Today I am so pleased to welcome Michael Kudo to Joyfully Jay. Michael has come to share an excerpt from his latest release, Sequestered Hearts. He has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving Michael a big welcome!
I’m so glad to be here today on Joyfully Jay to share an excerpt from my new novel, Sequestered Hearts. I’m very proud of this novel because it was quite hard for me to finish it because it was so drastically different from the stuff I usually write (I.E. more angst, less dark humor) but I like where it went and I think you’ll all enjoy it. It’s a story of love and how it doesn’t matter who you are/where you come from as long as you love each other.
Colton was just cleaning up when Kelly-Anne came through the door. “Hey, Kelly-Anne,” he said cheerily.
Kelly-Anne smiled warmly. “Good morning, Colton. Wow, you’re up really early. How is everything going?”
“I know, it’s shocking, right? I just have some stuff to do today. And everything is fine. I haven’t seen you in, what? Almost a week? How was the wedding?”
“It was wonderful and so romantic,” Kelly-Anne swooned. “My sister has never looked so happy in her life. She was practically glowing. It was really beautiful. It…it almost makes me wish that I was allowed to get married.” She paused, and looked at the floor. “I’m being silly, though. That’ll never happen. Not in this century.”
Colton sulked slightly. “Why can’t you?”
Kelly-Anne looked at Colton like he had suddenly grown a second-head. “Colton, you should know judging by the way things are, that it isn’t possible. Gays and lesbians can’t get married. It’s against the law. Didn’t you know that?”
“Yeah, I do…but just because that’s how things are right now, doesn’t mean that’s how they’re always going to be. Times change. Feelings change. People change. The way things are now could change in a year, heck, they could change tomorrow for all we know. Don’t give up your dream.”
“That’s wonderfully optimistic of you, Colton,” Kelly-Anne said softly. “But those of us who have been alive longer than you know better. Change isn’t going to come for us unless something changes and there are more people like you in the world. Until then, everything is going to stay like this and gays and lesbians will continue to be treated like lesser beings.”
“Kelly-Anne, how did this all happen?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, how did it get like this…when did it get like this? When did people start enslaving gays and lesbians? What happened?”
Kelly-Anne paled a bit; she looked very nervous. “Colton, sweetie, talking about that is taboo. It has been ever since the aftermath. If I were to tell you and your parents found out, I could get in serious trouble….”
“Please, tell me,” Colton pleaded. “You know me well enough, you know I wouldn’t ever do anything to endanger you. I’m just really curious what started all of this.” He gestured to her and seemed at for a loss for words. “…life shouldn’t be like this.”
“Fine, I’ll explain it as well as I can, it’s a very complicated story. Not many people know about what happened because it’s not talked about very much. I was lucky enough to know someone who was actually present for the event.”
Kelly-Anne was moving back and forth nervously. She took a few deep, calming breaths before replying. “Gays and lesbians were never well received by the general population. People saw us as abominations, perverse, and disgusting. A good portion of the negative reactions were fear; people tend to fear things they don’t properly understand. The rest of it was pure hatred, from people who thought that homosexuals would ruin their ideas of how the world should be and from those who were too insecure to come out and be who they truly were.
And then on June 28th, in 1969, everything became cataclysmic.”
“What was so special about that day?” Colton asked, curiously. He had taken many history classes throughout his twelve years of school. He had learned about many different events during that time. He wasn’t exactly a history wiz or anything like that, but he didn’t recall hearing about anything special or significant happening on that date.
“Well, to properly understand, I have you give you a bit of background information. In New York City, there existed a place called the Stonewall Inn. Originally, I believe it was owned by members of the mafia, who tuned it into a gay bar. To my knowledge, it was one of the most frequently visited gay bars in the city. It was the one place where you could let your freak flag fly. It was also the one place that gay and lesbian teens who were thrown out by their parents could go for shelter during the night. Despite all of this, it wasn’t safe. It was a dangerous time to be different, even more dangerous was visiting a bar that was specifically known as a hangout for those of a different persuasion than was publically acceptable. Members of the police force were corrupt; they often raided the bars because they viewed homosexuals as easy marks. They harassed them because they had a quota of arrests to fill, so they used the Stonewall Inn for its steady supply of lesbians, gays, and drag queens.”
Colton gasped. “That’s terrible! How could they do something horrible like that when they were hired to protect people?! It just doesn’t make any sense!”
Kelly-Anne smiled sadly. “I agree, but you haven’t heard the worst of it.”
“Unfortunately, yes. In the early morning of Saturday, June 28th 1969, policemen came to the Stonewall Inn and were very hostile. They were initiating a full-scale raid. They had everyone line up and were abusing the patrons. If the females didn’t wear at least two articles of feminine clothing, they were arrested. If the men weren’t dressed like men, they were arrested, too. The police had the female officers take drag queens, transvestites, or transgender people – basically anybody under suspicion of being a man who didn’t look like they thought a man should, into the bathroom and forced them to reveal themselves to prove they were the gender they claimed they were. It was a huge mess.”
“That’s…disgusting,” Colton remarked.
“It most certainly was…however, all of that wasn’t the final straw. The final straw was when the male officers were inappropriate when checking the female club members for weapons and when they struck a young, homeless gay kid in the face. And then one of the women who noticed what happened got angry and fought with multiple policemen. When a policeman hit her hard in the head with a baton, that’s when everything exploded. The gay community was finished being pushed around, they had enough. It was a full-scale riot. Over a hundred lesbians, gays, and their supporters fought against the police. It seemed like every time the police attempted to calm the situation, it just incited the angry mob of people even more and things got even wilder. Quite a few people were injured. But the gay community came out triumphant. They made their point: they were not going to be victims anymore.
