28th Annual Lambda Literary Award Finalists Announced.

Yesterday the finalists for this year’s Lambda Literary Awards were revealed. Congratulations to all of them, and a special shout out to the publishers with whom I have worked: Cleis Press, Bold Strokes Books and Lethe Press. Bravo!

You can read the list of the finalists here:

28TH ANNUAL LAMBDA LITERARY AWARDS

 

 

The Winner’s Circle – 27th Annual Lambda Literary Awards and HAHAT giveaway

The 27th Annual Lambda Literary Awards were held last night in New York City. The level of craft is always astonishing, and waiting to see who will win always nerve-wracking, but this year it was even more so. Several of my friends and two of three of my publishers were up for awards, often competing against one another, and in one case, against themselves.

 

 

Here are the nominees and winners:

 

BISEXUAL FICTION

Best Bi Short Stories: Bisexual Fiction, Sheela Lambert, editor, Gressive Press, an imprint of Circlet Press

Extraordinary Adventures of Mullah Nasruddin, Ron J. Suresha, Lethe Press

Finder of Lost Objects, Susie Hara, Ithuriel’s Spear

Give It to Me, Ana Castillo, The Feminist Press

She of the Mountains, Vivek Shraya, Arsenal Pulp Press

 

BISEXUAL NONFICTION

Fire Shut Up In My Bones, Charles M. Blow, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Not My Father’s Son, Alan Cumming, HarperCollins Publishers/Dey Street Books

Recognize: The Voices of Bisexual Men, Robyn Ochs & H. Sharif Williams, editors, Bisexual Resource Center

 

GAY EROTICA

Bears of Winter, Jerry Wheeler,Bear Bones Books an imprint of Lethe Press

Incubus Tales, Hushicho, Circlet Press

The King, Tiffany Reisz, MIRA Books

Leather Spirit Stallion, Raven Kaldera, Circlet Press

The Thief Taker, William Holden, Bold Strokes Books

 

GAY GENERAL FICTION

All I Love and Know, Judith Frank, HarperCollins/William Morrow

Barracuda, Christos Tsiolkas, Hogarth

Bitter Eden: A Novel, Tatamkhulu Afrika, Macmillan/Picador USA

The City of Palaces, Michael Nava, University of Wisconsin Press

I Loved You More, Tom Spanbauer, Hawthorne Books

Little Reef and Other Stories, Michael Carroll, Terrace Books, an imprint of the University of Wisconsin Press

Next to Nothing: Stories, Keith Banner, Lethe Press

Souljah, John R Gordon, Angelica Entertainments Ltd/Team Angelica Publishing

 

GAY MEMOIR/BIOGRAPHY

Body Counts: A Memoir of Politics, Sex, AIDS, and Survival, Sean Strub, Scribner

Charles Walters: The Director Who Made Hollywood Dance, Brent Phillips, University Press of Kentucky

Closets, Combat and Coming Out:  Coming Of Age As A Gay Man In The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Army, Rob Smith, Blue Beacon Books by Regal Crest

Inside a Pearl: My Years in Paris, Edmund White, Bloomsbury

Letter to Jimmy, Alain Mabanckou, translated by Sara Meli Ansari, Counterpoint/Soft Skull Press

The Prince of Los Cocuyos, Richard Blanco, HarperCollins/Ecco – TIE

Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh, John Lahr, W. W. Norton & Company – TIE

Wagstaff: Before and After Mapplethorpe, Philip Gefter, W. W. Norton & Company/Liveright

 

GAY MYSTERY

Blackmail, My Love: A Murder Mystery, Katie Gilmartin, Cleis Press

Boystown 6: From the Ashes, Marshall Thornton, MLR

Calvin’s Head, David Swatling, Bold Strokes Books

DeadFall, David Lennon, BlueSpike Publishing

Fair Game, Josh Lanyon, Carina Press

A Gathering Storm, Jameson Currier, Chelsea Station Editions

Moon Over Tangier, Janice Law, Open Road Media

The Next, Rafe Haze, Wilde City Press

 

GAY POETRY

[insert] boy, Danez Smith, YesYes Books

Clean, David J. Daniels, Four Way Books

Don’t Go Back To Sleep, Timothy Liu, Saturnalia Books

ECODEVIANCE: (Soma)tics for the Future Wilderness, CAConrad, Wave Books

The New Testament, Jericho Brown, Copper Canyon Press

Prelude to Bruise, Saeed Jones, Coffee House Press

This Life Now, Michael Broder, A Midsummer Night’s Press

This Way to the Sugar, Hieu Minh Nguyen, Write Bloody Publishing

 

