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November 19th, 2023

Now For A Little Food For The Soul…

I’m digging back into The Sun And The Star to get the foul taste of Dick Hafer’s comic book out of my mind. I’d put the book down at a crisis point in the story because I wasn’t up to crisis points just then, but I’m back on it now because it’s the story I need after researching all the old homophobic articles and op-ed pieces for this “last” episode of A Coming Out Story.

The one on the left is Will Solace, the demigod son of Apollo, and the one on the right is Nico Di Angelo, the demigod son of Hades. You’d think they were horribly mismatched but in Rick Riordan and Mak Oshiro’s The Sun And The Star they’re a couple on a quest to rescue a friend from the deepest, darkest region of the Underworld. This piece of fan art is probably picturing a scene from the end of the novel The Blood Of Olympus, after defending Camp Half Blood from the attack of giants led by Octavian. It’s a good one…how I picture the two of them. Seems like nearly all the fan art I see of these two picture them like this.

Will has inherited his father’s healing powers, he’s the sweetness and sunshine of the two, and little goth Nico..well…there’s a gruesome scene in that novel where he angrily and literally ghosts a villain and banishes him to Hades while the others look on horrified…

“You took an oath to the legion.” Nico’s breath steamed in the cold. “You broke its rules. You inflicted pain. You killed your own centurion.”

“I-I didn’t! I–“

“You should have died for your crimes,” Nico continued. “That was the punishment. Instead you got exile. You should have stayed away. Your father Orcus may not approve of broken oaths. But my father Hades really doesn’t approve of those who escape punishment.”


The word didn’t make sense to Nico. The Underworld had no mercy. It only had justice.

That sword he wears (they all fight with swords in the novels) is forged from Stygian Iron and he dipped it in the river Styx; it has the power to suck away its victim’s essence. You don’t want to make the little dickens angry. He’s sullen enough all the time anyway. But at the end of that novel he and Will are beginning to click. In the later novels their relationship develops and Will starts coaxing Nico out of his dark shell. Nico has had a very hard life before joining up with the others.

Here’s what draws me to The Sun And The Star: It’s an adventure novel, but its center is a love story about a same-sex couple bravely facing the nightmares of the Underworld together. Because it’s about a teenage couple, and aimed at a largely younger audience, and because it’s a Disney print book (part of the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series), they have to keep sex out of it…which is good because it makes them focus on the romance, and it’s those sorts of stories I’ve been missing and aching for ever since I came out to myself in my own teen years. At every crisis point in the story their love is tested, and it gets really scary at times (I put the book down some weeks ago when the two of them were captured by the demon of nightmares who begins forcing Nico to relive some really Really Bad memories…), and their love becomes stronger.

This is the story I want told to me again and again…the story of how love wins. And so terribly often…it doesn’t. And it’s like we’re use to that ending. I’m thinking now of Call Me By Your Name which so many people thought was a Wonderful same sex romance…that ends with Elio staring into a fireplace crying his eyes out.

Books about same-sex love and romance have been my refuge ever since I was a teenager. Movies and television, not so much. But even books were never a sure thing. I loved Mercedes Lackey’s Last Herald-Mage series, which had a terrific love story, interrupted by death, then rebirth, then death again, because that’s how our stories always had to end I suppose.

Certainly that’s what Dick Hafer and all the bigots like him want us to believe. Thankfully I’ve lived to see a time when enough writers and filmmakers don’t believe that anymore, that I can finally get more of the stories I’ve always wanted.

by Bruce | Link | React!

November 2nd, 2023

Who Are You Going To Believe…Me, Or Your Beating Heart?

Moment of Truth

What they told me, versus what I knew in that moment…

  • They told me that homosexual men think they’re really women. I didn’t think that.
    (I’ve met transgendered people. Yes, it’s a real thing. But it’s different from being homosexual. I have always felt completely comfortable in my own body.)
  • They told me that having sex with one is what makes you one. I was a virgin.
  • They told me that being molested makes you one. I was not molested.
  • They told me that homosexuals like to have anonymous sex in public restrooms and parks. I had zero interest in that. I thought it was creepy and disgusting. (Sometime later I began to understand that was oppression, especially bathroom sex: we’re taught to see ourselves as human garbage, and so we flush our sex lives into the sewer)
  • They told me that homosexuals were fixated on sex and were only interested brief anonymous sex. I was in love. Body and soul. I wanted to be part of his life, and for him to be part of mine.
  • They told me that homosexuals preyed on teenage boys. Well, I was a teenage boy, in love with another teenage boy. But there was nothing predatory about it. I was twitterpated. At a word he could have had me body and soul. I was ready to walk through fire for him.
  • They told me that homosexuals lived in a constant state of shame and self loathing, and desperately want not to be one. What I was feeling just then was the most wonderful thing that had ever happened to me. I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. All the love songs I’d ever heard on the radio suddenly began to make sense and I realized I’d never really understood them.

