Blog Tour – #IsHeHereYet: Being the person you want to be with by Dr Tony Ortega (guest post and giveaway)

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BLOG TOUR

Book Title: #IsHeHereYet: Being the person you want to be with

Author: Dr. Tony Ortega

Publisher: Ortega Psychology LLC

Genre/s: Non-Fiction,  Self-Help, LGBT, Dating/Relationships, Motivational, Psychology

Length:  172 pages

Goodreads 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Dr. Tony Ortega here today talking about his latest book. Welcome, Dr. Ortega.

♦︎

The top seven tips leading clinical psychologist and spiritual coach Dr. Tony Ortega gives to people who are fed up with jumping from one disastrous date/relationship to another.

Top seven tips…

I get it. You are over dating in general. You want the merry go round of disastrous first dates to end and find “the one.” Here are some tips to decrease the discouragement you may be feeling.

Tip 1: Don’t let the past get in the way of your present. Not every date will be a disaster.

Many times, we approach dating from our perspectives on the past. We keep a self-imposed imaginary scorecard to measure future paramours. But the key is to approach each new dating experience as just that—a new dating experience. Be present to what is in front of you. I have had disastrous first dates that were amazing learning experiences. I have also had amazing first dates that led nowhere.

Tip 2: Don’t take the date so seriously. Treat it like a job interview.

When we think we click well with a person prior to meeting them for a date, we automatically want them to be the one. We think, “Gee, we are clicking so well via phone/text/messaging. This has got to be the one.” But electronic connection does not always translate to actual physical connection. By approaching dating as a job interview, it decreases the pressure of this date being “the one.”

When we are dating, we are essentially interviewing candidates for a position in our “corporation.” For anyone who has ever had a management position in their actual work life, we know that not all candidates who apply for the position are appropriate. Some of the candidates may look good on paper but when they come in for their interview, we see that what they put on their resumes was a very nice elaboration of actual details and not factual. So, we continue to interview candidates. Dating works the same way.

Tip 3: Stop taking rejection so personally.

I heard it said somewhere that rejection has nothing to do with you (unless, of course, you show up for your first date smelling like crap and acting rude). Rejection is one of you saying no to the notion of you and them as a unit. They are not rejecting you as a person. They can’t reject you as a person because they are not you. Only you can reject you personally. I have faced rejection many times and have felt devastated. However, thanks to social media, I was able to see later that I truly dodged massive bullets.

Does everyone who is attracted to you get your reciprocation? Does everyone you are attracted to reciprocate? It’s not realistic that everyone we are attracted to will be attracted to us and vice versa. Besides, we don’t want to keep that initial type of attraction that we may be having; we want to develop a deeper attraction to the person as we get to know them.

Tip 4: We don’t get it right every time.

Okay, folks. For any of you who are physically active, whether it be some form of exercise or a sport, did you get it right the first time? How long did it take you to get competent in what you are doing? Dating is not a genetically encoded ability like being right-handed. It’s a skill we build over time, so don’t be so hard on yourself if you don’t get it right every time. You will get better with practice. So why continue to go on dates? To develop the musculature.

Tip 5: What’s your motive for dating?

Maybe the reason you keep going on one disastrous date after another is because you are approaching dating with the wrong motives. There’s this amazing book called #IsHeHereYet: Being The Person You Want To Be With, which talks about being the best version of yourself first and then seeing what shows up in your romantic life. All kidding aside, though, think of why you want to date. Are you dating because you want to share your life with someone, or are you wanting to not be single, and be like everyone else? If you approach dating with any sense of self-lack and you hope a relationship will cure that, you will attract one disastrous date after another.

Tip 6: How are you showing up for the date?

I have been on dates where the dude is super arrogant and as much as I would love to bone him, I know it won’t go beyond the boning. I have also gone on dates with guys who are clinging and needy, and I clearly do not go beyond that first date. No boning required. And then I have been on dates where the man was unapologetically himself, super authentic, and fun to be around. Ask yourself: Who is the person who is showing up for this first date (meaning you, by the way)? Are you showing up for the date arrogantly, clingy, or unapologetically you? Your presentation can do so much to steer the direction of the date.

