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11 June 2007 @ 05:54 pm
Belated comments on "recent" readings  
I attended a reading "recently" (May 31--yikes! Time flies) and I also participated in a reading (June 1).

The proper thing to do would have been to post brief write-ups and thank-yous immediately, but I have been in an odd mood these days (a really good mood, which is why it's odd) and I needed time to think...

The reading I attended was organized by my college LGBT alumni association and was on the subject of "Girls who like boys who like boys." Yum! I thought. It doesn't get any better than that, or more on-topic for me.

Well, the readings were fine, the presenters lovely, literate and witty...but...the subtitle of this evening's collection of nonfiction essays was something about gay men and the straight women who love them. And although most everybody there was a good ten years younger than me, I felt, if anything, two decades ahead of them in terms of having a more progressive view of what, back in the day, were called fag hags. Ick. I have tried to embrace the term, but have felt nothing but gratitude that we seemed to be moving toward a recognition that not all "girls who like boys who like boys" are ugly, sexless failures who can't get "real" men, but are, instead, so brilliant, articulate and together that we naturally seek out the best of the opposite sex: gay guys.

Obviously, this point of view is still evolving. The majority of the readings seemed to focus on the old-fashioned world of fags and hagdom: fashion, camp, showtunes and, at least of some possible interest, tips on effective cocksucking. Now, I don't mind camp or showtunes, and lord knows I have tried my best at cocksucking (with mixed results), but the fact is, if I were to face death by firing squad unless I began to pay attention to haute couture, with or without the assistance of a knowledgeable gay man, I would face the leveled rifles without a blindfold rather than subject myself to such torture. I just don't see why a girl who likes boys...etc. has to be straight or why the love/friendship that dare not speak its name between me and hot, man-loving gay guys has to be all about bullshit. Why can't it be about the fact that they're hot, I'm hot and we recognize some affinity for each other that goes beyond stereotypes or worries over who fucks whom in what orifice?

The reading I participated in was called BiLines. It was organized by a group I joined, but have a unsettled relationship with: the Bi Writers Association. Now, I'm not saying I'm not bi or a writer. What I am saying is that it's my writing that's bi; that what I want to write about is bisexual men and the question of whether it's possible for a woman (regardless of her own sexual orientation) to have an honest and satisfying relationship with a man who is also sexually and possibly romantically involved with another man. It's nice (I suppose) that other writers are energized in some way by identifying with a particular sexual orientation, but in my case it's all about the writing. I don't care what the sexual orientation of the writer is; I only care whether what s/he is writing has something interesting to say about bisexuality or bisexual relationships. I won't read something I'm not interested in or that is badly written simply because the writer is or claims to be bi. I will read a book that has bisexual characters and situations, presents them positively, is literate and has an engaging style.

But...the readings were excellent. Here, unlike the previous evening, the subject matter was all on-target. It was, naturally, gratifying to be sought out by a very hot Finnegan the Poet, who bought one of the few remaining print-on-demand copies of my novel that will be republished next summer by HarperCollins. But all the readers had something interesting to say about bisexuality, most of it nonfiction. Ron Suresha's selection, was, for me, especially meaningful, as he wrote about a sexual encounter with a man who simply could not accept that Ron wasn't a "liar" because he was married to a woman and also had sex with men. That's more or less the theme of all my work: if the man is honest with himself and with me, it's a romance. If he lies, it's cheating, or nothing.

I was also delighted to hear from William Burleson, whose book, Bi America : Myths, Truths, and Struggles of an Invisible Community, was the first nonfiction book I bought and read on the topic after subsidy-publishing my historical novel. I was delighted to see that fiction and nonfiction were not so far apart, and to learn what a thriving bi community exists in Minnesota, of all places. (Yes, I'm a provincial native New Yorker. You got a problem with that?)

Finally, my own performance (why not mention?) I wanted to read a scene I hadn't read before. Up until recently, my ideal of reading was to get up in front of a group of people, all 5'2" of middle-aged librarian me, and read the hottest scene in my book: my hero and boyfriend-to-be having their first sexual encounter. And now? Sad to say, I feel "been there, done that." So I read a scene where my hero gets a Dear John letter from his soldier ex-boyfriend at the breakfast table, flips out and is comforted by his wife. Many expletives and much anger, and I always like to read as "dramatically" as possible. Afterwards, Finnegan commented on the contrast between what he referred to as my "reserve" when he met me and the intensity of the scene. I hadn't realized I was that reserved...I think it was perhaps awe at Finnegan's hotness.

So that's that. On the whole, a roaring success. But perhaps hot guys fucking is the best choice of reading material after all. I have a year in which to ponder and decide.
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