you at the rallies for marriage equality. We contribute to the same causes. We fight against the same injustices. We all stand shoulder to shoulder at Pride and scream that we will not go silently into that good night. We will rage against the dying of the light.

So, when you see that guy and girl holding hands at Pride, don’t assume that they’re just there for the party. Don’t assume they’re “other.” As I walk with my husband at Pride, supporting not only MY right to exist, but also the rights of my son, look at us as your family because we all sit at the same table.

XOXOXO,
JP Barnaby

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About JP BarnabyJP Barnaby is an award-winning gay romance novelist and the author of over two dozen books. Her heart and soul, the Survivor Series, has been heralded by USA Today as one of their favorites. She recently moved to Orlando to appease her Camaro (Jake) who didn’t like the blustery winters. JP specializes in recovery romance but slips in a few erotic or comedic stories to spice things up. When she’s not working on her latest novel, she binge-watches superheroes and crime dramas on Netflix with her husband and Jack Russell Terror.

Saving Hannah

Thomas Aberthol’s luck has run out. His daughter, Hannah, needs a miracle he can’t deliver. A hacker with a felony record, Thomas has little chance of finding work that will provide the care she needs. Out of money, out of options, and out of hope, he throws himself on the mercy of someone he never thought to see again.

Even after ten years, Aleksander Sanna still dreams of that drunken kiss. A perfect moment in time when Thomas wanted him. In his world of elegant code and high finance, the picture he holds of Thomas torments him in the dark of night.

Their worlds collide as Thomas interviews for the job he so desperately needs with the company Aleks inherited from his father. Thomas doesn’t get the position, but Aleks offers him a completely different kind of proposal, one suited to Thomas’s unique talents… one that will change the course of both their lives.
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Purchase Finding Hannah and many more of her books at Dreamspinner Press by CLICKING HERE or Amazon by CLICKING HERE or CLICKING HERE</aand all your favorite book sites!

GAY PRIDE MONTH; Day Nineteen, Special Guest Leo d’Entremont

I met Leo at a science fiction convention in Kansas City about ten years ago. He was dressed as a hobbit – Bilbo to be precise. I thought he was adorable and sexy as heck. In fact, I flirted with him in that way we gay boys do. I wasn’t trying to get into his pants—this was a time where my husband wouldn’t have appreciated that kind of activity. No! This was pure flirting in that fun way. I mean, he was a hot little guy!

He even invited me back to his room for a drink where I met…his wife. Darnit, I thought. Straight! Why are the cute guys almost always straight?

And then I realized that Leo had been assigned female at birth…and hadn’t transitioned (yet). I was a little taken aback. Not upset! Just surprised. How was I so completely mistaken?

But then an eye-opening and wonderful thing happened to me as I got to know Leo over the months and years. I discovered I wasn’t mistaken when I was attracted to Leo. He came out as a trans man. Leo was a guy. Always was. Period.

Now I had known a few trans women before all this. But I had never met a trans man. I also hadn’t met someone pre-transition and had the privilege of watching them go through this personal road of self-discovery and metamorphosis. I’d never seen someone transition. And I went through a transition myself as I learned, as I witnessed, as my mind was opened to a whole new world. I guess I was pretty darned naïve, but luckily Leo was open to my curiosity and questions and I grew so much as a person as Leo grew as well.

I value Leo d’Entremont first and foremost as friend, but also as teacher and laugh-mate and Star Trek and Tolkien fellow enthusiast and even guru of sorts. He never fails to challenge me in so many ways. AND he’s a darned good writer! He has made the transition from fan writer to professional writer as well. You should check out his work. You’ll be glad that you did.

And it hit me suddenly that if I was celebrating GLBTQ Pride for Fifty years in my blog this month, and having guests tell me and us what all that means to them, that gay and lesbian guests weren’t enough! I needed to fill out those letters of the alphabet! And trans people were at the Stonewall Inn that faithful night fifty years ago (as well as the Compton’s Cafeteria Riot a full three years before!). They were fist wavers (and throwers) and uprisers themselves. They are our brothers and sisters and needed to be represented here. And who better than my dear friend Leo?

Thanks, Leo, for your essay! It’s wonderful. And I think you all will love what he has to say.

Happy Pride!
And take it away Leo…!

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Pride is a Virtue

by Leo d’Entremont

I’m a 38-year-old transgender man. Now, while that doesn’t tell you more than a fraction of what there is to know about me and my life, it does give you a hint about some things. It means I spent at least part of my life being seen and treated as a woman. In my case, I was seen as a lesbian by the queer community until I finally passed as male at the age of 35. I’m actually pansexual, but I was so uncomfortable with the dynamic of being “the woman” in a partnership with a man that I couldn’t even consider relationships with men.