Tip 7: It’s not the end of the world.

Folks, it’s dating; not solving world hunger. If you go on bad dates, what did you lose? A few hours? A few dollars? The reason why folks get so overwhelmed with dating is because they are so invested in them working out for the wrong reasons. Regardless of your motives or results, it’s not the end of the world if you have one disastrous first date after another. At some point, if you do the work, you will get different results.

Blurb

#IsHeHereYet: Being the Person You Want to Be With is an extremely raw (and funny) look at the perceived epidemic of being single in our quest for love. It dismantles the notion that there is something that we need to do in order to bring in “The One.” Instead, it challenges you to be “The One” and see what shows up then. Regardless of the outcome, the end result will be the best version of you possible. This book is geared toward single and partnered people alike. Through personal and professional accounts of real life situations, as well as thought expanding exercises and meditation tools, the reader will leave with a greater understanding and concept of themselves. They will be able to “date themselves” and create the space to naturally attract loving and authentic relationships.

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Availability: Paperback, eBook, International distribution

Amazon UK 

Amazon US

Excerpt

They say your deepest pain becomes your greatest purpose. And this pain was fucking deep.

The catalyst of this book was a breakup. It is ironic that a breakup influenced the development of a relationship book; or, maybe not so ironic. For centuries, artists have created beautiful things from unrequited love. A broken heart has been at the foundation of many of history’s greatest masterpieces.

So, here is a little history: I pride myself on being a very accomplished man. Most of my endeavors are met with a great deal of success. However, there was one area that had eluded me most of my life: relationships. I was convinced I was doomed to be single—as every relationship with a guy I ever had ended in a disaster. I was so miserable being single that I would do everything in my power not to be single. When relationships ended, I did everything I could to avoid the pain. I thought I wasn’t good enough for relationships.

I lived in this story for many, many years. As relationships kept failing, I would shake my fist at God, or see myself as “different” or “less than” because of it. This all led to me getting into some very dark places in my life.

The evening of Friday, November 2, 2012, I was sitting on the toilet in my apartment in Queens, half drunk on frozen margaritas, smoking a Marlboro Light, and arguing with my “boyfriend” over forty dollars. (I use the word “boyfriend” in quotations because it was a relationship he had no idea he was in.) At that moment, I woke up—with a deep knowing that this relationship was over. I felt so pathetic that I ended the conversation, took a long last drag off the cigarette, and knew something had to change.

I decided to take hold of the wheel of my life and change direction. Over the next couple of years, the right people, the right books, and the right programs came my way. While some bounced in and out just to jumpstart my spiritual path, others have remained, mainly my study of the metaphysical text A Course in Miracles. It was the teachings in this text, combined with my spiritual and metaphysical work, which led me to unravel the things I was using to numb out and begin to feel more alive.

After beginning my spiritual journey and immersing myself in A Course in Miracles, I decided to work with a life coach; someone who seemed to have the well-rounded kind of life that I wanted— including a wonderful relationship. A relationship was one of the things I had not yet been able to successfully work out at the time, maybe because I was avoiding, or too busy working on myself. Through my work with this coach, I was able to rewrite the scripts I had been living under for most of my life and dive head first into the dating pool. It was easy at first, and I still stumbled on many occasions as my dating muscles had atrophied quite a bit in the years that I had not exercised them, but I kept taking that next right step.

On March 3, 2016, I met Fernando, the man of my dreams (or so I thought back then). While we had been talking for months online, we had not met before our date. I turned him down for sex over and over again as I was initially not really into him. But I began to think he seemed to have all the qualities I wanted in a man, which is why I continued to hold off on a one-night stand. He was equal parts sexual and spiritual. He was gainfully employed and seemed as motivated to work on himself as I was.

