My stomach growls, Adriana

Spring. What a concept after the winter we experienced, although I remember winters that were worse up here, like in 1962. That winter, air temperatures reached -32–in March. As for the snowfall, there were snowdrifts that reached the point where my then six-year-old brother couldn’t be seen walking home from school. In those days, schools didn’t close unless the public buses couldn’t run, and then the city shut down. Fortunately, Easter Sunday arrived late that year (April 22), so we could dress up in our Sunday best without boots and heavy winter coats. And we survived, appreciating the summer that much more.

It is always a treat for me to read other authors of romance when I take breaks from writing my own. It gives me a hearty appreciation for their work, and provides me with a stronger sense of my own particular flavor. It’s been a joy to write my two M/M romance works-in-progress, especially because they are part of my ongoing Christopher Family Novel series, its foundation being family man and business mogul, Allan Beckley Christopher. Oh yes–when writing my love scenes, nothing sets the mood better than Barry White and Love Unlimited. Let’s hear it for Old School!

That being said, I bring to you, for your reading pleasure, American Dreamer by Adriana Herrera. Ernesto (Nesto) Vasquez is a 27-year-old, Dominican man from the Bronx. Setting out from metro New York, Nesto moves upstate to Ithaca to make a go of his food truck business, which serves the Afro-Caribbean food of the islands. He is greeted by his mami, Nurys Maldonado, and sister Minerva with open arms. Having driven off his last boyfriend with his workaholic ways, Mami wants her son to find a balance between business and personal life.

No sooner does he drive into town when his path crosses with that of white, 30-year-old librarian Jude Fuller, who initially thinks Nesto is a little bit cray-cray. Jude is afraid to want something too much, having escaped the clutches of a conservative family who sees his being gay as something to be cured of. His BFF, Carmen, has been pushing him to come out of his shell and be more sociable; sometimes she has to shove him out. Subsequently, Nesto and Jude find themselves bumping into each other on several occasions around town–and Jude finds it harder and harder to resist Nesto’s charm.

As the story unfolds, Nesto and Jude have respective issues with a villainess you love to hate. Misty Fields is an entitled witch-with-a-capital-B bent on driving them out of town after she’s made their lives miserable, for the sport of it. In Jude’s case, she seeks to block funding for his project of mobile libraries in the county.  With Nesto, she’s determined to put him out of business, out of prejudice and jealousy. And she isn’t above using her social and political connections to do it.

Getting the couple to lower their walls, especially Jude, takes some doing, as does the transition from neighbors to friends to lovers. Sick relatives, missed business opportunities and interfering friends and family abound in this love story. Will Nesto overcome his tunnel vision and make Jude a priority over business, in word and deed? Will Jude stand up for himself, and recognize that he has someone who will fight for him?

Yes, Nesto and Jude get by with a little help from friends like Carmen, Juanpa, Milo, Patrice and Easton. And lots of help from relatives like Mami and Minerva. Jude’s family dynamics make for sad commentary, but with his brother-in-law Jesse and his nephews, there is hope.

Whenever I purchased a book from one of my favorite authors, E. Lynn Harris, I couldn’t put it down–I read it in one sitting. This is one of those books. This tapestry of a multicultural love story, with its nuances of what it means to be a Dreamer, pulled at my heartstrings. The fact that Jude had spent time in a culture different from his own was refreshing. There were times where I had to set the book down for a moment, because my stomach growled at the siren call of vivid food descriptions. Unfortunately, there are no outlets in this part of the country where I can satisfy my taste for those dishes.

