Beach reads

Looking for good summer books with a gay twist? We’ve got you covered

Miguel’s Secret Journal by A.V. Zeppa
In this debut novel by recently out author A.V. Zeppa, a teacher of English and music at Hostos-Lincoln Academy in New York, the title character Miguel is a 15-year-old gay Latino living in a poor and violent section of the South Bronx. A gifted artist who is emotionally, physically and sexually abused, Miguel meets and falls in love with Gabriel, another gay student at school. As the boys’ relationship deepens, Gabriel lets Miguel in on a not-so-little secret that will change his life — and perhaps the course of humanity — forever. Miguel’s Secret Journal is the first in a planned series.

Nina Here Nor There: My Journey Beyond Gender by Nick Krieger
Author Nick Krieger’s eye-opening transgender memoir isn’t just about making the transition from woman to man, but about dismissing a binary way of life and blurring the lines between gender and identity. This story of self-discovery starts when lesbian travel writer Nina moves to San Francisco’s Castro District and meets a group of queer friends who modify their bodies and debunk traditional ideas of gender. Soon Nina begins masculinizing her own appearance — first by refusing to shave her legs and eventually opting for surgery to reduce and reform her chest. During this empowering journey, Nina transforms into Nick, a self-aware entity who’s content existing somewhere in the middle.

Rounding Third by Walter G. Meyer
In the eyes of his father, 17-year-old Rob Wardell is a failure. He doesn’t fit in at home, at school or on the baseball field where he warms the bench in a vain effort to appease his dad. But Rob’s outlook changes when he befriends the team’s new star pitcher, Josh Schlagel, and engages in an off-field relationship that leads to an outcome neither boy anticipates. Popular jock Josh has a secret ­(and the bruises to prove it)  and when all is revealed, Rob must step up to the plate to save his friend from a harrowing truth that he’s kept hidden for so long.

Games Frat Boys Play by Todd Gregory
In this sizzling follow-up to Every Frat Boy Wants It, Todd Gregory returns to California State University-Polk where boarding-school brat Jordy Valentine is starting his first semester. Immediately intrigued by Beta Kappa fraternity and enamored by its rush chair, Chad York, Valentine pursues the handsome Greek god only to be rejected. Scorned, the freshman devises a plan to physically transform himself in order to catch the eye of York and in the process is thrust into a world of illicit locker-room trysts and late-night encounters with other brothers.

The Road Home by Michael Thomas Ford
After a car accident incapacitates 40-year-old photographer Burke Crenshaw, he returns to his widowed father’s house to recuperate and receive temporary full-time care. As his dad embarks on a new relationship, the ailing Burke begins a quest of his own – to uncover a 125-year-old mystery hidden in a series of letters from a Civil War soldier to his fiancé. With the help of local librarian Sam Guffrey, Burke unexpectedly unlocks a past that forces him to confront his own — the choices he made, coming to terms with his mother’s death, repairing the relationship with his estranged father and ultimately how to live as a successful and confident gay man.

Finally Out: Letting Go of Living Straight by Loren A. Olson
Between 3 and 8 percent of the U.S. male population is gay, and prominent Midwestern psychiatrist Loren A. Olsen is among them. But the first 40 years of his life was built on a lie: After two decades of marriage to a loving and devoted wife, Olsen, a father and grandfather, accepted that he was romantically and sexually attracted to men. The result of his experience is this powerful tell-all that explores human sexuality — particularly that of mature men — and how to cope with coming out later in life.

Queer: The Ultimate LGBT Guide for Teens by Kathy Belge and Marke Bieschke
A sort of handbook for LGBT teens everywhere, authors Kathy Belge and Marke Bieschke offer this comprehensive guide that includes sections on how to come out (and handle the repercussions), ways to deal with bigotry and homophobia, how to find likeminded friends, dating, sex and more. Often interjected with humor and personal anecdotes, this must-read also includes fascinating sidebars on queer history and a wealth of health, community, safety, political and reading resources that send a message more along the lines of “the best is yet to come” rather than just “it gets better.”

Mogul by Terrance Dean
Hot on the heels of the latest same-sex hip-hop scandal (NYC DJ Mister Cee was recently arrested for public lewdness: Receiving oral sex in a car from another man), Terrance Dean’s compelling page-turner follows Big A.T., who climbs the rungs of the music industry ladder with the help of powerful Larry “Pop” Singleton. Identifying A.T.’s potential to become a powerhouse producer, Pop introduces the rising star to Tickman, a Brooklyn lyricist with whom he begins a secret affair. But when scandalous photos of A.T. surface on the desk of a national news program — and land in the hands of his girlfriend, Jasmine — A.T. must decide whether to come clean or keep quiet for the sake of his career.

Hidden by Tomas Mournian
After enduring 11 months of abuse at Serenity Ridge, a gay-to-straight boot camp for “troubled” teens, Ahmed escapes to San Francisco where he finds an underground safehouse inhabited by seven other runaways. Now known as Ben, Ahmed find solace in his new life with these misfit strangers, who struggle to survive omnipresent angst, infighting and desires that threaten their secret society, while also struggling to remain below the radar of would-be captors until they’re legal adults. Publishers Weekly proclaimed that Tomas Mournian’s fiction debut will have readers “almost suffocating on the palpable sense of fear and claustrophobia that permeates this heartbreaking story.”

— Mikey Rox

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 17, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Castro sorry for persecution of gays in Cuba

Fidel Castro

The latest country to talk about legalizing same-sex marriage will not become the new gay and lesbian travel destination anytime soon.

What is the latest country to talk about legalizing same-sex unions? That bastion of civil rights — Cuba.

Fidel Castro has been out of the spotlight for several years but recently made some public appearances. Asked about gays and lesbians, he apologized for past mistreatment.

In an interview on Radio Cadena Agramonte, Castro took responsibility for persecution of gays and lesbians after the 1959 revolution.

“Five decades ago, because of homophobia, homosexuals were marginalized in Cuba and many were sent to agricultural or military labor camps, accused of being “counterrevolutionaries,” he said. “We had so many terrible problems, problems of life or death, you know, you do not pay enough attention.”

He said personally he had no prejudice and that many of his oldest friends were gay and lesbian.

But he said, “No, if someone is responsible (for the discrimination) it is me.”

Homosexuality was decriminalized in Cuba in the 1990s, and sex-reassignment surgery for transgenders began being performed free in 2008.

The slogan for the last World Day Against Homophobia in Cuba was “La homosexualidad no es un peligro, la homofobia sí” or “Homosexuality is not a threat, homophobia is.”

—  David Taffet