GAY ROMANCE

The Companion, Lloyd A. Meeker, Dreamspinner Press

Everything’s Coming Up Roses: Four Tales of M/M Romance, Barry Lowe, Lydian Press

Foolish Hearts: New Gay Fiction, Timothy Lambert and R.D. Cochrane,Cleis Press*

Like They Always Been Free, Georgina Li, Queer Young Cowboys*

Message of Love, Jim Provenzano, Myrmidude Press/CreateSpace

The Passion of Sergius & Bacchus, A Novel of Truth, David Reddish, DoorQ Publishing

Pulling Leather, L.C. Chase, Riptide Publishing (1)

Salvation: A Novel of the Civil War, Jeff Mann, Bear Bones Books, an imprint of Lethe Press

 

LESBIAN EROTICA

All You Can Eat. A Buffet of Lesbian Erotica and Romance, Andi Marquette and R.G. Emanuelle, Ylva Publishing

Forbidden Fruit: stories of unwise lesbian desire, Cheyenne Blue, Ladylit Publishing

Lesbian Sex Bible, Diana Cage, Quiver Books

 

LESBIAN GENERAL FICTION

Adult Onset, Ann-Marie Macdonald, Tin House Books

Last Words of Montmartre, Qiu Miaojin, Translated by Ari Larissa Heinrich, New York Review Books

Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932, Francine Prose, Harper Collins/Harper

Miracle Girls, MB Caschetta, Engine Books

New York 1, Tel Aviv 0, Shelly Oria, FSG Originals / Farrar, Straus and Giroux

The Palace Blues, Brandy T. Wilson, Spinsters Ink

The Paying Guests, Sarah Waters, Riverhead Books, Penguin Random House

Yabo, Alexis De Veaux, RedBone Press

 

LESBIAN MEMOIR/BIOGRAPHY

Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around: Forty Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith, Alethia Jones and Virginia Eubanks, with Barbara Smith, SUNY Press

Cease – a memoir of love, loss and desire, Lynette Loeppky, Oolichan Books

Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger, Kelly Cogswell, The University of Minnesota Press

The End of Eve, Ariel Gore, Hawthorne Books

Under This Beautiful Dome: A Senator, A Journalist, and the Politics of Gay Love in America, Terry Mutchler, Seal Press

 

LESBIAN MYSTERY

The Acquittal, Anne Laughlin, Bold Strokes Books

Done to Death, Charles Atkins, Severn House Publishers

The Old Deep and Dark-A Jane Lawless Mystery, Ellen Hart, Minotaur Books

Slash and Burn, Valerie Bronwen, Bold Strokes Books

UnCatholic Conduct, Stevie Mikayne, Bold Strokes Books

 

LESBIAN POETRY

Haiti Glass, Lenelle Moïse, City Lights/Sister Spit

Janey’s Arcadia, Rachel Zolf, Coach House Books

Last Psalm at Sea Level, Meg Day, Barrow Street Press

Like a Begger, Ellen Bass, Copper Canyon Press

MxT, Sina Queyras, Coach House Books

Mysterious Acts by My People, Valerie Wetlaufer, Sibling Rivalry Press

Only Ride, Megan Volpert, Sibling Rivalry Press

Termination Dust, Susanna Mishler, Red Hen Press/Boreal

 

LESBIAN ROMANCE

Christmas Crush, Kate McLachlan, Regal Crest

The Farmer’s Daughter, Robbi McCoy, Bella Books

The Heat of Angels, Lisa Girolami, Bold Strokes Books

Jolt, Kris Bryant, Bold Strokes Books

Nightingale, Andrea Bramhall, Bold Strokes Books

Seneca Falls, Jesse J. Thoma, Bold Strokes Books

Tangled Roots, Marianne K. Martin, Bywater Books

That Certain Something, Clare Ashton, Breezy Tree Press

 

LGBT ANTHOLOGY

Black Gay Genius: Answering Joseph Beam’s Call, Charles Stephens and Steven G. Fullwood, Vintage Entity Press

A Family by Any Other Name: Exploring Queer Relationships, Bruce Gillespie, TouchWood Editions

Outer Voices Inner Lives, Mark McNease and Stephen Dolainski, editors, MadeMark Publishing

The Queer South: LGBTQ Writers on the American South, Douglas Ray, editor, Sibling Rivalry Press

