Our Happy Hours

This wonderful collection of stories, essays, anecdotes, and poetry came to fruition thanks to the vision and hard work of S Renée Bess and Lee Lynch. They would be the first thank everyone else involved with the project who gave freely of their services: contributors, cover designer, editors, proofreaders and publisher.

Our Happy Hours

Our Happy Hours: LGBT Voices From the Gay Bars

The inspiration for gathering material from so many sources came to Renée in the aftermath of the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando. She realised, listening to news reports, that many of us have stories to tell of our experiences in bars and clubs…from having the courage to walk into a public place, to dressing how we wanted to appear, to finding the spaces where we felt safe.

Journeys of self-discovery were made possible by having venues to gather in, to find out we weren’t alone. A good number of these stories are told here. My contribution comes, not from my own personal experience but, from what I’ve been told it was like for a young woman arriving in London from another part of England in the 1960s. Finding the Gateways Club was everything she had dreamt about.

Excerpt from Gateway to Heaven:

Slowly she felt herself relaxing. She’d made it. The women were enjoying themselves, chatting, laughing, couples holding onto each other. It was beyond anything she had imagined. All were dressed as they wanted to present themselves; femmes in pretty dresses and skirts, with make-up and teased hair. Butches, like herself, wearing either shirts and ties or doing James Dean impersonations attired in tight muscle shirts and jeans.

Humming along to the song currently playing on the Jukebox, Bobby Vee singing “Take Good Care of My Baby”, she slowly became aware of someone who had stopped in front of her.

“Hi. Haven’t seen you here before. What’s your name?”

It was the Dusty impersonator she had seen on the street earlier.

“Um, Devon.” She gave a nonchalant shrug. “Friends call me Dev.”

“Pleased to meet you, Dev. I’m Sandy.”

She put her glass down on the nearby table. “Would you…um?” she gestured towards the middle of the room where others were moving to the music.

“Gladly.”

Just as they reached the edge of the dance area, the song changed to a slow tune, another one she recognised “Release Me”. The dance floor filled up rapidly and Dev wasn’t sure how to proceed. Sensing her hesitation, Sandy pulled her close and whispered in her ear, “Move with me.”

So much has changed since those days, yet some things have stayed the same. Finding your community and a safe place to be yourself can be just as daunting as it was fifty years ago.

Don’t hesitate – buy this book and tell your friends about it. Proceeds from sales go to supporting two LGBTQ youth organisations.

Bella Books / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon CA / Barnes & Noble

List of contributors (in order of appearance in the book):

Ann Aptaker, Dontá Morrison, Rae Theodore, James Schwartz, Jennifer Morales, Cheryl Head, Heather Jane, Beth Burnett, Cindy Rizzo, Stephen Reigns, Clay Kerrigan, Earlon Sterling, Sallyanne Monti, Karen DiPrima, S. Renee Bess, Richard Natale, Mercedes Lewis, Martha Miller, Liz McMullen, Rebekah Weatherspoon, Penny Mickelbury, Johnny Townsend, Merril Mushroom, Brian Heyburn, Lee Lynch, Joan Nestle, Ian Cassidy, Angela Garrigan, Nahshon Anderson Fuentes, Ardy Tibby, Katharine E. K. Duckett, Rachel E. Bailey, Darryl Denning, Lisa Carlson, Katherine V. Forrest, Jen Silver, Shelley Thrasher, Kitty Kat, Jamie Anderson, Shawn Marie Bryan, Ann Laughlin, JP Howard, L. K. Early, Patrick Coulton, Michael Ward, Karin Kallmaker and Bonnie J. Morris.


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Buying Links:

Changing Perspectives: Affinity Rainbow Publications / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Smashwords

Running From Love: Affinity Rainbow Publications / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books / Smashwords / Apple iTunes

The Circle Dance: Affinity eBooks /Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books/Smashwords / Apple iTunes

Christmas at WinterbourneAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK /Barnes & Noble /Bella Books / Smashwords /Apple iTunes

The Starling Hill Trilogy:

Starting OverAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books /Smashwords Apple iTunes

Arc Over TimeAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes

Carved in StoneAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes


 

Our Happy Hours…coming soon!

A year ago I saw a submission request for short stories, memoirs, or poems for an anthology to celebrate and commemorate the importance of gay and lesbian bars in our community. The book’s collators are S Renée Bess and Lee Lynch.

As Renée explains in her recent blog for Women and Words, the idea came to her while thinking about the The Pulse Nightclub tragedy in Orlando and whether or not many people outside the LGBTQ community would grasp the idea of what a place like this means to us.

I really wanted to contribute a piece for the book but my experience of bars is fairly limited. However my wife was a regular visitor to the Gateways club in London when she moved to the city from Scotland in the 1960s. Her memories of that time gave me the germ of an idea for a story.

