The Irksome element in the M/M Book Genre

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Victor Rodvang

You know, I could never really put my finger on what it was about M/M romance that irks me so bad. This has nothing to do with writing.
But it has everything to do with the fighting.
I’ve thought about it. I’ve wandered around it. I’ve left it alone and let it slide. And then something else happens and suddenly there it is, once more.
Gay people have been around since Ancient Greece, Alexander, Rome, during the dark ages, the Renaissance – I mean, Michelangelo? Hello?! The reformation, the age of reason, the gilded age, industrialization, the great depression, the Civil War, Walt Whitman, WW1, WW2 – Alan Turing – the forties, fifties, sixties, seventies, AIDS – and despite it all – we’ve survived. Somehow.
We are a nebulous people.
We have no place to call home. No ethnicity. No physical characteristics that set us apart from another. We don’t come from some region of the world. We are everywhere. Alive. Thriving.
But we are a people and as a people we are as diverse in personality and philosophy, theology or lack thereof as everyone else.
We have created culture, we’ve destroyed civilizations, we’ve conquered the world, we’ve been conquered by it. We’ve been taken lovers by Kings (King James comes to mind), and have created the most exquisite art when commissioned by Popes, we’ve saved the world, and did you’re hair before your wedding. We’ve operated on you, taught you, flown you across the sky, and buried your body.
WE.ARE.
Nebulous we may be but we are as old as time itself.
And we do not need you to survive.
I think this genre has had good intentions but I think it’s colonized us – or has attempted to.
It uses paternalism, the same paternalism used against women and minorities going back forever – to shoe horn us, or to create this static border around us, and define what is in fact so nebulous about us.
Like you know better than we do about who we are. America, Western civilization, and the modern world is but a glimmer of the time in which we’ve existed.
It’s like you’re trying to save us. Not only from the world at large. But from ourselves.
And in that, you drag out of every single corner of society anything with the word ‘gay’ on it and prop it up for the entire world to see, and embrace, and to hell with you if you don’t.
I resent that.
How dare you?
I have within me, the same amount of majesty, the same artistic inclination, or warring battle cries as any and all races, classes, and groups of people my gender, or otherwise.

‘Homo sumhumani nihil a me alienum puto’  –  I am human,  nothing human can be alien to me.
Stop telling us we’re wrong.
Stop telling us, no.
Stop telling us to be quiet.
Stop arguing with us about things that concern us unless you’re arguing to protect an investment and if you really want to argue on that premise – then we’ve walked into slave owner mentality.
My brother James Baldwin said back in the day, I ain’t your negro.

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Well, I ain’t your homo.
I am not, nor are my brothers, some poor pitiful homos that must be protectively pressed against your bosom.
Just like any healthy relationship out there, the dynamics of and definitions of need and want are important.
I want you in my life – as an equal.
But I don’t need you in my life to exist.
The statement of, “We want gay men to have happy endings.” is a kind and virtuous one.
But we’ve had endings. All of them.
And we will again.
You’ll give birth to us. We are your children. We will survive.

Coming To (poem)

Coming To

An F.e.Feeley Jr / Dan Stone poem

Him:

I’m giving back the ring.
It’s the last “no” to the questions
we could never answer,
the ones we never asked.
The last step outside
the circle we could
never really manage
to complete.
It’s our fade to black,
our exit stage left and right.
Consider it a token
of regret, a not so
fond farewell,
my “J’ai fini.”

Me:

How were we strangers?
When I know you down
to the scar on your hip
and your cool gray eyes
when i got down on one knee
I tasted the salt on your mouth
and now this ring, a token not of
regret but all that was broken
between two men
How did this happen?
This Au Revior
but there is no good in goodbye
J’en ai fini avec toi

Him:

You would go there,
bring your lips to my ear
and whisper what I’ll miss,
make this ache even more,
remembering how you kissed
that scar, convinced me
it would heal
when all we did
was tear the tender pieces
of our faith apart,
demonstrate how much
we both misunderstood.
I can’t forget your hand
resting on my heart,
your sighs in your sleep,
your feet warming mine,
but I’ll still make that claim
and wish I could.

Me:

I see,
I saw what you did there,
took what I said what I felt
and made it into war
this isn’t about disunity
this is about fear
of letting go of what you were
before we met
of what that braided claddah white gold ring meant
we joined more than nethers to nethers
we became a consecrated union of souls
where I must die and you must die
to birth something new and you now
circumspect, suspicious, and beautiful
still
blame me if you must and lie to yourself
but there is no forgetting as there is no unloving,
no unwinding of what we’ve done

Him:

What would you have me do?
If our scaffolding
still stands,
our bridges haven’t burned
why are you just
standing there,
me over here
both lobbing
weightless words
and turning phrases,
talking what we
cannot hear
or find a way
to wander through?
Where was your certainty
when I needed you
to hold it—me—close,
to bend so we don’t break?
Could it be
we only comprehend
the fear, the grip
and gasp of death
the mess we make
and not the labor,
not the long deep breath
needed after birth?

