Angels of Mercy – Volume One: Elliot
(His Summer of Love)
is NOW available!
(Already labelled a BEST-SELLER in pre-sales!)
My first serious work that began over a year ago and I can’t believe it’s release is finally here!
You can find it at the following locations for purchase:
AllRomance/OmniLit (Best Seller Status)
From the cover of the book –
On the cusp of his senior year at Mercy High, Elliot Donahey, an out but terminally shy gay young man who keeps to the shadows – never wanting to be seen or noticed – suddenly finds himself in the arms of the highest profile jock on campus, local star quarterback, Marco Sforza. Their lives, and those closest to them will never be the same.
Set against the backdrop of competitive sports, this character study work deep dives into the lives of these young men who each must “play the game” so Marco can continue to play the game he loves. They are just trying to find some small slice of happiness to call their own amidst their hellish final year of high school.
Author’s Note: Angels of Mercy is first and foremost, a character study. A great deal of it is inner-monologue. Elliot will pause the action, will break momentum as he grapples with his world – all the while flipping a finger to the fourth wall. He knows you’re there. It was far more important to me as its author (and a gay man) that the reader come away with the whys of Elliot’s choices in how he navigates his often tumultuous world. The same can be said of Marco (his jock boyfriend) who will pick up the tale with Volume Two (due summer of 2015).
I’ve read much queer literature and what I find rather interesting is that for the majority of it, very little is written about the character’s headspace. When you live in a world where you constantly have to be vigilant as you navigate through, it can make for some very powerful storytelling. That is my goal in writing these boys’ lives. I want the reader who may not be queer themselves to come away with what it might be like to be in a gayboy’s shoes – constantly polling and pulse-checking your world because your very survival depends upon it. All of that while you hope, you secretly pray, that you’ll find someone who will see you too and find they can’t live without you in their world. A small slice of happiness to call your own. And though you do everything to keep to yourself, you may still run into those who find your very existence threatens who they are and how they think the world should run. I pull no punches with this work. They are hormonally charged eighteen year old young men who are sexually active. While the sex is present in the work it is not gratuitous in that the main character does evolve from his physical intimacy with his high-profile boyfriend. It is not a genre romance read either, though it has a very strong romance threaded in the work. These elements bring a light to their world that attracts all the wrong attention.
In a time where more queer youth are coming out to their teammates and their loved ones, I find that work of this nature is both timely and necessary to tell. I hope you’ll find it as interesting and provocative a read as I believe it is.
A BIG THANK YOU to Jay Brannan who was my musical muse for the project. Rob Me Blind is such a truly brilliant album and I couldn’t have my boys as deeply and emotively rooted were it not for this musical inspiration that came from the brilliant and talented bard of Jay Brannan. Please do search him out on the web and on iTunes. You will NOT be sorry you did!
31 Days of Brannan – Day 3
Today’s Playlist – ‘Casalinga’
(“Housewife” in Italia)
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So why the Italian version? Well, being a classically trained opera singer I sing quite a bit in Italian. I just loved that he sang it to an Italian audience in their own language. Such a lovely gesture.
To be honest, I wasn’t so sure what to pick this time around. Not because I ran out of steam about all things Brannan. No where near that – I swear. I can wax on about Jay’s body of work for quite some time and not tire of the subject matter (and I say that will every ounce of ‘non-stalker’ voice I can put to it). Just a very sincere fanboy.
No, I chose this because there is literally so many ways I can take this whole endeavor – my 31 Days of Brannan. You see, Brannan’s work touches on so many elements of a shared journey that as gay men we sort of have to work on making our own way. Not that everyone on the planet doesn’t have to do that to some degree, but for gay men, we have the whole pervasive perception by the straight world that we are swimming upstream – we push against the norm, we are outside the mainstream. Reminders at every turn of how much we are not like everyone else. Yet, we often have to use their terms, their metaphors to explain our world. It can be both challenging as it can be uplifting when we can draw parallels between our commonality with the mainstream world.
My hubby railed about this just today – two beefy looking guys getting married in one of those states that just got the ‘go-ahead’ to git ‘er done. That wasn’t what rattled the hubby’s cage. No, what did was that they were there in their flannel shirts (they looked like lumberjacks – big bear kinda men, but one of them had a typical wedding bouquet of flowers in his hand with long flowing ribbons). This irked my husband in more ways than one. Not because he wouldn’t deny anyone who wanted to do that, but because he felt that it was probably driven by gays having to pick up the definition of what was supposed to take place from their straight counterparts. Why were we defining ourselves by those standards? Aren’t we supposed to be defining it for ourselves? What our marriage equality will truly look like and how we’ll take those elements and make them our own. That’s what he was speaking to, and I got it. I did. But to each his own, I say.
This is a recurring motif throughout Housewife. The duality of wanting those ‘straight’ married bliss concepts but constantly challenging the listener to grapple with why a man would want to be a housewife and that there shouldn’t be anything wrong with it.
Simply put, there isn’t.
Even if the commonplace events Jay speaks of within the piece, mirror the experiences of our straight married counterparts. I just LOVE that Jay does this within his work. The double entendres, the witty bon mots, the dry sense of humor at times. I’ve always thought of him as a modern day bard. I don’t bandy that word around loosely either.
Brannan is a bard. Plain and simple. And I count myself lucky to live at a time when someone like him can come along and do what he does so brilliantly. To revel in the moment – as he creates.
