Today I am so pleased to welcome Kris Ripper to Joyfully Jay. Kris has come to talk to us about Gays of Our Lives. Kris has also brought along a great giveaway! Please join me in giving Kris a big welcome!
Portraits of Community
Let’s talk about La Vista, shall we? I mean sure, it’s technically not a real place. But let’s talk about it as an idea more than as a place.
I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, in California. (Though I’m an East Bay kid; you won’t catch us referring to it as the San Francisco Bay Area in casual conversation, thank you very much.) It was a hell of a lot of fun to place a fictional town right in the heart of my childhood.
There’s a whole vein of queer fiction that subtracts the sharp edges from what it is to live as a queer person in the world. Happy, lighthearted stories, where families are supportive, coming out might be angsty but is ultimately painless, jobs are not lost and lives are not ruined by homophobia and intolerance. More than that: in these books queer characters go through their daily lives somewhat removed from the constant, relentless strain of living in a world that sees them as <em>other, wrong, disgusting.</em>
A lot of those books are fantastic. They serve as wish fulfillment, describing the world we wish we lived in. They serve as a salve over the wounds of living in our actual world.
I, uh, can’t write those books. I’ve tried. But I grew up queer in a world that crushes queer people beneath its boot, and I came up a freak in a community of freaks that didn’t particularly want me. I wasn’t gay. I wasn’t a lesbian. I wasn’t bisexual. And I sure as hell wasn’t straight. I was genderqueer before the word existed. I grabbed hold of the word “queer” when I was fourteen and never let go because it was the only thing that made sense.
Never having felt like I was part of a community of people who accepted me, I decided to invent one. Enter Club Fred’s, and the folks who call it home.
The polarizing thing about writing queerness—or one of them—is that it’s often black or white. It’s a world without homophobia, or a world where one of the major plot lines is the stress of homophobia. I wanted to do something different.
I wanted to craft a world much like the one I live in: I never have the luxury of forgetting I’m barely tolerated by a portion of my fellow citizens. From bumper stickers, to legislation, to overheard conversations in the grocery store, I always know I am a target.
I’m not alone. My fellow trans and nonbinary folks, my fellow queers, my gay, lesbian, bi, pan siblings—all of us are part of this quilt. We don’t always get along. Sometimes we’re at each other’s throats.
Like it or not, we’re all part of this thing, and I wanted to write that version of my community. The dirty, difficult, rough-edged part, intermingled with the transcendent, the blissful, and the bedrock of what it means to be oppressed, which is that sometimes we attack each other, and sometimes we link arms and face the world, unbeatable, unstoppable.
Club Fred’s, in Queers of La Vista, serves as the symbol of community. It’s a place where you can laugh, and dance, and drink, where you can see everyone you know, where you can go to lick your wounds (or find someone to distract you from them). It’s also where the community is most vulnerable.
You should drop by. Stay a while. Hang out, have a drink of your choice, make friends with the dude reading at the bar, or the woman with purple hair who’s always laughing. If you see the guy with the cane, don’t mind the glower; he’s really very nice once you get to know him.
Tell me about your communities! It’s never just one, of course, because no one is just one thing. And many of our communities contain a whole lot of their own complex intersections. Do you feel that one or two parts of who you are predominate when it comes to the people you hang around? Do you struggle with how to honor all the bits of your identity when you’re most deeply tied into (or feel safest) with only certain groups?
Emerson Robinette only leaves his apartment to get laid and go to work. Having MS—and trying to pretend he doesn’t—makes everything more complicated, especially his fantasies of coming on strong and holding a guy down. Finding a partner who’ll explore that with him isn’t Emerson’s idea of a realistic goal.
Until a chance meeting with a hipster on a bus makes him reconsider. Obie is happy, open-hearted, and warm; what’s more, he gets his kicks being physically dominated, spanked, and teased until he’s begging. It would be perfect, except for one thing: Emerson isn’t made for happiness, and he doesn’t see how a guy like Obie would settle for a cynic like him.
But as far as Obie’s concerned, the only thing keeping them apart is Emerson. Can Emerson handle a boyfriend who’s more invested in his future than he is? Emerson’s barely convinced he has a future. But when Obie’s smiling at him, anything seems possible.
Kris Ripper lives in the great state of California and hails from the San Francisco Bay Area. Kris shares a converted garage with a toddler, can do two pull-ups in a row, and can write backwards. (No, really.) Kris is genderqueer and prefers the z-based pronouns because they’re freaking sweet. Ze has been writing fiction since ze learned how to write, and boring zir stuffed animals with stories long before that.
Connect with Kris:
To celebrate the release of Gays of Our Lives, Kris is giving away your choice of ebook from zir backlist. (Any release from Kris Ripper prior to Gays of Our Lives.) Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on July 16, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!
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