Me:

put my ring on
is what I’d have you do
as the bow has broken
and the cradle has shattered
on the floor
our masks are stripped away
leaving us more naked
in each other’s eyes than
the bed we’ve shared
I do hold you
as I’ve held you
as I’ll always hold you
I know no certainty, no vow,
no prayer
and without you no pride of place
except for the burning in my gut
and the wretched wraiths of loneliness
howling between my ears , now
I know. I know!
Curse you and damn you!
What would I have you do?
Love me and live and die for me
and kiss and cry and bleed for me
and let us breathe only the air
that exists between us
And the mess we’ve made

Him:

Is this the truth
we’ve wrung from
both our hands,
dug up from our
trench of frowns
our balled up fists?
Could we just now
be coming to?
Are you just now
seeing me unclothed,
unarmed, unbound
by all I hoped
you’d never see,
and are you telling me
it’s what you’ve waited for?
I never knew.
I never even dreamed
this nakedness
could be enough.
I hope this hope,
this match we’ve struck
is all it seems, more
than everything
I’ve been afraid to want,
the blood the sweat
the sweet the salt
the flesh and bone,
a love that rockets
through the midnight sky,
this sun and moon
rising, setting
in our eyes,
this ring back on,
this making up.

Me:

Yes

Yin and Yang of us (Poem)

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I am not me, alone
Not anymore
There is no self identifier
I, has become we
me has become thee
It’s all combined, now

You are not you, alone
When you walk through that door
the other half of you greets the other half of me
Us, transformed
morphed, molded,
immersed into another being, now

When your gone away
to wherever your labor takes you
I count the minutes and seconds
till the rest of me walks through the door

When I’m here alone
You labor along side of me
your thoughts become my words
I ponder what you’ve taught me
and give it away to the world

Not codependent, symbiotic
my breath, my body,
your heartbeat, your laughter
Yin and Yang
we are – individually- part of the whole, now

…because my lover’s lying there (poem)

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I believe in God when I see the sun crests over the horizon,
when the rain taps upon my window pane and the scent of sweet olive wafts sweet perfumes from it’s chalice
the sweet intoxication of it’s scent lingers invisibly upon the humid June morning air.
 
But it’s at night, and for far more mundane things have been done
when the carpet’s been vacuumed, and dinner put away
after the dog’s been walked, a show on Netflix watched and lovin’ had
I believe in God, not for some miraculous start of a day, because I see my lover lying there

Aries Born (poem)

 

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(Photo by Greg Rakozy)

 

Morning-born under the sign of the Ram
while my moon taught me to roar
fire chain whips rolling off my tongue
and pleasure from my fingertips

go away, come back
love me the way you want to
I’ll drink your water when my throat aches
and my heart needs to recover

then let me go to soar
far into the night sky and rage
as I chase away the dark
for those who’s signs are endowed with the earth and of the water and of the air

but tether my foot
and outstretch your strong arms
for when I need to cry from having darts
thrown into my soul
wrap me up then and take your demon home

should you do this
should you vow to do this
knowing I belong to the night
knowing it’s the air I need that makes me breathe
knowing it’s the earth that feeds me
knowing it’s the water that gives me the release I need

Should you do this
it’s your body alone that I will allow to possess me
when the morning comes and we come with it
and the sun takes my place in the sky
I’ll lay quietly in your loving arms
and fall asleep to bird song.

Tired of being angry.

I used to get so bent out of shape at the writers in this genre. Several months ago, I was fueled with a lot of anger and a lot of jealousy.
The books I wrote – were solid. The reviews, great.
But I wasn’t selling.
And then I would read something that was sort of what someone would refer to as ‘brain candy’ and I would get angry that they were a huge seller.
I was bitter.
I kept asking myself, how is that happening?
I mean, here I am giving people depth and great stories filled with powerful subject matter which was being lauded by those who took the time to read it.
And then I would make 24 dollars a quarter. Twenty-four bucks.
My worth was tied into the money and not the art.
And in that moment I started reading reviews of other people’s work. But only the negative ones.
I danced on other people’s pain when their book got skull dragged through the mud because I was jealous of their success.

And it doesn’t mean that some of my anger wasn’t justified. It was. I had asked a question about the way gay men were depicted in this genre and immediately was set upon by people who instantly accused me of misogyny and told me I should be quiet because I’m privileged – as a man. They completely dismissed and disregarded the fact that I am a queer man and because of that fall under a totally new set of circumstances. And because I am a queer man – when I accepted that label and in turn accepted that lifestyle – what privilege I did have went up in smoke.

Because the truth is – when you come out as gay – even to women – you’re feminized immediately and can sometimes become the butt of some white liberal’s jokes.

I had been summarily dismissed.

I couldn’t write. I couldn’t read it. And for a writer unable to write – that’s agony.

