• A Nightingale
    In The Sycamore

    The moment Nick laid eyes on Dan, standing on a frozen school rugby pitch; he fell in love with him. For Nick, there was only ever Dan. For years Nick kept his love locked inside, never dreaming that Dan could feel the same way.

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  • The Shadow Of
    Your Wings

    In a stunning debut novel, Tim Bairstow takes us on an unflinching and forensically observed journey in to the darkest recesses of the Church, laying bare the hypocrisy, deceit, self-delusion and damaged lives that lay behind the glittering image.

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  • What Do You Want For Christmas

    Achingly nostalgic and acutely observed, Tim Bairstow's highly acclaimed second novel is by turns sexy, poignant and hilarious. 'What Do You Want for Christmas' strikes deep emotional chords for anyone who has ever been young and in love and not just at Christmas!

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  • Cloven
    Tongues

    Thought provoking and tense, passionate and hugely sexy, Tim Bairstow's latest novel is another compelling addition to British gay romantic fiction.



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Show Us Your Pumpkins!

Like Christmas, Halloween seems to start earlier every year! The shops have been full of unfeasibly large pumpkins for  ages and ectoplasm seems the order of the day on the sweets counter. I'm not about to be a grumpy old man ... I love it! I think Halloween is fab; I always have! What an amazing thing to have survived from the medieval period: those pious peasants cowering in fear because the powers of darkness would be taking the opportunity to run amok prior to the holiest day of the year (All Saints Day) could scarcely have imagined just what it would become

Mind you, nor could I when I was a kid. It was all so much more sotto voce then. We had lanterns, for sure! But these were not made out of shiny orange beasts of pumpkins. They were carved from a large turnip ... yes, I know that makes me sound like Baldrick from Blackadder, but it's true! I can still smell the really rather unpleasant aroma of said, hollowed out root vegetable as it was singed and cooked by the flame of the candle inside! No-one makes them from turnips any more. I can just imagine the impoverished legions of turnip farmers, sitting with a huge pile of their unlovable crop and bemoaning the devastation wrought upon their autumn profits by the brash, Americanised upstart pumpkin.

Costumes were pretty rubbish too. Maybe a sheet thrown over your head with two eye holes cut in it sufficed for you to flit eerily around until you tripped over the damn sheet and concussed yourself by falling over the coffee table. If you were lucky, you might get a black bin liner for a vampire cape. Girls, of course, were witches with cardboard pointy hats and faces daubed in green food colouring that could still faintly be seen by Bonfire night. Best of all, you could be swathed from head to foot in loo roll and be a mummy!

Not now ... Halloween has become so much better and it has become so totally gay its amazing! I suppose that one could philosophise it along the lines of 'coming out of the shadows and in to the light' but that would just be daft. It would be as daft as those churches who hold a rival 'bright light' party and get kids to dress up as angels and saints ... where's the fun in that? Halloween is so gay precisely because it is such fun! It's an hilarious moment where 'naughtiness' is not merely indulged but is actually compulsory! Think of the opportunities for dressing up (depending on your own self-body image, the naughtier the better) being utterly outrageous and doing what the gay community always has and always will do better than anyone ... party!!!!

It is interesting to reflect, though, just what a hold the 'paranormal' seems to have on the psyche of the gay community. We all love a good ghost story and we all love cowering behind the sofa, screaming our proverbials off, over a horror film. Seriously, who hasn't actually at some point at least tried to hold a séance? And, of course, there's the growing trend in gay literature towards the paranormal fantasy. I was sceptical at first but, with Halloween approaching, I thought: 'why not?' and embarked on one. I haven't finished it yet, but its pretty good! What's to complain about? A shape shifting creature of the netherworld with the capacity to morph in to the sexiest guy in your imagination and, probably on account of being un-dead, endowed with the capacity not merely to go bump in the night but to bang all night long!!! Just what you'd like to manifest itself in your vicinity next week!!!

