It’s Gay Pride Month and the Week Ahead in Reviews

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Its Gay Pride Month, a great time to celebrate and give back to the community. Washington, DC’s Capital Pride is coming up this week and culminates in the Capital Pride Parade on Saturday, June 8 and the Capital Pride Street Festival on Sunday, June 9.  If you live in or around the metro area,  there is something for everyone to enjoy.  I mean how could you not want to dress up as a super hero and attend SPANDEX: The Official 2013 Pride Week Superhero Party on Friday, June 7?   Plus the parade on Saturday travels through Dupont Circle, a historically gay neighborhood.  I worked there in the 80’s, and believe me, that place had gay pride before Gay Pride.  Here are the links to the events and places to purchase tickets:capital-pride-superhero-banner

Capital Pride 365

Gay.com – Capital Pride

If you are in the area and taking pictures at the events, send them to me and I will post them here.  And for those of you in other places, send me the dates and info and I will post that as well.

There are also many organizations that help LGBTQ youth  from Promise Place on the DC/Prince Georges County line to The Wanda Alston House in Washington, DC.  Or perhaps the Ali Forney Center in NYC or The Albert Kennedy Trust in the UK.  A favorite organization of mine is The Matthew Shepard Foundation founded by Matthew Shepard’s mother, Judy Shepard. If you haven’t visited that site before, please do so.  It’s both heartbreaking and immensely uplifting to see what has emerged from such a horrific tragedy.

There are not enough shelters and organizations to go around for all of those children and teens in need and those that exist really need our support in every way possible.  One easy way is to buy ebooks.  Several authors and one terrific editor, Kris Jacen, have contributed their royalties from several novels.  S.J. Frost  and Kris Jacen with Finding A Dream, Sue Brown’s The Sky Is Dead, and Lost and Found Anthology (Kris Jacen), whose  entire royalties will be sent to Lost-n-Found Youth, Inc.  And these are only the most recent.  Enjoy a good book and give at the same time.  It’s easy, its enjoyable, and it is needed.

So have a great week.  Celebrate, dance, and make time to read a book or two!  Oh, and check out the cocktail recipe at the end. Here is the week ahead in reviews:

Monday, June 3:                  Outlast The Night by Ariel Tachna

Tuesday, June 4:                  Flawless by Cat Grant

Wed, June 5:                         The Caveman and the Devil by Chris T. Kat

Thursday, June 6:                The Jouster’s Lance by A.J. Marcus

Friday, June 7:                     Stonewall by Martin Duberman

Saturday, June 8:                 Prelude by Shira Anthony and Venona Keyes

Here is a specialty cocktail recipe just for Gay Pride (shakes head, you really went there, didn’t you).  It came from Alex’s Cocktail Recipes

Gay Pride Cocktail:

1 shot Apple sourz
1 shot blueberry sourz
1 shot cranberry juice
2 shots 5 alive
pop rocks
Instructions

Put the cranberry juice and 5 alive into a tumbler. Pour the sourz into shaker over ice and shake well. Pour into tumbler and add a pink umbrella, then sprinkle with pop rocks

“A womanly drink, it won’t get you drunk but drink it wearing hotpants for the ultimate sense of gay satisfaction.”  Alex also has links for other drinks, none of which I can print here.  Visit his site for more information.

Review: The Sky Is Dead by Sue Brown

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Rating: 5 stars

The Sky Is Dead coverDanny is 18, gay and homeless after his parents kicked him out of the house for being gay at the age of 16.  Danny is surviving but only barely. Two years of street living and he knows that its better if he’s invisible to all those around him, it makes it easier to hide and get through the day.  But when Danny sees a young boy being threatened, he rushes to the boy’s aid, saving him and making enemies in the process.  The boy Danny saves, Harry, is determined to make life better for his homeless savior and starts bringing him clothes and food when he can.  A tenuous bond forms between the well off school boy Harry and the wary, thin homeless Danny.  After a time, Harry persuades Danny to come home with him to meet his mom and the bonds between them strengthens and becomes something that Danny is afraid to put a name to.

But several traumatic events occur that sees Danny in the hospital, his life changed again.  And when he is ready to get out, Danny decides that he will make major changes in his life.  So with help, Danny regains his health, and decides to become David, a new name for a new life.  But the old Danny still exists inside, mistrustful, wary of the future.  When a new love presents itself, can David overcome his past and move into a future with a man called Jack or will his true identity and his old memories keep him from ever finding happiness again.

The Sky Is Dead an absolute wonder of a story.  I was given a copy to read and what a marvelous little surprise that turned out to be. I was also unfamiliar with the author, another thing this happy event remedied.  I started in reading and soon forgot everything else around me as I was pulled in deeper and deeper into Danny’s life and story.  I read it all the way through, stopping only to get my box of tissues.  And by the end, I knew I had just read a remarkable story and found a new author to love.

Sue Brown’s descriptions and characterizations bring the reader swiftly and intimately into the world of the homeless.  It is not merely Danny we see struggling to survive on the streets, but several other homeless people who meet up at the local shelter for food and medical treatment.  We are brought into a life where neglect of the body and soul are common place, hopelessness and sickness go hand in hand, and the potential for abuse and death lurks at every street corner and city park.  Bushes become beds and hiding places and the slightest cough becomes a harbinger of mortality.