There’s a problem when you toss out words such as privilege and accuse people of things like cultural appropriation and bigotry. Those things are boomerang terms. And eventually, because all things are NOT equal, they’re going to find their way back to you. I watched it happen to an author who accused me of misogyny. He put out a book and got slammed for it, himself.

Because someone, somewhere is always waiting for someone to make a misstep. Someone somewhere who probably couldn’t write their way out of a wet paper bag is always waiting in the wings to take someone down. And Romance – a genre this is set upon anyway – is always a soft target. And so are it’s writers. There are those who do, and there are those who talk about those who do. We call them, critics.

But here’s the thing. The writer/ critic dynamic is not set apart. We are symbiotic. One cannot exist without the other. And when you have toxic writers or toxic critics – all is left is a total mess that everyone else will go out of their way to avoid. And from the outside looking in, I can see why people would avoid us, or make fun of us. Because, of course, this would happen in this genre.

And social media has made it possible to sit behind the computer in the safety of your own home and say some of the most vile things a person can say to another with anonymity. Things no one would DARE say to another person’s face.

So here’s the thing – you can please some people all of the time or you can please all of the people some of the time. But you will NEVER be able to please all the people all of the time.

So don’t try.

The pressure isn’t worth it.

Write your stories. Do your best. Because in reality, the dream of being the next New York Times bestseller is as much a pipe dream as a gay guy being able to convert his straight best friend into domestic loving bliss.

It’s a fantasy. All of it.

And at the end of the day, some people need a way out of their reality. If this election has taught me ANYTHING – it’s that some people don’t want the seriousness or the heaviness of Queer literature. They don’t to read about someone’s past, or their pain, or the road they’ve traveled. It reminds them too much of what they’ve lived through even if they’re not queer.

People are hurting – and sometimes it’s not the responsibility of artists to reflect the world around them. Sometimes it’s our responsibility to ease the tormented soul. And if werepenguin shifters, MPREG, and GFY is the way out ……I’d rather they take that road that to sit in their misery.

Straight people will NEVER know what it’s like to be gay. Ever. Just like I will never know what it’s like to be a lesbian or a bisexual or an African American. And asking me to know, 100 percent, on point, all the time these nuances of people and personality and background – is the height of privilege, ironically. And we know the difference between someone who tries and those who are in it to make money.

But at the end of the day – so does everyone else .

I’m just tired of being angry. I’ll write the world I see, how I see it, and the things that I’ve experienced. And I’ll publish it. And I’ll be waiting for those who want something more – even if that doesn’t make me a bajillionaire.

But i am done perpetuating hurt. I’m not going to junk punch everyone who wanders over the minefield of wounds this life has given me by mistake.

I’ll just be an artist. And I am totally okay with that. Maybe I’ll be famous when I’m dead. I don’t write m/m Romance. I write queer lit. And that’s cool, too.

To those, I’ve offended in the past. I am sorry.

The Tree – (A ghost story Part 3)

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Welcome back to part 3 of The Tree. I  hope you are liking the story so far. You may have noticed that there are some errors and misspellings around but that’s only because this is as raw a manuscript as it gets. All the editing, formatting etc. will all come later on. But I do hope you are enjoying the story thus far. So, without further ado – The Tree – Part 3 .

 

Chapter 3

 

The house was relatively quiet at two fifty-two in the morning. The large hallways of the colonial house sat dark, save for the green light from the microwave and the tick tock of an old clock above the entry way to the kitchen. Moon glow filtered in through the windows. The only noise that could be heard was Mr. Rhodes deep snoring that echoed through the entire first floor. Upstairs, one bare leg out of the covers, one arm tossed over his head, snoring just like his father- just not as loud- was Erik. In his room, decorated with pictures of him as he grew up, his pennants in sports, his high school diploma, and school banners. His mother hadn’t had the heart to come in and redo the room. Every time she’d made up her mind, she made it into the room hell bent on making it a sewing room , ended up waxing nostalgic, turning back, and shutting the door. Before his father had gone to bed, he poked his head out on the back porch to tell Erik that Grandpa’s old radio was in his room in case he had a hard time going to sleep.

“I haven’t slept with a radio on in a couple of year’s dad. But thank you.” He said grinning from ear to ear and blushing a bit given Jason and Erin were still there.

After kissing his sister goodbye and hugging Jason, he wandered upstairs, stripped down to his skivvies and fell into a liquor induced deep sleep. A warm wind blew into the bedroom from an unseen place ruffling the bed clothes briefly. It lingered over his sleeping form before darting right, fluttering the pennants on the walls, before settling in front of his grandfather’s old radio. The dial clicked on lighting the front of machine with a pale-yellow light. Immediately music poured out broken by static. However, the dial slowly began to turn to the left. The orange bar in the center moving over to the lower end of the radio frequency until it reached the bottom. The room was now filled with static, white noise before a voice whispered out. It was male.

