#11 – I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore

Why: gay literature exists and it can be legitimate.

Michelle was the one black person in my sixth grade class. She and I were the two top rapacious readers.  Often we read the same things or similar stuff. One day I saw her reading something with African-Americans on the cover; it looked to be about the south after The Civil War. I asked her why she was reading it. “Because it’s about me” she replied. I thought this odd as it was about folks and times a hundred years ago; how could it be about her? Later I connected the dots and knew what she meant. Later too I learned there was literature for all sorts of folks and nationalities – except me.  There was no reads about my sort. I was about six years old when I realized I was light in the loafers (I was an early bloomer) and there were no books in the school libraries to read on the topic. This supported my dreadful assumption I was the only one in the world ‘that way’.*  Everyone else had books about them but not for queer-types. Even if there were others like myself they certainly wouldn’t be allowed to write books about it would they?

I forget when I first found and read a gay dime-novel. It was full of stereotypes having continuous shenanigans of the most graphic sort, which was the point of the read. It titillated and it sort-of assured me there were ‘books about me” but “Get thee behind me” was rubbish – worse, it was poorly written.

Mr. Mordden’s book is memorable as the first book I remember reading which was well written and about folks like myself. I didn’t identify with the setting (NYC gays in the 70s) and I had never heard of Fire Island but that was not the point.  It was comforting to read I was not alone and some of us were writers and quite good too. Later in life I befriend a few gay authors many of them well over four feet. One of them even writes murder mysteries. Fascinating! The detectives [who are gay] go about solving the who-done-its as if they were just plain folks and the gay part is hardly mentioned.**

I read Mr. Morrden’s books and then went on to read of the “Tales from the City”*** series. Since then I’ve not been one to actively seek out ‘gay literature’  – unless the writing and story is good.  Gay literature has become mainstream, just another variety in the many types of reading  I hope this is true for myself as well.

 

 

 

*Happily when I got to junior high school I found some others like myself and I was off and running as it were.

**At the end of all his novels the detectives always give each other a hug and a kiss. It’s rather sweet.

***Most of them anyway. I don’t quite remember why I didn’t continue with them. Perhaps I didn’t find them that spell-binding. I later met Mr. Maupin. He was a nice fellow, well over four feet.