Fernando even matched most of the qualities I had listed in my “Manventory” I had completed New Year’s Day 2016 (more on Manventories later). I figured, Let’s meet and see what happens. When I first met him, I was like, Homeboy photographs a lot better than he looks in person. After chatting with him for a while over drinks and then ending the date with an intense make-out session in the streets of New York City, I was smitten.

However, there were some speed bumps along the way. He was dealing with some personal issues that I felt would get in the way of anything blossoming from our union, but something told me to give him a chance. I made myself wrong for feeling this way and dove in with my eyes closed. We had a lovely relationship that lasted sixty-nine days. It wasn’t perfect, but it broke my then eight-year dry spell, and I was in love.

After a few weeks, he even said, “I love you.” This was thrilling because no one had said that to me in such a long time. I thought that I had achieved the prize from all my hard work since that fateful Friday night in 2012. I had learned my lessons from all my previous failed relationships and now found what I was longing for.

He even gave me the title of “boyfriend,” which only lasted seventy-two hours before he decided to take it away.

I turned into a state of fear for the remainder of the relationship and he ended things quite abruptly on May 10, 2016. I was devastated.

For the next six weeks, I felt completely at a loss over what to do to manage the pain. I numbed it through alcohol and sex. When I was more rational, I searched the Internet for books on gay relationships and breakups, but everything was so out of date. My coach was very supportive, but he was still in his wonderful relationship, and I felt like I couldn’t relate to him because he had what I wanted and but just lost. This is no reflection of his capacities as a life coach. On the contrary, the man is simply amazing. I just had to go through the emotions.

I decided that if there wasn’t a good, up-to-date, dating and breakup book for gay men, then I would write it. I was fed up with the “single-to-relationship” books that were currently on the market. It seemed that all of these particular books were “do this and get the relationship.” I decided it was time to write a dating and relationship book that was more along the lines of “do this, be the person, see what shows up.” At the time of writing this book, I am still single and dating.

About the Author

Dr Tony Ortega is a first-generation Cuban American gay man. He is a licensed clinical psychologist, life coach, and author who has been in practice since 1992, currently serving the LGBTQ population in his private practice located in Brooklyn, New York. Tony (along with his teaching partner, John Davisi) is the co-creator of the movement, RawSexySpiritual: Spirituality for Gay Men (www.rawsexyspiritual.com). Tony combines cognitive behavioural techniques along with active coaching and metaphysical principles in his work with clients. Additionally, Tony provides spiritual life coaching for individuals seeking a different way to live. He works with his clients within these three principles: Rewrite Your Story, Find Your Voice, and Live Authentically.

Social Media Links

Website

Online profile

Twitter

Facebook

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Book Blast My Horrible Gay Dating Life by Dimitrius Jones (excerpt)

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BOOK BLAST

Book Title: My Horrible Gay Dating Life

Author: Dimitrius Jones

Publisher: Self-Published

Genre/s: LGBT romance, non-fiction

Length: 35,677 words/99 pages

Is it a standalone book? Yes

 

Blurb

Based directly on the author’s dating journey, Dimitrius Jones shares tales of his romantic misadventures. Ready to feel better about your love life? Of course, you are.

Navigating the world of dating is hard. Having a gay dating life is even harder. While waiting for his new romantic interest to arrive at a coffee house, Dimitrius decides to dig deep into his past to see where it all went wrong. What follows is a trip down memory lane full of outrageous encounters with cheating boyfriends, family drama, and a grown man who likes to wear diapers.

Realizing nearly every relationship he’s been in has ended in catastrophe, Dimitrius devises a plan to properly manage his latest romantic-fling-turned-tragedy. He wants to become a better person and meet better people. The problem is he’s only got until the end of his next date to figure out what to do next.

Still think your dating life is bad? Think again.

 

Add on Goodreads  

“The stories in the short book are presented in a humorous and thought-provoking way.” Amazon Reviewer.