“Erik?” It said piercing out into the dark room.

“Erik?”

In the bed, across from it, bathed in yellow light, Erik mumbled in his sleep and turned his head his brow furrowing.

“Erik?”

“What grandpa?” he asked in his sleep.

“Be strong, son.  Stay by your tree. Use your gift. Don’t be afraid of it,” the voice said.

“Use it by the tree. ‘Kay.”

“I love you. Your grandma says hello.”

“mhmmm, ‘kay. I love you. ‘llo G’ma.” he said and began to snore. The radio cackled for a second longer before the dial turned and it went off. The warm wind backed away from the unplugged machine, back to the sleeping form and lingered for a moment before leaving the room and down into the house. The entire event took seven minutes to play out. Downstairs the kitchen clock read, three a.m. The only sound in the house now was the deep snoring of his father.

 

 

The next morning dawned bright and early. As Erik surfaced from a fitful sleep after having dreams that were splintered like a broken mirror, with images that were disjointed, he felt a little disoriented. There were images of the woman he’d defended in court, the sound of music playing, a black woman with gold coins in her hair, his grandfather, and several other things he couldn’t quite remember as he opened his eyes. Doing so, didn’t help the disjointed feeling either, instead of staring at the white walls of his apartment in Houston, he was staring at a window and the little dust particles that rained down like fairies dancing in the morning sun. He could hear birds singing and the distant buzz of a weed eater beyond as the smell of bacon frying.

I don’t live with anyone he thought to himself and immediately sat up his heart racing in his chest. He looked around the room quickly and the events of the day before came racing back. And although it looked to be a glorious morning, his heart sank a little in his chest. He was back in his room, back in his parents’ house, jobless, over the age of thirty, and a woman was going to die because of his ineptitude. Erik slumped a little as his shoulders drooped as he began to make a mental list of the things he’d have to take care of today.

A knock on the door sounded twice before the handle was turned and opened. Erik, before he could speak, was able to pull the covers over himself as his mom poked her head in.

“Good morning sunshine.” She said with a grin. Susan Rhode’s hair, perfectly cut and brushed out in public was standing straight up on her head in spots and flat in others. It must have been early.

“Hey, good morning. What time is it?” He asked.

“Seven a.m. I figured you’d still be asleep.” she said stepping in. She was still in her bathrobe.

“No, I’ve got some things I need to get done today. Some phone calls and stuff.” he said running a hand through his hair. His mom came in and sat down on the edge of his bed with a smile on her face.

“What?”

“Oh, nothin’ just that your father said you’d told him that you didn’t sleep with a radio on anymore. I guess grandpa’s old radio came in handy.”

“I didn’t have a radio on last night, mom. And by the way, how can you hear anything with the symphonic range that is dad’s snoring?”

“Honey, I’m a mother. Your father’s snoring has been going on like that since we’ve been married. But when you kids were little, I could hear you or Erin calling my name when you’d had a nightmare or when you were up and about when you shouldn’t have been. Your momma ain’t lost her touch.” she said and Erik couldn’t help but grin.

“Your breakfasts still amazing?”

“Your damn right. But next time don’t play the radio so loud you’ll wake the dead.” she said as she stood up. Erik was still confused and after she left, he tossed the blankets aside and stood up. He walked over to where his father had placed the radio and picked it up. It was an old thing, barely held together with duct tape. It also had a tightly bound piece of Reynolds Wrap tin foil shoved into a hole where the antenna had been years ago. The dial was turned off, and the frequency was turned all the way to the right. He reached down absently for the chord and picked up the other end of it.

“The damn thing wasn’t even plugged in mom.” He said to her absent form. Shrugging his shoulders, he set the antique back down on his desk and looked out of the window. He first caught sight of his tree and the river that gently made its way beneath it and felt his heart stir a little. He thought of the things he had to do, again, and felt his heart kick start.

“They may be shitty, but they won’t be so bad in the shade.” he said quoting his grandfather and then, biting his lower lip he felt a giggle escape as he turned to his dresser for summer clothes he’d left behind when he visited. You know, just in case.

Ten minutes later and clad in a pair of swim trunks and an old t-shirt, he made his way down the stairs and into the kitchen where his mom and dad were eating breakfast. He greeted them with a smile as he made his way over to the coffee pot and poured himself a cup. His cell phone beeped at him and he barely gave it a glance when his father told him it’d been ringing off the hook all morning.

“I’m sorry, I should have turned it off last night.” he said making his way to the table where they sat.

“What are your plans for this morning?” his mother asked handing him a bowl of fried potatoes. He took it happily.

“Honestly? I am going to be on that damn thing most of the morning, I suppose. I have to get a lot taken care of.” he said as he placed the bowl down and reached for the scrambled eggs and sausage that was on a platter.

“Can’t it wait for another day?” his mom asked.

