MLR Press has announced the release of “Honorable Silence,” storytelling from four authors–Maura Anderson, William Maltese, George Seaton, and Lex Valentine (cover art by Michael Breyette)–relating to the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy and, in my case, a snippet of one gay man’s service in the U. S. Army two decades prior to the implementation of DADT.
My story, “The Loss of Innocence Store,” includes my Author’s Note: “Although DADT was instituted in 1993, the unconscionable ban on gays/lesbians in the American military predates DADT and, in fact, reaches back to the American Revolution. This story, “The Loss of Innocence Store,” provides a small window into a gay man’s experience in the U.S. Army, circa 1972-1974. Discrimination against gays/lesbians serving in the American military did not begin with DADT. Hopefully it will end with the dissolution of this onerous, absurd policy.”
Unfortunately, with the political route of progressives from the U.S. House of Representatives, and the seeming lack of courage from the White House to aggressively pursue an end to DADT, the wait for the cessation of this despicable policy may not be forthcoming for quite some time.
My thanks to Laura Baumbach, Kris Jacen and the other good folks at MLR for publishing this anthology.
P.S. Probably an unnecessary caveat here: The storytelling is exclusively M/M; no W/W experiences, histories are recounted. I cannot presume to know if the lesbian experience in the American military mirrors that of gay men. Suspect it’s very similar.
My short, “The Loss of Innocence Store,” will be included in this upcoming DADT anthology from MLR Press. Laura Baumbach, owner/publisher of MLR Press (besides being a prolific, award-winning author) provides, via “Fiction With Friction,” an opportunity to donate to an NYU student who is undertaking a film project centered on DADT.
My short, “The Loss of Innocence Store,” predates DADT. It is important, however, to remember that the institutionalized ban on openly gays/lesbians serving in the American military, did not begin with DADT. In fact, while DADT acknowledges the reality that gays/lesbians do serve in the military, prior to DADT the exclusionary policy was absolute…no room for even the opportunity to not tell, or, from the other side, to not ask.
“The Loss of Innocence Store,” will take the reader to a Vietnam era environment, beginning in Fort Polk, Louisiana with boot camp, then on to Norfolk, Virginia where the protagonist develops a sense of himself amongst all the detritus of his past, with the ultimate conclusion that being a Soldier is a singular honor, regardless of his sexuality.
All the way from Courtenay, BC (Old Wolf Lake in the background), I received a very kind note on my “About” page from a fan, Robert, who later provided a few pics showing him reading my novel, “Big Diehl – The Road Home.” Very, very nice gesture. My first fan! Or, at least, my first piece of fan mail. A satisfying thing…for any writer’s ego. Irrefutable visual evidence that at least someone–besides my partner–is reading what I’ve written.
Thank you, Robert.
The art of Michael Breyette is exquisite, titillating; mirroring the lives, the truths of gay men in a most honest, revealing (oh, quite revealing!) celebration of color, form, storytelling implicit in each picture. It is art that expresses, through the beauty of the male form, the full gamut of human emotion; joy, sadness, yearning, companionship, sharing.
Some time ago, Michael wondered how writers–published or not–would interpret his work if given the chance to reflect on a particular painting through their own storytelling, rather than what Michael had in mind when he created the painting. The long-awaited result of Michael’s curiosity was published last month by MLR Press, entitled “Illustrated Men.” There is an electronic version available at MLR, and a print version at Amazon. This is a beautiful book, not only because of Breyette’s wonderful paintings, or even the great storytelling from the authors who participated, but also because of the gorgeous interior layout of the book provided by MLR’s Senior Editor and Formatting Director Kris Jacen. It is also important to note that producing a book like this is no small task, at no small expense. Laura Baumbach, MLR’s Owner and Publisher (besides being a quite prolific and award-winning author) said yes to Breyette’s idea which, I’m sure, many other small or large publishing houses would not have taken on simply because of the magnitude of the effort. Thank you, Ms. Baumbach.
As to the genesis of the short, “Metamorphosis,” I wont giveaway the content of the picture, or my storytelling that accompanies it. (Maybe just a snippet.) What I will tell you is that when I first looked at Bryettet’s painting, “Metamorphosis,” I was immediately taken back to a very much simpler time and place in my life. I had just returned to Denver, my home, from two years in the Army (having earned my B.A. before I enlisted), and, having FINALLY accepted my sexuality as a gift, I happily celebrated that part of my psyche with–as I think about it now–a particular vengeance. I had a lot of catching up to do.
In those days there were 3.2 beer joints in Denver, at least two of them gay owned and operated. If you were at least eighteen, and had I.D. to prove it, you could partake of the merriment in those establishments. One of the bars, The Apartment, was a small place where I’d found my comfortable corner; a place where youngsters (Oh, how I loved the youngsters! Still do!) gathered, partied, hooked up. Every Sunday afternoon Frank, the owner of the bar, would host a drag show that saw the tiny dance floor cleared, a spotlight set up, and the performers’ songs prerecorded on cassette tapes. There was one fairly regular performer, I’ll call him Rusty, whose lip sync was, well, adequate, and whose body was absolutely luscious. He knew what his asset was. And he worked it with slow sensuous moves, to slow sensuous songs, gradually removing his clothing until he was down to his jockstrap. Yes, a striptease, that no “working girl” would be caught dead performing. The drag queens despised Rusty, but the crowd loved him. I suppose the queens believed he was in some way defiling their “art,” demeaning their calling to female impersonation. Rusty never did drag. Just lip synced and stripped.