Colton watched Kelly-Anne carefully and waited for her to continue, but she appeared to be finished. “Why’d you stop?”
“Because I think that’s as far as we should go,” Kelly-Anne explained. “I’m not sure exactly how to describe the rest of the events.”
“Can you please at least try?”
Kelly-Anne gave him a long and calculating look. “I’ll try if you tell me something first. Just between the two of us; why is this so important to you? No offense, but whatever happened doesn’t concern you at all. You had nothing to do with it…so why do you want to know so badly?”
Colton thought about that for a moment. To be entirely honest to himself, he wasn’t entirely sure why he was so interested in what happened in the past. Kelly-Anne was right. It didn’t concern him. He wasn’t involved. He wasn’t at that bar. None of his family members were involved. He had gone his entire life without knowing and wasn’t inconvenienced in the slightest. He couldn’t even play it off as mild curiosity because the thought of not knowing – not finding out, made his insides burn. He NEEDED to know. There was no rationalizing.
Colton sighed. “I honestly don’t know why I want to know so badly. The only thing I know for sure is that the thought of not knowing is unbearable. I have to know. Please tell me.”
Kelly-Anne just looked at him again. She seemed to be wrestling with different thoughts and none of them were winning. After a few heartbeats, she finally nodded. “Okay, I’ll finish the story because I’ve always believed that knowledge of the past is power. And that power is the only thing that can prevent repeating previous mistakes.”
“So what happened after the Stonewall Inn event?”
“Chaos happened. After news spread of the riot, many gay bars throughout the United States were ransacked and burned. Gays and lesbians were taken into the streets and tortured. They were raped and beaten to death. After a few weeks of these events and no police involvement, the gay community took matters into their own hands. Groups of gays and lesbians went around as vigilantes and retaliated against their oppressors. It got bad enough that the military was involved and after a few months, there was a full-blown civil war. It was the gay community against the entire states and you can probably guess how that turned out.”
“The gay community lost,” Colton said, and it wasn’t a question.
Kelly-Anne nodded, and she had to close her eyes and take a minute before she could continue. “The gay community put up a fight. The war lasted almost five months. But the community was out-manned and out-powered. There were over seventy-thousand deaths combined. The gay community had no choice but to give up. They never really wanted to hurt anybody, they just wanted respect and tolerance.”
“But if they gave up, how did they become enslaved?”
“There was a politician – I don’t remember his name, but he went on a campaign about how dangerous the gay community was and how much damage we had done in such a short time. He explained that although heterosexuals won the war, there could be another one in the future and they may not come out so triumphant. So he proposed that since gays and lesbians were wild and unpredictable, that we should be treated like animals. That we should be enslaved and treated as property so that we could be easily controlled and monitored.
People were scared so they believed him. That was over thirty years ago. And ever since then, gays and lesbians have been slaves.”
Colton was speechless. His memories held true; he had definitely never learned about any of that in the history books in school. He wasn’t surprised, though. He knew that Americans had a decadent tendency to skate around the less than favorable way they treated other people throughout history. But he still couldn’t believe that something so horrible happened. It was similar to hearing about a murderer or a parent who abused their child; he couldn’t imagine how anyone could be cruel and heartless as to hurt another living being. And maybe the fact that he couldn’t wrap his head around it was a good thing.
“Colton, are you alright?” Kelly-Anne asked gently.
“Yeah,” Colton muttered. “It’s just a lot to think about. I want to believe that it was just a story because it’s just too horrible to believe.”
“The sad truth is, the world is often horrible beyond belief. And there’s nothing that can be done about that.”
Colton frowned. He threw his hands down onto the table in protest. “I don’t believe that for a second, and neither do you. Things can change. It’s never too late for the right thing to happen.”
Kelly-Anne shook her head and chuckled. “You know, you’re right. In my heart, I don’t believe the world is horrible. I do believe that good can happen. In my twenty-eight years of life, I’ve seen proof of that. But I’ve also seen that for good to happen, someone’s gotta take that initiative. Good doesn’t just happen on its own; a good person needs to stand up and do what’s right.”
“You mean someone…like me?”
After the Riots at Stonewall, a major political movement took place which resulted in Gays/Lesbians becoming slaves.
Colton Taylor was born with every advantage – except parents who are there for him. His father and mother are constantly absent because they’re too busy keeping up on the family business, and when they are around they nitpick at him and make him feel like he’s only a tool to further their legacy.
Colton has no problems with the slaves his family owns. He doesn’t care if they’re gay or lesbian; to him they’re just people. One day he meets an interesting slave named Oliver, and the two hit it off. Eventually they start hanging out (in secret) and a relationship blossoms.
Colton knows if his father was to ever find out it would spell trouble but he can’t stay away from the only person who makes him feel special and loved. Even if it means giving up everything he has. Because love is all that matters. And it always finds a way.
Michael was born and raised on the Jersey Shore – the geographical location, not the TV show. As such, he cannot boast having tanned skin, a rock-hard body, or being BFFs with Snooki. His version of GTL is gaming, Tumblr, and Lounging. He didn’t know what to do for a living until he wrote a couple of fun short stories as an English class project and made people laugh, something he’s always enjoyed doing and decided that’s what he wanted in his future.
A self-described “Otaku” (person with obsessive interests in manga, anime, and/or video games) Michael spends most of his time enjoying those things, becoming emotionally attached to fictional characters and collecting every bit of My Little Pony merchandise available.
He lives with his fiancé of five years in the heart of NJ.
Michael has brought a copy of his book Red Rose (Blood) to give away to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Saturday, July 18th at 11:59 pm EST.
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