Monthly Archives: September 2013

“Tag Team” by S.J.D. Peterson— Picking Up the Pieces

tag team

Peterson, S.J.D. “Tag Team” (Guards of Folsom #2), Dreampinner Press, 2013.

Picking Up the Pieces

Amos Lassen

Robert “Bobby” Alcott and Rig Beckworth are the former owners of the Guards of Folsom. They had a boy, a sub, who died and they tried to get on with their lives without him but it was not easy. Now they are trying to find someone to take his place. They meet Mason Howard who is also floundering—his Doms were recently killed in an automobile accident. Mason is filled with grief and he also has a severe anxiety disorder. He is so distraught he barely leaves home. He is at rock bottom and no longer believes that life is worth living and this is how he was when Bobby and Rig find him. They are determined to prove him wrong yet all three are facing terrible times. They have to deal with their losses before they can live again.

Mason is indeed lost without the two most important men in his life and he is totally in despair. Bobby and Rig are likewise despondent over the loss of their sub and even though they are on vacation, they are not enjoying it. They see Mason and he sees them but he immediately runs away. For some reason, Mason’s image is lodged in Bobby’s mind and when he goes to check on him, he discovers that Mason needs him and Rig. Anyone with feelings would reach out to try to save not just Mason but Bobby and Rig. Death is very hard on the young.

I suppose it is fairly easy to think you know where this is going but let me tell you that you do not know. Even though this is not the kind of book that I usually read—leather, dom and sub and three way relationship, I was pulled right into the story and as Peterson usually does, she delivers a good story, one that is filled with emotion and power. I think what sold me on this was the two older men working so hard to help Mason and not for sexual gratification. Each man needed the other because together they completed themselves. It is never easy to read about people in pain but the rewards for doing so are great. Even if this is not your kind of fiction, have a look. I think you will be surprised.

rainbowolympics

 

 

“IN THE NAME OF…”— A Polish Priest

in the name of

In The Name Of…”

A Polish Priest

Amos Lassen

Adam (Andrzej Chyra) is a priest who has been sent to a small rural town in Poland. This was done to move him away from the Parish he had been in and also so that he can work with a group of troubled teens. The town likes him and everything was going fine. Adam has a secret – he’s gay and there were unfounded rumors about an altar boy at his old church. When he decides to take one of the youths, Lukasz (known as Humpty), under his wing, the boundaries between what is and isn’t appropriate become blurred, while those around Adam are prepared to think the worst.

name1This is a movie that starts slowly—there are characters to meet and we must become accustomed to the Polish way of live before the film really gets underway. We do immediately get the sense that we are going to see problems. We think that this is going to be a film of maligned priests who are gay or about priests who are terrible in their profession and are perhaps pedophiles that the machinations of the church help them as they abuse children. Rather, this is about a world that is difficult where no one seems to do the right thing, yet no one is totally bad. The viewer has to constantly question what he sees on the screen.

When we first see Adam we see that his interest in Lucasz sits somewhere between paternal feelings and intimacy. We can see some scenes as romantic or as an indictment of an older man taking an interest in a youngster for perverse reasons. We do see how easy that can be accomplished. However, as the film continues, the questions become more complicated as we wonder if Adam is actually doing the correct thing. Is the fact that priests must be celibate cause inappropriate things to happen? Is it because many who become priests do so because they are attracted to men? Do men who hide in the priesthood ever real deal with the issue of their sexuality and does the modern world always want to see the bad rather than the good? For me there is one greater question and that is how can the church allow this to happen especially when we look at the history of church abuse?

name2Things do happen in this film and in this story that should not have happened. However there is no condemnation or commendation of the events. We, the viewers, are left to decide and even the very last shot in the film is ambiguous. Was what happened good for Lucasz or is he trapped in the same situation as is Adam?

The Catholic Church also has no answers. It can no longer hide things as it has done for centuries but it also cannot destroy the life of a man if there is no evidence that he has done something wrong. Is it better to make a mistake in the name of caution or is such a thing unjust and that people see bad in something that is innocent. If Adam is moved around as has been the church’s practice, are not more problems raised than solved. He is still looking for a sense of intimacy. Because of these questions, the movie is frustrating but this is also what makes it so interesting—the viewers have to decide these questions but the movie does indeed take into account human exchanges and interactions as if to say that people are not deliberately bad and we must face the complexities that life brings us. This is not a film that we walk away from and forget. We realize that the world is a difficult place in which to live and there are no easy answers or solutions. There are terrible things in the world but there are also events that are not essentially good or essentially bad.

name3This is a thinking person’s film that deals with issues of celibacy and homosexuality in the church.

