Ah, National Coming Out Day. I came out in 1971, during my freshman year of college. A whole different world in certain respects. Stonewall had occurred a mere two years earlier. The American Psychiatric Association wouldn’t remove LGBT from its list of mental disorders until 1973. Marriage equality was an “impossible dream.” There were modern families, but way under the radar. There were no television shows like Ellen, Will & Grace, Noah’s Arc or RuPaul’s Drag Race. The resources we have today were absent in those days. And far too many of us lived and died in the closet. I wonder if that’s how it was for Flash Gordon, he of the serial cliffhangers of the 1930s and 1940s? Perhaps Flash and Prince Barin were longing for a life together, but life on the planet Mongo made that difficult.
That being said, add a little nut brown flavor to the mix, and we have my latest read: Karma Kingsley’s Alabama Christmas. Alex Greene is a 25-year-old, white Marine who has been living in California as an openly gay man. Having nowhere to go for Christmas, he signs up for the Home for the Holidays program. Of all the families he could have been selected for, his host family winds up near his hometown in Alabama, and he dreads the prospect of going back into the closet (I know, Alabama hasn’t had a reputation for being welcoming to its LGBT population).
Enter Trey Briggs. Trey is a 22-year-old African-American man, socially awkward, unemployed, virginal, deeply closeted, living under his mother’s roof. When Alex comes to their home for the holidays, it sets off Trey’s already massive bundle of insecurities. Alex needed the patience of Job in dealing with Trey; I mean, Trey put the S in skittish. Granted, Alex’s parents had thrown him out after he came out to them, and there were communication and self-esteem issues on Trey’s part, plus Trey’s fear of what would happen after Alex’s leave ended.
I always like that go-get-your-man moment in these romance novels, where an MC realizes that he/she is behaving like an idiot after being called out by a friend/relative, whereupon the MC sets about making things right. I like the way this GGYM moment is handled, which ultimately leads to an HEA for Alex and Trey.
Great strides have been made in a much more visible LGBT community, but in the character of Trey, Karma Kingsley reminds us that we still have a long way to go. Trey has been locked up in that closet of his, a virgin, terrified to trust and reach out to people, putting himself down on a regular basis, which is frustrating for Alex. How many, even in 2018, are yet living with those fears? Fortunately, Karma demonstrates what the power of love can do.
For those who aren’t there yet, it’s OK. Coming out is an ongoing process, and it starts only when one is ready. But when you are, there is an abundance of support and love waiting for you, from sources you never expected. In the meantime, all you M/M romance lovers out there, sit back and check out Karma Kingsley’s story of hard-won romance at your local Amazon/Barnes & Noble library.