The Secret Lives of 20th Century Gays

Thanks so much to pals Julie Lynn Hayes and M.A. Church for organizing The Power of Love blog tour. Click here for links to all the participating blogs. All the authors are giving something away, so you’ll want to visit all of the participating blogs to see what to do for a chance to win free stuff.

For every five commenters on my blog, I’m giving away an autographed copy of Until Thanksgiving or After Christmas Eve. For a chance to win (U.S. residents only), comment on this post by midnight, February 16, 2014. Please note, comments are moderated, so if you haven’t commented on my blog before, your comment may not appear right away. Include an email address so I can reach the winners.

blog hop pic

I suspect my ideas about the Power of Love are different from yours. I came out in 1979 when I was 21 and have lived what many consider to be an “interesting” life. Believing, as I did after coming out,that I was going to hell for who I loved was oddly liberating. What I did no longer mattered, so I did everything I was big enough to do, and then some.

I’m one of the lucky ones. Many gay men I knew took their own lives. Several died in car crashes, from drug overdoses, or by other accidents. More than a few were stabbed, beaten to death, or shot. AIDS killed too many to count. But somehow, I survived. Because so many of my friends didn’t, I’m compelled to tell our stories.

If you’re looking for hot, steamy sex — I’m not your guy. The men in my stories kiss and cuddle, then I fade to black. What they do behind closed doors is nobody’s business anyway, right?

I try to show the secret, parallel universe we lived in that was mostly hidden from the straight world. The local gay bar was like grand central station — the place where connections were made to outposts scattered around town and beyond. Straight folks might come to the station, but they were rarely allowed on outgoing trains. Having “tourists” at the bar was bad enough. The after-hours parties belonged to us.

My first novel, Until Thanksgiving, is a thriller set in Washington, DC in the fall of 1996. The serial killer is a gay man with anger issues and a dishonorable discharge from the Marines. Josh Freeman and Thad Parker are out to everyone, including their employers, and they can eat together in “straight” restaurants without worrying about anyone beating them up or harassing them.

After Christmas Eve is a mystery that takes place thirty years earlier in DC and revolves around Philip Potter, Thad Parker’s gay uncle. Homosexuality in 1966 was a sin, a mental illness, a reason to get fired or evicted, and illegal in every state but Illinois. Nobody was out of the closet — not if they could help it. Police raids, entrapment, and extortion schemes were the norm. Homosexual children ran away from cruel homes, or worse, were put out by parents who didn’t want them anymore.

I just finished writing Happy Independence Day, a sequel to After Christmas Eve set two years later in New York City. The State Liquor Authority could revoke the license of disorderly establishments and had decreed that the mere presence of a homosexual made a bar disorderly. Legitimate businesses refused to serve alcohol to gays, clearing the way for the Mafia to move in with private clubs catering to homosexuals. The most famous of these Mafia-owned establishments was the Stonewall Inn, site of the 1969 uprising that launched gay liberation and the modern gay rights movement.

The stories in my novels are fiction. But the backdrops are as real as I can make them, or as I like to say, true enough for government work. For blurbs, excerpts, and more information about my novels, click on either cover (to the left) or “My Books” (above).

Thanks for stopping by. I look forward to seeing your comments. Oh yeah — one more little thing — Happy Valentine’s Day!

28 responses to “The Secret Lives of 20th Century Gays”

  1. Thank you for sharing, it’s kind of nice that you decided to honor your friends by sharing their stories through your writing. Thank you for the giveaway and Happy Valentine’s Day!

    humhumbum AT yahoo DOT com

  2. I am not sure I have read any of your stories but I sure do want to! Happy Valentine’s Day!
    debby236 at gmail dot com

  3. I like the way you describe your stories as showcasing the “secret, parallel universe” that is the non-straight world. One of yours is on my nook; i’ll have to move it up the TBR list!

  4. I think you did an excellent job with the backdrop for After Christmas Eve. After finishing it I felt the need to read a little more about gay rights (or should I say the lack thereof) in that time period. It was a definite reminder that even though things are not where they should be, they have come a long way.

  5. One of the best things about your writing m/m romance, at least for me, is your ability to “fade to black.” It’s steamy, sensual, sexy without totally seeing behind closed doors … I wouldn’t want all the details of straight romance either. You make me “long” for Independence Day and wish for an enchanted Easter! I feel like I HAVE been invited along to the after hour party with each read!

  6. Your fiction writing takes me to a world of which I’ve only seen glimpses. And in that world I meet people that I’d like to know better. … I like seeing these people through your eyes. Their lives have meaning because you’ve seen their struggles, their joys and all the in betweens; then you bring it to your readers in a way that wraps around our hearts.

  7. Michael–how can I change my icon image? It looks like the geek cousin of annoying orange. And I just wear glasses while driving or watching football.

  8. I know that the giveaway is only for us but wanted to comment that I loved the story in your blogpost