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News from Perry Brass, and Belhue Press
What I'm doing and what you're doing, too.
Updated: November, 2010

    I'm going to be in two excellent upcoming anthologies that I'm very proud of. One is from City Lights Press, the original publisher of Allan Ginsberg, and it is about my experiences in the Gay Liberation Front at the beginning of the explosive first year of the modern gay movement, from 1969 to 1971. This was Ground Zero of everything that we now experience and know as the modern Gay Rights movement. The anthology is called Smash the Church, Smash the State! The Early Years of Gay Liberation. It was edited by my old friend Tommi Avicolli Mecca. Smash the Church, Smash the State is due out this June, to coincide with the 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising.

    The second anthology is from Soft Skull Press. Hos, Hookers, Call-Girls, and Rent Boys, Prostitutes Writing on Life, Love, Work, Sex, and Money, edited by David Henry Sterry and R.J. Martin, Jr. (Modern sex workers share their lives and experiences in this candid, moving compilation.) In this book, I write about my first year away from home, Savannah, GA, when I hitchhiked from Savannah to San Francisco and ended up living in Downtown LA, and, at the age, of 17 learned how to make the old Greek maxim,  "a 17-year-old boy is a gift from the gods" pay off. But not very well. I ended up in jail, and heart-broken, after losing that first great love that can only happen to you when you're seventeen. Hos, Hookers, Call-Girls, and Rent Boys is due in July. There will be a big build-up for it, and I hope to be doing several readings for it.

    Speaking of which, I'm always looking for more places to read. So if your school, college group, book group, veterans group, religious group, coven, or whatever would like to invite me, please feel free to drop me a line at


Perry & Don Bachardy
                    Perry Brass with 73-year-old artist Don Bachardy, in Santa Monica, fall of 2005

    Aging and Agism, the 800-Lb Gorilla in the Room

    Last week, in response to my page on the odious Ann Coulter, one of my readers, John, sent me this note. I thought it was so well-put that I want to share it with you. I hope you'll find something in it that resonates, and you'll continue this conversation about something all of us are doing, one way or another—living, and getting older.

    "Did I tell you your definition of faggot was brilliant, vis-a-vis your application of the word to Coulter? It was bubbling just below the surface with me like a swarm of angry bees but I couldn't bring it up and spit it out like you did. I am well aware of the "faggot" you defined from our youth, the menacing queer man among us who seemed so angry at his own, perhaps it was a form of internalized self-loathing which we're come to hear so much about.  Most of all I remember my own reaction to these men. Craving masculine warmth and acceptance, these men with their sharp tongues, exaggerated feminine mannerisms, and shrill voices terrified me in the extreme. This was a case of what Matt Sanchez was possibly referring to of gay men eating their own. Their constant put-downs of other gay men, their unkindness, their clever jokes at the expense of others, all these things drove me away from the gay community of the 60's.

    Looking at that community now, with its affection bears, healthy buffed bodies, and open admiration and appreciation for every part of the male physiognomy and anatomy, I long to be a part of it but time has passed me by.

    Which brings us to another problem we face as older gays, the derision and rejection of the younger ones. It matters not what we bring to the table, it isn't good enough. Youth is all that matters. Meanwhile, instead of being called faggots we are now being derisively labeled "trolls" and often to gales of laughter. Like we're the most poisonous thing on the planet. I notice Larry Kramer has just spoken out for more active participation in the gay world, but I don't see it happening with the rift between the older and the younger males. Yes, young men are beautiful, and yes, older men are fading away, but we still need one another."

    I thought John's feelings are open, beautiful, and applicable to us all. Age has been a problem and issue in gay life since the Greeks, who saw, basically, only the beauty of young men and boys. They wrote reams of poetry about pretty young things, and the older men who adored them, and wished only not to be spurned by them. In many ways, for ages gay men have been frozen into a period that only admits and recognizes youth—however, the rest of America, via Madison Avenue, has caught up to us: the whole country is now basically frozen this way. And so, in a strange, paradoxical way, a lot of queer men are, again, way ahead of the curve: we are actually aging well, and starting to enjoy aging in a way that seemed impossible 30 or 40 years ago, when the standard song was "Nobody wants you when you're old and gay!"
    I'm not saying that queer guys have made a 180 degree turnaround, and we now revere age, wrinkles, and sagging bodies like the gold standards of life, but we are starting to realize that we can get old, that older men have a pleasurefulness and beauty you can feel and appreciate—and that all desirable company is not in the 18-27 year old range.

