In both of my WordPress Blogs, I have either written posts about or referenced in them Gay Men of Wisdom, the beautiful organization founded by Ray Rigoglioso, also known as Raymond L. Rigoglioso.
Last night, Friday, March 6, 2015 (although that is also when I began this blog post, but I digress), I had the honor and pleasure of attending his book reading event for his brand new (and, if I AM not mistaken, first published book), Gay Men and The New Way Forward.
This book reading and signing event took place at the Bureau of General Services-Queer Division, which to quote its Website, “is a queer cultural center, bookstore, and event space.”
In other words, Manhattan, NYC, has a Queer, LGBT bookstore again!
That, however, deserves its own post,and I shall most certainly write it, but not right now.
Right now, I want to write about Ray and his brand new book (talk about hot off the presses! This book was published on Monday, March 2, 2015, exactly FIVE DAYS AGO!), Gay Men and The New Gay Forward.
From the first moment I met Ray, I loved his Energy. And I still do.
His veneration vision for Gay Men is that we, as Gay Men, have so much to offer the world. That we can and do make a big difference, perhaps bigger than we may realize.
I must admit, given the big Sci-Fi fan that I AM, at one point, while he was reading from his book, I thought of a variation of a slogan that those of us that still long for the return of the television series Heroes could easily understand: “SAVE GAY MEN, WHO ARE SAVING THE WORLD!”
Before I go any further, I wish to acknowledge something that Ray said that I found immensely impressive.
During one of the various question and answer periods throughout the night, someone asked Ray if, perhaps this “new way forward” did not exclusively apply to Gay Men, but also to Lesbians, Bisexuals, and Transgendered people, as well as straight people, as well.
One of Ray’s replies to this attendee was that he felt that it would be disrespectful for him to speak on behalf of Lesbian women, as he is not a Lesbian woman himself.
Truly, he raised a valid point.
As a Gay Man, Ray (and myself, a fellow Gay Man, for that matter) can truly speak to what we have experienced as Gay Men. Both the challenges, and the victories. Although we can understand or sympathize with what other members of the LGBT communities have experienced, as Gay Men, we can honestly say we know what a certain experience is like, feels like, etc.
On a personal note, as much as I want “This Gay Man’s Life…” to be completely inclusive of the LGBTQIA communities, I AM not a Lesbian woman, a Bisexual man, a Transgendered man, a Questioning man, an Intersex man, and certainly not an Asexual man.
I AM a Gay Man, and as a Gay Man, there are certain things that I innately understand and with which I empathize more so, because I AM a Gay Man.
I can certainly understand certain challenges, and even certain victories that a Lesbian woman, or a Bisexual man (or even Bisexual woman) or a Transgendered person has experienced, or is experiencing now. However, ultimately, I shall fully understand what a Gay Man’s challenges are, and what a Gay Man’s victories are, too.
Before the evening’s festivities began, I noticed that one of the volunteers had continued to set up chairs. And then, I saw there were no more chairs to set up. There were between 50-60 people in attendance, and it seemed as though more were on the way!
Towards the end of the night, there were three people who asked questions, and it seemed as though there was resistance in their voices. In other words, as though this was a pipe dream, that Gay Men could bring so much good into the world.
In fact, to quote one questioner, “Do you see or perhaps foresee any reality in the hetero-normative world that is paying comparable attention to this, in the way that, like, that people in one culture may find books or materials in another culture…” Ray replied with that he did not know, but he did state that this is a new model.
In other words, he said that this changes our (as in, we Gay Men) argument to “We deserve equal rights, because we’re just like you, and we are just like you, but we’re different.” And saying that these differences bring something to fellow Gay Men and non-Gay Men.
Perhaps I AM hearing something that was not there, but I felt that many of the Gay Men, especially the ones in attendance, would be more open and receptive to the possibility of being fully empowered Gay Men, and empowering other fellow Gay Men, as well.
And, I do want to be compassionate; there are Gay Men that have given up on many things: Love, Prosperity, Success, Peace, Protection, etc. And yes, that could apply to many people, not just Gay Men.
It was beautiful, and powerful about how Ray spoke about the breaking down of patriarchy, and to hear published author Will Fellows (who,with Helen P. Branson co-wrote Gay Bar: The Fabulous, True Story of a Daring Woman and Her Boys in the 1950s), and to hear Ray’s life partner, Mr. Keith D. Pettey, talk about how groundbreaking this book is.
In addition, it was so fascinating to listen to Ray talk about the similarities and differences among Gay Men. How there are Gay Men that are drawn to more traditionally “masculine” pursuits, such as sports and athletics, and the ones that are drawn to more “feminine” pursuits, such as reading and writing.
It was a truly wonderful night, and I was so happy that I attended. And there were some surprises for those who did.
I was so happy to have successfully surprised Ray (and given that he has no idea that I AM writing this blog post about last night, he probably shall be surprised again).
I was also happy to receive a copy of Gay Bar, by Will Fellows and Helen P. Branson, that one received when purchasing a copy of Ray’s book, and for free, with the purchase of Ray’s book, too!
If you are a Gay Man, or if you love someone who happens to be a Gay Man, I wholeheartedly encourage you to purchase a copy of Gay Men and The New Way Forward.
To find out how to do so.