Thank you, Adriana, for representing another voice of color in M/M romance, and the heart that goes with it. Nesto, his family and friends provided the kind of ingredients that literally made this story come alive. I’ll be looking forward to your next book. In the meantime, readers, American Dreamer is waiting for you at your local Amazon/Barnes and Noble library. Try to keep your mouth from watering–if you can.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Always and forever, Mike

IMG_1150Being an Old School New Kid, a man of a certain age, is most apparent in my relationship with my son. Most of my contemporaries became parents in their 20s and early 30s. My father was 19 when I, the “honeymoon baby,” was born. It’s an entirely different ball game, though, becoming a father for the first time at the age of 47. One minute he was this beautiful little infant in my arms. Then, as many of us parents do, I blinked. Now he’s 18, a Millennial, child of a modern family.

As with many young men of his generation, he is locked into technology; apps, iPhones, laptops, video games, social media, etc. Heaven help him if he winds up in an area where he can’t get a cell phone signal. He finds it amusing that I like artists like Beyoncé and Bruno Mars. Yes, I like some rap music, the early artists such as Kurtis Blow, Sequence, the Sugar Hill Gang. My son, however….anyway, it’s a kick when I see him dancing to my old-school jams and disco music. It’s also ironic that when he was a baby, his favorite group was the Andrews Sisters (yes, one of the famous singing groups from the 1940s), to which my dad said, “The kid has taste.” As for cars, he is totally in love with the Tesla, and yet he thinks my dream car is cool as well: a champagne pink 1958 Cadillac.

These days, with five published books under my belt, I now have some cool-dad status, and he and my husband show their support for my business as an independent author in different ways. This brings me back to the time when, at the age of five, he acted as a self-appointed agent for my published collection of poetry. When I think of my relationship with my father, I appreciate passing that on to what my son and I share now, and to the man he is becoming.

Before I continue on with my review, here’s a shout-out of appreciation to Wyatt O’Brian Evans, for whom I have the honor of being a guest columnist at WYATTEVANS.COM. Issues and topics pertaining to those standing at the intersectionality of Black and LGBTQ are something he is passionate about, and he is truly a Renaissance man.

When it comes to LGBT men in fiction, there is one segment of the population that is frequently overlooked–the long-term male couples, ones who are 20, 30, 40-plus years in. And if you’re a Black male couple who fits this bill, you’re practically invisible. Being Baby Boomers at the time of Stonewall, there are more of us around, but writing about such couples is another story. Such brings me to the late Mike Warren’s poignant, loving novella, Always and Forever.

Keith Summers and Joseph Allen are a Black male couple living in Washington, D.C., about to celebrate Joe’s 60th birthday. Joe is a retired veteran of the Air Force, Keith a retired government employee. Their relationship has stood the test of time, having been together for 35 years. Their lives have become role models of love and hope in the community, generating a huge social media presence. They have a tight-knit circle of friends, some with their own issues.

At the beginning of the story, Joe and Keith are being interviewed by a reporter from a local LGBT newspaper about their lives: how they met, what’s kept them together, their contributions to the community, etc. A touching moment is shared regarding the letters Keith wrote to Joe during the times Joe was deployed in the military, ending with “Always and forever, Keith.”

Joe’s lavish birthday party is treated as a red carpet affair. However, he’s unable to enjoy it because he suffers a heart attack shortly after their arrival. While agonizing over a triple-bypass operation necessary to save Joe’s life, Keith is faced with the antipathy of a homophobic sister-in-law and a jealous friend. Relief over the success of the surgery eases Keith’s mind, and he and his friends are ready to rally around Joe for his recovery. Until the unexpected happens…

Many of you out there of a certain age, especially my brothas and sistahs, will remember a song released by Heat Wave in the 1970s titled, “Always and Forever.” I can easily visualize Mike Warren playing this song while he wrote Joe and Keith’s love story. I have read my share of novels where white male couples and interracial male couples found love. This one touches my heart because he told the story of two Black men who not only found love, but stayed together. He made the invisible visible.

I remember, in my early 30s, meeting a Black male couple who’d been together since before I was born. Thinking of them, of Mike, and how precious life and love is, Always and Forever is well worth a check-out at your local Amazon/Barnes & Noble library.

