Posts Tagged ‘Writing’

The Big Pencil Awards 2013

Posted: November 16, 2013 in Uncategorized
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I am very honored to be one of the recipients of this year’s Big Pencil Award this evening from Writers & Books.

Enjoyed meeting lots of literary folks, including fellow McQuaidian David Schickler!

Writers & Books November 16, 2013

Writers & Books November 16, 2013

Every gay man needs a married woman to talk to. And visa versa.

The video version:  

The book version: 

Slumlord Hero

Posted: August 17, 2013 in Uncategorized
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November 10th, 2010

Things you need to know, in no particular order:

It was 1984.

I was 18.

I lived with my oldest sister, Molly.

The two girls who moved into the top floor of our building had never thrown a party before.

I was new to Cincinnati, having migrated from Western New York to attend Xavier Jesuit


I had a desperate crush on my best friend, Bob, from our all-boys high school back home.

He didn’t know.

Neither did anybody else.


Our landlord lived in the apartment next to ours.

Our landlord was friendly in a way that made you wonder if he had ever sold used cars.

Our landlord’s name was ‘Larry.’

He reminded me of Larry Tate from Bewitched, in name, looks, and personality.

Larry’s wife was Ann, a gentle woman who smiled at us each morning as she left for a professional office job.

Larry stayed at home to landlord.

Molly and I tried to figure out how Larry ever managed to entice somebody as sweet and (apparently) saavy as Ann.

We failed.


Our apartment had a glamour that only turn-of-the-century apartment high rises can provide.

The two of us shared three bedrooms, two living rooms, a kitchen and bath.

Most of the rooms had grand, marble-mantled fireplaces and soaring, twelve-foot ceilings.

The apartment was affordable because of the neighborhood.

People who looked like they might earn most of their income from drug deals hung around our front steps.

A sign ‘PARK AT YOUR OWN RISK’ hung over the back steps.

We lived on the fourth floor.

The elevator didn’t work.

When we asked Larry about this, he laughed and said, ‘Oh, it’s an old dog like me, haha!’

I made frequent trips down the four flights to see if any letters from Bob had arrived in our gold-gilded mailbox.

It was a long walk back up.


As I mentioned, two girls moved onto the sixth floor.

They were college-age like me.

One looked like Mary Lou Retton; the other, Blair from The Facts of Life.

I helped them carry their stuff up.


Larry wouldn’t fire up the building’s boiler until well into October.

Molly and I were chilly.

‘Ann and I like it crisp – haha!’ he said cheerfully, when we asked for heat.


The whole building was invited to the sixth-floor apartment-warming.

Molly had to work, so I went alone.

Forty people with beer cups crowded around a keg.

The spacious apartment did not feel crowded.

There were lots of nice-looking guys my age.

Larry was there.

Hostess #1 made a point to introduce me to her single girlfriend.

I started drinking right away.

On my fourth trip to the keg, I overheard Hostess #2 telling a story to several All-American college guys.

And Larry.

In fact, they were talking about Larry.

I joined them.

It seems, earlier in the evening, one of the hostesses’ guests had poured a beer out of the sixth-floor window.

It landed on one of the Potential-Drug-Dealers’ heads.

Despite the six-floor climb, he showed up almost immediately and banged on the door.

He screamed at Hostess #2, who answered.

Larry intervened, beer in hand, and diffused the situation.

‘Here,’ he said, putting his arm around the P-D-D and leading him to the keg, ‘one for your head and one for your belly – haha!’

I groaned, sensing where this was heading.

Hadn’t the girls figured Larry out yet?

Didn’t his clammy handshake tell it all?

Wasn’t the broken elevator the first of many clues?

‘Larry is our hero,’ Hostess #2 added.

I burst out laughing.

Which garnered her attention.

‘I don’t understand why you’re laughing,’ she said.

‘I was really scared,’ she said more loudly.

‘I think you’re an asshole,’ she said even more loudly.

I slunk away, reaching exponential levels of longing for Bob and home and high school and all the people who didn’t think I was an asshole, as I returned to conversation with Hostess #1’s single girlfriend.

Larry continued to baste in praise from the keg crowd.


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Wooden Skateboard

Posted: August 17, 2013 in Uncategorized
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July 4th, 2010

You’re not smiling. Probably because you’re out of quarters for video games or maybe because it’s really hot.

It’s the summertime heat that drove all three of you to the grassy shade near the Zoom Flume that day at King’s Island. Your sister’s friend Caroline, with her dark skin and dark humor that always makes you belly-laugh. Your sister Kathy, back when people said she looked like Sheena Easton. Back when people knew who Sheena Easton was.

And you.

I’m guessing you were fifteen at that point, give or take a few hormones. 1981. Those glasses – the big plastic frames that broke when you fell off the front of the skateboard and Dad “fixed them just fine, goddamn it” with superglue. Remember that skateboard from fifth grade?

All the guys at Saint Michael’s had one, so you asked and begged for one – even though Mom and Dad had two mortgages and money was so tight. But your birthday was coming, so Mom took you to Wayne Drugs, which had items like sport equipment and five-year diaries under one roof. You studied the skateboard display: hard-plastic skateboards – in flashy colors with a lip on the back to ‘pop a wheelie’ and do the stunts that were not yet a fad. Next to them, sturdy, wooden skateboards – with red racing stripes and resin wheels, guaranteed to sail across the pavement.