Today, we hardly get excited about gay priests in Western films, but it is rare that their sexual angst is portrayed as sensitively as in Poland’s “In the Name Of…” which is somewhere in an interesting middle ground between Gothic expressionism and psychological drama and with an excellent cast who give wonderful performances. This new film makes a careful distinction between homosexuality and pedophilia.

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“The Scar Letters” by Richard Alther— Confronting a Hate Crime

the scar letters

Alther, Richard. “The Scar Letters”, Centaur, 2013.

Confronting a Hate Crime

Amos Lassen

Rudy Dallman, a 40 something year old gay man was the victim of an unresolved hate crime. Eighteen years later, he confronts his assailants. Rudy had been attacked and raped and has lived in self imposed isolation ever since. His best friend, Tex, forces him to confront the issue and Rudy begins quietly to try to reconcile his past, make peace with it and move unto the future. He is a quiet, honest man and he knows that he must do this if he is to continue to live.

As we read, we not only identify with Rudy but we enter his mind and take part in his past as well as his present and we feel his pain and his resolution that in some ways raise him up. To say that this is one of the most beautifully written books that I have read in a long time is an understatement—every word seems deliberately chosen to provide power to the gorgeous prose here.

The text also contains accounts of other hate crimes that ay people have suffered in the past and we are reminded of the awful heritage we have had to endure just to be who we are. This is a novel that is a reflection of the times about which it is written especially now that the equal rights movement has finally come into its own. For the first time, sexual orientation is being openly discussed and laws are being made to protect those of us who are different. Opinions in this country have finally changed and in many places, we no longer have to live in fear.

As many of you know, I am an avid reader but I am not often knocked off my feet by something that I read especially in the matter of both plot and language but I can honestly say that this is not just one of the most beautiful books I have read this year but it is one of the most beautiful books that I have ever read. Feel free to quote me on that. We do not often get books with gay themes about men of middle age and their search for love. We have been over burdened with an inordinate amount of coming out stories that rarely have anything new to tell us. It is almost as if writers are looking for some kind of new hook but they rarely succeed. This is where Richard Alther excels here. Here we have on quests for love, men like you and I, who realize that man was not meant to be alone. The novel also deals with the issue of non acceptance and the hurt that we as gay men are forced to live with because others do not see us as equals. Abuse from our peers is the worst of all abuse. No one wants to face rejection in life and when we are rejected by those close to us, we never are really able to deal with it. The scars that are the result of that abuse stay with us and affect us in ways that can hinder our growth. There is also something else that Alther does here—he does not avoid writing about sexual encounters but he does so in ways that the eroticism comes from us and not from his written word. It is nice to have a book about men and sex that is not sordid.

Rudy has had a rough life. He was raised by his grandparents because he was unwanted by his real parents and that is no way for someone to begin life. He was just a bit heavy weight wise and he knew he was different from the time he was a pre-teen. He did not act on it until he was 20 when he went into a gay bar in search of companionship. He eventually leaves the bar and heads to a nearby part where he is attacked. He was brutally beaten, his skin was carved and he was raped with a toilet plunger. The police did nothing to help Rudy nor did they do anything to the boys who attacked him and life went on—for everyone except Rudy. He hibernates and has only his friend Tex to talk to and Jack, a therapist with his own problems. Finally he listened to Jack and Tex and he goes back into his past, finds the two who assaulted him—they are now men and he meets with them. What happens then will require you to read the book. Rudy had thought that he was never to heal from the wounds inflicted that night but he decided later to do what it would take to heal.

I really love how the author begins each chapter with facts as to how gay men have suffered punishment throughout history (and we can hope that there will, one day, be no more chapters that begin this way. We now have options to deal with crimes like these—there must be good in this world if there is to be bad and the coming together of the two is what we are. We all have suffered some kind of physical and mental bruise in the past and we have only been able to deal with them by dealing directly with them.
I am a real sucker for allowing a book to emotionally draw me in and I know that when that happens, I am having a really fine reading experience. “The Scar Letters’ grabbed me early and I felt almost every emotion as I read. When I first met Rudy, I wanted to hold him and tell him to be strong and to hold on. He broke my heart as I read and wept about his story but as he matured and decided to understand who he is as he becomes an adult and tried to figure out his mess of a life, I cheered for him and he became my new best friend. His journey became my journey and as he made internal peace so did I. I was ready to forgive all of the name callers and the classmates who never wanted me on their teams and who refused to sit next to me at school as well as the principal of a school I taught at who let me go because I was too “funny” to be on his faculty and who I ran into years later performing oral sex on a young man in the bathroom of a gay bar.