Understanding and Teaching US Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History, Leila J. Rupp & Susan K. Freeman, University of Wisconsin Press

 

LGBT CHILDREN’S/Young adult

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, Susan Kuklin, Candlewick Press

Double Exposure, Bridget Birdsall, Sky Pony Press, an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing

Five, Six, Seven, Nate!, Tim Federle, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Forgive Me If I’ve Told You This Before, Karelia Stetz-Waters, Ooligan Press

Lies We Tell Ourselves, Robin Talley, Harlequin Teen

Pukawiss the Outcast, Jay Jordan Hawke, Dreamspinner Press/Harmony Ink Press

This is Not a Love Story, Suki Fleet, Dreamspinner Press/Harmony Ink Press

When Everything Feels like the Movies, Raziel Reid, Arsenal Pulp Press

 

LGBT DEBUT

Death in Venice, California, Vinton Rafe McCabe, The Permanent Press

Kill Marguerite and Other Stories, Megan Milks, Emergency Press

A Map of Everything, Elizabeth Earley, Jaded Ibis Press

The Music Teacher, Bob Sennett, Lethe Press

Nochita, Dia Felix, City Lights/Sister Spit

Part the Hawser, Limn the Sea, Dan Lopez, Chelsea Station Editions

Unaccompanied Minors, Alden Jones, New American Press

The Walk-In Closet, Abdi Nazemian, Curtis Brown Unlimited

 

LGBT DRAMA

The Beast of Times, Adelina Anthony, Kórima Press

Bootycandy, Robert O’Hara, Samuel French

A Kid Like Jake, Daniel Pearle, Dramatists Play Service

The Whale, Samuel D. Hunter, Samuel French

Wolves, Steve Yockey, Samuel French

 

LGBT GRAPHIC NOVELS

100 Crushes, Elisha Lim, Koyama Press

Band Vs. Band Comix Volume 1, Kathleen Jacques, Paper Heart Comix

Pregnant Butch: Nine Long Months Spent in Drag, A.K. Summers, Soft Skull, an imprint of Counterpoint

Second Avenue Caper, Joyce Brabner; Art by Mark Zingarelli, Hill and Wang, a division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Snackies, Nick Sumida, Youth in Decline

 

LGBT NONFICTION

An American Queer: The Amazon Trail, Lee Lynch, Bold Strokes Books

Hold Tight Gently: Michael Callen, Essex Hemphill, and the Battlefield of AIDS, Martin Duberman, The New Press

The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality, Julie Sondra Decker, Skyhorse Publishing/Carrel Books

Nevirapine and the Quest to End Pediatric AIDS, Rebecca J. Anderson, McFarland

Robert Gober: The Heart Is Not a Metaphor, Hilton Als, Ann Temkin, Claudia Carson, Robert Gober, Paulina Pobocha, Christian Scheidemann, The Museum of Modern Art

Sexplosion: From Andy Warhol to A Clockwork Orange, How a Generation of Pop Rebels Broke All the Taboos, Robert Hofler, It Books/HarperCollins

The Transgender Archives: Foundations for the Future, Aaron H Devor, University of Victoria Libraries

The Up Stairs Lounge Arson: Thirty-Two Deaths in a New Orleans Gay Bar, June 24, 1973, Clayton Delery-Edwards, McFarland

 

LGBT SF/F/HORROR

Afterparty, Daryl Gregory, Tor Books

Bitter Waters, Chaz Brenchley, Lethe Press

Butcher’s Road, Lee Thomas, Lethe Press

Child of a Hidden Sea, A. M. Dellamonica, Tor Books

Full Fathom Five, Max Gladstone, Tor Books

FutureDyke, Lea Daley, Bella Books

Skin Deep Magic, Craig Laurance Gidney, Rebel Satori Press

 

LGBT STUDIES

After Love: Queer Intimacy and Erotic Economies in Post-Soviet Cuba, Noelle M. Stout, Duke University Press

Charity & Sylvia: A Same-Sex Marriage in Early America, Rachel Hope Cleves, Oxford University Press

Delectable Negro: Human Consumption and Homoeroticism within US Slave Culture, Vincent Woodard, Ed. Justin A. Joyce and Dwight McBride, New York University Press

Queen for a Day: Transformistas, Beauty Queens, and the Performance of Femininity in Venezuela, Marcia Ochoa, Duke University Press

The Queerness of Native American Literature, Lisa Tatonetti, The University of Minnesota Press