Today, I feel like pleasing you
More than before
Today, I know what I wanna do
But I don’t know what for

To be living for you
Is all I want to do
To be loving you
It’ll all be there
When my dreams come true

They told me a lot of things. I believed them once. Then I fell in love.

I realize many of us have had a painful struggle with this. I hear you. I stand with you. Mine wasn’t entirely free from fear and anxiety. I still had to navigate a world full of contempt, loathing, and hate every which way you turned. We can make this world a better place for kids like us to come of age in by telling our stories, our truths. This one is mine. It is also a way of healing the kid within.

I can look back and see there was a lot of luck in how it finally hit me. I’d already walked a good distance away from the religious fundamentalism I was raised in. I’d grown up in a part of the country that gave me a good public school education, during a time when the cold war and the space race put an emphasis on teaching kids science. But if I could wish a happy, wonderful coming out story on everyone, it would be through that wonderful magical first love.

Today, you’ll make me say
That I somehow have changed
Today, you look into my eyes
I’m just not the same…

When all is said and done, it was love that saved me.


by Bruce | Link | React!

February 22nd, 2023

What’s It All About…?

I didn’t bother with Alfie when it was released because in 1966 I would have been 12 and that sort of movie just wouldn’t have appealed to me. And given the sexual content in it I would probably not have been allowed in the theater anyway.

So I looked at the Wikipedia entry and…wow…Alfie was a real dick wasn’t he. This is a comedy? But what struck me even more was that it seems on the surface to be the sort of morality story that American evangelicals would applaud. Especially the part about Alfie having a breakdown after he arranges for one of his lady friends with benefits to have an abortion…

…Lily informs him that she is pregnant from their one encounter, and they plan for her to have an abortion. Lily comes to his flat to meet the abortionist. During the procedure, Alfie leaves Lily and walks around. He catches sight of his son Malcolm outside a church and witnesses the baptism of Gilda and Humphrey’s new daughter. He watches as they exit the church as a family. The abortion traumatizes both Lily and Alfie, with him breaking down in tears when seeing the aborted fetus, the first time he confronts the consequences of his actions…

That almost reads like a Made For Evangelicals movie. The Jack Chick sermonising at the end of it right before the  back panel sinner’s prayer almost writes itself. But no…this is not a movie Evangelicals would like. 

It’s the song sung at the end of it. What’s It All About Alfie?  It gets to the heart of the movie and it’s stuck in my thoughts ever since Valentine’s Day. Bacharach and David understood the story better than most of its reviewers of the time. It’s a perfect rejoinder to the life Alfie was living.

What’s it all about, Alfie?
Is it just for the moment we live?
What’s it all about when you sort it out, Alfie?
Are we meant to take more than we give?
Or are we meant to be kind?

And if only fools are kind, Alfie
Then I guess it is wise to be cruel
And if life belongs only to the strong, Alfie
What will you lend on an old golden rule?

As sure as I believe there’s a heaven above, Alfie
I know there’s something much more
Something even non-believers can believe in

I believe in love, Alfie
Without true love we just exist, Alfie
Until you find the love you’ve missed, you’re nothing, Alfie

When you walk, let your heart lead the way
And you’ll find love any day, Alfie

And there’s why evangelicals hate it: The movie is about Alfie’s inability to love anyone but himself (if that). That is the moral center of the story. Not that Alfie had sex out of wedlock. Not that he got one of his lady friends an abortion. It was this

Without true love we just exist, Alfie.

That is Not the message evangelicals want us to hear. Here’s a passage from the tribute to Burt Bacharach up on Roger Ebert dot com

But when I think of Burt Bacharach and film music, my mind goes first to an earlier movie. For years, I had the notion that “Alfie” was a comedy, and in 1966 I guess it played that way to a lot of people, including lead actor Michael Caine, who said he knew “Alfie” would be a hit when he heard laughter floating out of the cinema during dailies. By the time I saw it, imagine my surprise. “Alfie” is incredibly sad, the tale of a man who can’t love or be loved in return, a damaged character who does nothing but damage other people. Such jokes as there are fall squarely in the “wry chuckle” range.