    I'd love to hear more from you about your experiences of growing up, older, and younger, too. Please drop me a line about this. Just say in the Subject: getting older.


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May 16, 2007—Of the Dead Speak Only Good: Jerry Falwell is dead.

    Falwell was an infuriating character, and I think a lot of the anger that is coming out now from the gay and/or progressive community is a logical extension of that. He had an amazing, homogenous stupidity: there were very few surprises that came out of him. It’s not like he had a good side, an endearing, kind, warm, charitable side. If he did, then these sides were certainly kept out of the “public discourse,” and the most that can be said of him is that he gave a face and distinctively repugnant voice to what a lot of close-minded Americans were thinking—that they had the answers, and the answers were simple, stupid, and usually what they had, too, had been taught by their families and parents.

    But I think that there is another facet to the anger that is coming from Falwell’s death: that he actually instilled fear into the minds of a lot of gay men and women. That under that chubby, down-home, "Ya’ll come" exterior was a really vicious man, and he could get away with that viciousness in ways that someone like the current Pope, Benedict XVI, can not. Pope Benedict is too transparently rigid, cold, and uningratiating. People may look up to him because he’s the Pope, but he’s not fooling anyone when he rails against homosexuality, birth control, freedom of choice, and all the other ills of “secularism.” But Falwell, whom one progessive said should go straight to Heaven, where "he’ll be found lying between Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny," could come off on TV as the cuddly uncle, the country cousin who told it like it was: and that was scary. That was worse than the skinny man in a dress leading the flock.

    This country is filled with anti-Catholic people who would still swallow every word Falwell said; they’d never believe the Pope, but they would “Amen” with Falwell all the way to the Inquisition.

    My friend Steve Parelli, the executive director of Other Sheep, a group that helps lgbt people who have been harmed by the effects of religious fundamentalism, had this to say about Falwell's death.

    I am a gay evangelical in my mid 50s.  When I heard of his death there was a bit of glee within me that I immediately began to put in check. But upon reflection, does not the abused rejoice at his abuser's demise, like the Psalmist of old?  It is fitting that we who have suffered under his  reign of verbal infliction can now rejoice that he is powerless to further
spiritually abuse us.  We rejoice, not that he has died, but that we, by virtue of his death, are free from his abusive, groundless rantings against gays.

    You can learn more about Steve, his partner Jose, and the work of Other Sheep at

Perry Gets Blog

    Okay, I finally got it. I should getta blog! It seems that everyone and his mother (and Daddy) now has one. So, I did. You can now blog me back and like Daphne, Josephine, and Sugar in Billy Wilder's classic comedy, Some Like It Hot, we can spend hours cuddling, rubbing toes, buns, and other parts with our pens and brains (I hope I'm not taking this one too far). Anyway, I can be reached at Come on over, and blog your heart out.

Identity Envy cover

Identity Envy
. Do you have it?

    I am very pleased to be in the new anthology from Haworth Press, Identity Envy. For more information  on this key-hole into how many lgbt writers feel about themselves, please visit
    A recent Identity Envy review by gay editor and biographer (of Glenway Wescott) Jerry Rosco appeared in the Sept. 07 issue of that venerable queer lierary magazine Torso, which goes on the stands in late June. Here is the review below:

Smart, funny essays on: Identity Envy: Wanting to Be Who We’re Not

One of the pleasures of the endless output of G&L anthologies is the chance to read so many writers side-by-side, not just young newcomers with older veterans, but also those from all walks of life.  Edited by Jim Tushinski and Jim Van Buskirk, Identity Envy: Wanting to Be Who We’re Not brings together 28 essays by writers who remember, or admit, wanting to be somebody else.  John Gilgun, who wrote so well about coming out in a working class Irish and Italian American neighborhood in the novel Music I Never Dream Of, returns to that material in “Italian American Boys.”  Growing up, he found the worst of homophobia among his Irish-American peers.  He wanted to be one of the Italian Americans who were not angels but were much more comfortable in their sexuality, and with everything from cooking and singing to touching.  Cheryl Schoonmaker has all kinds of comic misadventures in her real life while imaging herself as all kinds of super-hero identities in her secret life.  Poet/novelist Perry Brass remembers growing up sensitive, queer and Jewish in the deep South when his fantasy of escape was wanting to be a Christian girl.  Andrew Rammer, although a functioning gay man, writes convincingly of being a male lesbian in personality.  Robert Boulanger who was actually a child television star in Canada wanted nothing more than to join the U.S. Army—and managed to do it at age 18.  In all, 28 stories and writers just as interesting make Identity Envy a very entertaining experience.  (Harrington Park Press, paperback, 267 pages,,