We see here that there is indeed love in this world—we just need to find it. We need to find ways to move beyond the pain we have felt. There is hope there for all of us if we only believe in it and many times that hope is inside of us all the while things do not look good or go our way. The most important thing that Rudy and Richard Alther tell us here is that a wound will never heal if it is unattended. If I had to pick one word to describe this book, it would be a simple “Wow!!!” If you read no other book this year, make sure that this is the one that you do read.

 rainbowolympics

 

“Last of the Summer Tomatoes” by Sherri Henry— Struggling with Adolescence and Sexuality

last of summer tomtaoes

Henri, Sherri. “Last of the Summer Tomatoes”, Dreamspinner Press, 2013.

Struggling with Adolescence and Sexuality

Amos Lassen

Kyle Jackowski is an emo teen who struggles with his sexuality. As he does, he gets into trouble with the law over and over again. His sentence for the last caper is commuted and instead, Kyle has to work on a farm for the summer. It is there that he meets the farm owner’s son, Sam, who shows Kyle that there is nothing wrong with loving someone and that he does not need to hide how he feels. Sam’s family shows him love and he realizes that his stepfather who is so abusive and his mother who suffers because of this are not the kinds of parents that others have. Kyle learns to accept himself and Sam’s love.

Adolescent sexuality has become a big issue lately and it is good to see people writing about it. Books like this are designed to help teens deal with the years of self-doubt. Henry has created quite a character in Kyle. He is sympathetic and he suffers from low self-esteem. I wanted to put my arm around him and tell him that everything would be alright and to just have patience. It is ultimately love that saves him—his life had been one of hurtful experience after hurtful experience. Many like him would not have the strength or the desire to live a good life. It would have been so easy for him to just give up. Instead, he was very lucky to learn that someone (Sam) thought him to be loveable thus giving him the ability to love himself.

Kyle, despite the abuse he had to deal with, is a sensitive guy with a soft-heart and he has love that he wants so badly to share. Beneath all the hurt that he suffered is a young man with talent and intelligence.

This is a simple story that is totally predictable and it is a sweet romance that is completely believable. There is no graphic sex—it is just the story of a young man finding love.

Because of his horrible home life, it came as no surprise that Kyle would get into trouble. The trouble just happened to be the catalyst for his finding what he needed. He was so starved for love and needed it so badly that when he met Sam and his parents, things just fell into place for him. He learns that he is worthy of love and he is so appreciative of the love that he gets.

This is a book that is written for young adults but that does not mean that we cannot enjoy it as well. All of us need to do some soul searching and watching Kyle do so makes the reader feel good.

rainbowolympics

Man on Man: Memory as a Spur to Writing by Mykola Dementiuk

Sep 282013

 

By Mykola Dementiuk

In many of my stories there is a character in some movie theater, watching a film and feverishly masturbating. At a certain point the character explodes in ejaculation and for all intents and purposes he actually is having sex, perhaps alone with himself—but sex out in the open and who the devil cares! Even (or especially) with the flickering lighted darkness surrounding him, he wants to be seen, as so many do. These men hover about in their anonymity, shielded with their overcoats, or simply ejaculate in their overheated pants and rush away afterwards. But I wanted to be seen. I’d just lower my pants and begin the heady manipulation that would take me away from reality. An entry into a Times Square/42nd Street movie theater was always just like that, someone jerking away as you were jerking away too. We were in the movie house for the same reason, wanting sex; if masturbating openly was the closest we got to it that night, that was fine.

Many of the tales in my books of short stories and novellas, particularly Times Square Queer, revolve around someone eventually masturbating, either in desperation to find someone to help the process along or satisfied to do it himself. And Times Square/42nd Street was ideal for that: the street was a total nirvana, sex permeated the sidewalks, you could sense the masturbating activity before you even entered the movie house—the rabidly horny sex, men with men, men with hookers or men simply masturbating. That’s why I loved the entire scene and for a few years I became a denizen of the movie house world and didn’t know of any other. Many of my stories, “The Wet Skirt”, “Eighteen Today”, “Trio at the Movies”, “The Masturbating Idiot” amongst many others, clutch the 42nd Street world the way you would hold on to your penis as you tried to ejaculate. The sensation was always that: Bliss! Peace! Perfection!

But it’s over now and a pity that 42nd Street and Times Square have been changed so much, their former atmosphere of hot steamy sex never to be reclaimed or recaptured again. It’s like watching some faded old Burlesk films, racy comedies of old Forty-Second Street lurching and speeding into prostitution, transvestitism, pornography, on and on, going headlong until it was slammed shut and disappeared from the scene, with only internet photographs to take its place. Now you can masturbate in the safety and privacy of your own little home through the comfort of computers. What rot! What a rip-off! But that’s what we have, just a Masturbating Idiot standing and doing it by himself in some imaginary movie house, stroking, stroking, stroking…

Gone are those days never to return. And I suppose that’s progress, but when in olden days a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking…that’s when I feel my hardness growing stiffer and once again I’m back where I want to be, going Whump! Whump! Whump! huddled in some sleazy movie theatre with a slew of masturbating men surrounding me and each one fascinated and mesmerized by what they see on the screen, or what they imagine they see, as someone is looking and inching closer to a seat near them.