Yes - it's all good fun, great fun in fact! Whatever you are doing and wherever you are:

 

 

 

The Gay Man's Great War: A Lost Agony

Amidst all the very appropriate acts of remembrance attendant upon the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, the beginning, no doubt, of four years of well-deserved commemorations, there's a story that lays achingly lost within the annals of this bitter and appalling conflict: The Gay Man's Great War. Here, truly, we have a lost agony. Research in to the topic reveals painfully little and yet, at the risk of sounding fanciful, those genuinely lost voices tremble and resonate through the accounts of the war still not daring, however, to speak out openly.

Quite rightly, the horrifying carnage, numbers that stack up to unimaginable totals, are brought down to some sort of humanly comprehensible level by the reference to the dead as: "someone's son, brother, husband and father." Often, the charming word 'sweetheart' is thrown in as well. What about the word 'friend'? When will that be part of our consciousness of the losses that this benighted generation endured?

The special, unique character of the gay relationship, the thing that gives to it its dignity and very particular depth, is that it is at the most essential level a bond of friendship. It is a friendship that leads to a life-long bond stronger than almost any other and a friendship that is capable of expressing itself in an intimacy of loving and self-surrender that is all the more poignant and beautiful because of the barriers created by both society and taught conscience that often have to be overcome in order that it might flourish. These barriers are crumbling now, thank God, but they were strong and tall and almost insuperable nearly one hundred years ago today.

And yet, millions of men, often young and unsure, were thrown in to circumstances in which the huge emotions at play drew them together with a profundity that can scarcely ever have been repeated. The power of those bonds comes through time after time in the memoirs written by those who lived through the war with almost unbearable poignancy. Take this as an example: "The war is over. The trial was long and severe. The prize was worth it, though, when measured in the mateship of men! My mates! Memories of men! Memories of mates! Men who were mates and mates who were men!"


It would be wrong, and I am certainly not doing so, to make any judgment about Edward Lynch who wrote these words or the tearful veteran who recited the poem that he wrote to his best friend "Spotty" that contained the lines: "If I could only have him back; you could forget all your fancy girls!" However, time and again, the homo-eroticism in these memories burns through. Admittedly, it may well be unconscious, un labelled and un-felt except as a bond that ran deeper than any other bond forged in either the short lives of those who died or the often long lives of those who survived. But what of those who were actually gay? What of those who felt love and desire ... and knew it for what it was? What of those boys whose boy went to the front never to return? What of those boys who were separated from their boy, fighting in different places and never knowing what became of them? What of those who saw the man they loved killed: where did they go for comfort? What of the agony of not having the means to say: "I love you?" What of the agony of hiding? What of the agony of scarcely being able to kiss, let alone to make love?

All of this happened. It must have done; it couldn't not have done. Yet the story wasn't told; it couldn't be. The tale has not been passed down; it needed to remain buried. We can access it now only with the imagination of our hearts as we ponder the rows of Portland Stone grave markers and know that, beneath some of them, lie our brothers who bore a very particular and very acute agony of war!

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Discover (or re-discover) the brilliant Jane Retzig

Jane Retzig is one of my very favourite authors. She speaks my kind of language and pulls at my kind of heart strings. In one way, this is hardly surprising since, like me, she was born and raised in the wilds of West Yorkshire and, also like me, she pays homage at the shrines of those greats of the 1950's and 1960's: Braine, Waterhouse and Barstow which comes through loud and clear in the gritty, realistically drawn and often Northern settings for her work. She evokes time, place and the authentic voice of her characters effortlessly, creating striking scenes of colossal emotional power set against a memorable backdrop that serves as an apt stage forming and informed by her characters and plot.

Aficionados of great female authors may also spot influences as diverse as Jane Austen, Daphne du Maurier and Naiad, providing a dash of feminine flair and intuition that enlivens her work, especially in the emotional intelligence and multi-layering of character ... as well as dashes of delicious humour.