Excerpt

Chapter 1: “Mr. Danvers”

I entered a crowded Starbucks doing my best to maintain my now-infamously cool demeanor as the two baristas attempted to greet me from behind the counter. After quickly realizing they were in the presence of an ice queen, they resigned back into their routines of mixing up the shop’s signature, hilariously-overpriced drinks. The smell of freshly ground coffee glided into my nostrils, filling my lungs as I searched the interior of the shop for an abandoned corner. Luckily, I had arrived just after the morning rush and was able to find a spot just out of the baristas’ field of vision. An introvert’s paradise, it was completely devoid of human life and incapable of sustaining social interaction. I quickly crossed the room before taking my seat in an oddly uncomfortable black chair. Placing my brown duffle bag in front of my legs, I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket. Instinct pulled my hand towards the buzzing device before I stopped myself. Now wasn’t the time for me to be gazing at a screen. I had managed to royally screw up today in more ways than one, and I needed to gather my thoughts.

My reflection in the window to the right caught my attention. I was slouched over with my head resting on the back of my palms with my elbows planted firmly into the ceramic tabletop. Anyone could see I radiated defeat. It didn’t help that my ensemble for the day was black from head to toe. You see, it was a day of reflection. If all went according to plan, I would spend the next thirty to forty-five minutes mourning my dating life. I would look back on the good times, the bad times, and I would fumble it all into a sick reversal of the “well it could be worse” variety. Naturally, the best-laid plans seldom came to fruition. At any moment, my date would arrive, and the dance would begin. Sean seemed nice enough. He returned my texts in a timely manner, gave me my space, was fantastic in bed, and wasn’t clingy. Anyone would be happy to scoop him up, leaving the remaining single guys to poke each other with tree branches.

 Of course, I’m sure his wife, two kids, and their three dogs loved him more than I ever could. Perhaps today was the day I’d hear him mention that he was even married. After all, it wasn’t until my interview with his wife just thirty minutes ago that everything came to light in the first place. The meeting was going spectacularly until I happened to glance at the family photo sitting at her desk. Normally, I would use a family photo as an opportunity for small talk until I saw who was in the picture with her. With that realization, let’s just say keeping my composure was the least of my concerns. I should have known there would be some sort of catch. He was simply too perfect, but don’t we all deserve a little perfection every now and then? So maybe mourning my dating life wasn’t the original plan. Maybe I tend to be dramatic. It’s not like I needed to make my dating adventures any more exciting than they already were by pretending I was in some sappy romantic comedy flick. Or maybe that was how I managed to get through these kinds of situations.

I finally succumbed to temptation and checked my phone. I had received an email from the office where his wife worked as the recruiting manager.

“Thank you for taking the time to interview with us. While we were impressed with your credentials, we have decided to move forward with other candidates at this time.”

Now completely crestfallen, I decided maybe it was a good idea to switch gears on the mourning bit. As I squirmed to get comfortable in my chair, small bits and pieces of my time with Sean began to make more sense. We saw each other often enough, but it was always on odd occasions. We hardly ever went out at night because he “wasn’t a night person.” He was also very fond of meeting me on my side of town despite me living in the most boring part of the city. At first, it confused me; now, I knew better.

There was something I needed to understand about myself today, and I had the rest of the morning to figure it out. Sean would be the latest entry in a line of disastrous dating scenarios I often found myself in.

I glanced at the counter just as one of the baristas averted his eyes to continue pretending to busy himself with a jar full of straws. I could learn a thing or two from him, I suppose. Was it possible to fake it till you made it in a normal, stable relationship? I received a text from Sean; he was running late and was about ten minutes away. Realizing my haze of disappointing news was reaching its end, I decided to send the one text capable of turning the purest of hearts catatonic.

“We need to talk when you get here.”

“Okay sure. Everything okay?”

 “No.”