Sexual Futures, Queer Gestures, and Other Latina Longings, Juana Maria Rodriguez, New York University Press

The Sexuality of History: Modernity and the Sapphic, Susan S. Lanser, University of Chicago Press

Under Bright Lights: Gay Manila and the Global Scene, Bobby Benedicto, University of Minnesota Press

 

TRANSGENDER FICTION

Everything Must Go, La JohnJoseph, ITNA PRESS

For Today I Am a Boy, Kim Fu, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Moving Forward Sideways like a Crab, Shani Mootoo, Doubleday Canada

Revolutionary: A Novel, Alex Myers, Simon and Schuster

A Safe Girl To Love, Casey Plett, Topside Press

 

Transgender Non-Fiction

Man Alive: A True Story of Violence, Forgiveness and Becoming a Man, Thomas Page McBee, City Lights/Sister Spit

Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love and So Much More, Janet Mock, Atria Books

Trans Bodies, Trans Selves: A Resource for the Transgender Community, Laura Erickson-Schroth, Oxford University Press

 

– See more at: http://www.lambdaliterary.org/features/news/03/04/the-27th-annual-lambda-literary-award-finalists/#sthash.R18Mi1wt.dpuf

 

HAHAT Giveaway

 

The winner of the Hop Against Homophobia giveaway is….

 

Kimberly Lynn Workman

 

Congratulations! You’ve won a copy of Speaking Out: LGBTQ Youth Stand Up*, edited by Steve Berman (Bold Strokes Books, 2011). I have sent an email with further details.

 

*Reviewed on this blog as part of last year’s Short Stories 365 Review a Day project.

 

Review of Saints and Sinners: New Fiction from the Festival 2015

SAS Anthology Scaled 2

Now an INDIEFAB Book of the Year finalist!

The latest book in which I have a story is Saints and Sinners: New Fiction from the Festival 2015, edited by Amie M. Evans and Paul J. Willis (Bold Strokes Books). It debuted during the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival in New Orleans in March.

Is it gauche to review a book in which one’s own work appears? Perhaps. If so, I am unrepentantly so, having also reviewed the 2013 and 2014 editions of the anthology, as well as Best Gay Romance 2014 (Cleis Press) and Diverse Voices Quarterly vol. 6 Issue 21, despite having stories in each. Oh well. As of this writing only one other person has seen fit to review this volume (huge shout out to ‘Nathan Burgoine). Really, people? C’mon.

I love this anthology series, and this year’s edition did not disappoint. It started off on a very serious, pull-no-punches kind of note with “Gingerbread” by Eric Andrew-Katz. Set in Germany during WWII, it’s the story of a Jewish man who finds himself at the mercy of his ex-lover, now part of the Nazi machine. Brutal, bleak, and disturbing, it’s a hell of a way to open the collection.

The next story, “Wrens Knell” by Kristyn Dunnion, isn’t much cheerier. Stephen is a dead teenager in limbo, a victim of the systemic homophobia that turns schoolchildren, parents and priests into predators; murderers by proxy if not by point of fact.

Frank Perez turns things around with “Hustlers Court.” It’s full of humor and larger-than-life, loveably flawed characters, although I wish the waitress and lone female of the piece, who is described as “the large woman in a mu-mu,” “the mu-mu woman,” and “the large mu-mu lady” (that one four times), had been given a name, in the same way that Wills, Phillip, Benson, JD, Frizzy, Earl, John, Urban, Hoyle, The Oracle, Nox, Lamar, Spinato, Dorignac, and even the bar itself, the Double Play, and its competitors, the Grand Pre and Tiki’s, were all given names. Aside from that seeming blind spot, it’s a gritty, highly irreverent read which I liked very much.

The next story up, “Maple Beach People” by Lee Lynch, feels like part of a novel and really, really, really needs to be turned into one, if it isn’t. I’d buy that book in a heartbeat. The story concerns a network of women, all lesbians, struggling to carve out lives worth living while enduring the oppressive homophobia, misogyny and racism of the 1950s. Who couldn’t empathize with the young protagonist, Luce, as she tries to envision her future?

“What it was Turned Ollie Queer” by Mike Tuohy wins my vote for best story title, but I had trouble identifying with the good ol’ boys of the piece. As with the last story there’s entrenched homophobia and racism; there’s also, though, an outlandishness that’s meant to temper it with humor, only I didn’t trust the majority of the characters and so held my breath through most of the tale, anticipating violence. It did not manifest, thankfully, and a second reading allowed the humor to come fully to the fore.