Of course, many of you may have come across Jane's work before. Having moved to London in her late twenties, Jane's first two novels were published in the 1990's by The Dimsdale Press, a small publishing house specialising in lesbian fiction and responsible for launching the careers of at least three excellent exponents of the genre. Last year, Jane re-published her first novel, 'Boundaries'. This is a bitter sweet love story between two women set against the raw backdrop of the moors and mill towns of the West Riding of Yorkshire at the dawn of the 1980's.

Next came a new novel, "The Photograph", set in North Yorkshire (Jane's current home county) it tells the story of two women whose chance encounter takes them on a white knuckle journey that will change their lives forever. Her latest release is again a re-issue of her amazing second novel: "The Full Legacy". Set around the London lesbian scene in 1993, this is an absorbing mystery with a hint of the supernatural which is as surprising as it is effective ... read it and you'll see!

You see, that's the other great thing about Jane's work. There is nothing remotely formulaic about it! She has the gift of constantly surprising the reader. Seemingly everyday circumstances spiral away crazily taking the reader on a breathless switch-back of the unexpected that leaves you wanting more .... much more! Just as well then that Jane is currently working on a new novel: "The Wrong Woman" which I can not wait to read.

I confess that, before I came across Jane's work, my experience of lesbian themed fiction was limited to a rather tentative browse at the work of Radclyff Hall when I was in my teens ... if you're the same, branch out! You really do want to read this stuff. Well done, Jane and keep 'em coming please!!! It's good to have you back!

You can buy Jane's work from Amazon in both Kindle and paperback versions. Just follow the link below:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Jane%20Retzig

Will You Be Silent? This needs you to speak out!

Ok - so this is a bit of a change of focus from recent weeks but please, please read on .... this is important and I need to get this to as wide an audience as possible so get your finger ready over the re-tweet button, e-mail your friends and above all don't stay silent!!!

The two guys in this picture look great, don't they? Scarcely a source of any kind of scandal and certainly not a danger to the moral welfare of the world. They're just two guys who, after a long wait, in a loving partnership, have finally been able to get married! What could be more lovely!? Except the guy on the left has just lost his job ... the reason is that he married the man he loves! His name is Jeremy Pemberton. He is (or rather was) a chaplain in the NHS. As such, he is paid by the NHS and not the church; he is employed by the NHS and not the church. However, he does need a 'license to officiate' from the church in order to be able to do his job.

Two bishops: Durham and Lincoln, were quite content to license Jeremy to his hospital work in the full knowledge that he is gay and was living happily with his partner Laurence. Jeremy recently secured a promotion to a larger hospital, nearer to the marital home! God is good. Not so the acting bishop of Southwell and Nottingham who has refused to issue Jeremy with his license on the grounds that his marriage to the man he loves means that he does not "model the church's teaching in his life!"

Whether you are a Christian or not, this must strike you as a scandal. In no other walk of life, in no other form of employment, in no other civilised area of society would the fact that a man has married the man that he loves be the cause of him losing his job. It would, in fact, be illegal. Clearly, Bishop Inwood and his friend and mentor the Archbishop of York don't care about employment law any more than they care about the primacy of love in the world ... they don't need to! Their bigotry dressed up as faith has achieved a status in law. They can be as hypocritical as they like, they can create as much suffering as they like, they can condemn all they like, they can pontificate and they can sit in judgement because the law somehow seems to think that their medieval understanding of human sexuality is worthy of protection - surely you can't agree?

Want to do something about it? For starters, follow the link below where you will find Jeremy's husband's explanation of what has gone on and his plea for what he would like you to do ... it'll only take three e-mails, not too much time to strike a blow for what is right, surely?

The Archbishop of York (left) has an honourable record of championing the poor, the oppressed and the marginalised which makes it all the more of a shame that he is being so wilfully stupid this time around - what is it about the possibility of sex that gets to these people!?

Now - click on this link, please, before you come back and read the rest

http://changingattitude.org.uk/archives/8196

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