“…These empty white pages before me, which I feel compelled to fill with the black indelible ink of memory…I must write it all down—quickly, before it leaves me…”
As 2014 draws to a close, I thought I’d look back over a year that was—for lack of a better work—brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. But before I go on, don’t take that to mean that it was a perfect year—it wasn’t; it brought with it, fears and disappointments and challenges. In retrospect, I like to think I met each of them with grace and a determination to overcome. But I like to learn from the bad stuff, not dwell on it so this post is about the good stuff, the stuff of which I’m most proud and for which I’m most grateful.
In March, the Lambda Literary Foundation announced its 2014 Lambda Literary Awards (“Lammys”)
finalists. My semi-autobiographical third
book, the gay coming of age romance, Unbroken
made the cut: I was a finalist. I couldn’t believe it. I reread the press
release and cross checked their website. I went to sleep. I woke up, checked
again. They hadn’t recanted. I was a finalist!
|My official Lammys photo.|
As a Lammy finalist, I had the opportunity to do two readings from Unbroken in May. One at the Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay & Lesbian Art in New York and the second at the legendary Giovanni’s Room in Philadelphia, the week before it closed its doors. At both those readings, surrounded by people I mostly didn’t know, I’d felt, for the first time, like I belonged. I felt like a real writer. Wrapped in voices, in words, I stopped feeling different, other, fake. For we’d all attempted to create beauty out of words—and been recognized for it. The written word was our common language, and our words didn’t have color or economic status tied to them; our words weren’t “A-list;” they were just words, beautiful words. The creation of art was the great equalizer it seemed. Perhaps that’s why I write; art unites, it does not divide.
In May, Unbroken won an Independent Book Publisher’s (“IPPY”) Gold medal for gay fiction. I'd never won anything that mattered before.
I was having a good year but June was a banner month. On June 2nd, along with Stanley and my brother and his fiancée, and a record-breaking crowd, I attended the Lammy Awards ceremony in New York.
I met Charles Rice-Gonzalez, author of Chulito, a book I loved. I met the very handsome S. Chris Shirley, President of the Lambda Literary Foundation’s Board of Trustees. And I met Kyle sawyer, who’d been the liaison between LLF and the finalists. I’d been a nervous wreck, emailing him often. His emails back were always crisp and to the point but somehow calming, reassuring: everything would be fine. Reading his emails, I pictured a tall, cool blonde. Instead Kyle turned out to be short, dark and...well, hot. I hugged him twice.
Unbroken didn’t win and that was disappointing but in a way just making finalist, felt like winning. And I'd hugged a hot guy. Twice.
|With this ring, I thee wed...|
Then on June 28th, the scrawny, bullied, sissy kid, who’d always known he’d marry a man, did. On that day, the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, which was also our 17th anniversary, I married the man I’d spent nearly two decades with.
In August, eleven months and 6 days after we lost our beloved Lhasa Apso, Coco, we found a dirty white dog running in the street in our neighborhood. We captured him, brought him home, fed him and cleaned him up expecting an owner to claim him. No one did, so we named him and I was surprised to find he has filled a hole in my heart I hadn’t realized was there until he filled it.
|Michael & Susie Q: The Wedding Party|
In September, my older brother got married. 2014 was the year he found love; it was also the year he and I found our way back to each other after many years apart. He’d always been my brother but in 2014 he became a friend. At his wedding, I was his best man. I’d never been a best man before.
2014 was also the year Marriage Equality became the law in thirty-five U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
So all in all it was a remarkable year, a brilliant year, a year of firsts.
I look forward to 2015 and I wish you and those you love a year of dreams that come true, a year filled with “firsts.”
What was 2014 like for you? What do you wish for in 2015? Share your thoughts in the comments below.