 

 

 

 

Reflections in a Writer’s Eye

The official Black History Month is coming to a close. For me, given the sheer number of contributions African-Americans have made to this nation’s history and livelihood, I see this instead as ongoing, year-round. And for those who think that Black inventors were largely part of the past, I leave you with someone who has impacted the present–Dr. Mark Dean. He invented the PC as we know it today, by making it more accessible, user-friendly and affordable to the mass population. Without him, there wouldn’t be a Bill Gates.

As I prepare for my book launch and signing reception on Saturday, my roots in the Sounds of Blackness have been vocal, with “The Drum (Africa to America),” not only as I have gone through this day, but to a character in one of my works-in-progress. The song touches my heart, and I am forever grateful for the time I spent as part of this amazing ensemble.

This weekend touches me for yet another reason. On March 1, 2012, my father passed away. If I had to name a short list of those who influenced my passion as a writer, he was at the undisputed head of it. When I think of the best representation of African-American men, he’s right there among them. My biggest fan and my biggest critic, he always had my back. He was the first one to read Mark My Words; when he put his stamp on it, that was all I needed to know. I miss him. Right now, I can picture him looking down at the event with the people gathered there and saying, “You done good.”

Normally I review novels, but for today I will share some samples of my work. My writing community on Twitter has a forum called Very Short Stories 365, where one creates a short story or a poem within the confines of a Tweet, giving you a daily word you must fit into your story (prompt word). I must say, between the time I spend writing my novels, that it’s a great exercise:

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While I stroked my salt-and-pepper beard, the sienna-skinned brotha holding court at the convention intrigued me with his game, swag, confidence. Yet, deep in his sensuous eyes, he knew that I knew he would be the one I will marry.

 

Mariah Carey haunted me for days with “I Can’t Let Go.” I wanted a husband, children. I finally admitted to myself what my parents knew all along when they told me, “If he won’t come out, get out.”

 

Her girly-girl pink dress embraced her medium-brown, six-year-old body with the vibrant flair of her personality. She knew who she was, a future Michelle Obama. My heart was overwhelmed when I heard, “Kasim and Terrell, Jayla is now legally your daughter.”

 

Sarah Vaughan serenaded Kwame with “The Nearness of You.” Jamar approached him with the hotness of Teddy Pendergrass, ready to “Turn Off the Lights.” In that moment, Kwame swore he would immerse him in a pool of “Love TKO” of the best kind.

 

“When I fall in love, it will be forever.” He teases me about Nat “King” Cole while remembering our first Black Gay Pride march in Atlanta. By my side, as always–sharing the love of holding our new grandson. Fruit of being good parents.

 

“The blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice.” That’s my brick house of a man. Sweet. Strong. Loving. I could only melt on that London square when he said, “Derrick”–and dropped to one knee.

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I wish you all an excellent day and good success. Believe in dreams and never give up.

 

 

Fasten your seat belts, Wyatt

Today, this “old school new kid” is seriously into his old-school groove for music. It’s all about Barry White, The Spinners, Teddy Pendergrass, The Delfonics, Al Green, the Isley Brothers, the Stylistics, Marvin Gaye, Isaac Hayes, The Dells, you get the idea. When those love songs and grooves stretched beyond the three-minute mark, like “Stay In My Corner.” When you wanted to make sure the music clearly got the message across to your honey. Or, if you were dumped and indulging in mass quantities of Ben & Jerry’s, you didn’t have to wonder what the lyrics were; the singer’s pain was your pain. And there were the songs that included The Rap, by artists such as Isaac Hayes, Shirley Brown, Millie Jackson; quite a different meaning from what it is today.

