Gay Pride Month - Virtual Roundtable

This week , I'm trying something a little different. In honor of LGBT Pride month, I am among a great group of panelists who will be hosting a month long discussion about Pride, LGBT Youth, Allies, and more.  Our panelists are a diverse group of readers, writers, and supporters of gay fiction, including 

Rick Bettencourt, Brandilyn Carpenter, Rob ColtonAndrew Q Gordon, Lane HayesDebbie McGowan, and Brandon Shire.  Each week, two people will answer two questions related LGBT pride, rights, and related topics. We will also be giveaway free copies of eBooks by our participating authors and a Amazon gift card. You can enter on the Raffle Copter below.  There are special entries for each week of June, so don't miss out on those.

Please join in the discussion in the comments.  You can gain entries into the giveaway, but more importantly, you can be part of a important and fun discussion.  Though only 2 panelists will be posting each week, we will all be joining the discussion.


This Week's Discussion

What does "gay pride" mean to you?
Before I sat down to answer this question, I looked up “pride” in the dictionary.  Pride is so often seen as a negative—it is, after all, one of the seven deadly sins and the sin which reportedly got Lucifer kicked out of heaven. But, I digress. offers several definitions for pride:
1. a high or inordinate opinion of one's own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.
2. the state or feeling of being proud.
3. a becoming or dignified sense of what is due to oneself or one's position or character; self-respect; self-esteem.
4. pleasure or satisfaction taken in something done by or belonging to oneself or believed to reflect credit upon oneself: civic pride. 
5. something that causes a person or persons to be proud: His art collection was the pride of the family.

For me the definition is self-respect; self esteem. And for me, showing gay pride is simply a matter of living out loud, every day. Out. Loud. Every. Single. Day.
Gay pride has nothing to do with rainbow flags and pretty boy twinks cavorting half naked down city streets half drunk and defiant. Nor is it limited to a single day or event. Just as black power and black pride marches morphed from singular annual events to a way of living, a way of being, so should gay pride. In my opinion, gay pride is about having the balls (or the female equivalent) of coming out, standing up, fighting back, saying loudly, unequivocally, “Yes, I am.”
What do you think has been the biggest change in the LGBT community in recent years?
I think the biggest change has been in visibility. We are no longer hidden in the shadows, spoken of only in whispers or derisively. Today’s youth are coming out younger and I think it’s important they can see themselves in sports, on TV, in the news, in business, not for being remarkable or strange but just for being another thread in the fabric of society.  Thanks to leaps in attitudes, young people can see people just like them getting married, raising children, changing the world.
The other big change I think has been in the visibility of non-white members of the LGBT community. That may not seem to be a big deal to many reading this post but trust me it is. I realized I was gay when I was 12. That was just after the Stonewall rebellion. Anxious to understand myself, I tried to read everything I could about gay people, to try to understand myself, to try to visualize my future. Not knowing any better, I thought I was strange or some kind of freak, not because I was gay but, because I was gay and black. Every image in the mainstream press was of white men and women. I remember being confused and worried. I attended a school that was had mostly black and Hispanic student; I had a fierce crush on a Puerto Rican classmate.  I remember wondering how I’d ever find a boyfriend if only white guys were gay and I didn’t know any.

Please click on over to Brandon Shire's site and read the other half of this week's discussion.

Read last week's posts from Andrew Q. Gordon and Deb McGowan.
About Our Panelists
Larry Benjamin: Bronx-born wordsmith Larry Benjamin, is the author of the gay novels, Unbroken, and What Binds Us and the short story collection Damaged Angels. Larry will be hosting the discussion starting 9 June 2014.
Twitter: @WriterLarry 
Rick BettencourtRick Bettencourt is the author of NOT SURE BOYS, PAINTING WITH WINE and TIM ON BROADWAY. Rick hates to cook, and can often be seen eating out. He lives in the Tampa Bay area, with his husband and their dog, Bandit. Rick will be hosting the discussion starting 23 June 2014.
Twitter: @rbettenc
Brandilyn Carpenter: Brandilyn is the odd duck in this group. She owns an LGBTQ fiction focused review blog, Prism Book Alliance, and is the married mother of 3 young children. She is an advocate for equal rights and tirelessly promotes the gay fiction genre. Brandilyn will be hosting the discussion starting 16 June 2014.
Twitter: @BrandilynRC 
Rob Colton: Rob Colton is a software developer by day, and avid reader of romance novels at night. A romantic at heart, he loves stories that feature big, burly men who find true love and happy endings. Rob will be hosting the discussion starting 16 June 2014.
Twitter: @robcub32

Andrew Q Gordon: Andrew Q. Gordon lives in the DC Metro area with his husband and 2 year old daughter. While he enjoys most types of fiction, his current works include MM Fantasy, Paranormal and Contemporary Fiction.  Andrew will be hosting the discussion starting 2 June 2014. 
Twitter: @AndrewQGordon 
Lane Hayes: Lane Hayes is an M/M author, a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist for her first release Better Than Good, designer, reader, lover of chocolate, red wine & clever people. Lane will be hosting the discussion starting 23 June 2014. 
Twitter: @LaneHayes3 