Listen to Bacharach and David’s title song, and see if you don’t think they perceived the film the same way I did. Cher sang the version that plays over the end credits of the American release, and it was Dionne Warwick whose rendition became a hit. Myself, I prefer Cilla Black, who sang “Alfie” for the British release. She wasn’t as good a singer as Warwick, which Bacharach later acknowledged, but Black’s version is the most haunting. Maybe the emotion in her voice came from her familiarity with London, with the scene, with men like that. Maybe it was exhaustion. Black recalled doing almost 30 takes of the recording, until George Martin, in the studio as producer although Bacharach was running the show, said gently, “Burt, I think you got it in take four.” I don’t know which take is here on YouTube, but Black was right, they all look done in, even the dapper Bacharach, clad in one of his signature turtlenecks. But Bacharach was also right, whatever he was doing, because this song will rip your heart out…

I had to go buy a copy of the Cilla Black version of this song and Farran Smith Nehme who wrote this tribute is absolutely right. Black’s version is the one.

Without true love we just exist, Alfie.

This is exactly what evangelicals don’t want us to hear. Time and time again what they say during arguments over same sex marriage is that marriage is not about love.  They’re being completely serious. It’s some sort of duty…to god, to society, to raise children, to model gender roles…but it is not primarily about love. Of course love is a good thing to have in a marriage, an important part, but not the most important part, not the critical part. It’s just…nice to have. But not necessary. That really is their thinking.

I have had it said to me over and over: Marriage is not about love. We’ll all be hearing it again when the Trump supreme court decides to review Obergefell. Marriage is not about love. But without true love we just exist.

by Bruce | Link | React!

January 20th, 2023

Age Sixty-Nine…A Little Late To Stop Being An Artistic Prude.

I’m finally starting to make some kind of progress at the drafting table that I was hoping for when I retired. Apart from A Coming Out Story, I’ve had several other things that I began working on years ago that I’m beginning to make some progress on, and some new stuff too. But alas, some of that is not going to be visible here because it isn’t safe for work. For nearly all my life I’ve had a reticence about certain subjects that you generally don’t see in a graphic artist. At least not in the free world. I’ve lived with it, made excuses for it, and ignored it. But there are some things I want to do now that I’ve retired, things I want to explore, and that reticence is something I have to deal with if I want to make progress. 

Mind, I don’t do pornography. Pornography is obvious and cheap and all it does is push buttons. But I have struggled for nearly three years now with a short graphic story riffing on the song You Can Leave Your Hat On, ever since I first heard it at a gig my classmate Rev Billy did with another band, and it’s been basically about this deeply ingrained reluctance I’ve always had about



about nudity in my artwork. There. I said it. Specifically about how much to show. If you’ve read the first episode of A Coming Out Story, that gag came about when I realized that I simply could not draw the character representing my libido as a completely naked me, and then realizing that it was right after all because that reticence was a truth about me after all.

“I’m your libido, not Robert Crumb’s libido.”  It was a self truth that became the series running gag. Ha ha. 

The song I was listening to in that bar that night, waiting for my classmate to take the stage again, was about a guy asking what I assumed was his girlfriend to take off her clothes and give him a dance. The line You can leave your hat on, recurs throughout. That first time I was listening to it, it seemed your usual pop heterosexual love and desire song, a little odd for a Randy Newman song, but he has a very wide range and I have loved his movie music, especially for Avalon and Pleasantville. So I was sitting in this bar among a bunch of middle aged and older (like myself) customers observing the crowd and waiting for my classmate to get his turn on stage. Everyone was getting into the song…

Baby, take off your coat… (real slow)
Baby, take off your shoes… (here, I’ll take your shoes)
Baby, take off your dress
Yes, yes, yes
You can leave your hat on
You can leave your hat on
You can leave your hat on

And this was the sort of bar crowd I’m not usually in the middle of and I’m almost zoning out just then because these sort of pop tunes never speak to me. If I really like a song and it’s your usual boy loves girl loves boy song I’ll mentally change the pronouns in it so it can speak to me too. I am barely a post Stonewall gay guy and living in a pop culture that until recently simply refused to even admit that such as I existed, I’ve had to do that all my adult life. But I’m watching the crowd and they’re loving the song and having a good time and I will never begrudge anyone that. This poor angry world would be a lot nicer and a lot more peaceful I’m thinking if everyone could have a fulfilling sex life.