Next we have the speculative fiction piece “Femorph” by James Russell. The world of the story is one where bodies have obvious dual natures from birth, with one gender asserting dominance and becoming cemented at adulthood, a process termed “calcification”. Aaron is a teenager torn by his desire for conflicting things: the friendship he shares with his best friend Michael, who is gay, vs. the sexual attraction he shares with Michael’s alter-ego Michelle. The thing is, there can be no ambivalence, no shifting back and forth between the personalities inhabiting a body once calcification hits, or the consequences can be fatal. I loved this examination of sexual attraction, gender identity, selfish vs. selfless-ness, and societal expectations, and I hope it finds a wide audience.

I know exactly why I like the story “Fat Hands” by John Kane. It’s because it’s filled with things that remind me of Michael Kearns: Silver Lake, Hollywood, HIV and AIDS, bathhouses, created families, friendships that span decades, and the wisdom of one who has lived life with his eyes wide open. The crispness of the prose elevates the story, rendering what might be maudlin, uplifting and poignant instead. That’s quite a trick.

The next story, “Days of Awe,” is mine. I’d love feedback, if you’ve read it. Moving on, I thought I wouldn’t like “Pageant Girl” by Sam Hawk, because I am not a fan of beauty pageants in general, and ones involving small children tend to make me apoplectic, but I found myself rooting for Elsie and her coach, Bennie. You know what did it? A shared hatred of her biggest competition, Miss Dallas Northeast. In the early nineteen nineties I spent a week in Mesquite, TX. Let’s just say I can relate.

I expected to like “‘Til it Bleeds” by Jerry Rabushka, because I so enjoyed his “Sample Day” in last year’s anthology, and I was not disappointed, though I was thrown for a bit of a loop when the story turned out to have an omniscient POV. It was also rough walking around (mostly) in Kurt’s skin, though I had a hard time identifying why that was. Here is a man who tries hard to figure out his feelings, yet always ends up blaming others for his unhappiness, his loneliness. I’m not sure what his problem is, or how to fix it, but I like him.

Felice Picano’s story “A Perfect Fit” is a time-travelling head trip of an adventure. The hero is sent back several thousand years, in order to investigate the early days of a legend, but as the story events unfold he finds his life and that of the historical figure being conflated. The question arises for the reader: Will he be able to go home? (I’d also like to know if this a fraction of a novel.)

The last story is “Basketball Fever” by Maureen Brady. I admired, first of all, that it has as its protagonists two women of “advanced” age. Charlene and Shoney also aren’t rich or beautiful, and never have been. They’re everywomen who have become friends because their seats as season ticket holders for the WNBA team The Liberty happen to be side-by-side. The thing is, they’ve got a lot more in common than basketball, but fear of rejection keeps them from exploring any potential relationship beyond the sports stadium, right up to and past the last game of the season. Thankfully, they get an opportunity to correct that mistake during a post-season celebration at Madison Square Garden. I loved the affection they exhibit for one another, and the gentle humor that runs all through the story. It’s another one I’d like to see be developed into a longer work.

There you have it. Well, sort of. You can actually have it by clicking here:

http://www.boldstrokesbooks.com/9781626393912e.html

Short Stories 365/273

“Cinema Love” by Aaron Chan from Best Gay Romance 2012 (Cleis Press). Edited by Richard Labonté.

Kaslo, called  Kaz, disdains movies made prior to the year 2000. His best friend Chris, a budding film student, drags him to screenings of the classics at a local movie theater. Chris, though, isn’t really trying to open Kaz’s eyes to great films. Well, not simply that. He’s discovered a potential love interest for his buddy in the guy who works the ticket counter at the movie theater. The stranger and Chris share a love for the classics and also, it turns out, a love for bantering with Kaz about their merits. The stranger, though, adds an element for Kaz that Chris cannot: romance.

I loved this sweet story. I can see these three guys many years on, possibly with the addition of a female love interest for Chris, arguing good-naturedly about a film they just watched together, and reveling in the good fortune of having great friends.

Short Stories 365/272

“The Bachelors” by Gregory L. Norris from Best Gay Romance 2012 (Cleis Press). Edited by Richard Labonté.

This story is set within the world of reality television. I’ve actually never seen more than a second or two of either The Bachelorette or The Bachelor while flipping channels.  Still, I found this story to be absolutely engaging from start to finish.