Of course, being a Black gay man back in the day, a little mental juggling was required when it came to those love songs from male vocalists. When Johnny Mathis sang “Chances Are” in 1957, none was required since he never specified the gender of his love interest. With the majority of the others, changing the pronouns was de riguer. Luckily, being a writer, this was not difficult. As for the female vocalists, like Gladys Knight, Brenda Holloway, Diana Ross, Nancy Wilson, Aretha Franklin, Shirley Murdock, Denise LaSalle, well…if Gladys had to cry sometime because of a breakup with her man, I cried with her instead of for her. If Aretha was extolling the virtues of Dr. Feelgood, I was happy with her, not for her.

And yet, that old-school music has an enduring quality. I’ve seen plenty of appreciative posts on YouTube from those in my generation as well as those in generations behind me, who heard these songs while growing up with their parents and/or grandparents. At the end of the day, what songs stand up to the test of time? If they do, why?

Today’s review takes a different turn, in the form of Nothing Can Tear Us Apart by Wyatt O’Brian Evans. Wesley Laurence Kelly is a well-built, 5’10”, 208 lb., 44-year-old African-American success story. Sweat, hard work, and a gift as a stand-up comedian have garnered him a diversified business empire worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and the life style to accompany it. Although on the inside he craves that committed, ride-or-die, loving relationship with another man, his recent relationships were in the red on the profit-and-loss statement of love.

Until one day…

In the process of interviewing for chief of security at Wesley’s estate in the metro D.C. area, in walks 30-year-old Antonio Miguel Rios, Jr., a Puerto Rican, 6’4″, 280 lb., bodybuilder hotty. Needless to say, Antonio’s impressive resume and credentials (besides the fact that he sent Wesley into heat) landed him the position. The chemistry is palpable, and of course, they can only hold out for so long. Aside from the boss/employee dynamic, there is the matter of insecurities, which causes Wesley to put forth one excuse after another for why they can’t be together. Even when Antonio shoots them all down, Wesley’s fear of actually getting what he’s wanted so badly nearly costs him his opportunity with Antonio.

Of course, it’s not quite that easy. Antonio’s father has a grudge against African-American men and 1950s ideas of what makes a man a man, deliberately out to drive a wedge between the couple on Wesley’s first visit. Despite Antonio’s constant professions of love, his reluctance to stand up for Wesley in the clinch is more than Wesley can take. A blowout of an argument ensues, which subsequently leads to a reconciliation–for the time being.

A brush with death is a wake-up call for Antonio Rios, Sr., and Wesley is welcomed into the family as Antonio Jr.’s boyfriend. Unfortunately, Wesley’s best friend Lonzo, a recovering alcoholic, is faced with a cheating, manipulative, controlling boyfriend. Also, Wesley has some enemies. Stir into the cauldron Antonio’s insecurities, his jealousy, his temper, shady clients, vindictive cops, underworld denizens, and a recipe for disaster is on boil–in the form of domestic assault.

Wyatt drives the point home in no uncertain terms with Wesley and Antonio; there is no excuse for abuse. By introducing the assault first and telling the story in flashback, he takes us through the journey of a dark side of romance, how the good turned bad. In this story, abuse isn’t just physical; Lonzo and Eriq’s relationship illustrates emotional and psychological abuse. Reading the novel brought this awareness home to me: domestic violence between same-sex couples hasn’t been taken seriously by authorities. Abuse is abuse, no matter who is involved. On the other hand, thank you, Wyatt, for a character who refuses to be a victim.

The author’s vivid descriptions of the couple’s passionate love and the equally passionate descriptions when the rollercoaster plunges downhill will take you for quite a ride–and leave you thinking when it’s over. It’s there on the shelf of your local Amazon/Barnes and Noble library, waiting for you.

 

 

 

Ohana prevails, Remmy

Thank you, Carter G. Woodson, for being the visionary behind Black History Month. Of course, Black History Month 2019 isn’t complete without those of us who stand at the intersection of Black and LGBT. Today, we have out and proud celebrities such as Jason Collins, Lee Daniels, Wanda Sykes, Kelvin Atkinson, Jussie Smollett, Laverne Cox, Sampson, Paris Barclay, Azmarie Livingston, RuPaul, Angela Davis, Frank Ocean, Azealia Banks, Don Lemon, Johnny Mathis, E. Denise Simmons, Emil Wilbekin, Raven-Symone, Andre Leon Talley, L.Z. Granderson, to name a few.