Then I hear this…

Suspicious minds are talking
Trying to tear us apart
They say that my love is wrong
They don’t know what love is
They don’t know what love is
They don’t know what love is
They don’t know what love is
I know what love is

…and suddenly now the song is speaking to me and I’m fully absorbed. Wow.

I’m pretty sure Newman didn’t intend this to be a song about a gay male couple…the dancer was asked to take their dress off after all.  And heterosexuals often get static from their families and communities over their choices in love. But those lyrics…those lyrics. When I heard them I knew I had to do my own take on the song. I listened to it carefully and when I got home that night I bought several copies of it in the iTunes store. And I listened, and the entire thing I wanted to draw, the artwork, all the panels and the layout, came to me.

I knew it had to feature the guy I’d drawn about that same time, after some babbling nitwit online complained that gay guys at Pride were all wearing nothing but short shorts and go-go boots…


He was already wearing a hat, which made him perfect for the role of the dancer in the song. Mr Homophobic nitwit hadn’t said anything about a hat, but I added one on an impulse when I drew him because I thought it added to his sexiness.

I had a good idea of what the singer looked like and was wearing too. Another guy, maybe slightly older, suit and tie like he’s just got home from work and he’s had a very tiresome day and his boyfriend comes over and he asks him to give him a dance and the boyfriend is all in for it. Because at that age one of this life’s simple pleasures is making the one you love all hot and bothered.

So I had my story, I had the layouts, I knew Exactly what every panel was going to look like. Sort of. Then I sat down to actually draw it my built-in reticence about nudity kicked right in. I kept trying to draw the dancer in the song tastefully if minimally covered, because deep down I just could not go where the song went.

I had reasons. Perfectly logical reasons. That left/right brain running gag in A Coming Out Story is no joke. I wanted my take on the song to be postable most anywhere. I wanted it to be safe for work. I don’t do pornography. But nudity isn’t necessarily pronographic unless you’re a right wing nutcase, and truth be told, somewhere deep down there were fears that at age sixty-nine I still hadn’t really examined.

Charlie Chaplin writing to his daughter said…

“Your naked body should only belong to those who fall in love with your naked soul.”

The artist shows their naked soul in every work they produce. But giving the world the naked bodies of my art subjects just cut too close to the bone…so to speak. I couldn’t do it. It wasn’t shame, it was if I’m honest, a deeply ingrained fear of being vulnerable I’ve had since grade school. And of being Scrawny. Weak. Ugly. I was a slight, somewhat girlish kid and I got a lot of bullying from some of the other kids, and a lot of body shaming by adults in my life for being so thin and unmuscular. The mother of one of my classmates asked him outright if I was a heroin addict. Ragweed season always made me look like I was on drugs all the time. My clothes, mostly second hand, never really fit very well. My teeth were crooked. 

There’s a story I like to tell about the day I came to class in sixth grade. Next year I would be in junior high school which I’d learned by then was a whole new world. Instead of sitting in the same classroom day and and day out I would be given a schedule of classes for math, english, science and art and so on, and walk from one to the other. I’d have my own locker to put things in between classes. And every class would be a different teacher, and a different mix of other kids. But there was a very unpleasant surprise in store.

That one day in that sixth grade class I saw that some kids from the previous year had come to class before we got there to visit their old teachers. They’d written about their experiences in junior high on the chalkboard. I started reading. Then I came to this line…

Tell them not to worry about group showers. It’s no big deal.

I wish I had a picture of my face just then. My jaw dropped. I was horrified. What!? WHAT!? WHAT!!!???  Suddenly I was no longer looking forward to high school, junior or otherwise.

So there I am at the drafting table trying to get this little slice of life story out of me and on to paper, make a statement about gay love and desire, and I’m all inhibited and trying to be restrained and temperate and keeping my dancer suitably covered for family audiences…and the song just doesn’t read like that. Well…except for the hat. There’s still a hat.

So no matter how I drew the dancer I was never satisfied with what I was drawing. I’m pretty sure I got the singer/audience right the first time I drew him. But the dancer just would not appear. Worse, most of my tries were crap that made me doubt I was good enough to even try illustrating this song in my own way. It had to be done right or it would be embarrassingly awful. It was making me hate my drawing and I hate it enough as it is. But it wouldn’t let go of me either. I kept coming back to it, there was something there I wanted to say, and I kept having to walk away depressed.