Annoyingly cheery bell noises erupted from the tiny speakers as the first call reached my phone. I glanced down at his name for a split second before moving from my seat to stand in line. I decided I was up for trying one of the shop’s many overpriced iced teas as I watched the beginning of Sean’s breakdown. As a rather cold-hearted, calculating Virgo, I could already pinpoint every stage of his eventual demise. By the time I had finally stopped stamping my foot long enough to decide on my order, he had already called three times; each call had been ignored. The next step was to receive another text. Before I could reach the counter, my phone vibrated again.

“Why aren’t you answering your phone? What’s going on?”

“I’m in line ordering. I’ll see you when you get here.”

“Just tell me what’s going on with you. You’re acting really weird right now.”

The cute barista complimented me on my outfit. Like the asocial ice demon I had slowly become over time, I nodded curtly before snatching up my drink order and gliding away freezing everything in my immediate vicinity. Sean called again just as I took my seat to finish brooding; he was clearly in full-on panic mode. What would I even say to him? Would cursing him out in the middle of this coffee shop really prove anything? Would he suddenly realize the error of his ways and vow to never cheat on his wife again?

I decided it was the perfect opportunity to do some soul searching. Before His Unfaithfulness walked through the door, I was going to figure out exactly where my dating life went wrong. As with any caffeine-induced daydream, things could spiral out of control rather quickly. Luckily, my brunch date had a bad habit of being late to nearly everything. Even a little passive-aggressive text warning wouldn’t get him to speed down the highway.

With that knowledge in mind, I realized it wouldn’t hurt to start from the beginning.

 

Buy Links

Amazon US 

Amazon UK

 

About the Author 

“No matter if it’s destroyed, a heart grows back, and we can only attribute it to being a miracle. Yes, it’s an awesome, unfortunate miracle.”

Dimitrius Jones is a freelance writer who has personally interviewed celebrities such as Rasheeda from Love & Hip Hop Atlanta and Claudette Ortiz from R&B Divas. He also enjoys working with children and currently works to help foster children prepare to adjust to the pressures of navigating the foster system.

Of course, his free time isn’t nearly as exciting as most people think. Truthfully, he spends most of his time watching anime, daydreaming, and hoping that some rugged gentleman will sweep him off his feet while he’s standing in the grocery store checkout line.

 

Social Media Links

Twitter 

Facebook 

Instagram 

Blog/Website 

 

 

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Review: Lawfully Wedded Husband: How My Gay Marriage Will Save the American Family by Joel Derfner

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Lalwfully Wedded Husband coverIn 2007, Joel Derfner’s boyfriend stuns him with a Christmas time proposal.  It was a time when gay marriage was struggling for equality and there were few places where Joel and Mike could legally wed.   As the couple sets out on the path to a legal marriage, Joel and Mike encounter a multitude of obstacles, including ones that Joel creates himself, before they can say “I do”  legally before family and friends.  It includes ailing parents that move in, a reality show that has little to do with reality, wedding planning nightmares to make Bridezilla cringe, arguments, Ouija boards, and the very definition of marriage itself.

When I picked up Lawfully Wedded Husband, I realized I was already familiar with Joel Derfner.  No, it wasn’t from his previous books (Gay Haiku and Swish: My Quest to Become the Gayest Person Ever) but from the cringe inducing reality show he mentions in his story, starting with the Introduction.  Yes, I watched that show he and his best friend were a part of, Girls Who LIke Boys Who Like Boys, filmed in 2010 for the Sundance Channel.  The author had, along with his best friend Sarah, and his then fiance Mike, appeared on the show which filmed their marriage in Iowa. It had that stilted, painful feel to it that low budget reality shows can have.  And I ended up feeling bad for everyone who appeared on it, including Joel, Mike and Sarah, who later bore the brunt of vicious comments due to the editing by the director who seemed to have her own agenda.

I  admit I like Joel Derfner’s version far better than the scripted, awkward one that managed to make its way to cable.  And its not just because the behind the scenes manipulations and headache pounding repetition that Derfner reveals as standard operating procedure but the unique, dramatic, hilarious voice that Joel Derfner brings to the proceedings and beyond.

