Monday, September 27, 2010
New Cover and an Exclusive Sneak Peek: OUT ON THE NET
Just for you, here's a taste from the very beginning of the book, which is told in blog format:
Blog Entry #1: When I Knew I was Gay
I get the same question all the time—when did you know when you were gay? Aside from the obvious sarcastic response to such a query—“when did you know you were straight?” And aside from the obvious further probing of the asker—“well, what do you mean? When did I know? Or when did I accept it?”
I knew, accepted, whatever…that I was gay when I was standing in the little room just off the altar at St. Alfonso Catholic Church in Summitville, PA at approximately 12:30 p.m. on a hot and humid July afternoon. I was wearing a white tuxedo jacket, white shirt, black tie and cummerbund, and black tuxedo slacks. My black patent leather shoes were buffed to a high gloss. My dark brown hair had just been cut and not a single one of them was out of place. I could hear the soft talking and laughter of those who had assembled in the church as they waiting for the proceedings to begin. A string quartet played Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” so gorgeously it brought tears to my eyes.
I was thirty years old and about to be married for the first time.
To a woman.
The ceremony was due to begin in twenty minutes.
That’s the moment I realized, accepted, knew for sure, that I was gay. I’d like to say it came to me in a flashing moment of clarity, like some blinding white light. Or that I fainted straight away, hitting the marble floor with a thud. Or that a chorus of angels came down from on high to reveal to me this alarming news in celestial tones.
But all I did was say softly to myself, “Oh shit. I can’t do this. I’m gay.”
My best man, Doug Taylor, primped in the mirror. He had no reason to primp. His reddish blond hair, freckles, and blue eyes were already the lustful design of every female in the wedding party. His body, buff, tight, and ripped, filled out his tux better than I could ever hope to fill out my own.
Doug helped me realize the truth because at that moment—as God, literally, as my witness—I discovered I’d rather be marrying Doug than my bride, Alice, who was I’m certain, waiting anxiously with her father at the rear of the church. Poor Alice’s anxiety was nothing compared to what it could have been had she known what was going through her groom’s head at this very moment.
Doug turned to me. “Did you say something?” He smiled and I have to tell you, Doug has one of those smiles that light up a room. I also have to tell you that it wasn’t quite true what I said about Doug—I really don’t want to marry him, but I would prefer that the wedding night be spent in his arms.
Should I make Doug—my old college roommate at Ohio State University and beer-drinking buddy—the first recipient of my revelation?
I didn’t think about it. I knew that, in moments, the anxiety would rise up, the adrenalin would kick in and I would be a mess—a trembling, heart-palpitating, sweating buckets mess. In moments, thoughts like how I was about to hurt Alice, disappoint my parents, stun the wedding guests, and perhaps ruin my life as I knew it would be taking turns tormenting my mind.
But, as I said, I didn’t think about it. Instead, my mouth worked independently of my brain as I said to Doug, “Yeah. Yes, I said something.” I cleared my throat, and looked around the cramped little room, at how the sun’s beams shone in through the stained glass window of Jesus opening His robe to reveal His heart.
I shrugged, and like a lemming poised at a cliff with a thousand of my lemming buddies waiting impatiently behind me, I jumped. “I said I can’t go through with this.”
Doug grinned and came toward me. He placed his hands on my shoulders. “Dude, buck up. Every groom gets cold feet. It’s natural. Just think of what you have waiting for you. Alice is a beautiful girl. When the time’s right for me, I hope I can be so lucky. And you’re marrying into one of the best families in town. You are going to be so happy, my friend. Just relax. Take a few deep breaths. Come on, we’ll do it together.” Just as Doug was about to draw big gulp of air into his lungs and indicate that I should do the same, I said two words no best man should ever have to hear:
Doug let out a whoosh of air, coasting along on a wave of giddy laughter. “Oh come on, man, save the jokes for the reception! You’re about as gay as I am and we both know that’s not true.”
The music outside shifted to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and I shifted my weight nervously to the other foot. Someone in the pews coughed; a woman laughed. I stared longingly at the exit door just behind Doug’s back.
“No, man, I’m serious. I’m gay. Gay, gay, gay. I like men, not boys. I like broad shoulders, hard pecs, stubble.” I let out a short, near-hysteria burst of laughter.
If I was that lemming I talked about earlier, I had just leapt from the cliff and was now freefalling to the rocks below. Whee! “I like Judy Garland and Broadway musicals.” I stopped laughing. “No, that last part isn’t true. I don’t even know if I can name one single Garland song. Well, okay, there’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” but everybody knows that one, right?” I giggled. And how gay is that? “And I don’t even think I’ve seen a Broadway musical. Okay, I saw Guys and Dolls back when we were in Summitville High. Does that count?”
I stopped, breathless, staring at Doug like he was a stranger. My heart thudded so hard, fast, and painfully in my chest I wondered if I was about to have a heart attack and expire right here on hallowed ground.
Was a Catholic church hallowed?
Doug surprised me. He came toward me and grabbed me, gripping me in a bear hug so tight it ripped the air right out of my lungs. Then he pushed me back and regarded me. “Are you sure?”
“Would I say something like this if I wasn’t? Do you hate me?”
Doug, God bless him, didn’t even have to think for more than a few seconds. “Dude, you’re my best friend. I don’t hate you. I love you. If this is what you know, then I’ll have to deal with it. You will always be my best friend, no matter which side you butter your bread on—or whatever.” He glanced out at the church proper, where I could hear the string quartet tuning up for our processional. We had chosen “Someone to Watch Over Me.” “We’ll all have to deal with it.” Doug stared down at the floor and gnawed on a hangnail. “Fuck, man. What are you gonna do?”
I swallowed. “I can’t go through with this.” I wanted to say more, but the power of connecting my brain to my tongue chose that moment to slip out of the room. I bit my lip. I stared to cry.
“Pull yourself together, man!” Doug gripped my shoulder and shook me.
I could feel myself growing faint. Sweat dripped down my forehead, flooded my underarms, and a crawly flood of the stuff was making its way down my back. “How can I do this to Alice? I have to go through with it.”
Doug smirked. “Listen—hard as it is to believe, even I know, it’ll be a lot easier to get out of this now than somewhere down the road.”
I looked at myself in the mirror over Doug’s shoulder. My summer tan was gone, replaced by a pallor that came dangerously close to matching my tuxedo jacket and shirt. “I have to go out there and put a stop to this.”
Doug leaned close, “You don’t have to do anything but leave.” He turned to the door behind us. “Just go. I will make the announcement and we’ll talk later.”
I stood dumbfounded as Doug hurried out into the church. I paused by the door and listened as he cleared his voice and said, “Everybody? Can I have your attention, please? I have an announcement.”
The voices stopped. The quartet, I suppose, put down their instruments. I pictured my mother, in her mint green party dress, looking up expectantly, not knowing that a bomb was about to drop.
And I, hating myself and believing I had made a colossal mistake that would haunt me the rest of my days, slipped out the door into the summer day.
But at what cost?
Real Men. True Love. Rick R. Reed is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction. He is a Lambda Literary Award finalist. Entertainment Weekly has described his work as “heartrending and sensitive.” Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…” Find him at www.rickrreedreality.blogspot.com. Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA, with his husband, Bruce, and their fierce Chihuahua/Shiba Inu mix, Kodi.