Finally I had to admit my drawing was crap because I wasn’t really being faithful to the song.

I was riffing on this song because I wanted to shine a light on what it said to me about love and joyful playful desire, and that is universal across the Kinsey scale. It was important to me. Gay love and desire is a beautiful, meaningful, fulfilling thing for those who are lucky enough to find it. And nothing that came out of my pencils was working. Finally I had to admit nothing I did would be right unless I was completely faithful to the song. Which meant that I needed to get over some residual reticence about nudity in my art I’ve had since…forever.

So I’m going for it.

And now it’s working. The dancer is there finally on my drawing board. He’s everything I need him to be to make this graphic story work. This is going to be one of my best.

Problem is, it won’t be safe for Facebook. Or any social media.

That’s okay…I have my own website here.

And at age 69 I feel a little more free. One less brick in the wall…

by Bruce | Link | React!

November 7th, 2022

We Will Find Our Way To The Better World

This from a gay history group I follow on Facebook…

Tom Doerr and Marty Robinson during a Gay Activists Alliance sit-in
at the New York State Republican headquarters, New York City.
Photo by Diana Davies, 1970.

I would have been 15 or 16 depending on exactly when this happened, and all I knew about the fight for gay equality then was basically nothing apart from the occasional snide jokes on late night TV, but they made those same jokes about hippies. But look at this photo. This is a couple. They are people not stereotypes. And they are taking a stand when that was still extremely risky, to get us all to a place when we could have what they were lucky enough to find in each other, and not be afraid or ashamed.

How often do you hear them say they don’t care what we do in the privacy of our homes, but we should not be allowed to “flaunt it” in public. But what is “it”? 

This is. This is what the fight has always been about. The haters reduce us to the sex we have, but this is what they don’t want anyone to see, especially us. We are not to know that this is possible to us. We must be scapegoats, never neighbors, never to have a place in the American dream. And so, to that end, we must see ourselves as sexual deviants, pathetic faggots, or dangerous sexual predators. What we must never be are lovers. 

Because love is an ever-fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken…

Because love alters not with his brief hours and weeks but bears it out even to the edge of doom.

Because being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.

Because love can give you the courage, and the strength, to move mountains. And the one thing you never want the scapegoat to know is they can move mountains.


by Bruce | Link | React!

December 6th, 2020

The Lover Is A Monotheist…

The lover is a monotheist who knows that other people worship different gods but cannot himself imagine that there could be other gods. -Theodor Reik

I’m working diligently on the next two episodes of A Coming Out Story, and I’ve taken to listening to the Spotify playlist that Beth David and Esteban Bravo put up as their background music while working on their animated film about a schoolboy’s first crush, In A Heartbeat. It’s surprisingly appropriate, but at some point I might make my own playlist for A Coming Out Story. (It should probably be all 60s/early 70s songs)

Those days are long gone, and yet so much of the adult I eventually became was because of that period in my life. I survived admitting to myself that I am a homosexual, possibly the most awful thing you could be back in 1971, apart maybe from being a communist or a hippy, because I was was in love, completely and utterly twitterpated. When the realization finally broke through it was the most wonderful thing that ever happened to me. I swear it really was like something out of a Walt Disney movie…the birds sang a little more sweetly, the stars shone a little more brightly, I walked with a lighter step…everything was beautiful. It saved my life. I never doubted afterward that there was nothing wrong with me, or with any of us. But it did not end well. It often doesn’t for teenage lovers, and gay kids especially back then, and even now, have their own excruciating battle to fight for their hearts and their dreams. But if you never had that thrilling first love experience in your teen years, I am sorry for you.

Supposedly Kurt Vonnegut once told his daughter that you are allowed to fall deeply in love three times in your life. I think about that quote often when I look back. I’ve had my three strikes. But the quote above expresses how it was for me perfectly. It was always like that for me. Always.

by Bruce | Link | React!

July 12th, 2020

What Bigotry And Hate Did To So Many Hearts

This man’s story came across my Facebook page last month, and I’ve been meaning to write something here about it since but as you can tell by the dates on the posts here I’ve been a little absent. I blame the lockdown…it’s really screwing with my head…

Anyway…here’s a more recent Washington Post version…

Why this 90-year-old man decided to come out as gay during the pandemic

Kenneth Felts spent his entire life in the closet. But at 90 years old, he felt ready to come out.

