The 26th Annual Lambda Literary Awards Finalist Reading, Part I…


Good afternoon, my lovely Lesbians, fellow Gay Men, Transgendered people, Bisexuals, and our straight allies.

I was very happy to be back at Giovanni’s Room in Center City, Philadelphia, last Thursday, May 15, 2014.  As usual, I enjoyed being back in the Center City section of Philadelphia, and I AM happy to report that I continue to successfully monitor my sodium and fluid levels (SEE “When Life Happens…” in which I detail why so much time had gone by without writing a blog post on “This Gay Man’s Life…”  The link is: https://thisgaymanslife.wordpress.com/2014/04/27/when-life-happens/ ).

I decided to go to Philadelphia, via Greyhound, this time, as the Greyhound bus station in Center City is roughly ten blocks away from Giovanni’s Room.  And my primary doctor has told me that, now that I can walk easily, without any strain on my internal organs, to walk as much as possible.  And I have been doing just that.

I arrived early, browsed and purchased a few things.  While there, I had the opportunity to catch up with a dear friend, who has also availed herself of my Psychic Services.

Although I usually do not like talking about my health issues (as opposed to using them as a Teaching), she did ask me to tell her about what had happened to me.  I knew it was important to her to tell her my experiences, and given that she is familiar with medical terminology, she was the perfect person to talk to about this experience.

Also, I AM always Mindful of when I use my cell phone in public.  Alas, not every one is, but I digress.  So, I used my “inside voice,” and filled her in on what had happened to me, last month.

However, while I was speaking, I was able to hear Ed Hermance, the owner of Giovanni’s Room, speaking to two gentlemen.  He was telling them about the store’s closing and other details.

Well, you would think that I was an actual professional journalist, because I removed the earphone bud out of my right ear so fast that I AM surprised I did not break it (I recall reading years ago, that people tend to hear better from their right ear, than their left.  Ironic, considering in Metaphysical Studies, the left side of the body is the receptive side, but I digress).  I overheard Ed say that the store shall indeed that a Philadelphia-based LGBT organization is interested in buying the store, but that an official decision shall not be made until June.

A few moments ago, on a whim, I decided to call the store to see if I would get an answering machine or not.  I called roughly four minutes ago, at approximately 2:05PM.  A gentleman answered, but not sure if it was Ed or Richard.  I think it was Ed.

Nonetheless, I asked if the store would reopen in June, and the gentleman stated that he does not know, yet, but would be updating everyone, via the store’s Emails.  I assured him that I have been receiving them, and he stated that one would be sent out today, I thanked him for his time, and here we are, back to all of you.

After listening in to Ed’s conversation, finishing my conversation with my friend, and making my purchases at that time, I went to one of my newest favorite cafes in Center City, “Toast,” (you can visit their new Website by going to http://www.toastphilly.com)and had a snack before returning to Giovanni’s Room to attend the 26th Annual Lambda Literary Awards Finalist Reading.

I AM glad I returned early, as roughly half the chairs were already filled.

The evening began with Ed Hermance welcoming everyone, to the event.  And he also briefly updated everyone on what is happening with Giovanni’s Room.  He reiterated what I had heard Ed say to those two gentlemen, when I was there earlier that day.

Then, he invited the finalist authors to introduce each other.  In other words, originally, the authors were going to be introduced in alphabetical order, but Larry Benjamin was not having that!

So, Michael Klein suggested reverse alphabetical order, and everyone agreed, and as you can imagine, Mr. Benjamin was overjoyed!

So, the first author to discuss his book, and read from it was Phil Tiemeyer (pronounced TEE-mie-yer) author of Plane Queer: Labor, Sexuality, and AIDS in the History of Male Flight Attendants.  He began by sharing the background that went into this book.

He started with saying that there are not a lot of books about the LGBT Community with relation to professions.  Indeed, a few moments ago, I visited bn.com and typed “lgbt careers” into the search bar and came back with 0 results.  I do not recall the last time I visited the Barnes & Noble Booksellers Website and had a 0 results response.

Mr. Tiemeyer talked about the early days of passenger airplanes.  And how, the vast majority of flight attendants were male.  It was not until World Wars I and II, that the number of male flight attendants decreased and the number of female flight attendants increased.  He also stated that it was in 1971 that the courts, because of pressure from the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), prohibited airlines from refusing to hire males.

Mr. Tiemeyer also talked about how well-connected male flight attendants are, and how when he interviewed one, that gentleman would usually recommend he interview another male flight attendant.

I found Mr. Tiemeyer very engaging and eloquent.  And, I must say, very attractive (and this from a gentleman who does not prefer blonds!).

As per Ed Hermance’s instruction and Michael Klein’s suggestion, Mr. Tiemeyer introduced the next finalist author to read.  And that was Brian Teare (and yes, it is pronounced TEAR, like the fluid that escapes our eyes, from time to time).

Regarding Mr. Teare, I immediately found him to be quite Soulful and insightful.

I have a confession to make: although I was very happy to be back in both Center City, Philadelphia, and Giovanni’s Room, I felt different from the many other times I have been there.  I noticed before the evening began, I would look at the bookshelves, the lighting fixtures, and and feel this wistfulness.

When Mr. Teare took to the front of the room, he said that it was so bittersweet to be back at Giovanni’s’ Room.  And in that moment, I knew that was exactly how I felt.  I felt bittersweet, and being back at Giovanni’s Room was bittersweet, too.

I must admit, I was quite entranced by Mr. Teare.  I do not recall the name of the poem he read from his book, Companion Grasses, but I do recall that he read two.  He said he was going to begin with a longer poem, that was not too happy, then end with a shorter poem that was.

I found Mr. Teare to be truly beautiful.  Insightful, caring, unique.  His poetry was incredibly moving, and I began to feel like a one of those teenage girls at a Beatles concert in the 1960s!  Nonetheless, I AM happy to report that I maintained my composure, and did not burst into screams and tears.  Or would that be “teares?”

Later today, I shall publish Part II.

For now, thank you, one and all, for honoring who you are and what you do.

The Lambda Literary Awards were created by Lambda Rising, an LGBT bookstore in Washington, D. C., "to support LGBT literature."
The Lambda Literary Awards were created by Lambda Rising, a LGBT bookstore in Washington, D. C., “to support LGBT literature.”

 

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