Into this desolate existence, the author thrusts Danny, a young man ill prepared for such a life.  Betrayed by his boyfriend, a simple kiss removes Danny from his sheltered life.  One moment he has a family, a home and school, the next he is on the street with nothing to  his name.  We feel his shock, the tenuity of life he now lives and the despair and anger he feels.  Brown makes it all feel so very real that the reader will find themselves angry and despairing along with Danny every step of the way.   The author has a gift in bringing this awful existence to life that you can’t help but be moved, not only by Danny but for all his real life counterparts in cities all over the world.   The shelter, a beacon for those in need, is filled with beautifully realized characters, from Billy and Lil, a homeless pair with mental impairments to Ben, a former homeless man who now works at the shelter.  Its all there, every authentic detail, the shabbiness, the squalor and filth of the homeless themselves, even the horrifed “looks” of people passing by Danny on the street.  Brown uses all of these elements as building blocks to create a realistic, and immensely sad foundation on which she lays out Danny’s life history.

I really don’t want to go into details here because I might give away too much of this incredible story.  I will say that Brown’s narrative is told in a concise, and compelling manner.  It flows easily between two time periods in a way that never seems jarring or artificial.  I do love the dialog Brown has created for each of her characters.  It fits them and their circumstances exactly.  Here is Danny talking about the shelter:

They ask for a donation at the shelter for their hot meals, although they don’t make a fuss if you can’t pay up. I’ve learned not to be proud, but I help if I can, and sometimes, I don’t want the shelter’s food. I don’t think of myself as a hooker. Shit, I could make more money if I stayed in South London, but I live in a small town not far from Guildford. I don’t fancy standing outside Sainsbury’s, selling my arse every night to commuters and family men. I do enough to get me a hot meal and no more.

They’re pleased enough to see me at the drop-in center, which is really just a small room in the shelter. Ben, one of the volunteers, looks up from his paperwork and greets me with a cheery good morning as I walk in. I recognize most of the faces now. Old Johnny is already there, in his usual spot. He grunts at me as I walk past. I’ll go and talk to him later, after I’ve had my breakfast. Lil and Billy grin at me from the window seat. In the two years I’ve been coming to the shelter, I’ve never seen them apart. Lil’s about thirty, I guess, with Billy a few years younger. They’re inseparable, despite the fact both of them have learning difficulties. Billy told me the authorities don’t approve of their relationship, and each new social worker at the shelter tries to split them up. The last one ended up in Accident & Emergency. Billy took exception to the social worker trying to manhandle Lil and punched the man in the face. The assault earned Billy a few nights in the cells, and Lil went into a decline. It was the intervention of Greg, the manager of the shelter, that got them back together. I think they’re the lucky ones, in an odd way. They’d get more help if they were alone, but they love each other and provide comfort and support to each other in the best and worst of times. They don’t have to face the bloodsucking loneliness of being on your own twenty-four hours a day.

“The bloodsucking loneliness of being on your own twenty-four hours a day.”  What a perfect line and description of Danny’s day.  We feel every second of it’s loneliness, it scary and degrading aspects too.  And when things start to look up for Danny, we are as terrified as he is to accept that it is real and might last more than a day.

This is a raw, emotional story and Sue Brown tells it pragmatically, and realistically, making its impact all the more profound.  Every day we read or hear more stories about GLBT youth in danger, from vicious physical and verbal attacks to the ever more soul killing banal rejections of community and  finally that of their family.  More shelters are operating in every city and still there is not enough to house those in need.  Sue Brown’s story brings the plight of those “throwaway” children to life in the form of Danny.  It’s a tale that needs to be told.  The Sky Is Dead is one more powerful cry for help.  I cannot begin to recommend this book and its author enough.    Read it, gift it, and spread the word.

Book cover: art by Christine Griffin presents us with one of the more powerful covers I can remember.  It’s perfect in subject matter and emotion.  One of the best of the year.

Book Details:

ebook, 232 pages
Published April 17th 2013 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN13
9781623806088
edition language
English
Links and Shelters for LGBTQ youth:
New York City, NY: Ali Forney Center 
Washington, DC, Prince Georges County, MD:  Promise Place

Mother’s Day and The Week Ahead

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Short and sweet today.  It’s Mother’s Day and the cookout here is only hours  away.   Plus it’s my birthday week, so I expect to have a hopefully fun filled, jam packed schedule.   So if life and my schedule permits, here is the week a head in reviews:

Monday, May 13:                  The Sky Is Dead by Sue Brown

Tuesday, May 14:                  Never A Hero  (Tucker Springs #5) by Marie Sexton

Wed., May 15:                        Night of Ceremony by M. Raiya

Thursday, May 16:                Bad Attitude by KA Mitchell

Friday, May 17:                      Bullheaded by Catt Ford

Saturday, May 18:                Lenny For Your  Thoughts by Anyta Sunday

So there it is. Got to go.  Wish like mad it would warm up,  Poor plants, flooded and now cold.  Is that a sniffle I feel coming on?