Since the age of 12, when he first knew he was gay, Felts said, he had been living a double life, battling between dueling identities. There was Ken, his outward-facing straight self, and then there was his alter ego, whom he referred to internally as Larry, a gay man he spent nearly eight decades stifling.

It’s a common story among the before Stonewall generation. Myself, I straddle the divide. When Stonewall happened I was 14…too young to really appreciate it or even know much about it. At that age, had I looked at myself more carefully I’d have seen all the signs. But in 1969 gay people were a dirty secret not talking about in family newspapers or magazines or on TV. And you certainly didn’t tell 14 year old boys anything about homosexuals except that they were dangerous and to keep away. It wasn’t until I was 17, and crushing madly on a classmate, that I finally came out to myself.

But amid the pandemic and the isolation that ensued, Felts started writing about his life to pass the time.

While penning his memoir, Felts said, he “awakened many soul-searing memories of my early life.” Mostly, he wrote about his one true love, Phillip.

Here’s the part of his story that got to me. And it speaks to the pre/post Stonewall divide I have lived with all my life. I came out to myself at the same time I fell in love. But it was 1971 and you couldn’t just declare it to a guy you were crushing on, even if he was gay too. The gay rights movement was suddenly on full blast, but it would be decades before it reached down to the school kids having that first magical crush. In the meantime gay people were being more visible, and that meant gay kids living in unsafe parts of the country, or in homes too risky to even drop a single hairpin in, had to keep their closet doors even more tightly closed.

Despite only recently coming out as gay, Felts said, he’s been searching for Phillip since his divorce 40 years ago.

This was me, but I had no divorce. Love came to me as a revelation. I was like Jack in Titanic, I’d have told him he was the best thing that ever happened to me. I was twitterpated. It was wonderful. I never doubted afterward that there was nothing wrong with me, nothing wrong with being gay. Even so, it wasn’t so simple to just walk up and ask him for a date, let alone to the Prom. And before I could find a way to tell him, get us to some quiet private place were we could at least talk about it, my first crush suddenly moved away. I spent 35 years searching for him before I finally found him.

It was wonderful for about five years. And then it wasn’t. I won’t go into detail about why here, except to say as it turned out, we really weren’t all that compatible to start with. What anti-gay hatred and bigotry took away from my generation…and Felt’s before mine…wasn’t just the ability to have that first magical romance, but more critically the ability to date. That’s how you find out who is good for you, and who is not. Two people can both be good, decent, wonderful persons and still not quite right for specifically each other. Dating is how you find out. 

I found out 40 years later and it was devastating after all that time, all that searching, all that remembering, all those what-ifs. I wanted to reach out to Felt and scream Don’t Do It… But that wouldn’t be fair. Sometimes it probably works out for the best. Sometimes, maybe, you get the happy Disney ever after. But the risks are huge. I did it to myself not once, but twice.

Felt finally found out what happened to his first love…

One of the loving and wonderful people who has been reading my messages on my coming out and search for Phillip undertook to locate him for me. She spent many hours and finally had a report for me. I have summarized that report below.

Phillip Allen Jones was the love of my life. I have a very sad and lonely heart today. My first and greatest love has passed away. He lived a full and happy life I am told by his niece. His partner of many years passed just a few years ago and Phillip remained alone for the rest of his life. I feel I shared with him the best years of his youth and he certainly made mine memorable and I will always remember and appreciate that. I loved him in my heart so much over the years and now he is gone.

It is so terribly frustrating to be so close to and yet not reach my lost love and horribly painful to not be able to say good-by. But the whole world now knows what a loving man he was with me and to me while we were together. My heart has turned to stone and I need my tears to wash away my sorrow. Rest in Peace Phillip.

I feel for him. It’s almost not worth looking for that first love, or any of the other might have beens from back in the day. But I can see why gay people of my generation and before do it despite the risks. Something was taken from us when we were young, some deep and essential part of our humanity was cut out of our lives. So offhandedly. So thoughtlessly. So very righteously. So other people could make their stepping stones to heaven out of the broken pieces of our hearts. It is only natural that we try to reclaim it. All the vocalizing about politics and discrimination in jobs and security in the workplace and in our homes and on the streets and even the right to marry, flows like a bottomless sorrow from the one central fact of our struggle: we were not allowed to love.

