Category Archives: LBGTQA Books

The Stone Gods

TheStoneGodsFor the Lincoln LGBTQ Reading Group, we selected The Stone Gods by Jeanette Winterson as our May title. I was unable to attend our monthly meeting to discuss the book, so I have no idea how others felt about this read. It was recommended by one of our newest members, a recommendation that I was happy to take!

Winterson is the author of several books, including Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit. I’ve not read that book, but I have seen the film based on it. Rather a good watch, and based on my read of The Stone Gods, I imagine Oranges to be a rather good read as well. I will have to find out some day.

The Stone Gods is written in three parts. Almost entirely separate stories. It is science fiction and fantasy rolled into one. Parts 1 and 3 are the science fiction. Part 2 is the fantasy, though it could also be described as historical fiction or even speculative. I know, sounds confusing.

The book is somewhat confusing to read. I must admit that. It took my a little while to get into it because of Winterson’s choice of style for the book. Not having read her other works, I do not know if she uses the same style for everything. Again, I may just have to find out sometime in the future.

All three parts of the book follow the life of Billie. Billie is a reporter. Billy is a sailor. Billie is a computer programmer. Then there is Spike. Spike’s roll doesn’t change in her parts. She is a Robo sapiens. Any way that you look at the characters, whether in the future, the past, or the present, they are unique and real-ish. Spike is hard to accept as real in the present day, our science hasn’t reached that point in AI. Or have we? Billie is very real throughout the book. Even as the sailor stranded on Easter Island – perhaps where Winterson got the book’s title.

I enjoyed the read, once I got passed the disjointed manner it is written in. It was jarring at first. Not at all what I was expecting or anything close to how I write. It settled down, in my mind, into a storytelling style that put the whole book into the perspective of Billie remembering everything. Whether she was in the future (part 1), the past (part 2), or the present (part 3).

But wait. Was each part a different tense? Or were they all future, past, and present? I think that is one of the philosophical parts of the book that I enjoyed the most. When were these parts taking place in the time line of Billie and Spike? When were these parts taking place in the time line of the human race?

You’ll have to read it to decide for yourself. I don’t regret taking the time out of my otherwise busy reading schedule to enjoy this book. Can’t promise the same for any of you, but I would recommend the book.

Our June selection is Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg.

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Filed under LBGTQA Books, Sci-fi and Fantasy Books

Stolen Ink by Holly Evans

What a pleasant surprise to find Holly Evans’ first book in the Ink Born series. I recently interviewed Danielle Ackley-McPhail, one of the editors of the Bad-Ass Faeries anthology series and she mentioned Evans as an author she thought was going places. I’d have to agree with her on that one!

Evans takes a little bit of this and a little bit of that and tosses in a dash of this other thing over here and makes a world that is both familiar and different at the same time. In a city that could be anywhere, but most likely in England, resides Dacian. Dacian, or Dan, is a tattoo magician. He can help draw out the tattoo that his clients are meant to have. There is much more to it than that, but I don’t want to take away from the fun of discovery.

Oh, and did I mention that he has two tattoo animals, a cat named Kyra and a snake named Aris; a best friend who is his tattoo partner, former lover, and an elf; that he has dreamwalker and shapeshifter friends? Or that he is a lonely gay man in a world of magic and intrigue that seems to leave little time – or desire – for anything long-term? Or that he has a deep secret that he won’t even tell his best friend?

You’ll just have to read the book to find out about that secret!

Dacian feels compelled to get involved in a series of mysteries tattoo related magical deaths. He’s drawn to the killer through the ink. Like many a hero in fantasy he is reluctant and fights it all the way kicking and screaming. But along the way he learns something about himself, something that he is afraid to share with anyone and something that might lead to him having to flee for his life and leave everything behind that he has worked so hard to create – his tattoo business, his friends, and a budding romance that he didn’t even want.

If you like fantasy, faeries, magic, mystery, and a dash of romance this is a book for you. The love scenes are subtle and won’t even make you blush to read them on the bus or in a coffee-house. The action is intense at times and the road to self-discovery for Dacian is one that I do not envy him.

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Filed under Crime & Mystery, LBGTQA Books, Paranormal Romance, Sci-fi and Fantasy Books, Uncategorized

Finally Out

Finally Out

Dr. Loren A. Olson writes from the heart and from experience. As a psychiatrist who came out of the closet in his 40’s, Dr. Olson has many years experience both as a man who came out in his middle years and as a psychiatrist who has dealt with many issues related to sexuality.

Finally Out: Letting Go of Living Straight, a Psychiatrist’s Own Story is not always an easy read. I don’t mean that it is badly written, far from. Nor do I mean that the material is dense or hard to understand. Quite the contrary. What I do mean is that it hits home for many who will be reading it today and in the future. Dr. Olson, writing from the heart and from a good amount of experience, tells you what is going on in the hearts, minds, and even the souls of many older men who are coming to terms with their sexuality.