But when I write about that time, I recreate it in my head—and for the duration of the story I am back there. That is why, when I write, I often return to the lost era of Times Square’s queer culture of the 1970s–80s. In that sense, memories often inspire, infuse and set off my work. Does they ever do that for you? If not, next time you are stuck and don’t know how to get started, try recalling a magical, sexual moment in the past and see where the writing takes you.

 

Mick (Mykola) Dementiuk is a two-time winner of the Lambda Award, and his collection, Times Square Queer, was a finalist for the 2012 Bisexual Book Award. Visit him at http://mykoladementiuk.com/

“Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital” by Sheri Fink— The Quest for Truth and Justice

five days

Fink, Sheri. “Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital”, Crown, 2013.

The Quest for Truth and Justice

Amos Lassen

Having been in New Orleans and experiencing Hurricane Katrina has to have been a turning point in my life and in the lives of so many others. I have never understood why the book market was not flooded with after things calmed down and now eight years later, there are is still not a lot written about what went on as a major American city struggled to survive. Having been born and raised in New Orleans, I discovered that no matter where we may go, New Orleanians have something of the city that is always with them and still now, living in Boston after seven years in Arkansas, I still think of myself as a New Orleanian. I read everything I can about the city and I have been back twice to visit but I realize that I had to move on.
I had heard about Sheri Fink’s “Five Days at Memorial” and was very anxious to read it. What is strange, for me, at least, is that those of us who lived though the storm seem to know the least about it and it is impossible to describe the feelings I had as I stayed in my apartment, as the waters rose, for a full week after Katrina made land fall. I remember the fear but not the details and I really believe that had the National Guard not forced me out, I would have died there. We knew nothing of what was going on outside of us and it was not until I was taken to a shelter in Pine Bluff, Arkansas that the story began to be told to me.

Now Pulitzer Prize winner Sheri Fink has reconstructed some of what happened in New Orleans and it is an amazing read that kept me at home this past weekend. Fink writes about the deaths of patients at the Memorial Hospital and as she does, she (and the reader) searches for truth and justice. Using just five days, she pulls us into the lives of people who fought hard to live as craziness surrounded them. What so many find hard to understand about going through a storm like Katrina is that so many were forced to make choices and many of these were difficult because they involved life and death. We can only imagine what was going on in the hospitals as power was gone and the waters rose. It became a necessity for hospital staff to decide who to let go and who to try to save. Manpower was short and the hospitals were full. Just as some patients fought for life, so did the hospitals. Death was soon rationed challenging the belief that only God has the option of deciding between life and death. Sheri Fink looks at the situations that hospital staff members were thrown into and also shows how America was not prepared to deal with a disaster the size of Katrina. In doing so she changes the way that we think about people in crises.

Those who were sheltered in the New Orleans Memorial Hospital during Katrina soon realized that the crisis inside the hospital was worse than the storm. Since there was no power, there could be no evacuation and leadership was nil. Caring for the sick was chaos and the medical staff faced difficult decisions and some of the choices made were failures. Some of the patients who seemed to have no chance of survival were given lethal shots even as a form of evacuation began. Fink recreates the storm, what happened afterwards and the investigation and as she does, we are forced to consider questions of ethics, race, resources, history and the greater good. We need to read this just to understand human behavior during crisis. By using Katrina and the New Orleans hospital we see what can go wrong and we see the difficulties faced during a catastrophe. Even today, there are just a few hospitals with disaster plans or enough supplies to get through a storm. There are not enough back-up generators and when elevators go out floors of people are lost. Hospitals rely on scare tactics and greed becomes the way of the day. Rumors rum rampant and family input is neither available nor heeded when it is.

This is a very hard book to read especially for someone who was there but it is also a very important book. Modern American medicine did not know what to do when it was most needed. Things have not yet improved and there seems to be few lessons learned. We are therefore quick to believe that this could all happen again. There was no organization during Katrina and the result was a loss of life and total chaos.

The first half of the book is about the first five days but then it moves to the legal and political aspects of what happened and the homicide investigation brought on by the state of Louisiana. We see many people divided over whether crimes had indeed been committed or not and these people are depicted as decent and honest. Many of the narratives just end with no conclusions and no regard for the legal ethics of the medical profession. The research here is amazing and there are no claims without evidence. Most of us are very lucky that we will never have to deal with choices that were made here.

