Today I am so pleased to welcome Thianna Durston to Joyfully Jay. Thianna has come to share an exclusive excerpt with us from her latest release, Becoming Rafe. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Thanks, Joyfully Jay, for featuring this exclusive excerpt from Becoming Rafe, book 3 of my Men of Falcon Pointe series. Sometimes finding out who we are can be the most difficult thing we do. Rafe is unsure of what it means to be gay. His family and religion make it a perversion and think it’s all about sex. But he’s seen enough in Falcon Pointe to hope that isn’t right. In this excerpt, Levlin and Rafe discuss what being gay means.
“I’m not even sure I’m gay,” Rafe spat out, surprised at the anger in his own voice.
Levlin watched him calmly. “Why do you say that?”
Rafe drank the last of his cider and set it aside. He tried to think of how to say what he had been trying to figure out for weeks. Well actually for years, but it had become pressing as of late. “I’m not sure what gay is,” he finally admitted. “Everyone I knew back home saw it as purely sexual. But as wonderful as sex probably is, if that’s all it is, I can’t give up everything I’ve known just for that. I’d be giving up eternity.” It was hard to explain, even to himself. “But,” he blundered on, “I’ve watched Cory and Trent, and their relationship is about more than sex. They love one another and treat each other like my siblings do their spouses. Not to mention how Bastien and David are with one another. Is that what gay is? I don’t know and it… it’s kind of driving me nuts.”
Levlin gave a long, slow sigh. He closed his eyes for a moment, and Rafe thought he’d said the wrong thing. “This is the problem,” Levlin said through gritted teeth, his accent thickening with each word. “A person’s youth and their early to midtwenties are spent trying to figure out who they are.” His eyes flashed open and locked with Rafe’s. “You should be figuring out what you like, how things work, and enjoying yourself. Instead you’re trying to figure out what being gay is. It’s so fucking unfair, Rafe. Unfair to you, to all the young men who’ve had to go through the same thing, and to every person who does not fall under the heterosexual banner.” He humphed. “Sexuality is part of our make-up, but not all of it. Unfortunately society has deigned that anything other than perfectly ramrod straight is deviant, and that everything to do with the person is thus suspect. After all, if a person enjoys the company of a person of their own sex, then they must not be trustworthy or a good person. Right?”
Levlin shot back the last of his coffee and continued. “Gay is a tag, Rafe. Technically it only means what you want it to mean. Tell me… what worries you about that particular label?”
Rafe played with his cup while he considered the question. He was still locked with Levlin’s hazel eyes, and he couldn’t look away. “It means I’m not worthy,” he said in a husky voice. The words poured out of his mouth without his ability to stop them, phrases he hadn’t even realized had coalesced in his mind. “I’m not worthy to love or be loved by the person I’m attracted to. It means I’ll never be able to meet someone across the altar of the temple to be married. It means,” he stressed, “that I’m different and not normal.”
“Let’s go.” Not giving Rafe the chance to ask why, Levlin quickly stood up. Rafe followed out to the car. He was almost afraid to ask what he’d done wrong. Partially because he knew. He was different. Not normal. He probably didn’t even deserve to be in the same car as Levlin.
Levlin drove several miles out of town and then pulled off the highway, underneath some bushy tree limbs. He turned and faced Rafe. “The baristas were watching us, and this conversation became too private for their ears,” he explained gently. “First off, Rafe, that definition of gay? That’s the kind of definition that sends wonderful young men like you to danger and suicide, and I don’t even want you going down that road. So let’s get rid of that label completely.”
So did that mean he wasn’t gay?
“Are you attracted to men?” he asked.
That was easy enough. “Yeah,” Rafe said.
“No.” Sure. Rafe could tell if a woman was pretty or not, but he had never been attracted.
“Not that I can recall.”
“Rafe, labels only matter as much as the person with that label cares about it. Gay has so many meanings to so many people. It’s not a surprise you don’t know exactly what it is. So how about no label?” Levlin suggested.
Rafe considered the question. “What would I say? I mean, isn’t that a part of figuring out who I am?”
“No,” Levlin said. “Figuring out who you are is about figuring out what you like, who you like, and what you enjoy doing. It has nothing to do with labels. Unfortunately we’re good at latching on to them. And if someone blatantly asks you if you’re gay? Your answer only has to serve you. You can tell them yes, no, or ‘I’m only attracted to a certain section of the male population.’”
Rafe snorted a laugh.
Levlin continued. “There is so much more to you than your sexuality, Rafe. Is it important? Yes. Should it be what you base your decisions on? If we were in a perfect world, I would say no. But we aren’t. People are going to judge you no matter who you are or what you do. You need to decide who you are, what you’re comfortable with, and what you can’t hide. Because if something is big—such as our sexual preference is—hiding it is one of the worst things you can do to your psyche.
“Will you get judged? Yes. Sometimes fairly, sometimes unfairly, and some by pricks who are so afraid of their own sexuality that they point the finger at you so nobody looks too closely at theirs. The thing is, Rafe,” he said, his voice going from passionate to gentle, “as long as you are proud of yourself and have a support team, you can face anything and anyone. So let’s build up Rafe Norton and let the rest find its place.”
Rafe gave him a tremulous smile and nodded. “That sounds good. So… do you not consider yourself gay, then?”
“I got tired of the shit that went hand-in-hand with that word. Lately the term ‘queer’ has come back. And even though—or maybe because—most people don’t truly know what it means, I can give it my own meaning and I’m happy with the result. Because if someone asks about my sexuality, more than likely they’re going to ask what ‘queer’ means. At that point, I can tell them what it means to me.”
“And not have to live by someone else’s definition.” That made total sense to Rafe. And was actually kind of liberating.
Eighteen-year-old Nephi Norton goes to Falcon Pointe University to find himself. Away from his conservative family, he hopes to discover if his attraction to men is the real deal. Encouraged to be someone a little different, he starts using his middle name. “Rafe” quickly makes friends, some of whom use a paddle to dispense caring discipline, and he lives it up—until midterms hit and he realizes he’s flunking statistics class.
When Scotland native Éigneachán Jackson Levlin offers to help, Rafe is eager to accept—not only because Levlin is a psychologist, but also because he’s out and proud and hot as hell.
As their relationship heats up, Rafe decides to spend one last Christmas with his family before he tells them. When his little sister outs him to his siblings, they turn out to be fully supportive, and he takes heart—until he introduces Levlin to his father, who brutally dismisses both of them. Now Rafe must come to peace with his father’s rejection or risk losing Levlin—and all he has become at Falcon Pointe—forever.
Thianna Durston is a writer by day and supernova by night. Or at least that’s what the faeries tell her. And who is she to deny those pesky *cough* lovely little creatures?
She lives in the Pacific Northwest, though her heart belongs elsewhere. In the meantime, until she can return to the place she calls home, she happily lives in a city that still thinks it’s a small town. Thankfully, it has given her muse lots of amusing places to start a story.