Happy New Year! I’m ecstatic to have Romance Author Lloyd A. Meeker with me today share a bit about gay protagonists. Please say hi and leave him a comment or two below.
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Born and raised in a religious commune in the mountain west, Lloyd Meeker began his formal training as an energy healer at the age of ten. As an adult he served for a long time as a minister and teacher in that community before striking out on an individual path of mystical discovery.
His academic career has been sporadic and eclectic, ranging from English literature, history, theatre, music, and classical archaeology to computer science.
Previous published works include two volumes of poetry and an erotic swords-and-sorcery adventure novel, The Darkness of Castle Tiralur. His essay, “Gate-Keepers” appeared in the anthology Second Person Queer, Arsenal Pulp Press, 2009, Labonte and Schimel, eds.
Since 2009 he has served as a judge in the Queer Foundation’s annual High School Seniors English Essay Contest (queerfoundation.org), which promotes effective writing by, about, and/or for queer youth.
Meeker celebrates life with his husband Robert in Vancouver, British Columbia, where he is at work on his next novel.
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Walking Between the Worlds
In the Hero’s Journey, the archetypal pattern of initiation into power, the hero leaves his familiar setting and sets out on a road of trials, along which he enters an underworld, encounters tests of many kinds, from which he learns and grows stronger, or doesn’t. If the hero is successful, he returns to his original setting (or arrives in one very similar to it), bringing the gifts of his journey with him to share with his community. At this point, the hero is adept in both the regular world and the underworld in which his growth was forged. He can travel the two worlds at will.
One of the psychologically significant differences for a queer hero is that to survive he had to learn to walk between two worlds long before he became an adult. His adult test is often to learn to walk between the worlds in a good way—good for himself and for his community. This is one of the great gifts same-sex-loving people bring, a naturally developed skill at navigating between paradigms.
I believe writers of stories featuring gay protagonists could explore this empirical aspect of a gay character’s psyche in greater depth. The possibilities are endless, each with its powerful mystical or psychological implications.
For example, in Traveling Light (MLR Press, 2011) Ian McCandless is approaching his initiation as a shaman in modern Vancouver. Being a shaman, someone who literally walks between the spirit and material worlds, is a traditional role for two-spirit people in cultures all over the world. I loved bringing that role into a modern context.
In Enigma (Wilde City Press, 2013) my gay PI Russ Morgan has psychic abilities that asserted themselves once he had accepted his true sexuality. In The Companion, due out from Dreamspinner Press later this year, Shepherd (protagonist) must enter an underworld of terrors that have haunted him from a past life before he can return and live fully in his current one.
My comments here offer only a brief glimpse of a complex subject worthy of much more exploration. For the purposes of this blog post let me urge you to look for this natural strength in gay heroes you read or write about. Whether it’s through magic, psychological healing, mystical enlightenment or psychic strength, he is by his core nature different from most men, and therefore uniquely prepared to shift seamlessly between familiar and strange worlds.
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Who’s blackmailing the high-profile televangelist whose son was famously cured of his homosexuality fifteen years ago? Now in 2009, that ought to be ancient history.
It seems there’s no secret to protect, no crime, not even a clear demand for money—just four threatening letters using old Enigma songs from the 90′s. But they’ve got Reverend Howard Richardson spooked.
Proudly fifty and unhappily single, gay PI Russ Morgan has made peace with being a psychic empath, and he’s managed to build a decent life since getting sober. As he uncovers obscene secrets shrouded in seeming righteousness he might have to make peace with a sword of justice that cuts the innocent as deeply as the guilty.
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An eye for an eye…
Ian McCandless is a hospice nurse, training to become a shaman. When his mentor orders him to make peace with his estranged family, Ian reluctantly agrees, anticipating just another conflict-filled visit. On their way from the airport Ian’s older brother Will interrupts a convenience store robbery and is shot, dying in Ian’s arms and calling to him for vengeance.
Ian uses his shamanic abilities to track down the killer, but his quest soon turns into a hunt for revenge—forbidden to any shaman. Ian’s pursuit jeopardizes his relationship with the spirit world, endangers the lives of those he loves and threatens to banish him from the only path that gives his life meaning.
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