“Fink’s descriptions of the flooded hospital, her extensive interviews with those who were there, profiles of investigators and study of the history and ethics of triage and euthanasia come very close to a full airing of how a disaster can upset society’s usual ethical codes, and how that played out at New Orleans’ Memorial Medical Center….Fink has written a compelling and revealing account.”– Seattle Times

Five Days At Memorial unfolds in two parts—an impeccably researched reconstruction of the events inside the hospital during the disaster, and a gripping account of the investigation and trial that followed. Pulitzer-Prize-winning Sheri Fink, who is also a physician and a former relief worker in combat zones, lays out every shred of evidence, but leaves the final judgment to the reader. Five Days at Memorial treats the chain of events at the hospital as a microcosm that raises vital and increasingly relevant questions about end-of-life care, and the ethics of euthanasia in extraordinary circumstances.”– Macleans

This is a book that cries out to be read and we must all make ourselves aware of what happened. I would never have believed that I would live through something like this but I did and it could happen to any or to all of us.

rainbowolympics

The Book of Matt: Hidden Truths About the Murder of Matthew Shepard” by Stephen Jiminez— A Different Matthew Shepard

the book of matt

Jiminez, Stephen. “The Book of Matt: Hidden Truths About the Murder of Matthew Shepard”, Steerforth, 2013.
A Different Matthew Shepard
Amos Lassen