We also have our LGBT authors and poets that paved the way for us, inspired us to be the best we can be today. Our legacy includes such brothas and sistahs as Alice Dunbar-Nelson, Bruce Nugent, James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Audre Lorde, Pat Parker, Jewelle Gomez, Lorraine Hansberry, Ann Allen Shockley, Janet Mock, Joseph Beam, E. Lynn Harris, Essex Hemphill, Assotto Saint, Dawn Lundy Martin, Anita Cornwell, Mike Warren, bell hooks, Nella Larsen, Toni Newman,  Angelina Grimke, Samuel Delany, Alice Walker, Octavia Butler, Wallace Thurman, Sapphire, Cheryl Clarke, Ricky Laurentiis, James Earl Hardy, Terrance Dean, Frederick Smith, Stanley Bennett Clay, Wyatt O’Brian Evans, Jacqueline Woodson, Melvin Dixon, and more. Some in our past were able to boldly live and speak their truth through their words; others couldn’t. All, however, have lent their unique voices to the literary history of this month. I honor them as such, and encourage you to check out their work.

That being said, His Light in the Dark by Remmy Duchene caught my eye and my rapt attention. In the M/M romance genre, Remmy stands out as an author who features multicultural romance and male couples of color in her work. Set in Toronto, we see Maxim Hagan, a 37-year-old Jamaican officer who has returned home from a tour of duty after a roadside bomb leaves him with permanent damage to his leg and PTSD. At an early age, Maxim’s douchebag of a father walked out on him, his mother and his younger brother Trajan, leaving him with psychological scars and a distorted sense of responsibility. Choosing the military rather than college to lessen the financial burden on his mother, he also sought it as a means to run from his sexuality and the trunks of guilt and shame he’s been carrying around for years. With the help of Trajan, Maxim opens an auto repair shop. His pride makes him reluctant to accept help, but Trajan prevails.

Enter onto the scene Ethan Garrick, an out-and-proud, thirty-something Black gay man who is a graphic designer. In fact, Ethan is the one who designs the logos for Maxim’s auto shop. With his parents divorced and deceased, Ethan lives with the disappointing news that they never wanted kids, that he was the result of a drunken “accident.” Sure, his parents were there, but only up to a point, and he craves that sense of family and a good man.

Through mutual friends Libby, Bane and Kono, Maxim and Ethan meet. For Ethan, the heat was on the moment he laid eyes on Maxim, but his gaydar was malfunctioning. Maxim, with his deeply closeted psyche, didn’t make the process easy for him, leaving Ethan constantly guessing, “Is he or isn’t he?” To Maxim, Ethan represented his greatest fear and his greatest desire rolled up into one irresistible package. For someone whose sex life consisted of occasional, random hookups, a man like Ethan, who wanted more, terrified him. Yes, the fear factor and self-worth issues were in full bloom at the thought of coming out.

The pull of Maxim is strong. Drawing him out about his past and finally having him admit that he’s gay made root canal work look like a picnic. Ethan, however, sees something special in this broken man, more than Maxim sees in himself. They can’t seem to stay away from each other, and Ethan is OK with the idea of a dirty little secret–until he becomes one.

Even with the love of family and friends, Maxim is in a prison of his own making because of the fear factor; there’s an adage out there that says, “The darker you are, the harder it is to come out.” However, through the baby steps and the times they behaved like idiots, Maxim and Ethan win their HEA, and Maxim realizes that Ethan is his ride-or-die guy.

