My 1000 word short story THE SISSY TEST has been published in Chelsea Station. So thrilled to finally get to work with them!
My 1000 word short story THE SISSY TEST has been published in Chelsea Station. So thrilled to finally get to work with them!
I was recently interviewed for an online publication called YOUR TANGO. The article is titled, What’s It Really Like To Be A Male Sexual Abuse Victim? It was a pretty long and intense interview and the writer quoted me the last line, “It’s a lot of work. You’re never done.”
Amen to that!
SHORN: TOYS TO MEN was mentioned and linked which I am always thrilled about.
A year ago, I wrote an essay for an online men’s magazine called The Good Men Project. It was loosely based on my dear friends J.R. Welden and Troy-Skott Pope and their son Travis. The story ended up being featured in The Huffington Post. The Good Men Project just re-released my story in their Facebook feed last night.
The essay was titled “What Can We All Learn From Gay Couples”
Chris and Robin Jones have been together since 1992 and own a beautiful, two story home in a family-friendly neighborhood across from a grade school. Two Honda Civics, one silver and one green, are parked in the driveway before their detached two car garage. Both spouses are in their early forties and have bachelors degrees from different state colleges. Robin works in finance and has a much higher income than Chris who freelances in the professional Arts. Their household income last year was over $200,000 and the credit score for the couple averages out to 811.
Vacations in China, Africa, London, Hawaii, Las Vegas, New York City kept the couple entertained throughout their relationship. But after fifteen years of fun and frolicking, Chris and Robin felt it was time to start a family.
The couple chose to take the required classes to become licensed by their state to become foster parents. A few months later, they were picked out of a pool of twenty-seven couples to take home a set of mixed-race twins.
Only eight weeks earlier, Babies John and Jane Doe were born addicted to crystal meth, among other drugs. Their dad was in jail for beating up their mother, who left them behind at the hospital right after she gave birth. The biological parents had their rights terminated and never saw the babies again. Once sober, the twins deserved a home with enthusiastic parents like Chris and Robin. The adoption papers were signed and finalized right before their first birthday.
Chris and Robin Jones, and their two children John and Jane Doe-Jones are an American family.
Their neighbors, Rita and Ben Smith, are also an American family. They are good friends with the Joneses, and live a virtually identical lifestyle right down to their house, their income, and their two kids, Sam and Terry. The two families often have barbecues and play dates together at the nearby park. The four preschoolers all get along great.
Rita and Ben have been man and wife for eighteen years.
Can you tell from this story if Robin and Chris are both men?
Or are they both women?
Maybe Robin’s a man and Chris is a woman?
Does it matter?
Gay Marriage Critics, Please Take Note———————-
Families consisting of same-sex parents have been in the shadows for a long time, despite not being legally recognized. Sociologist are now scrambling to gather the data of long term gay relationships to compare with straight couples. A thirty year study by Ellen C. Perrin, MD, MA and Benjamin S. Siegel, MD for the American Academy of Pediatrics shows that homosexual couples make equal or better parents, despite discrimination, compared to heterosexual couples. Now that intolerance towards sexual minorities is lessening, gay parents can thrive. Of course, it will take years to show whether or not making same-sex marriage legal changes the statistics at all, but the gays might have a thing or two to teach everyone about family life.
Take the Joneses… ——————————
Having lived together many years before they became parents, Robin and Chris are great at negotiating with each other in their relationship. It is a skill that helps them be great parents, too. Robin is the breadwinner and Chris has a more flexible schedule. Perhaps Chris doesn’t have the luxury of being a stay at home parent all the time, but it was an easy decision for the freelance artist to be the house-spouse and primary caregiver to their adopted twins. Studies show that family balance doesn’t hinge on gender; it’s more about negotiating roles.
There was some negotiation across the street at the Smith house when they became parents, too. For at least the last two decades, it has not out of the question for the husband to be a stay at home dad. That worked out well for Ben, while Rita went back to work after her pregnancy and continues to earns a six figure salary in marketing. They got a lot of support for their decision from other families like them in the neighborhood. Besides, what’s sexier than a nurturing father figure or a confident wife and mother who can command attention in a board room?
The concept of role reversals in a heterosexual marriage was present long before people even talked about gay marriage. If it’s works for Rita and Ben, then why can’t Chris and Robin have defined their roles in the family?
Where’s The Science Against Gay Parents? There Isn’t Any.———–
The fact that Chris and Robin have been in a healthy, long-term relationship for so long gives credibility to same-sex marriage. They had a lovely wedding in 2012 as soon as it was legal in their state. Yet, there are those that still argue that homosexuals do not make good parents; that it’s best for children to be raised in a household with a mother and a father. If that’s the case, then all divorce should be outlawed. Straight divorced parents should have their children re-homed with a both-gendered household. Single mothers should have their babies taken away and adopted to properly balanced couples at birth.
If parenting roles are gender specific, that Ben Smith needs to go back to work and his wife Rita Smith will have to quit her high paying job and stay home with the kids. Rita loves her career, and she’s not going to be happy about that.
We’re Here, We’re Queer, Get Used To It———————-
None of the resistance to gay marriage and family is really about anything other than prejudice. It’s in our nature to judge people, even to wish to boss others around. But long gone are the days of Ward and June Cleaver. A fresh look on the American family has come out of the closet, thanks in part to gays.
Opponents of equal rights can argue all they want about religion and morals. But critics of gay marriage live in glass houses next to the Joneses, and the Smiths, and the Kardashians and the Real Housewives. Everyone in the neighborhood needs to get along – See more at:
I am thrilled to see that my short story THE MILLER FAMILY REUNION was published today at Specter Literary Magazine.
