OS: Welcome to Rick R Reed!
I wanted to share a bit about my own coming out process and in that way, you might see how I was inspired to write BIGGER LOVE.
Remember—knowing you’re gay isn’t the same as accepting you’re gay. I might have known I was gay when this picture was taken, but I certainly gave it no credence.
This is me at about age seven at the party my father’s workplace held for employees’ kids every Christmas. It would not be the last time I would sit on a burly-bearded guy’s lap, but let’s keep this sweet and simple. Even then I was fastidious about my appearance and like to think that my bowtie, V-neck sweater, and Chukka boots would look good even today. As a gay child, I knew even then that classics never go out of style.
I was pretty happy when that picture was taken, but with the advent of adolescence, the bad stuff was in full swing. I was a very troubled young man, at best called a sissy (or fag, queer, homo) and tormented verbally by classmates and, at worst, physically bullied for sport (just like Truman in Bigger Love). Like the song goes, I was always the last chosen when choosing sides for basketball. I had no friends. I spent my time with my baby sister, walking her around the neighborhood in her stroller. How I loved that little girl! She was my salvation without even knowing it. Unfortunately, a little boy pushing a stroller around back in the early 70s only added to the abuse for my being “different.” Back then, I had no self-esteem and could only cast my tormentors as right in their abuse—after all, deep inside I knew was some kind of freak. This is when the self-loathing started and I retreated deep into the closet, thinking and praying for deliverance from being “that way.”
I remained hidden and tormented until I went away to college, to Miami University, where I could not only fulfill the dream of sharpening my craft as a writer, but where I could cast off the shackles of being derided as a sissy and someone only worthy of being punched as I stood in line for lunch in the school cafeteria. Because I chose a school where almost no one else in my class went (save for an overly bright girl, who had been tormented as much as I), I could recast myself as one of the guys, a blessedly straight boy…and I was able to fool most everyone. I wonder now if I was naïve in thinking my dark secrets were as hidden as I believed.
University was where I met and fell in love—with a woman. We were engaged; we got married. We had a wonderful sex life (when I could make myself believe I wasn’t passing some sort of test or that I was pretending); we had a child. Through all those years, I was deep, deep in the closet, wearing the thickest of masks, so thick I could barely breathe. But I weathered the storms of self-doubt, of recrimination, or terror, telling myself, throughout a decade, that if I played the part long enough, I would become the character I thought I should be.
But that gay guy inside me would not rest until I paid him heed. The harder I fought to be someone I wasn’t, the harder the gay part of me fought back. It came to a point where I realized that no one in my life—not family, not friends, not my wife, not my child—loved me for me. Because no one knew who I was.
It became a matter of living a lie and watching my soul, my very essence, shrivel up and die, or make a choice—a choice that, as time went on, became more and more unavoidable. Finally, at age 30, I had to lay down the shield and the sword and stop fighting.
With the help of a therapist, I stepped cautiously out of the closet. I was so scared, I leapt at the first cute guy who smiled at me and we were living together within a few months, causing, in part, a contentious divorce and custody battle. At age 30, my face of gay was out of the closet, but still yet unfulfilled.
See, I never had an adolescence, that experience most people go through when they try on different personas, play the field, experiment with life to see who they really are and what suits them.
My adolescence came way too late, in my mid 30s and early 40s. I plead the fifth on those years, but let’s just say there was a great deal of experimentation and pushing the gay envelope. I tried everything (and everyone) at least once.
My face of gay in my 40s was accepting, but unloved. I went through many relationships, some as long as two years, others lasting only minutes. Some of those affairs were conducted in only seconds, on a crowded Chicago el train, spoken with the eloquence of the eyes.
It wasn’t until I had given up on love and accepted me for me that I found true love. And that’s who I am today, with someone I am now proud to call husband, legal in all 50 states.
Because at this point, being out and being gay is all about one word: family.
Truman Reid is Summitville High’s most out-and-proud senior. He can’t wait to take his fierce, uncompromising self away from his small Ohio River hometown, where he’s suffered more than his share of bullying. He’s looking forward to bright lights and a big city. Maybe he’ll be the first gender-fluid star to ever win an Academy Award. But all that changes on the first day of school when he locks eyes with the most gorgeous hunk he’s ever seen.
Mike Stewart, big, dark-haired, and with the most amazing blue eyes, is new to town. He’s quiet, manly, and has the sexy air of a lost soul. It’s almost love at first sight for Truman. He thinks that love could deepen when Mike becomes part of the stage crew for Harvey, the senior class play Truman’s directing. But is Mike even gay? And how will it work when Truman’s mother is falling for Mike’s dad?
Plus Truman, never the norm, makes a daring and controversial choice for the production that has the whole town up in arms.
See how it all plays out on a stage of love, laughter, tears, and sticking up for one’s essential self….
Amazon paperback https://www.amazon.com/Bigger-Love-Big-Rick-Reed/dp/1641080647
Amazon Kindle https://www.amazon.com/Bigger-Love-Big-Book-ebook/dp/B07HQRSHNY
Dreamspinner Press paperback: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/bigger-love-by-rick-r-reed-9968-b
Dreamspinner Press ebook: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/bigger-love-by-rick-r-reed-9967-b
RICK R. REED BIO
Real Men. True Love.
Rick R. Reed draws inspiration from the lives of gay men to craft stories that quicken the heartbeat, engage emotions, and keep the pages turning. Although he dabbles in horror, dark suspense, and comedy, his attention always returns to the power of love. He’s the award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction and is forever at work on yet another book. Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…” You can find him at www.rickrreed.com or www.rickrreedreality.blogspot.com. Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA with his beloved husband and their fierce Chihuahua/Shiba Inu mix.
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