Page 188 - Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999
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170      Gay Pioneers: How Drummer Shaped Gay Popular Culture 1965-1999


            shadowing Scarlett in San Francisco, courts his own Rhett (Kick Sorenson)
            while trying to save his home and to survive the turbulent civil war around
            gay identity during the 1970s decade which was doomed to be “gone with
            the virus.”
               In 1984-1986, few straight book publishers were even vaguely interested
            in gay material. Gay book publishers, who first set up business in the mid-
            1980s were uncertain what to do about my 562-page San Francisco book with
            a frank approach to gay sexuality that was not politically correct and featured
            a subplot about Drummer magazine fictionalized as Maneuvers magazine.
               The former Catholic priest, Winston Leyland, my publisher at Gay
            Sunshine Press, offered to publish Some Dance in 1984, but wanted to do
            so in two volumes to cover the costs of such a large book. I rejected that
            offer because two volumes seemed ludicrous esthetically, and because from
            my two books he had already published, I judged that his cover designs
            were stylishly dreadful, and because, when he took a phone call as I sat in
            his office in his home, he sounded callous as Embry telling the caller that
            he treated authors with agents differently from authors (like me) without
            agents.
               Himself famous as an editor republishing classic gay literature that had
            fallen out of copyright, Winston Leyland was, nevertheless, that rare bird:
            a publisher who actually paid authors the royalties promised. Ultimately,
            he paid me an honor beyond money when he included my one-act play
            “Corporal in Charge of Taking Care of Captain O’Malley” in his Lammy-
            winning anthology of gay literature: Gay Roots: Twenty Years of Gay Sunshine:
            An Anthology of Gay History, Sex, Politics, and Culture (1991).
               This inclusion and the Lammy award were indirect endorsements of
            the literary value of Drummer. “Corporal in Charge,” first published in
            Drummer issues 22 and 23 (May and July 1978), was the only play included
            in Gay Roots.
               On September 4, 1985, Alyson Publications in Boston sent me a form
            letter saying it was not considering new manuscripts at that present time.
            Grove Press in New York wrote on September 28, 1985: “I read your book
            with interest and respect. It’s a big book—ambitious, complicated, and pro-
            fessionally done. Good luck.”
               Meanwhile, on the West Coast, my fellow author friends looked for a
            subtext to the letters. Were Denneny and Picano and Grove Press being gra-
            cious? Was there a Manhattan message? Was the book too California, too
            San Francisco, too Drummer, too leather, too wild, too politically incorrect,
            and, as an investigation into gay masculinity, or homomasculinity, was it
            the wrong kind of “gay”?


              ©Jack Fritscher, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved—posted 03-16-2017
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