January 3rd, 2012

andrew potter

Dirk Vanden: Pioneer of Gay Literature

You can find this essay on Dirk Vanden on his website: http://www.dirkvanden.net/about.html and all the picture in the post at: http://www.imagesbydirk.com/ (Picture: Dirk Vanden, Self-Portrait, Pencil Drawing)

According to Wayne Gunn, Lambda Literary Online, 'Dirk Vanden was one of the heroes, the pioneers of the gay pulp movement. Between 1969 and 1971, he published seven novels - works that were viewed seriously enough to cause them to be listed by Ian Young in his great bibliography and by two different contributors to Claude J. Summers's Gay and Lesbian Literary Heritage. Of course, Vanden, like all the other pulp writers, has been mostly ignored by literary critics.'

"Once upon a time, many long years ago, I was the best little Mormon boy in the whole wide world! Born and raised in Utah, as Richard Fullmer, I had been baptized and confirmed a Latter Day Saint, at age 10, then ordained a Deacon at 12, a Teacher at 14 and a Priest at 16. I was planning on becoming an Elder at age 21, after I had graduated from BYU and gone on my Mission to help save the world for Jesus. I fully intended to come home from converting the heathens, and marry a Good Mormon girl in the LDS Temple, and beget a large family of Good Mormon Children, and they would all go to Church together and praise God and Jesus and Joseph Smith, marching proudly arm in arm into the Millennium! Then, after a few hundred years in Paradise, when I finally died, I would go to my reward: my very own planet, in a galaxy far, far away, to become a God of my own making, to start my own version of the human race - to see if I could do better than Jehovah had done! Seventy years later, I am called ‘a Master of Homosexual Erotica’ and a ‘Pioneer of Gay Literature.' What happened?

“My Boy Tom,” my naked handyman & “adopted son”

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andrew potter

Best Gay Fantasy (1° place): Song of Oestend by Marie Sexton

Also Best Characters Development (1° place)

I didn’t really know what to expect from this fantasy gay western romance, fantasy and western seemed a strange pair, but I have to admit the author blended them in a perfect way, avoiding any friction between the genres.

Aren comes from a wealthy family, boarding school, good college, but I gathered they were not so tight or supporting of their own son. Aren is orphaned by mother, sent to boarding school as a little child, it was quite obvious that he lacked a fatherly figure. Abused by older kids when he was in boarding school, he moved to college to end up the kept boy of a college professor, someone who used, and again, abused him. When he got tired of his new boy toy, he sent Aren in the Oestend, i.e. the equivalent of the Far West of the XIX century, a place where civilization and modernity are still strange words.

The setting is fantasy since there is a lot of paranormal elements in the story, and there is the use of “modern” elements, like electricity, in an old fashioned environment, like a XIX-century-like cattle ranch, but truth be told, I think the author opted for the fantasy to have a little more “freedom” with her characters, allowing them an homosexual relationship with, yes, a little opposition, but at least not a death-by-hang crime.

In the Oestend Aren meets Deacon, the foreman of the ranch in which Aren will be the bookkeeper. Deacon is a Native of the Oestend, like Olsa, to very old housekeeper of the main house. They are pretty much how you would imagine to be the Native Americans, people with very old traditions, having their roots in ancient times, still very much bonded to them. As it is, the Wraiths, the ghosts haunting the Oestend lands, and killing the farmers are ancient warrior ghosts who, I gather, are still protecting their lands and their people. It’s strange but in the end, I was almost feeling sympathy for these ghosts, even if they killed a lot of people, and amongst them, good and bad men.

The relationship between Aren and Deacon is not easy but neither too complex; as soon as they realized the attraction is reciprocated, Aren and Deacon settle into an almost “marriage” bond, an equal partnership where they comprehend and support each other. Deacon is for sure the stronger in body, but Aren has a better emotional balance. It’s strange, and well welcome, but Deacon doesn’t substitute the fatherly figure Aren was searching, on the contrary, he gives that power in their relationship to Aren to make him emotionally independent and stronger.


Amazon: Song of Oestend
Amazon Kindle: Song of Oestend
Paperback: 412 pages
Publisher: Total-E-Bound Publishing (October 26, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0857157477
ISBN-13: 978-0857157478

Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bottom.php?tag=reading list&view=elisa.rolle