I had the same giddiness back in the late seventies when I heard Donna Summer was gonna release another big selling album. As a gay teen boy I was all about Donna back in the day (withhold judgement as I met her and those horrible rumors about what was attributed to her were completely false – she was a very decent human being). Anyway, the giddy feeling I used to get whenever Donna was gonna drop some new project is EXACTLY what I feel when Jay announces he’s got something on the horizon. Total gay boy freak session for at least an hour – heady, and simply happy that something wonderful is about to come my way.
What I think is bang over the top in Housewife is that it works on so many levels. It holds up the banality of a relationship in a new romantic light (I mean, who really has that romantic gushy feeling about washing dishes – yet in Jay’s vision it is simply rendered and you can’t think of a more beautiful expression of devotion to the man you love. Unless of course, it’s doing his laundry which Jay is more than happy to acknowledge as an option on the table) — that even the most mundane of things have a beauty all on their own. It speaks of hopes and dreams, of sharing meals and a future. Things that I know I pondered myself from the time I could acknowledge my attraction to boys. I wanted those things in my life. Housewife’s greatest accomplishment is the simplicity in it’s threaded revelations of what it means to be in a loving and supportive relationship. One which when he reaches, you’re there. When you falter, he’s there.
The beauty of Brannan’s prose in this is that each element is simplistic and comforting all at the same time. It speaks (to my way of thinking at any rate)
Sure there was the whole sense of adventure in the relationship. That’s always the sexy part – or so you think if you’ve never been in one. What I love about Jay’s take on it is that its the longevity that the song speaks to – how valued those dreams are. Yeah, I definitely had those thoughts. Mostly it was the being close, of breathing him in. The simplest things were held far more magical qualities to them than any of the wildly erotic times. Okay, maybe that was not wholly true. I mean sex was definitely an important part of a new relationship – especially as a young man who sought the affections of another boy.
I wanted so many things in a man that I didn’t feel I had. Things that I admired in other boys (usually of the straight variety). Of course in my day if you were gay it was automatically assumed you were about as fey as they come. I never did fit into that mold, but I wasn’t a football playing hetero-acting stud either. Then again, I never really liked the whole ‘straight-acting’ moniker. Why is it that we have to appear to be anything other than what we are.
I think that this is what is at the emotive core of Housewife. Love that simply is. Love that endures, love to strive and hope for, to dream about and to push toward achieving.
Though I think it is in the simple repeated question of “what’s so wrong with that?” that is one of the most powerful tools within the song. Gently intoning and asking the audience to wrap your head around why making such a simple admission that you would want to take on the role of a Housewife holds no negativity, indeed it is probably one of the greatest gestures of love to find the exuberance in doing laundry, making guacamole or hell, even the desire to have his baby (which in this day and age may not be too far off a prospect).
This is one of the songs that truly gets me misty eyed when I hear it. It has every element of what I feel about my life with my own husband. There is no one else I’d rather wash dishes with or for, no one who I wouldn’t want to wash his clothes. His needs always come before my own. As mine do with him. He’s proven that to me time and again. So yeah, Housewife is a brilliant song, encapsulating and distilling for me all of the things I hold dear in my own relationship with my husband of 20 years. He is my best friend, the love of my life and the life of my love.
Yet it is Jay’s last words of Housewife that haunt me terribly, that never fail to make me a bit teary eyed. Knowing how Jay has commented in various live video performances and youtube postings about how lonely he feels at times, it tears me up that someone who brings such an emotive and creative light to my life via his work hasn’t found some of this for himself. I don’t know Jay. Being a performer of the stage since I was 8 and now coming up on my half-centennial mark, that is a number of years to put on a face and sell yourself to the masses. So I have to concede that I don’t know how much of his life is show and how much is an actual representation. My takeaway is that Jay is incredibly honest (insofar as he is willing to share – which seems to be quite a bit) about some of the intimate details (without being salacious) of his life. If that is the case, then I do hold out the day when he might alter the lines to let his audience know he has someone special and worthy of his love. Maybe even changing those last moments to reflect a change in status.
For someone who gives so much of himself, of sharing what he does with his social media accounts, I would be over the moon if there came a time when he would have what he speaks of in Housewife (if that’s what he truly wants). His work brings such an emotive and rich core into my world – substantiating and giving a creative voice to things I concern myself with, if only to know I’m not crazy, what I want is what Jay seems to echo – what everyone else seems to want.
Love, friendship, devotion – getting as much as you put into it and if you’re lucky, you just might get more than you bargained for. And life is sweet when you do.
The Always, Then & Now Tour…
Sidebar: I bought my Deluxe Package from Jay Brannan’s store for the tour he’s embarking on now. The cost of the deluxe package is $40 and you get quite a bit for it. There are other packages as well. But that isn’t why I did it. I did it because I truly feel indebted to this man of words and music. I am enriched by his musical musings and experiences. I am emboldened to discover that I am not alone in my dreams and fears. And for that I will always support him and do what I can to spread the word.
Please check out his site with links for his upcoming shows. I am definitely a late comer to the Brannan bandwagon whenever he pulls through my city. But now that I am going this year, I am making it a goal never to miss when he swings through town. I hope you take advantage of the opportunity as well. Also be sure to check out his web store at the following link.