Like many good story tellers, he tells you what he knows, what he has lived and experienced. Starting with personal details about his own childhood and his coming to terms with the loss of his father at a very young age and moving through his college career and into his marriage and professional life, Olson tells you not just what he experienced, but what he has learned from others and by stepping out (literally) into a world that is not always friendly to older gay and bisexual men.

I was introduced to Dr. Olson through a Facebook group created by a good friend of mine. Gay Men Over 40….and The People Who Love Them provides a venue for men (and women) who are coming to terms with their own sexuality, wanting to reach out and make friends with others, and sharing the support that so many can bring in a safe and friendly atmosphere. Though I am not over 40, I do know and love many people who are (straight, gay, bi, male, female and transgender). It was because of GMO40 that I have met many interesting and unique people and been afforded the opportunity to learn from so many different perspectives. In GMO40, I saw a posting regarding Finally Out and took the step to contact Dr. Olson and go from there.

We quickly started sharing bits of information and talking about the work that he put into his book. Not too far into the conversation he offered to send me a copy of his book for review on this blog and we began negotiations for having him visit with Corwin and I on Lavender Hill at Lincoln’s KZUM radio. That visit has yet to be scheduled, but through no lack of communication! The day the book arrived in the mail I began reading it and kept reading until I was done. A copy of the book will be made available as a premium giveaway during one of KZUM’s upcoming fund drives (summer 2013).

But back to the book…..

Many gay men of my generation know little of the history of the LGBTQ movement, let alone those in the younger generations. Reading through Dr. Olson’s account of how he came to understand that he was gay, after being married for years, fathering two children, and establishing himself in a career, takes the reader through decades of the movement. Harvey Milk, ACT-UP, the early years of the AIDS epidemic and the more recent murders of Brandon Teena and Matt Shephard. By referring to these people and events, the book helps establish a timeline for the reader to have a better understanding of when things happened in Dr. Olson’s life.

Dr Olson

Throughout the book, Olson also provides information on studies and other people who helped him to better understand himself. Including his own (not scientific) survey that he used to launch some of the research he conducted as the skeleton of his work. The flesh and clothes he puts onto that structure will provide the reader with a better understanding of what it means to come out of the closet as an older man. The personal anecdotes will also help the reader to get into their own shell and get a glimpse of the heart ache and emotional pain that can come about for everyone involved when a person comes out, be it at a young age or in their middle or later years.

There are many books out there for teens, young adults or 20 to 30 somethings who are coming out to themselves and their loved ones, but this book is unique in focusing on the over 40 segment of the LGBTQ community. It is the hope of Dr. Olson that his book helps smooth the way for some of those people. And it is my hope that if you read the book you appreciate the heart and soul that it takes to make that brave step, no matter your age.

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Filed under LBGTQA Books, Self Help

Second Son

Second Son: Transitioning Toward My Destiny, Love and Life by Ryan Sallans
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Ryan Sallans a couple of times over the last year or so. He is a soft-spoken, charming and compassionate man. My first meeting with him was in February 2012. He was a featured guest on Lavender Hill, a GLBTQA news and talk program I co-host on KZUM in Lincoln, NE. He was on as part of our Transgender Issues series. This was before his book had come out – we hope to have him on again now that the book has been out for almost a year.

Second Son is an autobiography, no way around that. It is the story of Ryan Sallans’ life from birth to nearly the present day. It is the story of his struggles and triumphs, how his family came to understand him and how he found his place in this world. Ryan tells his story honestly and without holding back.

When I picked up Ryan’s book I knew I would be in for an emotional roller coaster ride. So I took my time reading and always made sure I had a box of tissue nearby. Not say that the book is a tear jerker. It is real. It is heart warming in places, heart breaking in others.

Ryan opens himself up to the reader and lays it all out for them. His confusion over his sexuality as a child and teenager. His battle with an eating disorder. His obsession with his body’s appearance. His struggles as a lesbian. His heartbreaking relationship issues while transitioning into who he really is. All the ups and downs that come into a person’s life are magnified when you read them coming from the perspective of a person who is living in the wrong body.

His frankness about his transition is especially refreshing. Going through all the stages of transition. You have to read the book to understand it all. I simply cannot put it into words, words that are not mine. This is a must read for anyone who is transitioning, has transitioned, works with or in the transgender community, and for anyone who wants a better understanding of transgender issues.

I am not transgender. But I am a gay man. I have had some of those same battles, but not all of them. Reading Ryan’s words made me realize just how convoluted things can be for anyone who is transitioning. I feel proud to have met Ryan and hope to continue to build a friendship with him.

Listen to the entire Lavender Hill Transgender Issues series from February 2012

Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four

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