“I guess it could. But I guess it’s probably better to rip it quick. I have to call the apartment complex and tell them I am breaking the lease and will have to authorize a payment for that. Call a moving company and set up a time for them to come and get my stuff and pay to have it shipped here along with my car. I need to call the office and let them know I’m alive and maybe deal with some last minute things for them. So, it’s going to be a busy morning.” he said as he diced up the meal in front of him and heaped it all together. He took a mouthful of food and almost moaned in pleasure it was so good. His impulse was to eat fast. To shovel it down like he did when he was working. But he mentally forced himself to stop, to chew, and to appreciate where he was.

“Do you have enough money?” David asked leaning over the table.

Startled by the question, Erik stared at him for a moment. He had quite a bit of money, actually. The years had been good to him. A natural, his bosses called him as they’d worked on several cases. He’d lived cheap, especially in the last several months with the murder case. Texas lawyers all signed up for defense attorney work if they wanted it, it was a way to get their name out there in larger circles.  But after this last case, he’d be damned if he went back to represent some high dollar divorcee who wanted to keep their millions safe or the other party who wanted half of what the other person had. It all seemed so laughably insane.

His mother and father stared at him as he stared back. He shook his head. “I’m good, dad. Thanks.”

“Okay, let me know if you need a little help.” he responded and it made his heart melt. His father had retired a couple of years ago and mom followed a couple of years later from her banking job. They’d done well, even managed to skirt the 08 collapse mostly intact and what they’d lost was made up again with good investments and a rebounding economy. But there was no way Erik would ask them for money.

“Okay.” he replied. He didn’t need their money. time and home and company…. well, he’d take as much of that as he could get.

A couple hours later, out under the shade of his tree, he went through the text messages that were left since his departure from Houston as he sat under the shade of his favorite tree. There were messages from his former co-workers from the majority of the people he liked. There There were even a couple from people who’d just started at the firm and were hoping to be kept in the loop of what had happened. He didn’t respond to any of those. The one he did respond to was from Erin who flat out told him he’d be attending a barbecue over at her boyfriend’s house tonight and to wear something cute, Noah was going to be there.

Erik rolled his eyes and typed back a message: I’ll go, but I’m not looking to hook up. What time?

Erin: Five thirty. I’ll come get you.

Erik: Ok. I’ll be ready.

With a grin on his face, and the sweet summer morning breeze around him, he settled in and started the unpleasant task of unwinding the ball of razor wire that had become his life. As he sat there, with his back to the trunk of his old tree, he hung one foot over the little cliff above the river and felt an attachment to the earth he’d not felt in a long time.

Minutes turned to hours. Brief phone calls turned into extended ones filled with pleasantries and platitudes, a couple of times he had to fish out his wallet to authorize payments, and give detailed instructions how he wanted his things shipped. He took time in between calls to relax, to remember to breathe, and not to get worked up.  After confirming with his former employer- who at one point raised his voice- that he wasn’t coming back, they relented and asked if he wanted to be kept abreast of the case he’d been handling. And to also warn him that it was likely to garner national attention.

“Well, if I am going to see it on Joe Scarborough in the morning, I think I’ll be alright.” Erik said.

“Man, but you were our star. Two more years and you would have made partner. You had a GIFT!” Roger said, his Texas twang making the word sound like gfyt.  

            Use your gift.

            A chill cascaded down Erik’s back. He turned his head to look up at the solid oak he lay back on and something rattled around in his head. What? A memory?

“By the tree.” He muttered.

“What was that?” Roger asked.

“I said working for you all been the gift, a real blessing. I just, I know I shouldn’t have walked out, not like that. But, I had to. Sometimes you just know when it’s time to go.” He said, partially placating his boss’s feelings and partially trying not to sound like the weirdo he suddenly felt like. A few minutes later, after telling his former boss where to send his final check, he hung up and set the phone down by his side.  Leaning back on the trunk of the tree, he stared out over the creek.  It was high and the water was quickly moving. There had been stories about people drowning in the undertow. Some Kayakers who tipped over when they paddled the creek after heavy rains. But right now, it’s clear water looked so inviting that Erik stripped off his shirt and stood up on the bank of the river.

It was deep in some parts, shallow in others, and just to be careful he slid down on his butt until the drop wouldn’t hurt him and he launched himself with a triumphant whoop into the water. It was cool, so cool in fact that it sort of took his breath away. But as he surfaced, he exhaled happily and swam a couple of times between the shores. HE felt the water ripple pass him, wanting to take him further downstream, and it sluiced over his body like a gentle lover welcoming his beloved back home.

Erik found a shallow spot and stood up, wiping his face. He could taste the mineral of the water on his lips. It tasted the same as it always had. And the water felt as it always did even though more years had passed since he’d been there than he’d like to count. In his mind, he could still hear the laughter of he and his friends, or see his grandfather and grandmother as they talked to his parents on the bank of the river as he and Erin swam safety in their eyeshot on fourth of July picnics and Memorial Day. Dad would barbeque and by the end of the day their faces would be sticky with butter from corn on the cob and sauce from ribs, their bellies would be full, and the walk from the bank to the house would feel like miles. He remembered being swooped up in his parent’s arms or his grandfather’s before being carried into the house and the next thing he knew; it would be morning.