Jake is a contestant on Dudes and the Debutante. He seems like a smart, reasonable guy, so I’m not sure how in the world he got mixed up in such drivel, but whatever, he’s there. He discovers rather quickly that he is, at best, only mildly interested in the debutante, Amy, but is quite attracted to one of the other bachelors, Kasey. Apparently, the possibility of that happening is a complete revelation to him, one he weathers well. It helps that the attraction appears to be mutual.

The drama is heightened by the presence of a villain, a wannabee hip-hop recording artist named Baxter. Now, the villain dynamic is one I am familiar with. I do watch reality television, just never the kind where the only goal is fake romance. People competing to prepare haute cuisine, aim projectiles at impossible targets, build the fiercest fighting robot, design clothes, launch a singing career, cut hair, or makeover a restaurant, a house, or a straight man’s whole life? Heck, yeah. I’ve watched those shows. Oftentimes the real jerk in the bunch stays around much longer than they should, and it’s clear it’s for the ratings. Baxter’s place is secured when he homes in on the chemistry between Jake and Kasey, and starts shooting his mouth off about it.

I wasn’t sure how it was all going to turn out and I was riveted. A very fun read.

Short Stories 365/271

“Hello, Young Lovers” by Simon Sheppard from Best Gay Romance 2012 (Cleis Press). Edited by Richard Labonté.

The actual next story in the anthology is “Cody Barton” by Martin Delacroix, but I already reviewed it, as number 365/18 for Best Gay Romance 2013 (Cleis Press).

I thoroughly enjoyed this brief tale. That’s probably because I can relate to the main character, Buster. He works in a rock venue. I used to work in performance venues. He’s past the age of going to clubs himself. Ditto here. He can still appreciate the sheer joy for living that the club’s patrons feel, though. And so can I.

Buster notices one young man in particular, and can’t keep his eye from gravitating toward him all during a performance by Scissor Sisters. He doesn’t know the kid’s name and he doesn’t try to learn it. He just admires him from afar.

That appeals to the writer in me. I’ve always been that way, even when I was young enough to go out to clubs. There was a time when my favorite way to spend an evening was to go to the now long-defunct Sparks nightclub, get a beer, climb to the very top of the carpet-covered cubes that lined one wall, and sit cross-legged for hours, watching people dance. It wasn’t a gay club per se, but it called itself “gay friendly” and the owner that I knew (there were two) was most certainly gay. Stephen Irwin (no, not the animal guy) was friends with my boss at the time, and used to borrow set pieces and props from the theatre where I worked, to change up the look of the bar (slightly mind boggling if you think about it, as we were a TYA company). Stephen was a force of nature, a Tasmanian devil of a guy with shoulder length, flaming red hair and an over-the-top personality. He had the same zest for living that the characters of this story do. Not too surprisingly, his heart couldn’t sustain all that energy, and we lost him way too soon.

Buster thinks that “most straight people, even some Respectable Gays, would look askance at” what he allows to happen out on the dance floor that night, between the guy who’s caught his eye and another patron. He’s right, of course. Most people probably would look askance, or even lose it entirely. It makes me think of lines from the Indigo Girls song “Closer to Fine”, which was getting a lot of radio play back in the days when I was hanging around in Sparks:

…darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable And lightness has a call that’s hard to hear.

Listen harder. It’s only life, after all.

Short Stories 365/270

“Prom King” by Rob Rosen from Best Gay Romance 2012 (Cleis Press). Edited by Richard Labonté.

We’ve had a couple of books of LGBT fairy tales already, and this would’ve fit right into those, despite the fact that it’s contemporary and doesn’t contain magic. There is royalty of a sort, though, and a definite happily-ever-after ending.

Chuck is a high school aged everyman in love with an unattainable classmate. In his case that’s prom king Jack, the stereotypical dumb jock who’s failing biology. Jack needs tutoring to pass the class. Of course he does. And Chuck’s a whiz kid set to earn straight A’s in all of his classes. Of course he is. This is a fairy tale. Jack hires Chuck to tutor him after school, and the scene we get is fraught with tension. Then Jack’s parents return home and keep things from going as far as Chuck’s heart desires. Of course they do.

But wait, this is a fairy tale. We get to leap forward in time, and Chuck gets a second chance at finding romance with the man of his dreams. It’s a cute, very sweet story. I especially liked the voice the piece employs. It’s an older Chuck who’s looking back, telling us his story. He has just the right amount of self-deprecation and bite in his tone to keep the reader alternately smiling, rolling their eyes, and worried about how it will all turn out.