Making History

May, 2006, was the 25th Anniversary of Gay Mayday (May 1 to 5, 1971), the gay contingent of what many people feel was the largest, most radical, and most ambitious anti-war demonstration in the history of America, when hundreds of thousands of young demonstrators converged on Washington, DC, from all parts of America vowing to shut down the U.S. Government to stop the Viet Nam War. I was there as part of the wondrous Gay Mayday tribe, and wrote about it a few weeks later for Come Out!, the newspaper of New York’s Gay Liberation Front, of which I was an editor and which was actually published from my apartment in Hell’s Kitchen. (See my bio page for more details about this period of my life)

    To mark this important anniversary, Rainbow History. Org has published a whole chapter about Gay Mayday, and has republished my account of it directly from the pages of Come Out. You can find this at; or specifically to reach my article at

    Also, the Summer, 2006, edition of White Crane Journal features a piece I wrote on the founding of the Gay Men’s Health Project Clinic, the first clinic specifically for gay men on the East Coast, founded in 1971 by me and two of my friends, Leonard Ebreo and Marc Rabinowitz. You can also learn more about the founding of the Health Project, which still survives today as New York’s Callen-Lorde Community Health Clinic at Gay City New, which recently published a piece by Duncan Osborne on “our generation,” the early activists of the baby boomer generation and their enduring legacy. ( I) am very proud to be a part of this, and grateful that the Gay Men’s Health Project Clinic is now being remembered.

Praise from Kevin Killian

    Kevin Killian is a poet, playwright, novelist, and book critic living in San Francisco, who has recently come out with a book of some of his selected reviews on the Amazon site. As a lark, Kevin started reviewing books on Amazon, then branched out to reviewing everything that he felt any kind of reaction to—emotional, psychological, or physical—well, I'm not sure that Amazon sells everything that would stir Kevin physically. But he has amassed more than 1300 Amazon reviews and at this moment is 7th on the Amazon most frequent reviewer list. I wrote to Kevin about his reviews—they are quite amazing in their frankness, spontaneity, and quality—and also about the connection we had back in the early 1990s with queer publishing in New York, when the gay book industry was on the outer fringes, the real brave new world of independent publishing. He was kind enough to say these things about my writing:

"I've kept up with your writing as best I could, always marvelling at how sensitively you write and with what a golden pen (and when you want to, how you get my dick rock-hard), but I guess I had sort of given up hope that your travels would ever return you to San Francisco, and this is the next best thing."

    I am going to try to get back to San Francisco as soon as I can. For years I went often to the Bay Area to appear at the wonderful San Francisco Book Fair, which for a while was the largest gay book event in the country. The Fair has been discontinued, I've been told, and the old days when San Francisco's Castro area was emotional "Paris" of gay life seem pretty numbered. But I think that for many of us, San Francisco still has a gut pull that makes us feel like this is home, even when it's not.


    I am now offering writing classes online through Long Story Short Writing School. The classes are one-on-one, incredably reasonable considering how much personal time you get with me. (OK: cheap, actually), and very useful—as my students have told me. To sign up for them, go to
All classes are 8 weeks, and stress approaching stories, using your own basic emotions as building blocks, narrative forms, and just plain getting what you want to say across.

   Circles with Circles

 A lot of you have been interested in getting copies of Circles, the exciting second book in the Mirage trilogy, and, frankly, one of my favorite books. Circles has been out of print, and is a rare book. I mean really RARE. Alibris is offering copies of it for up to $60.00. But, luckily the press still has a few copies left, and you can get it directly from us. The price of it is $20 a copy--it's rare, right?--but that is still really a bargain. You can get Circles by sending Belhue Press a check (not a money order but a check, PLEASE) through snail mail and include $3.00 for shipping. The address: 2501 Palisade Avenue, Suite A1, Bronx, NY  10463. Please make out your check to "Belhue Press."

    You can learn more about Circles at What They Are Saying About Perry Brass. 

    I'm always interested in hearing from you. If you have any comments about the News, either mine or yours, please email me at


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