I wrote a short about Rusty many years ago, that had him considering “upgrading” his performance; maybe taking some ballet lessons, and adding a little “class” to his act. That striving for a little “class,” and the eventual result provided the ending to that long-ago written short. And from that short, from the ending of that short came the idea for my admittedly quirky, kind of funky story accompanying Breyette’s painting, “Metamorphosis.”
So, there’s the genesis of the story. Suspect Breyette had something else altogether in mind when he created the painting. But, then, that was the point of Breyette’s curiosity, his vision for the collection anyway.
Snippet: Deaglan worked a few years in construction, bartended, watied tables. Served filet mignon and bouillabaisse, eased corks from twenty-year-old bottles. Appreciated the attention given to his looks as something he couldn’t help, nor wanted to. Seemed clothes tended to caress his body like shrink wrap a valued commodity. Gave up on underwear. Smiled at faces, men and women–forks shoveling chunks of rare meat into wide mouths–whose eyes captured, for later fanciful reference, the swing of a goodly treasure against the fine, thin linen Deaglan preferred. Pleased himself with a turn of his head, seeing in some of those same eyes a perceived desire to gnaw on the tightly muscled jut of his ass, framing a slit that surely promised deeper treasures. Dessert here, anyone?
My novel, “Big Diehl – The Road Home” has been released by MLR Press in ebook format. Print format will soon follow.
This is a follow-up to my novella, “Big Diehl,” also published by MLR Press.
The Diehl stories tell of a young man who, upon his graduation from high school, escapes his dismal life in Wyoming, and finds himself on the road to discover the possibilities of a new life elsewhere. He hits the road, not really knowing where he’s going, or what possibilities he will find ahead. In Casper, Wyoming he enlists in the Army, is embraced by the kindness of strangers–who become his only real family–until he is required to report for duty at Fort Polk, Louisiana. His stint in the Army spans six years, including experiencing combat in the First Gulf War, Desert Storm. He returns to Wyoming with the intent to take-up his life where he’d left it, in Casper, amongst the love of his adopted family. But first, he must even a long-standing score he has with his father, still living in a “tin house” in Laramie.
The road home is not an easy one. The way back to the “world” is speckled with the discovery of a dog who, as all dogs, provide Diehl with the joy, comfort of unconditional love and perhaps guidance that only a dog can give. Diehl travels what is, at times, a dark road home–more in his mind, than in reality. Along the way he finds himself suspected of a horrendous deed; a prior unrequited love is explained; an old love is revisited; and, finally, Diehl must decide what the real meaning of “home” is.
“Big Diehl – The Road Home” contains tangential gay erotica.
Two nice reviews over on Amazon. And two other valued reviews at Literary Nymphs, and ebookaddict. And another, from Janna at E-Romance Reader. And a 5 Star review at Three Dollar Bill Reviews. Wow! Queer Magzine Online gave Diehl a very nice review.
The cover art for my forthcoming novel, “Big Diehl – The Road Home,” has been completed. Yes, there’s a boy and his dog there. The plot encompasses a wee bit more than what the cover art suggests. Don’t know when MLR will publish this novel. Hopefully before the summer is out.
My novella, “Big Diehl,” appears in this anthology that addresses gays in uniform. Still hoping that MLR Press will be able to publish an anthology that addresses “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” for which I’ve already offered a short.
Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings provided a very kind review of each story in the “Esprit de Corps” anthology. You can find it here.
My novella, “Big Diehl,” included in the anthology “Esprit de Corps,” (to be issued shortly by MLR Press), is now available at the MLR site.
The character, Big Diehl, was first given life in a short story, kindly published by the ezine, Nossa Morte. From there, the character was placed in a novella that deals with gays serving in the the military. Specifically–in this case–Big Diehl finds himself serving in the U.S. Army, as well as being part of the first contingents of American troops to go to Iraq in 2003.
And, not leaving well enough alone… A novel, “Big Diehl,” will be forthcoming from MLR Press, in winter/spring 2010, that follows Big Diehl’s return to his roots, after serving for six years in the U.S. Army.
So, yes, from short story, to novella, to ebook, to anthology, to novel… Big Diehl is getting around. Hope you follow his travels and travails.
Review from Rainbow Reviews is here, that from Reviews byJessewave is here, and that from Coffee Time Romance is here. Dare I add Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings here. And, yet another review from Alan Chin is here. Several reviews at Goodreads, here.
My short, “Big Diehl,” received an honorable mention in Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year (Vol. 1, Night Shade publications). First time I’ve received an honorable anything from anybody with regard to my writing. The short appeared in the November 2008 edition of the ezine, Nossa Morte is and continues to be a quality ezine, picky about what they publish. They’re a PAYING market besides.
May bask in this little achievement for a while…white wine, a few puffs on a cigar.
NOTE: The short, “Big Diehl,” that appeared in Nossa Mortre, provided the basis for the character, Big Diehl, who appears in a novella over at MLR Press. The novella and the short share the same title and main character, but are distinctly different in content.