So I’m a pansexual trans man, married to a woman. To the casual observer, I now look like a cis-het. I find this deeply disturbing. I didn’t spend my entire adult life walking through fire so that other people can ignore the scars. I earned those. I spent the majority of my life under the greasy thumb of sexism and homophobia. I served in the Army for seven years under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and pretending to be a hetero woman almost broke me. I’ve picked up the pieces and welded them back together, and I think the resultant piece of art is more beautiful than the original before it cracked.

For me, Pride is about the process, the journey, and the small battles. Pride is about self-care, self-affirmation, and self-discovery. It’s a joyful fuck-you to the haters, the doubters, the naysayers, the bigots, and anyone else who would see our light dimmed. It’s a way of bonding with others who have felt similar struggles and can understand your story even if it’s too hard to say it. Pride is community. It’s about coming together with other soldiers in a culture war that we didn’t ask for, but we’re going to fight it anyway because as long as there’s life, there’s hope. It’s a celebration of what you’ve survived, and a promise to yourself to face the world again tomorrow. It’s glitter and feathers and outrageous drag makeup and fishnets and sex because all of those things are affirming and beautiful and subversive and fabulous. We ARE fabulous. And Pride is sex because sex is affirmation and life.

Pride is life.

Life is about self-actuation, the staunch refusal to step down and walk away. Life is the warmth of quiet moments and the thrill of celebration. Life is growth and struggle and accomplishment and failure and getting up again because it’s so damned beautiful.

It’s also death. Pride is about loss and grieving but still celebrating the lives of those whose journey is over. It’s history. It’s the past meeting the present so we can continue into the future.

Transgender men are often overlooked. We either blend into the background and are seen as lesbians or we pass as cisgender and nobody notices us. Every public debate about trans people focuses on trans women. Almost every major incident in the public eye involves trans women. It’s both a blessing and a curse for trans men. Our lives are safer for it, but the daily erasure is painful. Therefore, for me, Pride truly has to be about visibility. Otherwise, we fade away into the background.

Never fade, my friends. Never fade.

Leo d’Entremont

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About Leo d’Entremont

Leo d’Entremont has been writing queer speculative fiction for online audiences for over ten years, to include fanfiction from popular sci-fi and fantasy. You can find his fanfiction under the screen name “Mijan” on several popular archives. Leo d’Entremont has been writing queer speculative fiction for online audiences for over ten years, to include fanfiction from popular sci-fi and fantasy. Some of his works have been translated into as many as eight languages by enthusiastic readers from around the world. After years of encouragement from readers, he decided to make the jump to writing for publication. He identifies as a queer, poly trans*man. In the other part of his life, he is a biologist, Emergency Medical Technician, certified firefighter, Army veteran, vocalist, distance runner, weightlifter, and unabashed nerd. (No, really… he has four Star Trek costumes.) He is currently pursuing a nursing degree, but plans to keep writing whenever he gets a spare minute. Sleep is optional when he has a scene to finish and a plot point to chase. He lives in an inconspicuous house on a suburban street with his wife, two dogs, one cat, large vegetable garden, and picket fence, all of which seems perfectly normal until people notice the fake skulls in the fruit basket. The only thing he keeps in the closet in his life are costumes and floggers, both of which come out frequently. Leo believes that all you need in life is love… and lube. A nice ass doesn’t hurt, either. He thinks you have a nice ass. Yes, you. Hi there, hot stuff.

Under a New Star

In the 26th Century, mankind has breached the light speed barrier and begun to colonize other planets. They’ve also learned to Design human beings, known as Morphs, for specialized colony missions. Adrian is an Aerial Morph, on his way to colonize the low-gravity planet Eridani VI with his scientist Partner, Michael. In violation of the rules of the Morph Projects, they’ve been lovers for months. Michael cares more about his work than anything, while Adrian doesn’t take anything seriously except Michael. Before they arrive at their new home, they need to curtail their relationship before it destroys their professional Partnership.

The colony ship is scheduled to arrive at their destination on Christmas Eve. Some old holiday traditions persist, but when Adrian and Michael have differing ideas about what’s best for their relationship and their careers, holiday gifts and ideas for new beginnings lead to crossed signals.

Rough Draft

Elliot “Ray” Douglas is an army veteran with PTSD and a closet full of secrets. Discharged and alone after an explosion on the battlefield and the implosion of his sham marriage, Ray is salvaging what’s left of his life. Attending a community college should help him adjust to civilian life and give him a sense of direction again—if Ray survives one hot teacher hell-bent on getting to know him.

Young adjunct English professor Brian Randall enjoys challenging his students and tends to get under their skins. Brian decides to push Ray not only in Composition I, but also in facing himself and dealing with his issues. While coping with the death of a squadmate and the destruction of the only life he’s known, Ray will face his greatest fear—admitting he’s gay.

This semester is Ray’s chance at making a new life for himself, and if all goes well, Brian will make sure he’s a part of it.

Find Under a New Star and Rough Draft at Dreamspinner Press by CLICKING HERE or Amazon by CLICKING HERE and all your favorite book sites!