Since this romance novel features a Black male couple, I applaud Remmy for challenging a belief that, in M/M romance, a Black gay man with the masculine bent of Maxim is always a dominant top. Maxim and Ethan’s evolving love life is, in all probability, closer to the truth. If you’re looking for steam and heat, His Light in the Dark has it in abundance; of particular note is a scene involving a Corvette. At the end of the day, it also embodies the spirit of family and unconditional love, and that accepting help is also the mark of a strong man.

In the spirit of Black History Month, all you M/M romance lovers, this is a novel well worth checking out at your local Amazon/Barnes & Noble library.

He earned his promotion, Patricia

Contrary to what I was led to believe when I was a young man, the writing community I found on Twitter has proven to be a supportive one. Each author possesses his/her/their unique voice and gift. It is a community where writers support and encourage one another. We have different ideas and definitions of success. It’s great that in the universe, we aren’t all pursuing the same things–there is abundance instead of scarcity. As an author, when it comes to advice and tips, I’ve learned to take what I like and leave the rest, to use what works for me. I will always be a work-in-progress. At the end of the day, I am satisfied knowing that I have written the books I want to read, and there is a reading audience out there who wants to hear my story.

I love trailblazers, and Mae West was one of them. She wasn’t pretty by Hollywood starlet standards, and she was 40 when she debuted in movies. However, she was memorable for her unique blend of sex and comedy. She was also a playwright. Her play, Diamond Lil, became the movie She Done Him Wrong in 1933. Mae West was probably the first actress to have both script control and creative control of her movies, virtually unheard of for a woman back then. Filled with healthy doses of double entendres and sexual innuendo, the movie may have brought about the Hays Code, but it saved Paramount Studios from bankruptcy. How many of you out there remember this famous line of hers: “Come up sometime and see me. I’m home every evening.”

That being said, I recently finished Patricia A. Knight’s historical romance novel, Husband For Hire, which heartily appeals to my love of romance in Regency-era England. Lady Eleanor Russell, only child of the Earl and Countess of Rutledge, has a dilemma. Having been an independent woman when it came to the affairs of the family estate and an avid horsewoman, she is now (gasp!) 30 and unmarried. This wouldn’t have been a big deal for her, but for one pesky detail; when her father dies, the state takes everything due to the lack of a male heir. Being a resourceful woman, Eleanor takes the reins and conducts the 19th century version of a job interview, with salary and benefits, to fill this unexpected position of husband–in name only, of course.

Enter twenty-something Lord Miles Everleigh, third son of the Duke of Chelsony. The embodiment of tall, dark and handsome (or as Mae West would say, “warm, dark and handsome”), Miles comes with some baggage of his own. Thanks to Edgar, his older, odious, obnoxious, skinflint of a half-brother, he has been struggling to make ends meet. Said brother, who currently holds the title of Duke of Chelsony, has also made Miles’ mother’s life miserable. His younger brother Edmund, known as Ned, has a gambling problem, and the enforcers are breathing down his neck. Having been the paramour of his share of older widows in high society, Miles is tired of this life style and being looked down upon by Edgar as a manwhore. Despite the challenges, Miles cares deeply for the welfare of his mother and his younger brother.

Eleanor is far from a simpering, shrinking violet. She is opinionated, independent and a bit prickly, which suits Miles. They share a common bond of their love of horses. He agrees to the terms of his new position–sort of. What he never took into account was falling in love with his wife, and his determination to win her love. Apparently, everyone knows he loves her–everyone but Eleanor.

Between a disastrous wedding night, dangerous creditors, intrusive representatives of the Crown, and meddling/matchmaking relatives, Miles and Eleanor navigate their way to a sweet, passionate and loving HEA. All in all, a most satisfying read, and I appreciated the context of a love match between an older woman and a younger man.

Readers, I also recommend the supplements following Husband For Hire; they are eye-opening and informative. But first, you’ll have to go to your local Amazon/Barnes & Noble library to check out this book.

