Sydney Pride Festival is upon us, from 12 to 29 June.
Pride is a worldwide LGBTI celebration, commemorating the police raid on the popular Greenwich Village gay bar, the Stonewall Inn, in New York on the night of 27 June 1969. The raid sparked riots spanning several nights, known as the Stonewall Riots, which had become the founding event of the modern gay civil rights movement. The first ever Sydney Mardi Gras march, on 24 June 1978, was timed to commemorate the Stonewall Riots, and was also met with severe police violence.
Sydney Pride Festival will celebrate LGBTI achievements, freedom and pride with a range of events, from the literary to community fundraising to some old-fashioned partying. There will be something for everyone.
The literary event of the season will be ‘Gay Stories‘ on Tuesday, 16 June at 7pm, at the Cocktail Bar of Sydney’s own grand Stonewall Hotel. Gay Stories will bring together three local gay authors, Norman Fox, Nigel Bartlett and Kevin Klehr. The men will each read from their books, while you enjoy the spectacular cocktail menu of the Stonewall Hotel.
‘Finding ecstasy – The true story of a teenage closet case’, by Norman Fox
My partner of 17 years, Norman Fox will be reading from his debut novel, ‘Finding ecstasy – The true story of a teenage closet case‘.
‘Finding Ecstasy‘ is a sobering first novel.
It’s about growing up as an intensely closeted teenager and engaging in high-risk activities.
It’s about the double-lives of a group of A-grade high school students who discover the underground Sydney dance party scene of the late 1980s.
It’s about mental health, drug addiction and taking one too many pills.
Finding Ecstasy is ‘Puberty Blues’ meets ‘Brokeback Mountain’ set against the backdrop of the emerging Sydney rave scene. It’s about the real-life consequences of experiencing too much, too young.
The novel is dedicated to a childhood friend of Norman who passed away as a consequence of drug addiction. It was written to help educate teens going through similar issues today and, hopefully, the people in power who think they know what’s best in terms of public policy on such taboo topics.
Norman entered his formative teenage years just as the dance party scene reached its zenith in Sydney in the late 80s, with one of the most popular venues, the Hordern Pavilion, literally walking distance from his home (which came in handy more than once). Known by the initiated as ‘Club Hordern’, this venue became the home of Sydney’s underground party scene and is the backdrop of his first novel.
He is now working on the sequel to ‘Finding Ecstasy’, slated in for 2016, which is more ‘Brokeback Mountain’ and less ‘Puberty Blues’.
‘King of the Road’, by Nigel Bartlett
The book tells the complex story of David, who’s 11-year-old nephew, Andrew, goes missing. Andrew had been a regular visitor to David’s home right up until the day he disappeared, walking out the front door to visit a neighbour. It doesn’t take long for the police to decide that David – a single man in his thirties, living alone – is their suspect. Soon Andrew’s parents will share that opinion. But David knows that he didn’t take Andrew and he has no choice but to strike out on his own. He is an unlikely vigilante, running away from the police and his own family, and running towards what he hopes desperately is the truth about Andrew’s disappearance.
David is a man on a mission. An ordinary man with an extraordinary mission. It is a mission that will turn him into someone he never thought he would be: the King of the Road, the loner on the highway, the crusader for a sort of justice he has never before had to seek.
Realising that the only way to prove his innocence is to find Andrew, David turns to the one person who he knows will help him: Matty an ex-cop now his personal trainer, whose own son disappeared several years before.
‘King of the Road’ is a compelling story that is almost impossible to stop reading – a hero’s journey, of sorts, with a momentum that is breathtaking even while the subject matter is confronting.
Nigel is a freelance writer and editor who has worked for many prestigious publications in Australia.
He’s a former deputy editor of GQ Australia and Inside Out magazines and has been a regular contributor to Belle and Sunday, the colour supplement for the Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Herald Sun. In addition, he’s freelanced for numerous other titles, ranging from Who to Sunday Life and Harper’s Bazaar, as well as a number of high-profile websites.
Nigel also has a research masters in creative writing from the University of Technology, Sydney. He lives in the inner-city suburb of Redfern.
‘Drama Queens with Love Scenes’ and ‘Drama Queens and Adult Themes’, by Kevin Klehr
In ‘Drama Queens with Love Scenes’ we meet close friends Allan and Warwick who are dead. They’re not crazy about the idea so to help them deal with this dilemma are Samantha, a blond bombshell from the 1950s, and Guy, an insecure angel.
Allan harbours a secret though. He has a romantic crush on his friend, Warwick, but shortly after confiding in his new angel pal, his love interest falls for the cock-sure playwright, Pedro. Not only does Allan have to win the heart of his companion, he also has to grapple with the faded memory of how he actually died.
In Drama Queens and Adult Themes’ Adam is about to discover how much drama a mid-life crisis can be. He’s obsessed with Mannix, the nude model in his art class. But Adam has been married to Wade for nearly two decades, and they don’t have an open relationship.
Little do they know that Fabien, a warlock from the Afterlife, has secretly cast a spell of lust on Adam and his potential toy-boy.
As things begin to heat up, Adam’s guardian angel, Guy, steps in. But what’s the best way to save the relationship? Should Guy subdue Adam’s wandering passions or instigate a steamy threesome?
From an early age Kevin had a passion for writing, jotting down stories and plays until it came time to confront puberty.
After dealing with pimple creams and facial hair, Kevin didn’t pick up a pen again until he was in his thirties. His handwritten manuscript was being committed to paper when his social circumstances changed, giving him no time to write.
Concerned, his partner, Warren, snuck the notebook out to a friend who in turn came back and demanded Kevin finish his novel. It wasn’t long before Kevin’s active imagination was let loose again. Kevin lives with his long-term partner, Warren, in Sydney.
So do yourself a favour and head down to the Stonewall Hotel’s Cocktail Bar on Tuesday evening, 16 June and treat yourself to a cocktail or two, or three, and the works of three fascinating authors who call Sydney home.
If you like the stories, The Bookshop Darlinghurst will be selling the books at the Cocktail Bar on the evening, or you can just wonder down to the store and pick up a copy any time.