Joel Derfner muses, rants, and hilariously relates his path to the alter and wedded bliss with his husband Mike in Lawfully Wedded Husband.  He is alternately introspective, musing upon the institution of marriage, its history and redefining it in today’s cultural reality.  He takes on his colorful, and somewhat alarming ancestry and stacks it along side Mike’s in order to make observations about the differences in upbringing and their ideas of family.  But while he is doing that, there are momentary asides into gay shopping venues,  couple counseling, and Joel’s past sex life.  Lawfully Wedded Husband is a veritable explosion of clever quips, thoughtful introspection, and hilarious soliloquies on living in Brooklyn mixed with meaningful forays into gay history and the meaning of marriage.  And I suspect how you relate to Joel Derfner and his outlook on life will temper your feelings about this book and its author.

High maintenance.  Those are just two of the words I would use to describe the narrator.  I would also throw in clever, intelligent, manipulative and at times throughly exhausting.  I really came away feeling for Mike at times, especially when Joel is blind siding him with his participation in this reality show or decreeing that morning clothes with the de rigueur gray top hat (of which the clothier only has one and it’s the wrong size) is the way to go for their wedding apparel or even at the beginning, stopping Mike’s proposal to run and check on his (Joel’s) horoscope for the day before saying “yes”.  But there is also a balance here, each side, warts and all, is revealed.  Joel Derfner doesn’t hide the bad times, the lack of communication that almost derails the couple, its there too.  In fact the whole relationship sink is thrown into this story, along with gay history, wedding planning, Jewish marriage rituals and the search for the perfect Ketubah.  Talk about the proverbial box busting at the seams!

I suspect that the author has no inner editor, no real gates between the brain and the mouth. I kind of appreciate that.  This books sounds like the way I imagine he talks in real life.  If he thinks it, out it comes, whether in person or on the page, except of course when he is deciding not to tell Mike about the portable dishwasher he just bought or something similar.  The pages are full of Z Gallerie, the “gayest online store ever”, as well as the fact that Joel decides that he is going to win their new home via the HGTV’s Urban Oasis Giveaway for that ultimate condo in Manhattan. OK, I admit to doing that too but definitely not on the scale Derfner did. I am talking about 5000 handwritten entries!  I am not sure anyone does anything on the scale Derfner does. That is both part of his charm and part of his annoyance factor.

It’s this “overstuffed” aspect that kept Lawfully Wedded Husband from a perfect five, there is just too much here to take in.  But take it in you should, as it’s marvelous in so many ways.  It flows with the rhythm of a man who loves words and knows how to use them.  The history lessons that go along with the histrionic scenes, the quiet reflection to go along with the manic maneuverings of a man intent on getting married his way, the legal way and making it feel as it should for both him and Mike.  A right that should have been theirs all along.

Consider Lawfully Wedded Husband highly recommended.  And now I am off to find Gay Haiku, and Swish to see how the romance started.  Don’t let this author and his book get away!

This is how the Introduction starts:

What are you guys wearing tomorrow?” asked the assistant director of Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys, the reality show my fiancé, Mike, and I were being filmed for in May of 2010.

“I’m wearing jeans and a nice vest,” I said, “and Mike will be in shorts and a T-shirt.”

There was a brief silence on the other end of the line. “Joel,” the assistant director said, “this Iowa wedding is the culmination of your story arc.”

“Right.”

“If you’re not dressed up, people will think you’re not taking it seriously.”

“Look,” I said. “I promised Mike that this would be as low-key an event as we could possibly manage, and I’ve already broken that promise in more ways than I can count. Not dressing up is the one shred of evidence left that I actually care about his feelings.”

“This is bad,” the assistant director said, and waited.

“Okay,” I said finally. “I’ll talk to him about it.”

“Great,” said the assistant director. “It’ll really help the audience understand what a special thing you’re doing.”

I put my cell phone in my pocket, went back to the table at the restaurant where Mike and I were having lunch with his cousin DJ and DJ’s boyfriend, Kevin, and promptly did not talk to him about it, because Mike’s fury was already just shy of the boiling point, and the last thing I needed was for it to get any hotter less than twenty-four hours before our nuptials.

