For the rest of 2019, we are posting thematic excerpts from our books. June begins with Gay Pride. The following excerpts describe juicy moments in gay and bisexual relationships.


Kate Walter, Looking for a Kiss

“So give me demerits for two weeks without sex,” defied Slim, my tall, slender, dark-haired lover. We lay together naked in our queen-sized bed, her long legs dangling over the edge. I stared into Slim’s brown eyes that still mesmerized me after two decades and asked, “How many demerits? Three? Five?”

“Two,” she suggested with a laugh.

“Okay.” I felt thrilled she was so agreeable to adjusting the rules of our new “game.”

A few weeks before, I’d proposed we start playing a “reality show game” to spark up our twenty-five-year relationship. I’d been feeling neglected, particularly in bed. She even preferred a vibrator, the Magic Wand, a gift she had requested from me a year ago for her fiftieth birthday. For some time now, Slim had been enjoying the Wand with herself. While I felt glad I wasn’t the only one of us with sexual desires, she still could not manage much sex with me, always using her busy schedule as a freelance photojournalist as an excuse.

“You always put work first and me second,” I’d complained, hurt that we hadn’t had sex or a playdate in weeks.

“I want to have fun with you, honey, but then an assignment comes up.”

Ironically my essay about how we revived our partnership by getting separate apartments—my queer love story—had just appeared in the Valentine’s Day edition of Newsday. Our intimacy had improved with this new “living-apart-together” arrangement—we fought less and had more sex. But lately I felt Slim was taking me for granted again.

“We’re coasting on the past and the future,” I pointed out, referring to our early romantic years and the money she’d saved for our retirement. “We need to do stuff now, before we get old, while we can enjoy ourselves. I want a companion, like the old days.”

“Just what are you saying?” she asked. “Do you want to break up?”

I hated her passive-aggression.


When I rode the crosstown bus from my West Village studio to her East Village one-bedroom, I realized I could engage Slim’s workaholic drive if I repositioned the relationship as her job. If she didn’t live up to her end, she’d be fired. I had an idea that this approach would appeal to her achievement-oriented personality.

We’d always agreed we should make love at least once a week and go to a museum or movie just as often, yet it was difficult to pull off. But what if I assigned points? This way, we’d have something measurable. She’d get five points for sex, five for an art date, three for dinner in a restaurant. If she wanted to be with me, she’d have to earn it. I was psyched to run this past her as soon as I’d settled into the couch at her place, which used to be our place. I greeted our cat, Tyler, of whom she had primary custody.

“Reality show? What a great idea,” said Slim, a television junkie. “I love it. When do we start?”

After finishing dinner, we returned to the sofa and devised the plan. We’d begin that Saturday night and the game would run for fourteen weeks. She had to score 100 points. That was generous because if we had sex and a date once a week, she would rack up 140 points by our deadline. I was cutting her too much slack.

“It should be 120 points,” I suggested, explaining that if she were to meet only the minimum requirements she would score more than 100.

“No, I agreed to 100.”

“Okay. It’s a deal.” We shook hands.

“What happens if I don’t have 100 points?” Slim asked, suddenly worried.

“Uh, in that case,” I improvised, “You get to plead your case as to why you should remain in the relationship.”

“Oooh, that’s cool. Just like The Road to Stardom where the singers get to plead with Missy Elliot as to why they should be allowed to stay on the tour bus.”

She was really getting into this. Just like the way she loved American Idol, The Apprentice, and all those stupid reality programs she tried to get me to watch.

“It’s possible you will get a two-week extension,” I said. “With a special task to perform. But let’s hope we don’t have to go there. ”

“You’ll keep score,” she said, unbuttoning her blouse. “Now…I want to earn some points.”

I leaned over to kiss her and said, “Let’s play.”


Don Cummings, Bent But Not Broken


Louis was a sex addict. This was not shocking as so many gay men become “addicted to sex,” or what I like to call, “Without human women around we can fuck like bonobos.” But there was something real about this defined addiction. Eventually, he got used to having sex with me and the boyish tears dried up. He was comfortable and safe. But as soon as we would finish up he would want to start up all over again and again and again. There was no way to continue. After you’ve been going at it for three hours, what the hell is left? A glass of wine and an omelet, I say. I was limp like a shelled bivalve mollusk, but Louis just kept coming at me with his oyster knife.

His situation was more severe than most homosexual cases of “sex addiction” because he had had a more sexually severe childhood. At twelve, his father taught him the birds and the bees by jerking off to climax in front of him. As an introduction to the process he said, “I’m just going to show you.” Then, after he had come all over the place, he said, “And that’s sex.”

On Saturdays, when Louis’s mother went to the beauty parlor for her hair appointment, Louis crawled into bed with his otherwise verbally abusive father and they had sex. Every Saturday. For years. His father arranged the entire thing. Louis admitted this made him feel special. To have a screaming father who bullied all of his kids single you out for such special attention, well, this was like a prize. It was sexy. It was secret. It was consistent.