Frederick, the PBC has struck again

Here we are, January in Minnesota. Interestingly enough, there’s sunshine and a spring thaw in the air–go figure. I recently spent time in remembrance of another of my favorite songstresses who has gone on to glory: none other than Nancy Wilson. If you had never had a ringside table to hear her perform, you missed out on a treat.  I had such an opportunity, and like Aretha, it was an experience I’ll always remember. Many songs play on my mind when I think of her: “How Glad I Am,” “All In Love is Fair,” “You Can Have Him,” “Do You Still Dream About Me,” and her famous you’re-busted song (served cold), “Guess Who I Saw Today.” And now that she’s gone, “A Lady With a Song” has stronger resonance.

One thing about living in Minnesota during the winter months, from this writer’s perspective, is that the time I spend writing is more concentrated than at any other time of the year. I remember well the winters up here back in the day, when the temperature didn’t break 0 for most of January, ones that required me to play the game of “Find Your Car–If You Can” due to the snowfall. Don’t get it twisted, though–summer temperatures here can and do reach 90-100. This is a time, right now, when I’m having fun. I am currently writing two romance novels simultaneously as part of my series of Christopher Family novels, and they are progressing well. Some have asked me if I find it difficult and confusing to do this. That hasn’t been the case, since 1) my characters occupy the same universe and 2) being connected to my family sagas, I created family trees beforehand. Those family tree programs were a godsend! To my fellow writers/authors out there, I acknowledge and respect you for doing what works best for you.

Speaking of authors, I knew I had to start off the year with Frederick Smith’s novel, Play It Forward. This was one of those novels where I sat down to read it, and three hours later I was done. The story is told in the first person by the MC, Malcolm Martin Campbell, set in the Los Angeles of 2009, during Obama’s first year as president and Proposition 8. Malcolm is a 35-year-old, Black gay man transplanted from Indiana. He founded a nonprofit organization called LADS, to mentor and better the lives of Black gay youth and young adults in the city. He is a man of character, and has the determination and commitment to keep the center going despite the challenges, plus good friends like the long-term couple, Kyle and Bernard, who have been there for him.

Malcolm’s taste in men, however, leaves something to be desired. Prior to trading him in for a newer model, his last ex-boyfriend had the bad taste to secretly videotape their sex life and post the videos online, thus placing his position as director of LADS in jeopardy as more and more people see them. On top of that, he receives a call from his sister Marlena, who has had it with her reckless, 19-year-old gay son Blake and is sending him out to L.A. to spend the summer with him.

His unwanted notoriety eventually has him crossing paths with Tyrell Kincaid, a professional basketball player, and Tommie Jordan, an R&B singer. These very public Black celebrities live as a couple in a deep closet, but Tommie’s whoring ways become fodder for media scrutiny in the community. Mix in a ruthless agent, a duplicitous clergyman, and these four lives intersect in ways Malcolm never dreamed of.

Welcome to Hollywood, land of fantasy and illusion, where nothing is what it appears to be, and dreamers so often come there only to have their dreams crushed.  Even those who “make it” find not freedom, but a life buried under the weight of control and image.  Through the character of Malcolm, Frederick Smith illustrates with skill the issues and challenges Black gay men face in striving to live an authentic life, even for someone who is a role model. I applaud him for showing that though Malcolm may have been down at some point, he was never out. His story provided hope, as well as love.

Yes, 2009 was a mere 10 years ago, and major changes in the landscape have taken place. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was repealed. African-American sports and entertainment celebrities like Jason Collins, Michael Sam and Frank Ocean came out. Nevada State Senator Kelvin Atkinson came out and married his longtime partner, Sherwood Howard. Marriage equality is now the law of the land. A sitting president became an ally for LGBT rights.

That being said, thank you, Frederick, for letting us know what still needs work. And for those of you who are dying to know what PBC stands for, you’ll have to check out his work at your local Amazon/Barnes & Noble library.