Debbie McGowan: Debbie McGowan is based in Lancashire, England. She writes character-driven fiction, runs an independent publishing company, and lectures in social science. Sometimes she sleeps, too! Debbie will be hosting the discussion starting 2 June 2014. 
Twitter: @writerdebmcg 
Brandon Shire: Brandon Shire writes fiction about human intimacy and interactions. He loves chocolate and is a staunch advocate for homeless LGBT youth. Brandon will be hosting the discussion starting 9 June 2014. 
Twitter: @thebrandonshire


Prizes (4 winners):
  • $ 10 Amazon GC, eBook Listening to Dust by Brandon Shire, & eBook Not Sure Boys by Rick Bettencourt
  • $ 10 Amazon GC, eBook Painting with Wine by Rick Bettencourt, & eBook from Andrew Q Gordon's backlist
  • $ 10 Amazon GC, eBook Unbroken by Larry Benjamin, & eBook Champagne by Debbie McGowen
  • $ 10 Amazon GC, eBook from Rob Colton's backlist, & eBook from Lane Hayes' backlist
a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Excellent post. Agree with every word.

  2. Wonderful post, Larry - I recall something in one of your books related to only white guys being gay (is it in Unbroken?) - here in the UK, it is class difference that is the great divide - middle class = OK to be gay. Working class? There is perhaps slightly more freedom for gay women than gay men, because gender stereotypes are far more rigid for working class men than any other group (my observation) and being gay and being masculine are deemed mutually exclusive.

    1. Thanks, Deb. Yep that was in Unbroken, which as you know was heavily influenced by my own experiences.

      I find it intersting that the UK has that class divide. We've come so far but we stil have so far to go

  3. Great post, Your definition of gay pride resonates "For me the definition is self-respect; self esteem." I think this is applicable to everyone no matter what their orientation, we should all have self-respect, self-esteem and respect one another. We would all be living in a happier world if this were true, I remain hopeful.

    1. Thank you.
      I think yu are right. Self respect is key for if we can't respect and accept ourselves, we can't respect and accept others.
      Like you, I remain hopeful.

  4. Excellent post. I think you are absolutely correct about self - respect and esteem. I also think that you are correct about the visibility of non white LGBTQ.

  5. The statement you made that pride is seen as a negative made me think because while I find excessive pride in a person negative I don't find pride in one's self negative as a general rule. Of course what I find excessive (which isn't really pride at all but, in my experience, is a way of hiding insecurities) might differ from others. I fully agree with you that having self-respect is having pride in who you are and that is something everyone should strive to achieve.

    Thank you for participating in this discussion, I am enjoying reading everyone's posts.

    1. I think once we have self-respect and self-esteem we make better choices, we act more responsbly an dtheat is key to achieving/succeeeding.

      Thank you for reading and participating.

  6. Great post, Larry. I've seen a number of my family members and friends struggle with what it means to be black and LGBT. My hope is that as the visibility of diverse LGBT people increases, the struggle for them will get easier.

    1. Thanks Lynette

      I share your hope that increased visibility will ease the struggle for those that come after us. That coing out is stil a struggle for so many saddens me greatly. But it highlights the importance, the necessity, for all of us, especially those of us who are LGBT and "of color" come out and stand strong.

  7. Larry

    As always, well said. I'd like to say you are a wonderful voice, ambassador, example for our community - and we are stronger for counting you as a vocal member of our 'clan'.

    - Andrew Q. Gordon

  8. Thanks for the wonderful post! I especially liked your comments on visibility and "being another thread in the fabric of society."

    1. thank you. I do believe we are a thread of society and by being visible that thread gets stronger and makes society as a whole stronger.

  9. Really thought-provoking, especially regarding visibility!

    Trix, vitajex(at)Aol(Dot)com

  10. Great post, Larry. Self-esteem, self-confidence, important. I love knowing there are some fabulous role models for the LGBT community. My 20 yr old son gravitates to John Waters & older writers who talk about their experiences in the 70s & earlier. There seems to be evidence of strong "thread in the fabric" which will allow a younger generation to continue making an impact.

    1. Thnaks Lane. I agree, self-esteem, self-confidence, self-awareness along with self-acceptance and visibilty are what will make this community stronger and make it easier for our young people to come out and be proud.

  11. Wonderful post. Thank you for sharing your own experiences and what changes you've seen and what gay pride means to you.

    1. Thanks, H.B. I think teh LGBT experience is different for each of us and so with this roundtable we tried to get a variety of people involved, including straight allies. Be sure to check out the rest of the posts in the coming 2 weeks.

  12. Excellent post, Larry. It was great to read what gay pride means to you, and how you think the LGBT community has changed. What do you think the next big change might be?


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