Last week I volunteered to be part of an author’s blog hop, a project that gives writers an opportunity to reflect on their writing pursuit. Today, I am following Stacy Lawson (who I met in the Artist Trust EDGE class) in the blog hop who answered these same 3 questions:
1.) What are you working on?
I just finished a poetry anthology called Flit: A Gay Man’s Poetry Mashup of Classic Literature. I submitted it to my publisher, Coffeetown Press, three weeks ago and I am waiting to hear back. I sent them the first sixteen poems back in April and they liked them a lot and told me to keep working on it. It is now a collection of forty poems. Hopefully they will accept the book and it will come out late 2014 or early 2015.
The title, Flit, is a reference to gay slang taken from Catcher in the Rye which is part of the anthology. Some of the other books I mashup include Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Moby Dick, Little Women, Dracula, The Great Gatsby all the way up to more contemporary works like Alice Walker’s 1982 book The Color Purple. The poem’s topics range from gay marriage, gay adoption, Harvey Milk, bears, the leather scene, transexuals, Log Cabin Republicans, and lots and lots of gay sex.
2.) Why do I write what I do?
I write the things I enjoy or find ironic. Things just pop out of me sometimes. Or I start with one idea and it shifts into something I didn’t expect. I like to make people think. Surprise them. Occasionally teach them. I am teaching and surprising myself in that process.
Flit is an example of this. It was fun taking an old classic book and turning it into a new gay poem. The words are all from the original author, but I tweaked them and the reader is left with “how did that happen?” They have to process the new poem and it’s meaning, while embracing that it came from another body of work.
3.) How does my process work?
I get an idea and I just try to get it on paper as fast as possible. There are about a dozen ideas floating in my head all the time. Getting them out of my head and making them happen is tricky. I have to be ready for a particular idea.
Initially I don’t worry if the idea or the writing is good or correct …just get a first draft completed as quickly as possible. Almost like a stream of conscientiousness. Just be free and fast and fearless.
Once there is a draft, then I began molding it. So much of my writing is letting the piece of work tell me what it wants to be. Listening to my gut feeling. I love to experiment and twist something into something else unexpected. I let myself be unafraid of anything when I write.
With each draft, I let the work simmer. Everything slows down. I will put something away for day and then come back to it and it looks different. I can see what I need to do. I try not to fret too much over the writing. It’s better when I enjoy the process rather than let it beat me up.
I used to pick at things: never let them be finished. I’ve gotten over that.
A new review of SHORN: TOYS TO MEN appeared on amazon.com:
A must read for anyone of any age that feels like they don’t fit in to “normal” society. An honest and graphic study of the authors struggles in trying live a “normal” life in a world that considers him “odd”.
My short story THE BOHEMIAN MEDUSA was published today at The Round Up Writer’s Zine. This story went through many rewrites and incarnations. It was accepted after being rejected thirty-seven times!
So happy it found a home!
I love reviews on Amazon.com and Goodreads. Typically, they are from folks who are not in the literary world other than to (hopefully) enjoy a book. I consider them the truest and purest of reviews.
This morning I woke up to a new review of ONE GAY AMERICAN on amazon.com. The book was given 4 out of 5 stars and I loved what the man had to say:
I was fascinated by this memoir because Dennis Milam Bensie and I are exactly the same age, and so I remember a lot of the events he refers to in the book as they happened. We grew up in the same country with the same cultural references and shared public experiences. And we both set off on the same journey of coming out as whole people at a time when that was a lot harder than it is in 21st century America.
And what’s fascinating is how different our stories are. As I read I found myself wondered how much that of that comes from being different people vs. living in different places; Bensie lived in a small town in middle America, while I was growing up in a suburb of New York City. Bensie lost himself in dolls and the arts while I threw myself into literary fiction, science, and my new & politics junkie tendencies.
I was just as socially maladapted as him – but a bit more tuned into the outside world, and fortunate to live in a part of the country where gay people were somewhat less of an oddity, religion much less of a plague, and with a direct path out of my hometown in the form of college.
So I appreciated getting a look at how the world looked to someone in entirely different circumstances… and how much was still the same, such as the pressure to do what was expected and the lack of good models to follow. I was fortunate; while Bensie was getting married to show that he could be the man he was supposed to be, I was meeting gay and lesbian peers and discovering a whole world of sane, well-adjusted gay men at all stages of life. And my Bensie was still kicking around Illinois I made it to Boston.
But every story has value and there were probably a lot more gay kids living a life closer to Bensie’s than mine. Some of what he describes may be hard to relate to if you’re in your 20s; yes, gay people really were that invisible in the 80s.
My only gripe with the book was that while I congratulate Bensie for sharing so much of his own story, including the difficult parts, there are some sections where it’s clear he’s not sharing some things – which is his right, of course – and I got a sense that there was some real emotional development going on that isn’t included here, making some of the life transitions feel very abrupt and strange.
But that’s a relatively small complaint. Many people of my generation will see themselves in this book (and I did in many places, despite the differences in our lives) and many others will learn something about the devastating impact that homophobia has on people and families.
So thanks for telling your story, Mr Bensie, from this unknown brother who was living his own version of it many miles away. We made it!
It’s a little odd to be referenced in a book about mental illness. But …I own it. SHORN: TOYS TO MEN is referenced (in a good way) on page 145 of SO YOU THINK YOU’RE CRAZY: REASSURANCES ABOUT EVERYDAY HANG-UP by Frank Machovec, PhD. I hope my crazy can help someone else’s crazy.
I graduated the 2014 Artist Trust EDGE Professional Development Program for Literary Artists. It was a great experience that will forever enhance my writing career.
The twelve graduates gave a final presentation at Elliott Bay Bookstore. I read my short story SWIMMER’S EAR. About 50 people were in attendance.