Book Details:

Hardcover, 248 pages
Published September 19th 2013 by University of Wisconsin Press (first published January 1st 2013)
ISBN 0299294900 (ISBN13: 9780299294908)

edition language English
Buy Links  Amazon,
Other Books by Joel Derfner:
Cat Daddy: What the World’s Most Incorrigible Cat Taught Me About Life, Love, and Coming Clean
Gay Haiku
Swish: My Quest to Become the Gayest Person Ever

Review: Stonewall by Martin Duberman

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Stonewall2 new coverIt’s June 28, 1969. At a gay bar called Stonewall Inn in New York’s Greenwich Village, NY City’s finest, the NYPD carried out a raid on the bar that should have been routine.  After all the police had been raiding and harassing gay bars and establishments for years, so one more raid should have been nothing out of the ordinary.  But in the early morning hours at Stonewall Inn, all of the intimidation, the constant harassment, was finally too much and in response to this raid the gay customers rioted.  As the size and power of the demonstration grew, word that gays were fighting back spread throughout the city.  Soon more men and women came and joined in the demonstration.  Rocks were thrown at the police and shouts of “gay power” could be heard.   Eventually, the NY Police Department sent enough reinforcements to quell the riot for the evening.  But the next night brought a new uprising with the crowds swelling to well over 1,000 people.  NYCPD Riot Squads were called in to stop the demonstrations but over the next four days, more protests continued throughout the city sparking intense discussions on gay civil rights and, the formation of gay activist groups determined to change the laws and societal outlook that looked at homosexuality as something to be outlawed and perverted in nature.

On the first anniversary of Stonewall, the first gay pride parade was held in throughout the U.S. in New York City near Stonewall Inn, Los Angeles, Chicago,  and San Francisco.  Stonewall cemented itself as the spark that set off a gay revolution, the effects of which are still being felt today when the Supreme Court’s decisions on the issue of DOMA and Prop 8 made history.

Martin Duberman uses 6 people whose lives began prior to Stonewall to chart the affect of the Stonewall riots on their lives and the community around them. The six key LGBT activists (Craig Rodwell, Yvonne Flowers, Karla Jay, Sylvia Ray Rivera, Jim Fouratt, and Foster Gunnison, Jr) are followed from their childhoods through their adult participation in the riots and the resulting  civil rights actions.

On June 28, 2013, we mark the 44th anniversary of Stonewall Inn riots and the beginning of the LGBTQ civil rights movement, and yestrerday the Supreme Court of the United States struck down DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) and Proposition 8 in California declaring it unconstitutional.  So it is fitting that today’s review is Martin Duberman’s Stonewall, a history of the riot that set off the gay civil rights movement.

Martin Duberman is the professor emeritus of history at the Graduate Center of the City University (CUNY), where he founded the Center for  Lesbian and Gay Studies, the first university in the United States to have a LGBT university based research center.  An author of over 20 books and an politically active gay man, I would expect a detailed and revelatory account  from Duberman of the events leading up to Stonewall. And that is what we were given in Stonewall.  Martin Duberman states that he wanted to place Stonewall along a timeline of events instead of the Stonewall Inn demonstrations being the launching point of gay civil rights history.  According to the blurb from the publisher:

Duberman does all this within a narrative framework of novelistic immediacy. Stonewall unfolds through the stories of six lives, and those individual lives broaden out into the larger historical canvas.

However, in trying to place the events at Stonewall within the context of GLBTQ history, Martin Duberman strays too far from the actual historic event and its ramifications, especially in a book titled Stonewall.  Instead the author starts off with a cast of 6 individuals: Craig Rodwell who figured largely in the Mattachine Society and opened the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookstore, Yvonne Flowers who started the Salsa Soul Sisters, Karla Jay who was a member of the feminist collective the Redstockings and the Gay Liberation Front, Sylvia (Ray)  Rivera the founder of STAR, the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, Jim Fouratt a hipster and major spokesperson for the Yippie Movement, and Foster Gunnison, Jr, who helped plan the first Christopher Street Liberation March along with Craig Rodwell.

