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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Guest Author Post: Lex Valentine on Writing A Gay Sports Romance


When it comes to professional sports, there are no gay athletes, owners or coaches. At least, there aren’t until those people retire. Once they retire they sometimes opt to tell the world that they’ve been gay all along. I wonder if they do that in order to get the world to see that their sexual orientation never mattered when it came to doing their job? Because honestly, it doesn’t matter and people need to understand that.

The reasons that people in professional sports, especially the big five (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and NSL), don’t come out of the closet are myriad, but from everything I’ve read, most of those reasons have their basis in fear. Why would these people fear coming out? Why would an owner fear coming out? That seems crazy to me yet the owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates didn’t come out until after he’d left the game.

I understand that players fear losing endorsements which is one of their sources of income. They have lives to live after their careers are over and they have to fund those lives. Most of them abuse their bodies in order to play the game and they pay for it in later years. Even if they had other careers to fall back on, they might not be able to pursue them if their bodies give out. They need to get as much money as possible while they are playing because as soon as they are done, the money often stops.

In my newest novel Scrambling, my two heroes suffer from this fear of being outed. However, they decide to do something about it and they get the PR director of their team involved. This woman is a dynamo who sells them to the media as the “New Era of the NFL.” If only this could be true in real life! How awesome would that be?

But in Scrambling my guys still have plenty of other issues. They come out, but coming out has its own set of problems. Some players pick on them. The media isn’t always positive.  They have to spend an inordinate amount of time going to LGBT events. They are living in a fish bowl that is the NFL and it’s now magnified many times over because they are the first two openly gay players in the league. And their personal lives suffer for the scrutiny.

This is a pretty angsty story. My two heroes have been friends since childhood and despite their closeness, they both fear one thing more than anything else in the world…losing each other. At first, when they discover their sexual preferences, they fear telling each other because they don’t want to lose their best friend. Later, when that no longer becomes and issue, they each fear that the other will discover their great unrequited love. Yes, they fall in love with each other and the fear of losing their friendship over it keeps them both silent for years.

In many ways their fears are childish and in some ways they are not. But in all ways their fears are exacerbated by being in the magnified fishbowl of the first two players in the NFL to be openly gay. Fear permeates their lives and it confuses them because when they first thought about coming out, they thought it would solve all their problems. All it did was make them worse.

So yes, this is high angst. But hey, we have a really happy ending to look forward to. Even when Evan and Reed get together, it’s a slow process. They question how they can make things work. They question all the things that kept them apart. And they make a plan to build and maintain a life together and work out how football fits into that.

This is a departure for me when it comes to novels. Usually, I don’t have such a high volume of angst in my books but the subject of gays in professional sports is an angst ridden subject. If you don’t believe me, read some of the articles out there about players, coaches and owners who have come out after retirement. Read the stories about players who are heterosexual and support same sex marriage. It’s a touchy topic. And it shouldn’t be. Who we each sleep with and share our life with is no one’s business and it shouldn’t play into our jobs. Yet it does and it makes good fodder for novels. If you’d like to see how much it does, just check out Scrambling.  

Thanks for having me, KT!

Lex

Scrambling

BUY LINKS


Available for $6.99 from Loose Id

Blurb: Evan McAdam has two constants in his life--football and his friendship with Reed Matthews. From the age of six, Evan's played football alongside Reed. In his teens, he realized he was gay and loved Reed, but fear kept him from confiding his deepest emotions to his best friend.

When he and Reed are drafted to the L.A. Stars, Evan decides to come out. His decision impacts Reed who's been in the closet too. The two men struggle with secrets of unrequited love while facing the world as the first two openly gay NFL players.

When injury forces Evan to retire, the love he bears Reed can no longer be hidden. But will Reed be able to reciprocate, or will Evan lose both football and the man he's always loved?

Excerpt:

Reed held his breath and watched the play of emotion across Evan’s face. He probably shouldn’t have been so blatant about what he needed, but he couldn’t stop himself. All he could think about was that Len lay dying and it could so easily have been him had he ever given in to Len’s whining about his use of condoms. Right now, he needed Evan to make him feel alive, to chase away the specter of death and disease. He needed to feel whole, and only Evan could give that to him.

“You’re overwrought. You don’t know what you’re asking.” 

Evan’s voice quivered a little, and Reed could feel the tension in his friend’s body. He could also sense an underlying current of fear in Evan’s voice although he had no idea what Evan could fear. 

“Yes, I do. I want you to make love to me.” 

There. He’d said it aloud. All his hopes and dreams since he was fifteen years old, laid out for Evan in words of one syllable. No mistaking them for anything except what they were, a blatant invitation for Evan to fuck him. He opened his mouth and made the invitation even more clear, the words driven by the emotion he’d held so long inside.

“I want you. I need to feel you touch me, taste me. I need to be with you. I want your arms around me, your cock inside me. I need to be with someone who cares about me. For sixteen years, it’s been you and me. Even Len and Bryce haven’t come between us. It’s always been you and me.” 

Reed poked Evan’s chest with a finger when he said you and his own when he said me. Evan blinked and shook his head as if he were dazed. “I-I don’t understand. Where is this coming from?” he asked with a frown.

“It’s coming from deep inside me, Ev. Whenever something is wrong, you’re there for me and vice versa, although God knows it’s usually me with problems not you,” he said with a tinge of bitterness at the life destiny had given him. “This time, I need more than just hand-holding. Will you give it to me?”

He stared at the man he’d loved since they were kids. The man he’d shared everything with. The one he couldn’t imagine his life without. And he willed Evan to say yes.

A long, soft breath escaped Evan, tension leaving his big body. “Yes. You know I love you. I could never say no to anything you ever asked of me.”

Reed pushed himself against Evan’s chest, his hands coming up to frame the handsome, beloved face of his best friend. “Then just love me. Death is cold. I need to be warm.” He pressed his mouth to Evan’s, and a pleasure like none he’d ever experienced exploded inside him.

Evan’s lips were soft and warm, gentle in a way Reed hadn’t known men could be. He took control of the kiss, took control of Reed, his hands and his mouth leading Reed to ecstasy. Their tongues slid together, tentative in the way of new lovers but without urgency or fear, just a growing awareness and heat. Evan’s hands slipped over Reed’s shoulders and down his back, causing a slow burn in Reed’s veins. 

The limo turned a corner, and they rocked, swaying with the movement of the car. Reed pulled his mouth from Evan’s, and they stared at each other, breathing hard.

“Are you sure? I don’t want to push you into something you don’t want,” he asked as pain threatened. He needed Evan, but he could walk away if Evan didn’t want him.

The big man pushed a trembling hand through his sandy hair. “I want it,” he replied, reaching for Reed’s hand. He pulled it toward him and pressed it into his lap. 

Beneath his fingers, Reed could feel the hard ridge of Evan’s erection, and his heart sang in triumph. The evidence of Evan’s desire was enough for him tonight. He didn’t need to own Evan’s heart although he yearned to. 


2 comments:

rachelrueben said...

Sounds like a great book, best of luck to you. I really like the fact you tackled the issues of homosexuality and sports. Teens & children need to see more gay role models everywhere, not just in entertainment.

Lex Valentine said...

Thanks, Rachel! It would be great if athletes would see things that way, but I'm sure it's fear that keeps them silent and that's sad.