Your friend Chuckie had a wooden skateboard. He acted so cool riding around the parking lot behind school, so you picked one just like his and you could hardly wait to tell him the next day that you would be getting a skateboard for your birthday.

But – the next day – when you got to the playground and told of your proud, soon-to-be-part-of-the-skateboard-crowd status, Chuckie squinched his face tight and said, “You coulda got a plastic skateboard and you picked a wooden one?”

# # #

At forty-four, I think of you often. I get caught up in the glorification of then and the denegration of now. Life now seems complex and difficult. Your life at fifteen, through the murky channels of memory, seems graced, and lucky, and full of promise. In my mind, I look back and envy your full hair, your slim hips tucked neatly inside white painter’s pants – your certainty that life holds something grand just for you, waiting to be awarded in a fantastic ceremony of lights and applause.

But I look at this photo and I think about your wooden skateboard.


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I invite you to visit my stuff.

May 22nd, 2010

I’ve just returned to Rochester from the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival in New Orleans.

Other than to say that I NEVER want to drive 24 hours straight to anywhere again in my life (unless I am riding in one of those fancy RVs where there’s a driver named ‘Mentor’ and I can pop in a DVD anytime I like), I’d like to share how proud I am to be a part of this festival.

I’ve attended the festival twice now; both times I’ve met some talented writers and made some lasting friendships. Excited this time to participate in two writers panels and excited that the S&S bookstore sold five copies of IN JUPITER’S SHADOW. Beyond that, I come away inspired to write. Not just as a self-indulgent activity, but as an important way to support GLBT culture. I’m proud of who I am; I’m proud of who I love; I’m proud to capture this in words.

I’m especially happy to write this on Harvey Milk Day, another saint in the universe. If you don’t know who that is, please take two hours to watch the documentary “The Times of Harvey Milk.” I am always humbled to know what sacrifices people endure to make the world a better place.

Sainthood is not just for crusty books with worn pages. Selfless work continues today in so many places: for example, in brave young men and women who participate in the Soulforce Equality Ride. Ever heard of that? They filmed their efforts in 2007. Equality U: another documentary worth watching.

So today, I’m inspired to be who I am, saint and sinner alike. And I encourage all of you, whatever your talent: writing, activism, singing, signing, or even baking a pie for the new person on your block…be who you are, and try each day to make the world a better place.

For fun, I post my stuff at
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I invite you to visit my stuff.

The Squeak in the Bed

Posted: August 17, 2013 in Uncategorized
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March 7th, 2010

This is just the passing-on of some wisdom I’ve learned in 43 years: It’s worthwhile to keep a pad, notebook, or, in my case, PDA (Palm Treo) close to your bed. Some of the best ideas come at night.

I love the time when I’m just waking and my mind drifts between dreams and daytime. Something about the freedom, unshackled from the “processing” that we do the rest of the day, allows me to be at my most creative. I often work out a plot line in a story I’m writing, or I work out a solution to a personal issue that’s been bothering me, or I simply enjoy the feeling of whatever dream I was having.

But to help enable that free thought, I need a helper. The PDA. I keep it right there charging on my nightstand. And it’s there, like a notepad, when I have an idea that I want to remember.

Sometimes it’s the name of a character I want to add to a short story. Sometimes it’s a recount of a particularly powerful dream. And sometimes it’s a reminder to do something later that day.

Case in point: My bed developed an ANNOYING squeak about three months ago. It’s loud enough to wake me when I’m turning over in bed. I turn over, hear it, and think, “I need to figure out what’s causing that.” But then I fall back off to sleep and the next day I never think about it. Until the next time it wakes me from sleep.

Finally, last night, the squeak woke me — and I remembered to take a minute in the dark to light the PDA screen and make a quick note ‘fix bed sqeak’ for noon today — with an alarm to remind me. Sure enough, at 11:55 this morning, the reminder came up and I pulled the bed out. After three months, it took less than five minutes to fix it (the metal frame was scraping against the ceramic border at the base of the wall). I never would have remembered if I hadn’t had my Treo available to make the note. And that squeak would probably have been keeping me awake for another three months.

So whether it’s the idea for your next bestseller or simply a reminder to pick up dog food, I recommend everybody keep a notebook or PDA on the nightstand. Let it do the remembering…and leave your mind free to explore new unshackled places.

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Memory’s Stark Reality

Posted: August 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

November 14th, 2009

Memory’s Stark Reality by Gregory Gerard

I see that memories come unbidden, like roaches scurrying down the dark-drenched walls of my first apartment after college.

I hear that memories can delight; the soft patter of my grandmother’s voice telling her tales of Irish intrigue over mouthfuls of maple walnut ice cream.

And I know that memories are long as the elephant’s rough-hewn snout, twisting and thrusting through the spanning years; stories of rights wronged, and dreams realized.

But what I believe about memories; what I discern in my heart to be undeniable truth as my brain continues its relentless struggle to build neural pathway upon neural pathway—

Is that I am memory. I am the source. And when I’m gone, memory is no more.

Gregory Gerard keeps preserving memory in Rochester, NY. His recently released memoir, In Jupiter’s Shadow, explores the importance of emerging from the ‘shadow’ of others’ expectations and examines how we often work to hid truths from the most important person in our lives: ourselves. For lots, lots more, visit