Not even to imagine it. Others got the happily ever after. We got the gutter. Other kids got Prom Night, school dances, boy meets girl stories, love songs on the radio, in books and magazines. We got every filthy lie that could be imagined hurled at us, at our deepest most tender feelings of love and desire and hope, and taught to believe them. The part of our lives that makes everything worthwhile was reduced to dirty jokes and sneering obscenities, so they could point at us and call us broken. 

It’s only natural now, so many years after Stonewall, now that we can marry, now that we can be people, that we try to reclaim the parts of our lives we lost to that mindless hate. Even if it means getting cut even more deeply. I don’t think any of us can stop ourselves. We’ve won so many of the battles we never thought we’d live to see won. There is hope. But beneath it, for so many of our generation there is a bottomless sadness that never goes away. Never.


by Bruce | Link | React!

May 1st, 2020

Sexy Sketching…(continued)

Finished. On to the next one tomorrow. But must mow the lawn first…


You can go back through the sequence of these and almost see my desperate hunt and peck, erase, draw, erase, draw, erase, draw technique. I will frequently draw something one evening that I am thoroughly satisfied with, that upon viewing the next morning looks completely wrong. Once I drew a figure seated at a park bench with his legs crossed and I gave him backwards left/right feet by mistake and didn’t see it for a couple days. Luckily I was in the stage of things where I was adding colors to it in the computer and I was able to fix it. But the inks in traditional media still have that mistake in them.

This is why cartoonists don’t always sell or give their originals away.

This is helping me stay sane during quarantine. When the abyss stares back into you, shout beauty back.

by Bruce | Link | React!

April 28th, 2020

Quarantine Drawing To Anchor Myself In Life

Well this one’s done…


I think I’m really warming now to the advantages of digital media. And I’m actually getting comfortable with the tactile feel of drawing on a glass iPad screen. I didn’t think that would be possible.

Probably start another one tomorrow. That’s a Jackson Pollock bandana he’s sporting. In color while the rest of him is grayscale because I do that mixing up color and grayscale when it works for me. Have I mentioned how much I hate that damn hanky code?

If you were to ask me why I’m doing these just now, and if I was still religious, I’d refer you to the morning headlines and the daily death toll, then point to this one and say that beautiful guys are my proof that, despite everything, God is good. Well I’m not a believer anymore and haven’t been for decades now, but I can still say they’re my proof that life is good and worth living despite everything in it that makes you hurt. Like the daily death toll from COVID-19. Like Trump and his death cult republican base. I very much need these proofs.

In my worst jags of cynicism and pessimism I never expected to see the human depravities I’m seeing now. Not even during the AIDS plague when they were all but openly rejoicing in our suffering and dying. They’ve gotten worse since then. So I draw beauty. When the abyss stares back into you, answer it with beauty.

by Bruce | Link | React!

April 27th, 2020

When Your Own Artwork Makes You Nervous Despite How Tame It Is

Opening banner for something I’ve been working on for well over a year now…

I should try to finish this, since I’ve been working on it for nearly two years now. Thing is I keep seeing panels I hate and I have to do them over again and I get discouraged.

Bear with me here please…

There’s an element of risk in giving the world a glimpse of your libido, which I suppose is why most writers of erotic fiction use pseudonyms. It’s especially true if your libido tacks in a different direction from most. I suffer here from a double penalty of both being gay, and being an American gay male who isn’t all that into guys that look like they model for superhero comics. It makes me nervous even talking about it. Yet I spent my formative adolescence on a diet of underground comix, men and women who were heroically…some might say a little Too heroically…willing to honestly write and draw about human sexuality and their own specifically. Howard Cruse is one of my heros in that regard, but there were so many others that gifted their talents and insights to Gay Comics. Even so I’ve struggled with how transparent to be in A Coming Out Story.

My initial concept of the character that represents my libido was he would simply be…in the underground comix tradition…a naked me. I tried drawing that over and over and was never comfortable with it. I just couldn’t do it. And then I thought…wait…that’s truth. And the first four episodes came immediately to mind, and I knew I had something I could go with. This is why the libido character is always wearing a fig leaf. As he says in that first episode “I’m your libido, not Robert Crumb’s libido.” Truth.