Erin and he spent almost every single day together. They were unalike a lot of their friends and their siblings. There seemed to be no competition between the two. They didn’t vie for their parent’s affections or attention; she’d been Erik’s body guard and he’d been hers all through their lives.  When one got in trouble, the other usually got into trouble for getting mouthy with their parents.  When their friends came over, it was the two of them, or neither of them. All through grade school, middle, and high school they were together. Only when they became adults did she go on her way to be an engineer and he a lawyer.  They only thing they didn’t share was his love for that old tree.

He waded through the water to where a portion of the root system had burst through the sloping wall and he pressed a hand on it. “It’s okay. Not everyone has to understand.”

When he was a boy, he’d had his friend Jeremy over while Erin had the flu and the two boys were playing on the ice. They’d spent the day sliding on their shoes and falling, building forts of snow, and played generals as they lobbed snowballs over at each other. He remembers Jeremy’s mom stopped by to pick him up and after the boy had walked up the embankment and had been long gone, Erik had decided he was too cold to be out here alone. He’d crossed the ice one final time to pick up an errant hockey stick that served as the flag post for his snow fort and on his way back, he’d stepped into the center of river when he heard a deafening crack.

As he passed from the surface into the water, it felt like his whole body was being stabbed by a thousand needles. In pain and in shock, he accidentally exhaled his breath as he was pushed by the quick undercurrent. He tried to surface but all his fists found was the sheet of ice on top of him. In sheer terror, he inhaled a lungful of water as he pounded away at the barrier between him and the much-needed oxygen just a few inches above his submersed head.  As black dots began to form in his vision and he began to drift asleep, he felt a whoosh and a massive displacement of water as the ice next to him exploded.  With what little strength eh had left he pushed himself over and surfaced gasping for breath. He expected a hand to haul him out but once his vision swum back into focus there was no one there. He dragged himself to the short and saw that a massive tear width wise had been placed in the ice.

Erik remembered looking up and seeing the tree above his head that had been covered in snow and ice, was now barren. And as he ran up the embankment into his house to warm up, he could have sworn he saw water running down the trunk when he ran passed.  Shivering almost uncontrollably, he was forced to stop his inspection and book it back into the house. When his mother saw him she screamed out in horror, and swept him into the house, and toward the bathroom screaming at her husband that he wasn’t to go back out on to the ice ever again. Of course, he did. But he never went nor stayed out there alone again.

“Why did I forget that?” He murmured as he stood waist deep in the water.  A way off in the distance, he heard  cheerful voices making their way closer. He knew that revelers often traversed the length of the river getting in at one point and drinking all day before being picked up further downriver. To avoid having to speak to them and to avoid getting too much sun on his pale skin, he slugged up the side of the embankment using the tree as a banister as he made his way up. He patted his friend on it’s flank before bending over and grabbing his cell phone and deposited shirt before making his way back into the house.  He glanced back over one more time before he went inside to see the tree standing as it always had, leaning gently out over the river and toward the sun.

Gothika 5 is coming in time for Halloween! (M/M romance preorder)

gothika-contact

 

I am so beyond excited to be a part of this great anthology with some very awesome writers in the M/M community.

Blurb:

Since ancient times, humankind has looked into the night sky and wondered: Are we alone? Are there other civilizations beyond the stars? Will we ever encounter these beings? Who are they, what are they like, and what might they want with us?

These questions are about to be answered, but those who discover the truth might wish they had never asked. On the other hand, some might find salvation in visitors from other planets. For while some aliens are hostile, others are benevolent. Some have little in common with humans, but for others, the need for love and acceptance is universal. Lives will intersect and otherworldly passions will ignite as four acclaimed authors of gay romance explore first contact—and where it can lead.

Authors:

F.E. Feeley Jr

Jamie Fessenden

Kim Fielding

B.G Thomas

From my own personal story – My Final Blog – here is an excerpt:

The house was quiet at two thirty in the morning. Outside, the wind howled as tree limbs brushed against the window, making eerie scratching noises against the glass. A clock tick-tocked in the kitchen until the second hand reached twelve in its continuous rotation. Then it stopped. The lights, which had been off, flickered in a wave throughout the house as if they were ocean waves crashing upon the shore. In slow motion, they came on and went off on their way to the bedroom where George slept deeply. Had he been awake, he would have noticed the smell of ozone, as if lightning had struck somewhere close. In the bedroom, the lights flickered once before going dark. The computer in the corner booted to life. George rolled over in bed and murmured Elijah’s name. The load-up screen finished, bringing up the desktop. Its blue light illuminated the room. George rolled over onto his side, subconsciously avoiding it. The camera

The load-up screen finished, bringing up the desktop. Its blue light illuminated the room. George rolled over onto his side, subconsciously avoiding it. The camera atop his computer, used to skype with distant friends and relations and to take the occasional selfie for his Facebook page, began to focus in and out. A window popped open on the desktop, and the image of George’s bed appeared. Suddenly the screen turned completely white and began to flash in quick succession, in patterns of three. Through the speakers, pulses blared in time with the flashing light. It came out as a static thud-thud-thud. George rolled over in bed again and threw back the covers before sitting up. His face was creased with the indentions of the pillow and his hair hung in his eyes. As he stood up, George’s T-shirt clung to his lithe body.