When Louis was in his mid-teens, his father brought home truckers he had befriended at a local stop and had them pile on top of Louis like the hot teenage boy that he was. There was a network of traveling pedophiles and I guess swapping out your son was something they did in those days. Upon learning all this, I was aghast and amazed. Could I really handle dating someone who had been continuously raped like this? I would like to say that I felt terrible for him, but like some victims, his sexuality was informed and energized by this constant rape. It charged him up. You could see it in his eyes when he talked about it. It was complicated.

“I don’t know if I can handle this,” I told him.

“Oh, James—”

He called me James. My middle name. I liked the way he said it, sexy and warm.

“Louis, really. I mean, even when you talk about this thing with your father, the truckers, you seem excited.”

“It was exciting. That’s the problem with this kind of thing.”

“So, you liked it?”

“Yes. But I’m not alone in that.”

“I understand.”


He kissed me, looking into my eyes. I was James, the kid he was now comforting. I was the first boyfriend he ever told about this childhood mess. I was the one who could handle him during this healing time.

“Oh, Louis—”


Now he was saying James like I was someone else. He had left his body. The discomfort and draw of the past pulled him into a trauma state, I imagine, and I was a distant person of his creation that was safe but not necessarily real. Nicknames are controlling. He was placating me with a tone that said, You are a nervous little guy, you can do this, don’t be so scared of me like everyone else.

Ambivalent. I could never supply the energy it would take to compete with the negative force of his father’s destruction. I wanted to be optimistic. I mean, people have gotten over worse? Louis could maybe pull this off. I was very attracted to him, this damaged man-boy. I wanted him to take care of me in an old-fashioned way, in his suit, with a steady paycheck. In return, I would hold this damaged little kid, his somewhat flabby but still very attractive body, in an effort to soothe him. I could give him the care his family had denied him. Maybe. Tentative. Scary. Shit.

Months passed. The sex with Louis calmed down as he was getting off with other guys all over town. Two times, he came home late from a business meeting in a leather jacket, with a cat-who-ate-the-canary grin that signaled, clearly, that he had had sex with someone. He didn’t try to hide it, wanting me to accept him for who he was. I was furious. He apologized and cried but still was elated for having had the sex. I told him this was probably not going to work out, us. Louis begged me to stay, standing there in the cookie-cutter kitchen—in a tower in the East Nineties, in the early ’90s—of the apartment he was subletting from a friend of mine. I was not necessarily against extra-relationship sex. I was more concerned that he had so little control over it. It made me feel like I could vanish at any moment. Or, let’s face it, like he might give me the disease of the day that was killing everyone.


Janet Lombardi, Bankruptcy: A Love Story


At home, Josh was continually angry with me, and I found myself dodging him because he questioned my honesty. He claimed it wasn’t my relationship with her that was infuriating; it was my lack of telling the truth. Late Sunday evening arguments took place behind our closed bedroom door, where I sat on my side of the bed, leaning against the inlaid mother of pearl oak headboard as Josh paced in front of the windows where the moon peeked in.

“The secret self is the feelings, not the facts, my dear,” he snarled. “The facts are the truth of what is, not what we feel or wish it to be. If I were in your shoes,” he laughed, “I wouldn’t want to tell me either. And I know you’re getting angry now because you can’t win, right? No matter what you say, I don’t believe you, right? Nothing has happened, right? I know you fooled around and it’s probably gone too far once or twice. And I know you feel you deserve it because you have that lesbian component. That gives you permission, right?”

“It doesn’t give me permission,” I said, exhaling. “Please let’s pick this up tomorrow. I’m tired.”

“Nobody likes to come clean,” he shouted. “Everybody denies responsibility and wants to blame outside factors, or rationalize, minimize, maybe, or at least ignore unpleasant truths. We’re indignant. Aren’t we? Aren’t you?”

I stared at the dream catcher hung in the corner of the room, fixated on how the feathers got tanner as the eye followed their form and how intricately the netting was sewn. I didn’t even know what the questions were. What was he asking me?

“Lies become truth, you know,” he continued. “Silence can become the truth. The significant can become the insignificant. Truth can become a secret shared only by those who know the facts.” He was giving a summation before a jury and I was the defendant.

I nodded in agreement. My body recoiled towards the headboard. I just wanted this to stop.

“Sure. And tomorrow you’re back with her. And she can hammer you too. I know how aggressive she is. How she needs you to be like her. But you like being hammered by her. But not me. Sure we can talk about it tomorrow.”