So I’m not the most brazen of cartoonists (my mild mannered fig leafed libido is a running gag in the story), which means I get nervous whenever I venture into this territory. Whenever I attempt something like You Can Leave Your Hat On (it’s a riff on a song by Randy Newman…the banner here is a riff on R. Crumb’s Keep On Trucking comic (which he now hates) which was itself a riff on a blues song Truckin My Blues Away by Blind Boy Fuller) I have to get the artwork as right as I can. That way if it provokes jeers I can shrug them off because I’m satisfied I got it right.

Some years ago I showed a cuteness I’d drawn to a gay guy I no longer hang out with, who cracked that he looked like he was one estrogen shot away from a job at Hooters…

Which only goes to show that even gay guys can be sexist jackasses. People like that are why males blessed with that beautiful angelic face often have a bad attitude about it.

Thing is, even allowing for the misogyny of it, there is still the coarseness by which people draw their lines around what is male and what is female. You’d think gay folk of all people would know better, yet I have been asked repeatedly (by that those same guys I no longer hang out with) if I’m really gay because the guys my libido alerts on just aren’t ripped enough, look too feminine, just aren’t manly enough.

Much of this is gay guys reclaiming their masculinity from a culture that blasts a torrent of abuse at gay males over gender conformity. So I get that pushing back thing. But I’m a solid Kinsey 6 regardless of what you think of my tastes in men. In A Coming Out Story episode 20, I have this argument with my libido who assures me that “You like Y chromosomes, just not the big overly muscled ones.” The punchline is when he asks me about photographing the next swim team meet. Even in some gay circles that kind of thing makes me weird. Hey guys…we’re gay…we’re all weird by the majority’s reckoning. Get effin over it!

So…anyway…I was struggling with this one because while I knew exactly what I want it to be I could not get comfortable with making it as sexy as I needed it to be to get my point across. For a while I was going to really go for it on this one and make it completely not safe for work…and I just couldn’t. But I think I know now how to walk right up to that line and still get my point across.

And yes..that’s Mr. Short-Shorts and Go-Go Boots. I first drew him around the same time as I heard You Can Leave Your Hat On played at a club in Laurel where I went to see classmate Rev. Billy Wirtz play. I assumed it was about a straight guy talking his girlfriend into dancing naked for him, but there was a lyric that jumped out at me…

Suspicious minds are talking
Trying to tear us apart
They say that my love is wrong
They don’t know what love is
I know what love is…

That spoke to me, obviously, as a gay man. And then this entire cartoon…mostly…came to mind. When it happens like that I know it’s something I have to get out of me. But this one’s been a struggle. 

by Bruce | Link | React!

December 5th, 2019

The Other Side Of The Door Is A Place Called Freedom

“It felt like a dirty little secret, it felt like I had chains wrapped around me, I couldn’t be who I was, I felt alone and trapped. Just telling one person made me feel so much better, just that one person took a weight off my shoulder. I told Sophie my best friend first as I knew she’d be really accepting of it. She’s been so supportive and there for me. Now that everyone knows, I have nothing to hide, those chains that I felt wrapped around me are gone and I can carry on with my life as normal and be happy. I felt like there was something wrong with me, I didn’t know other people out there felt that way, I felt so alone, so locked away and couldn’t say anything. Tell one person. Tell your story, how you feel. Everything is all pretty new so I don’t see any point in putting a label on it – gay, bi, straight, any of those kind of labels. All that I feel happy about at the moment is that I’m dating a guy and couldn’t be happier, it shouldn’t matter who I’m dating and I hope people can be happy for me.”

-British Olympic diver Tom Daley.

What makes me sad reading this: it was 2013 when he told the world this during an interview. I could see reading this as a message in a bottle from someone back in 1971 when I came out to myself. But…2013. Why was this still happening to young people in love in 2013?
Why is it still happening? To any of us in love?

by Bruce | Link | React!

April 9th, 2018

The Healing Power Of Love…At Least If You’re Gay…

This comes across my Google news feed today…

How romance can protect gay and lesbian youths from emotional distress

A recent study in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology finds that being in a romantic relationship can help gay and lesbian youth like Pegues feel less mental distress — even more so if they are black or Latino. This contrasts with the fact that, in heterosexual teens’ lives, romance is generally found to cause distress rather than alleviate it.

In fact the study seems to suggest that being in a romantic relationship causes stress for Everyone but gay folk. I’ve no idea why that would be so, unless it’s we have to work harder for it and cherish it more because so many people want to take it away from us.

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. -Lao Tzu

by Bruce | Link | React!

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