He walked closer to the computer, his eyes staring, dead, into the flashing light. George stood there swaying on his feet for a moment before reaching down and removing his shirt. The white light flashed in quicker succession and the pulses coming out of the speakers increased in volume. He turned around slowly, lifting his arms into the air and then back down in a strange sort of ballet. Once he turned back around, George tucked his thumbs into the waistband of his pants and, in one fell swoop, lowered them to the ground. He kicked out of them and stood there, barefoot, in front of the computer screen, with a semi-erection. Once again he turned in slow motion. When he came back around, the flashing had stopped, although the camera box was open. On its swivel, the camera turned its eye up at George. The lens began to flash with a red light into the eyes of the man who now stood there with a full erection jutting out. And then the screen went dark and the computer shut itself off. George stood there a moment longer before turning around and walking back, naked, to his bed. He climbed underneath the covers and turned over onto his side. Before too long, snoring could be heard as the lights in the bedroom flickered three times before reversing their travel through the house.

Gothika 5 “Contact” comes out October 24th! Just in Time for Halloween!

Visit https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/contact-7680-b to order your copy today!

 

Little Messiah (poem)

​There isn’t a place I’ve been that I’ve not run from

When midnight struck the clock on the wall

And late became the hour

And like the damned in fairy-tale legends

Morning set my feet to flee before the sun crest over the horizon upon the very next day
When ashes all settled from the bridges I’ve burnt

Whose broken bodies lay limp over yawning 

Deep canyons

With my fingers smelling once again of gasoline and tear drops

I bore the Weight of myriad transgressions on ever bent neck and sloping shoulders
My feet once tender had turned to stone 

My face once fat had become lean

Sweet smiles lines became deep set and turned to frown lines 

At the corners of my mouth

With ragged and raging and fearful soul

I turned my back on heaven and the son and my home
I was the prodigal son unwilling to beg forgiveness

For made up sins wrapped neatly in heavenly torment

I was Jonah who’d conquered that whale with simple reason

I was Paul and Silas bound beaten and bloody

Who instead of praying, fucked my way out of that jail
And like the damned and unrepentant third man on the cross

I thought forever my poor soul would roam

Burning bridges and abandoning beds before sun up

Unable to call any place, any house, my home
But twisted fate is always twisted and it twisted me once more 

As it Bound me over naked and afraid

Unrepentant vagabond born again hedonist 

Begging for an early grave
But then with tenderness you spoke in my ear

And upon your feet I spilled my hearts discontent

I let you know among which shadows I danced within

And repeated back to you all I learned about God
With Grace’s supernatural understanding

You took the can of gasoline from my left hand

The Zippo lighter right out of my left

You bathed the dust from off my feet with sweet oils

And for the first time, made love to me that night
You blue eyed angel with dark hair and tender faith

You’ve restored and take care of my soul

And when you love me you love all of me 

All of who and where and what I’ve been

And now that the clock is winding steadily to midnight

I lay my head upon your chest, little Messiah, and wonder at the mysteries of God.

Gay for you

John (my husband) and I were having a discussion about the origins of sexuality. Were we really born this way?

He was telling me about a story he’d read where a straight guy had a roommate that he’d known was gay. They’d been roommates for years. But as time wore on he started becoming a little bit angrier and a little bit angrier until he’d become downright mean to the guys his roommate brought home. He’d never considered himself a homophobe. He’d been pretty opened minded about the whole thing but he couldn’t figure out why he was raging against his friend’s boyfriends so much. And it had gotten to the point where his friend was tired of his shit.

Well, it bothered him enough to take it to social media where explained the situation and asked for help. And some of the responses came back inquiring if in fact, his anger may not be gay hating, but simple human jealousy. Was he jealous of these guys? So, he took his issue to his sister, who basically said the same thing.

One night while the two guys were having a Quentin Tarantino marathon *romantic, I know* the guy started to talk to his roommate about what he was feeling and what people had said about it. And then he kissed his roommate. And then suddenly realized, ‘Hey, I may be gay.”

Because now, he has a boyfriend.

We’re all familiar with this idiot diagram below.

The-Kinsey-Scale

Not for the Kinsey Scale per se, but because the scale goes from Modest to Slut in six easy steps. Like the more ‘gay’ you are the bigger hoe you are. And that isn’t true. But Kinsey does allude to sexual fluidity.
Now, if we assume sexuality can be fluid, we should also consider love to be fluid as well.