As unpleasant and horrible these encounters made me feel, I absorbed them not only because I felt guilty and that I deserved it but because I had unwittingly agreed to be a receptacle for the frustration and despair molting off him since 9/11. His anger at my indiscretions pointed to some return to normalcy. At least he was animated, not the depressed, listless person who had lost all interest in living. He was beginning to stop his swaying and to bolt upright like the inflatable toy punching-bag clown at a standing position. I had gotten his attention.

Magenta note:

Cover: Drawing of a heart pierced by an arrow, tears (blood?) dripping.

Inside: We talk so intimately about so many things, but we’ve never even hugged a full hug, no coats, not sideways, you know?


Note to Claire:

I’m having a love/hate relationship with your notes. The duality of things. How can you write that, then go about your business? Face your husband? I guess it’s a release for you but for me, it’s all so real. Your writing is cold water in my face. You’re forcing me to face the reality and intensity of all this: how I feel about you, how you’ve changed my life, how I look at women, how I feel about my body. These notes are hot potatoes—like in the game—get rid of them. It all feels serious. And I hate that feeling. I want to be released from it even though I love your letters.


Magenta note:

Outside: HJ (Hot J)

Inside: I can’t help it. You make me wanna be so bad.


Letter from Claire:

So the only way I can get any kissing with you is to take you to a straight bar, sit in the window, pin you up against the wall, and move in. You squirmer. What yummy kisses. I have nothing to compare them to. Maybe teenage kisses. Like when I was fourteen or fifteen and played spin the bottle. Kissing you was simply luscious. And dangerous. An intensity I could not have imagined. I could have kissed every inch of your body right there in the window. And never looked up to see who was watching. I’m not leaving this earth without making love to you. I mean it.


Dara Lebrun, The Bunny Hop


On Friday evening I stopped in my downstairs tracks, halfway from the ground floor. Claudia was sorting through envelopes on the table by our mailboxes, her hair pulled up at the crown of her head, revealing a dark froth of curls that bubbled up her pale neck. This was the first time we’d run into each other since our tussle at The Bunny Hop that produced my first date with Eugenia. Claudia stopped fidgeting with mail and looked into the row of metal mailboxes as though she knew the footfalls were mine.

“I’m dating Dustin,” she announced, still not facing me.

“I’m dating Eugenia.”

She turned around as I completed my descent.

With an air of newfound respect, she held the wrought iron door open for me as I bounded onto the stoop. She followed, but there was nothing we could say to each other now. If I taunted her about her alleged “moratorium on penises” she could quip about my alleged addiction to them, how I “never could fathom what happened in sex without them.” If she reminded me that I thought sleeping with a woman would be “dull, and beside the point,” I could remind her that she had dismissed all men as slimy hairballs. In short, we were checkmated by too many moronic, drunken arguments with each other.

“Are you having a good time?” I asked, as we started walking.

“Dustin is so-o-o sweet,” she said, closing her eyes and chomping on her gum. “Not pushy. Not a jerk. A breath of fresh air in the sewage fumes of dating.”

(“On good behavior,” I translated to myself. “Motivated.”)

“And your moratorium?” I inquired.

“Oh it’s still in effect. He’s gotta earn every centimeter.”

I felt sure that Dustin would find creative ways to meet that challenge.

“Well, you don’t want to deprive yourself of what men do best,” I advised her. “Not that it’s as indispensable as the world would have us think.”

She flapped around like a matador’s cape and stared at me with her overdone mascara. “You didn’t score a night with her yet, did you?”

With her Queens accent, Claudia pronounced the female pronoun as ha—ha, ha, ha. I simply grinned.

“No fucking kidding!”

I kept grinning.

Claudia grabbed my arm, almost pinching me. “That’s like getting an audience with the Dalai Lama. Eugenia is notoriously aloof.”

“Not with me.”

“She probably loves that you’re not all over her. She had to win you. Don’t ever let her think she has or she’ll dump you like a pile of laundry.”

Claudia dropped my arm and continued walking down the street.

“She wouldn’t hurt me gratuitously,” I said.

“She has a reputation for being callous.”

“Look, if women throw themselves mindlessly at her it doesn’t surprise me if they end up with rapped knuckles.”

Claudia kept walking briskly.

I confessed to her, “Even if it doesn’t last—because how can I go into my forties with a consuming girl crush?—it’s a revelation.”

“Well yeah,” said Claudia. “Sex with another woman rocks the stratosphere. You only have such amazing sex with guys if they’re your soul mate. Hey, did she do you with a dildo?”

“No,” I boasted. “We don’t need one. We’ve got plenty going on without disembodied dickies.”

I dismissed the sex toy blithely as Alessi had dismissed the lactation aid.

“It’ll never last, so don’t worry about your forties,” said Claudia, in her know-it-all tone. “You need polarity. You’re both too femme.”

Just as I felt faintly fond of her, Claudia pissed me off.

“I think we’ve shot those played-out roles to the wind.”

“Don’t count on it,” she sneered.