I wrote about this book when I first heard it was coming out because I knew it would be controversial and it has been. I waited to write again so that I could hear reactions to it and I must say that it has been much better received than I thought it would be. Regardless of what happened that night, October 6, 1988, Matthew Shepard’s death became a rallying point for the LGBT community and the fight for the end of ignoring hate crimes. The traditional story that was broadcast to us was that “Matthew Shepard, a twenty-one-year-old gay college student, left a bar in Laramie, Wyoming with two alleged “strangers,” Aaron McKin­ney and Russell Henderson. Eighteen hours later, Matthew was found tied to a log fence on the outskirts of town, unconscious and barely alive. He had been pistol-whipped so severely that the mountain biker who discovered his battered frame mistook him for a Halloween scarecrow. Overnight, a politically expedient myth took the place of important facts. By the time Matthew died a few days later, his name was synonymous with anti-gay hate”. It just so happened that not long afterwards I met two guys from Laramie who had known Shepard and I heard the story that Stephen Jimenez gives us in the book and I thought to myself that it makes a lot of sense.
Jimenez waited until McKinney and Henderson were convicted and sent to prison and the national media had quieted down before he went to Laramie. He had planned to write a screenplay on what he and the rest of us believed to be now a closed case of violence and hate. What he learned was something else all together, something that many of us suspected but were afraid to speak about. Jiminez wanted to tell the story but what he discovered were secrets and as he began to investigate what happened that night in Laramie, he found himself in the world of drugs. He continued to investigate and that trip to Wyoming soon stretched into 13 years and travels to 20 states and Washington, D.C, and interviews with more than a hundred people.
He learned who Matthew Shepard was and why he was murdered but he was very concerned with knowing whether anyone really wanted to know the truth. The result is this book about a crime and the characters involved and the knowledge that Shepard was not the victim of a hate crime but was killed because of more complicated reasons. This was the very story that I heard from my two friends from Laramie yet this was the story that no one wanted to hear.
The story that the media latched onto and the one we heard was that Matthew Shepard was a gay college student who made a pass at two strangers in a bar and this ignited their anger so much that they took me to a spot far from town, hit him on the head severely, tied him to a fence and left him there to die. Both the media and gay groups immediately labeled this as a hate crime and the case was blown into a rallying point for anti-gay legislation. Is it not strange that the truth was not checked into back then? Was this country so anxious to get this legislation that it did not matter what really happened?
What Jiminez found was a different story altogether and was hidden because of the hunger for the LGBT community to have this legislation enacted. People were afraid of the truth and afraid of what might come out in the courts. The story of a weak gay youth losing his life because he made a pass at another man was just too good an excuse for nationwide outrage. We now learn that Shepard and McKinney knew each other and McKinney, a bisexual man, had actually had sex with Shepard. Both of them were also dealing amphetamines. So the case was not about hate at all but about the dangers of the drug.
What is written in this book is not just speculation. Jiminez spent 13 years investigating this case and interviewed many people including the two convicted men. He has evidence to back every word he has written. It is certain that he will be criticized for what he has written and many will want to know why he has had to expose this information (it is called being a good American, I believe) but I must admit that had I not heard the same story, I am not sure how I would react. The truth here is what is important and Jiminez is not sullying Shepard’s name to sell books. He certainly did not have to write this. By deconstructing what happened, Jiminez puts a human face on it. After all, it is all about being human and it is a lesson to us to always look for the truth rather than capitalize on the sensational. We should not fear the truth but welcome it and admit that errors were made and we must understand the whys and the hows instead of rushing to judgment.
It was a horrible crime but it was also horrible to learn the truth of that night. It means we were caught off guard and for a community that was working so hard to achieve liberation and equality, it seemed like a slap across our collective faces. We did not demand the facts because a hate crime suited our needs.
As another reviewer stated with sincerity:
“Matthew Shepard’s murder is iconic and may even have sped up the gay rights movement in this country, but after reading this book it’s impossible to believe any longer that he was murdered simply for being gay. Has the Matthew Shepard Foundation accomplished a lot of good in his name? Absolutely, but this book makes it very clear that there was much more to his murder than most of us have ever realized and truth matters, no matter what the lie has accomplished. The people of Laramie have lived with this nightmare for fifteen years, when the fact of the matter is that their town had a drug problem–not a homophobia problem. As a gay man, I’ve spent nearly half of my life with the specter of Matthew’s murder in my mind and I can’t even explain what a relief it is to have read this book and realized that what happened to him was nothing so simple as a gay-bashing. The people of Wyoming deserve to have their state exonerated and Steve Jimenez has done just that. This is at times a shocking book. It will challenge everything you think you know about Matthew Shepard’s life and death. And that’s a good thing, because everything you think you know…is a lie”.
And of course there are the detractors:
“Mr. Jimenez is angry at someone or something or maybe he just wants a fast buck. This book was hard to stomach all the way through. The author’s “Operation Carhart” was reminisce of something out of Barney Fife’s school of covert operations. In fact, if I had to grade his investigative work, I would classify it as elementary…as in grade school. It appears the author has some vendetta against the state of Wyoming and in particular the town of Laramie. What I found most preposterous was his supposed investigation findings that the Laramie law enforcement were some type of “cop Mafia” or leaders of an elusive underground drug trafficking conspiracy always involved in some sinister cover up. I mean, really? Defaming an entire quaint college town and townsfolk, (which is in fact, situated in the beautiful Snowy Range mountains), is just downright disgraceful. Why mock Wyoming? What did it do to you, Mr. Jimenez? Bad things happen everywhere. Bad things have happened in Laramie, Wyoming. No one purported Matthew Shepard to be a saint. To even think about his life problems and mental anguish brings distress in anyone’s mind. The facts are he was killed in a manner and sequence of events that is so ghastly most can’t fathom. The crime scene speaks out for the type of crime it was classified as and the bill partially named after Matthew, which was enacted, was a positive movement in justice. His parents started a foundation to help people. They named it after him. That’s another positive movement in the humanitarian department. There is no reason to degrade any dead person or drag his parents through more mud. There is no reason to throw egg on the face of those that put in countless hours of investigating this crime…both on the side of the prosecution and the defense. Let’s remember this. Only three people know the truth. One is dead. Two can spin a story any way they like. Somewhere the police put the puzzle together as best they could with facts and evidence. A pretentious author can also spin a yarn many will be certain to believe because so many people think everything is a “cover up” or a “conspiracy”. I hope anyone with any common sense can read between the lines. I encourage those to do some fact checking. Mr. Jimenez should classify this book in the fiction section under “satire” because purporting it as “true crime” is just a travesty. Perhaps the author could donate his proceeds to a charity to benefit victims, but I fear he just wanted to have some quick fame and fortune, even at the expense of a dead young man and a small town in Wyoming”.

“This is absolutely disgusting. The right’s sick attempt to declare the Matthew Shepard murder was not a hate crime is not just pushing a bigoted political agenda, it is a slap in the face to his memory and his family. That boy, found dead, beaten and tied to a fence in the snow, had his tears frozen to his face. These monsters are disgracing his memory by purporting this for some twisted political gain. A book like this belongs only in your fireplace”.