I believe love is never stationary. It’s in a state of flux.

Consider the process of meeting someone you find attractive. You meet, you talk, and maybe set up a date for coffee. You are attracted to them. You find you like them. Now let us say one date leads to two, two days together ends up, weekends together, then you give them a key, then they move in..over time like (aided by lust) slowly begins to turn into love. Now, you ‘go steady’ (does anyone go steady anymore) and suddenly there is an engagement ring, a wedding. And in that process – love- is changing. It’s, hopefully, but not in all circumstances – growing. You’re in love. The greek called this Eros. Romantic/ erotic love.

But over the years, they body breaks down. Gravity and old age set in. Maybe your no longer having sex. Or maybe you are. But you don’t look the same. But you hold hands, kiss, sleep next to each other. Very much still in Eros sure. But let us say one of you gets sick. And maybe it’s a bad sick. Chemotherapy, vomit, bed pans, maybe adult diapers, maybe even having to clean them up.

What keeps people from leaving?

I hypothesize that love, that selfish Eros, has grown up. And just like the silver in your hair, there is little strains of Agape or Selflessness now, unconditional or even Godly love. Love that allows your heart to remember when you were young and beautiful – and maintains that beauty and holds that steady.

We live in an age now where we’re slapping labels on everything. Genderfluid, homoromantic, genderqueer, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, heteroromantic,- fuck a duck- everyone has a title and I can’t keep up. Today, everyone has a label. My question is, why?

Why the labels? And why are we militantly defending them? And are we really born that way?

I think we’ve said so to legitimize ourselves. There’s an innate need to defend ourselves and saying we’re born that way. It sort of removes the nebulousness of human

When talking about labels, it’s important to understand that these are arbitrary and are culturally determined anyway. Homosexual in the current US meaning didn’t really come around until the 20th century. Until then, there was a concept of same-sex behavior but not BEING gay. (Think Romanesque behavior of the Top not being homosexual because he was the one doing to fucking whereas the one being fucked, was homosexual). We can see this attitude reflected in Latino culture.

There’s an innate need to defend ourselves and saying we’re born that way. It sort of removes the nebulousness of human affection and its necessary in the age where we live. If you can delegitimize people, you can dehumanize them, and if you dehumanize them, you can do with them as you please. And most of that would come from God-fearing religious people. So I understand the why part that.

I’ll even go so far as saying the scientific community, as well as the psychological community, have jumped in to bolster this ‘born this way’ argument. Mostly, because they understand what happens to ‘other’. The usually end up hurt or worse. Murdered because of their ‘otherness’.

But the question I have, is it possible that our understanding of sexuality is as limited as our understanding as to why some couples make it into their golden years and some don’t? Or as limited as our understanding of love? Every time I hear someone say, “Love is love, I want to give them a high five in the face with a chair.”

Because, no it isn’t.

I am not saying one love is less than, or one is more than, but I think Heraclitus said it best, “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”

It’s human nature to want to compartmentalize. To label. And point at something and say this is this because it has these attributes.

What if gay people are not born that way? Would it matter? What if people weren’t born lesbian, or bisexual, or transgendered? Would it matter?

“Well, it would delegitimize me.”

To whom? And do they matter?

Could sexuality be as innocuous and mundane as a gentleman who prefers blondes who one day sees a redhead that knocks him off his feet?

Love is a human experience. An Asian no more loves a person than someone of African descent. No gay person loves more profoundly than a woman or a straight man. No lesbians words are sweeter, nor truer, than the depths and breadth of human language  and experience.

Is it simply preferential?

“Well ,then this becomes a sin.”

No, it wouldn’t. The sin is to not seeking love. The sin is To turn away from it. And I am not talking about hate (that is not the opposite of love), I’m talking about Apathy.

We seek love. All of us. In one way or another seek to connect to one another. Be in familial, erotic, platonic, agape, We seek to connect. It’s what makes us human.

I remember looking for ‘my origins’, trying to connect with the past. As if this was some evolutionary process. And trying to find out other people’s experiences. And reading stories about love. And how they fell in love. And when did they know and suddenly the prevailing wisdom was, ‘well, some people are born this way.” But there is NO hard proof to suggest that. There’s stuff that kinda sorta eludes to maybe , but nothing solid. Psychology, the same thing. And I don’t think there ever will be.

So what happened with the straight guy and his gay roommate? He started falling in love with him. He moved passed the gender, moved passed, the labels, moved passed the stigma. Does that make the straight guy gay or bisexual? If he sees himself as bisexual or gay, yes. That’s not a title we get to put on him. That’s a title he gets to claim for himself.

Is it possible for an absolutely one hundred percent heterosexual male to fall in love with a gay man? Sure. If he steps into love and finds the waters have changed. Because when he steps down, he finds that love isn’t the same, and neither is he.