I was just invited to a Fourth of July party called “Girl you betta fireWERK!”
I have a nephew who grew up in rural Arizona. Yep, that would be the conservative, rural part of the state that is known for politicians who want to make sure people don’t lose their constitutional rights to walk into a bar with a semi-automatic rifle.
Anyway, my nephew Sam came out when he was 14. He told his mother and father, and they helped him come out to friends at school, and they supported him, and soon enough, there he was, a 14-year-old boy who played on the soccer team and happened to be gay.
And no one died in the process. No newspapers covered this story. No one picketed, and there wasn’t really any trouble.
This pretty well flew in the face of my first novel, Out of the Pocket. That novel was pretty much a by-the-numbers coming out story. The main character, Bobby Framingham, is a football player. He has a secret. Should he come out, or shouldn’t he? He is outed, it becomes a huge story, and in the end it turns out, well, I don’t want to give it ALL away. I suppose I should keep some things mysterious for those who haven’t read it yet.
So as I started thinking about writing another novel, I was thinking about Sam. How his situation was so different than mine was, back in the 1980s. How it was even different than someone who came out in the 90s or early 2000s.
You see, Sam’s biggest complaint wasn’t homophobia, though there were, actually, some issues of homophobia that he later told us about. His biggest complaint was really about labels.
It’s not fair, really. Sam is gay. But he’s a lot of things. He’s a soccer player. He’s a flashy dresser. He’s an amazing writer. Why is it that every time someone mentioned Sam up in his high school, they led with the same thing: “The gay kid”?
This is how Openly Straight was born. I wanted to delve into what it’s like to be a gay kid in a world in which it’s more or less okay to be a gay kid, but at the same time it’s frustrating because you’re always pigeon-holed into a role that isn’t necessarily – apt?
I mean, how does kicking a soccer ball or having a flair for fashion really relate to whom you love?
What would happen, I wondered, if a kid like Sam tried to go “label-free?”
The book was a challenge to write at first, because my experience was so different than that growing up. Then, one day, something happened that changed everything.
Long story short, I was living in Billings, Montana, and I decided one day to go play racquetball at the local health club. I wear a wedding ring, because my partner and I had a civil union back in 2006.
A guy saw my ring and asked me about my wife. What was her name?
I thought, hmm. What do I do in this situation? Do I come out, because that’s the right thing to do? It could be awkward. He wasn’t really asking for my life story, after all. He was just some guy I was playing racquetball with, and I’d probably never see him again.
“Rachel,” I said.
Driving home, I wondered if I was going crazy. Was I, an out 38-year-old guy, suddenly going back in the closet? What was going on there?
The result of this exploration is Openly Straight. Why would someone want to put away a label? Can one do so? What does it mean to be “one of the guys,” and is there a barrier to being “one of the guys” in a world where gay is no longer the worst thing you can be? And are we even at that point yet?
I think this book hasn’t been written before, and that’s something I’m excited about. Being able to explore some new territory that feels important. I hope I did it justice, because I think these issues of identity, about what it means to be a person, and what it means to be a gay person, are super important.
I’m not sure I came up with all the answers, or really any answers. But I’m quite sure I came up with a bunch of questions that will make readers think. A lot.
I’m proud to say I’m friends with Sam in real life. =)Source: diversityinya
To mark us going into the studio to record our FIFTH album, we’ve made the demos of our FIRST album available for digital download for the first time. Recorded at Warwick Hall, Cardiff, back in 07/08, the tracklist is as follows:
The International Tweexcore Underground
Broken Heartbeats Sound Like Breakbeats
Drop It Doe Eyes
Death To Los Campesinos!
…And We Exhale And Roll Our Eyes In Unison
My Year In Lists
Knee Deep At ATP
We Are All Accelerated Readers
How I Taught Myself To Scream
Please note barely heard track ‘No Tetris’ and rarely heard track ‘How I Taught Myself To Scream’.