We just need to read the book to see which of these three people have expressed sane opinions and we can see that in the way they are written. It does make us sit up and take notice when a case that was resolved is turned upside down. But we see that conclusions were drawn on scant evidence. Some of the people who take the opposing view have probably not read the book and others will pooh pooh it because Jiminez tells us that what got him involved in the case was an anonymous letter that he found in the once sealed court records. What that letter said was that Aaron McKinney had been a male hustler and was known to have sex with men. People were upset that a book could be written based upon an anonymous letter. What those who dismissed this did not look at was the rest of what Jiminez found.
Jiminez wrote a book about a story that no one wanted to hear. No one can really gain anything from the book (aside from a look at the truth). The two men accused of the crime are locked away for life with no chance of parole and the defense did not go anywhere near the drug angle. The book has been slammed by many and it has been called a story based on innuendo and rumor. That people, including the Matthew Shepard Foundation could be so afraid of the truth is alarming and to consider that Shepard is a saint that is based upon lies is foolishness. What is really important is that after believing for so long that Matthew Shepard was a saint and a martyr, we learn that he was a flawed person. Had he been murdered because of a drug deal gone badly, we would probably never have heard his name and his murderers would probably be out on parole.
I have gone on long enough—now it is up to you to decide what you believe really happened that night.

rainbowolympics

“The Spirit of Detroit” by Frank Polito— The Motor City

the spirit of detroit

Polito, Frank Anthony. “The Spirit of Detroit”, Woodward Avenue Books, 2013.

The Motor City

Amos Lassen

The more that I try to keep up with what is happening in gay literature, the more I fall behind. With what is going on in publishing now, it should be easier but there are more and more books coming out all of the time and I like to be fair in my reviews and read every word which is no easy task. Some books manage to sneak in and I miss them which was the case with Frank Polito’s “The Spirit of Detroit”.

This is the story of Bradley Dayton who we met in “Band Fags” as he tries to find a way to fit in at his new school and he manages pretty well. He makes new friends and he takes us along with then as he explores the theater world of Detroit. In doing so Bradley becomes aware of what he can and cannot do. It was a strange time in America. Madonna was the diva and America was watching Bush and Clinton battle it out for the presidency of this country.

Bradley had once dreamed of becoming an actor, a famous actor at that but he has decided to go to school and major in drama at Wayne State in Detroit. He chose the school because of where it is—in a town with a cultural heritage but that is now dealing with the problem of so many American cities—urban decay. As he becomes acclimated to his new surroundings, a new group of people mess with him and his education and he wanders into the world of backstage theater. By the time his first semester is over, he is still trying to find out who he is. What he was able to find was a lot of trouble.

This is a novel that will take you through the twists and turns of a young life and nothing is as it is expected to be and that includes Bradley.

Having never been to Detroit, I knew nothing about the city before reading this and I felt as if I was sitting next to someone who was leading me by the hand and explaining it all to me. But more than a story about Detroit, this is the story of a young man coming to terms with himself as he strives to reach his goals. There is a lot of sex in the book and we see how distracting this can be for someone with high hopes and a high libido. This is a good deal darker than the two novels that preceded it (“Band Fags” and “Drama Queers!”) but then Bradley has grown up a bit and college can be daunting. I enjoyed the read and now I have to wonder what happens next? Now that the author has left the Big Apple to actually live in a suburb of Detroit will we be hearing more about the city?

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“It’s OK to be Gay – Celebrity Coming Out Stories” edited by Alison Stokes— Stories that Inspire

it's ok to be gay

Stokes, Alison (editor). “It’s OK to be Gay – Celebrity Coming Out Stories”, Accent Press, 2013.

Stories that Inspire

Amos Lassen

Be on the lookout for this book that is being published to coincide with National Coming Out Day. These are the coming-out stories of well known figures in the LGBT community and they share them with us in frank and honest terms as well as explain how their sexuality has shaped who they are. While those who have contributed here are British, there is something to take from their stories.

Contributors include: Sue Perkins; rugby star Gareth Thomas; best-selling crime writer Val McDermid; Coronation Street star Charlie Condou; Strictly Come Dancing star Robin Windsor; Evan Davis, presenter of Dragon’s Den and Radio 4′s Today programme; Alice Arnold, former BBC newsreader and partner of Clare Balding; Edd Kimber, winner of the first ever Great British Bake Off; Reggae/soul singer Diana King; Lord Waheed Alli, Labour peer and entrepreneur; Award-winning writer Stella Duffy; X Factor finalist Jade Ellis; Author Paul Burston; Paralympian Claire Harvey; Actress Sophie Ward; Jane Czyzselska, editor of Diva magazine; Hip-hop artist Q Boy; Playwright Shelley Silas; Former Brookside actor Stifyn Parri; International rugby referee Nigel Owens; BBC Radio presenter Chris Needs; Rosie Wilby, comedienne and writer; Phyllis Opoku-Gyimah, Director UK Black Pride; Darren Scott, editor of GT magazine”.

The book is being used to raise money for Diversity Role Models and the work it does helping to stop bullying in British schools. It will be available in the United States as well.
rainbowolympics

 

 

New titles from Bruno Gmunder–reviews coming soon

 

New titles in November

 

 

 

 

David Vance

men and gods

 

 

Vance!