Given this cast of remarkable men and women, I was expecting a narrative equal in intensity and emotion to the lives of the people it was following.  Unfortunately, Duberman’s years as a history professor prove to be the guiding touch of the narrative rather than a moving account of the events revealed.  Divided into seven parts, each section relates a chapter in the lives of the people chosen.  Part One Growing Up is exactly that, the early years of each person.  And while I appreciated their struggles, the dry tone and “as told to” narrative dampens any emotion the reader might feel when coming across such events as Craig Rodwell’s abandonment by his mother or Ray’s abusive upbringing after his mother tried to poison him and then committed suicide.  Each one of these individuals lives are made up of startling and often dramatic occurrences that breaking them up into sections succeeds in only removing  some of the intensity. Also the interrupted flow of their backstory makes it hard to follow their lives in a fluid manner, something I would have preferred.

What makes this  book fascinating and worth the price is the last three chapters.  The first sections make interesting reading but the last sections bring vividly home the tumultuous times. That would be Part Six 1969 Part Seven Post-Stonewall 1969-1970 and Epilogue 1992.  As the book heads into the 60’s, the emotions and political upheaval of the times arrives in the narrative and the reader starts to really feel the events that came together that sparks off the riots of Stonewall rather than just understand them intellectually.  I was especially enthralled by the early accounts of the people (the Mob) behind the operations at Stonewall Inn, the crime boss characters, the Drag Queens, just a remarkable group of people to gather under one roof.  I wish I could quote the opening sections here but the DRM prevents me from doing so.  But this is where Martin Duberman shines as a author as he walks you through the front door of Stonewall Inn. Here you learn about Fat Tony and Maggie Jiggs, the famous queen who worked the bar along with her lover Tommy Long, Maggie was the main supplier of the drugs her customers were so fond of. blonde, outspoken, and gregarious. Here is a short passage:

If you got the okay at the door–and for underage kids that was always problematic–you moved a few steps to a table, usually covered by members of what one wag called the Junior Achievement Mafia team.  That could mean, on different nights, Zucchi,; Mario; Ernie Sgroi who always wore a suit and tie and whose father started the famed Bon Soir on Eighth Street; “Vito” , who was on salary directly from Fat Tony, was hughly proud of his personal collection of S.S. uniforms and Nazi flags, and made bombs on the side; or “Tony the sniff” Verra who had a legendary nose for no-goods and kept a baseball bat behind the door to deal with them. At the table you had to plunk down three dollars (one dollar on weekdays), for which you got two tickets that could be exchanged for two watered-down drinks. (According to Chuck Shaheen. all drinks were watered, even those carrying the fanciest labels.)  You then signed your name in a book kept to prove, should the question arise in court, that Stonewall was indeed a private “bottle club”.  People rarely signed their real names. “Judy Garland”, “Donald Duck”, and “Elizabeth Taylor” were popular favorites.

And that is just the beginning of the real heart of the book, Stonewall Inn and its many and varied denizens.  I found myself going back and rereading portions of these chapters where the people became real and the emotions behind the political activity felt as alive and new as those I saw on the steps of the Supreme Court yesterday as the decisions were announced that saw the end of DOMA and Prop 8.

For those born after Stonewall, this is an important window into the beginnings of the gay civil rights movement and the people who helped ignite it.  For those children of the 60’s and 70’s, this will bring back memories of a time in our lives where everything was possible, and the times were “a changing”.   I found this to be a timely and compelling read and highly  recommend it.  Pick up your copy now.

Book Details:

Paperback, 352 pages
Published May 1st 1994 by Plume (first published 1993)
ISBN 0452272068 (ISBN13: 9780452272064)
edition languageEnglish
original titleStonewall