David Vance is the master of timeless nude photography. Perfect bodies classically posed – David Vance imbues his models with a touch of eternity, which only Gods possess.

 

ftp://b2b:2012@92.79.136.6/2013/978-3-86787-635-3

 

David Vance

men and gods

112 pages, full color

Hardcover with dustjacket, 10 ¼ x 13 ½” (26,0 x 34,0 cm)

€ 49,95 / US$ 89.99 / £ 49.99

ISBN 978-3-86787-635-3

 

 

 

 

Kevin Clarke

Beards – an unshaved history

 

 

The Gay View on Men´s Beards!

In his new book, Kevin Clarke, bestselling author of Porn – from Andy Warhol to X-Tube, shows us beards from the gay perspective. In addition to his view on the clones of the 1970s and their recent return, there are interviews and facts about beards as well as photographs showing how erotic a man’s beard can be.

 

ftp://b2b:2012@92.79.136.6/2013/978-3-86787-634-6

 

Kevin Clarke

beards – an unshaved history

256 pages, full color

Hardcover with dust jacket, 8 ½ x 11 ¼” (21, 5 x 28 ,5 cm)

€ 49,95 / US$ 89.99 / £ 49.99

ISBN 978-3-86787-634-6

 

 

 

 

Franze

poseidon-t

 

 

We have to save the world…!

Poseidon is the star of his rugby team and his fans love him. Especially the young Gonzalo, who dreams of meeting Poseidon in more than one way. One day, at the big game, his dream comes true, only it’s different than he thought because aliens are attacking earth … Poseidon T is the new graphic novel from Franze, one of the authors of the successful Black Wade.

 

ftp://b2b:2012@92.79.136.6/2013/978-3-86787-640-7

 

Franze

Poseidon-t

88 pages, full color

Text English

Hardcover, 8 x 11 ¼” (20, 5 x 28 ,5 cm)

€ 17,95 / US$ 34.99 / £ 17.99

ISBN 978-3-86787-640-7

 

 

 

 

Stephan Niederwieser

Tie Me Up – the complete guide to bondage

 

 

The Ties That Bind!

Bondage for everybody: Stephan Niederwieser’s relaxed style and focus on pleasure are the perfect combination for this introduction to bondage, a book that’s sure to benefit both the rank beginner and the experienced practitioner. Here you’ll find everything you need to know about the most important toys and accessories, about different kinds of knots and how to tie them securely. You’ll find all the tools you need to let go of your inhibitions and get the biggest bang from your bondage experience.

 

ftp://b2b:2012@92.79.136.6/2013/978-3-86787-599-8

 

Stephan Niederwieser

tie me up – the complete guide to bondage

208 pages

Softcover, 5 ¼ x 7 ½“ (13,0 x 19,0 cm)

€ 14,95 / US$ 1699 / £ 12.99

ISBN 978-3-86787-599-8

 

 

 

 

Winston Gieseke (Ed.)

straight no more – gay erotic stories

 

 

The Art of Seducing a Straight Guy!

He knows you do it better than his girlfriend. He may not say so, but you can tell by the sounds he makes, the look on his face afterwards, the awkward but grateful “thank you.” It’s a flattery thing, he says. But whatever he tells himself, he enjoyed it! Best of all, it was easy. He didn’t have to work for it. It was the perfect arrangement: he wanted to get off, you wanted to get him off—with no strings, no drama, and no expectations. But what happens if he gets hooked? Straight No More!

 

ftp://b2b:2012@92.79.136.6/2013/978-3-86787-607-0

 

Winston Gieseke (Ed.)

straight no more – gay erotic stories

208 pages

Softcover, 5 ¼ x 7 ½“ (13,0 x 19,0 cm)

€ 15,95 / US$ 17.99 / £ 11.99

ISBN 978-3-86787-607-0

 

 

 

 

Zack

the warrior´s boys

 

 

Erotic Adventures in Renaissance Italy !

Tough, no-nonsense Eric Random, an English mercenary soldier on his way to Venice in 1527, encounters rough-and-tumble sex at every inn along the way. The randy roughneck never misses an opportunity for an erotic adventure: stable lads, tavern servers, and page boys all fall to his remorseless assault, only to be tossed aside as Eric moves on. And then something unexpected happens … This graphic portrait of degenerate, brawling, and licentious Renaissance Italy unfolds as a history that’s never been taught in the classroom.

 

ftp://b2b:2012@92.79.136.6/2013/978-3-86787-605-6

 

Zack

the warrior´s boy

208 pages

Softcover, 5 ¼ x 7 ½“ (13,0 x 19,0 cm)

€ 14,95 / US$ 16.99 / £ 10.99

ISBN 978-3-86787-605-6