What struck me was how difficult it was in those days to find out where to go, how to meet people. Closeted lifestyles meant you had to be very careful. The available publications at the time had names that gave nothing away: The Minorities Research Group produced a monthly journal, Arena Three. Kenric was set up as a network of social groups throughout the country and published a newsletter. My wife had to pay for a Post Office Box so that she could receive these publications without arousing the suspicions of her landlady or employers.

In writing my piece for the anthology, Gateway to Heaven, I tried to capture the thrill of discovery for a young woman in 1968 venturing into a lesbian bar for the first time. I was extremely thrilled when the story was accepted.

I’m looking forward to reading all the other contributions in the book: Our Happy Hours, LGBT Voices From the Gay Bars. And it is due out on 1 November, published by Flashpoint Productions.

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All the book’s royalties are being donated to two organisations that provide services to LGBTQ youth in Philadelphia and New York.


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Buying Links:

Running From Love: Affinity Rainbow Publications / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books / Smashwords / Apple iTunes

The Circle Dance: Affinity eBooks /Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books/Smashwords / Apple iTunes

Christmas at WinterbourneAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK /Barnes & Noble /Bella Books / Smashwords /Apple iTunes

The Starling Hill Trilogy:

Starting OverAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books /Smashwords Apple iTunes

Arc Over TimeAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes

Carved in StoneAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes


 

Happy Valley Pride Festival

Hebden Bridge will be host to a very special event next week and I’m proud to be part of it. I attended a volunteers’ meeting last night and came away enthused and excited about the whole thing.

The organisers have done a fantastic job of creating the Happy Valley Pride Festival and this is the inaugural event.

 

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Information on the website

If you are in the area, please come along and take part. There are a series of fringe events leading up to the main day of celebration that takes place on Saturday 13 August.

I’ve volunteered to help out at the poetry evening on Thursday 11 August and although I don’t have any poetry to offer, I will very likely be able to do a short reading sometime during the evening. Also on Thursday I will be on hand at the Festival Box Office in the Town Hall, selling tickets and merchandise from 12 til 2.

Festival Day: Saturday 13 August

There are a lot of fun family-oriented things planned which will be free of charge such as a treasure hunt, pink dog show, plus a bake-off and cake auction – all taking place in the Town Hall where there will also be a number of stalls, and I will be there to sell and sign my books as well.

At 4pm, Peter Tatchell is giving a talk at the Birchcliffe Centre titled: The Unfinished Battle for LGBTQ Rights. Then on the Saturday evening it’s party time with the Happy Valley Pride Main Stage at the Trades Club –live music and DJs, also featuring David Hoyle and Huddersfield Ska rockers Wobbly Bob.

From 4 August to 1 September, the Happy Valley Pride Art Exhibition is available to view at Nelson’s Wine Bar showcasing a wide range of work by local artists.

That’s just a flavour of what’s happening. Please check out the progamme and see what catches your eye. If you can’t make it to the festival, there are two regular events that take place year round – the Happy Valley Pride Social Evening and the Happy Valley Pride Poets Society.

All good fun – with the aim of bringing the community together to celebrate just being who we are and being free to express that in so many ways, particularly through the arts.


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Where to buy my books:

The Circle Dance: Affinity eBooks /Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books/ Smashwords / Apple iTunes

The Starling Hill Trilogy:

Starting OverAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella Books / Smashwords / Apple iTunes

Arc Over TimeAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes

Carved in StoneAffinity eBooks / Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes

It’s In Her Kiss

Affinity eBooks is publishing a special holiday anthology in May and all proceeds go to charity. The chosen charity is the Montrose Center, which is a full service community-based LGBT centre in Houston.

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Affinity asked all their authors to submit a holiday-themed short story for inclusion in this collection. We could choose any holiday or special day we liked – Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Saint Patrick’s Day – anything at all.

They may have regretted giving us free rein, as I chose a fairly obscure event although I gather it is still celebrated with vigour in some places, not just Britain. I’m really pleased, not only that my story was accepted, but also that the anthology is being released in May – because my story revolves around Beltane, which in ancient societies was their way of welcoming the return of summer on the first of May.

Beltane is a pagan festival not appropriated by Christians…perhaps because it involves celebrating fertility with naked dancing in the woods followed by couples consummating temporary ‘marriages’. I’m not sure how much of this goes on nowadays – and anyone planning to engage in outdoor activities this year will be in danger of freezing their bits off as we are having a cold snap with snow forecast in many places over the weekend.

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Optimistic campers out in the field today!

My story for the anthology is entitled Beltane in Space and it is a continuation of The Christmas Sweepstake story published by Affinity in their 2014 Christmas Collection – which is available FREE on the Affinity website.

Beltane in Space

The crew of the Heraklion is back for another long inter-galactic flight, only this time with a new captain at the helm. Convincing the by-the-book captain to let them have a Beltane festival was pretty easy, but will sexy chief engineer, Tess, be able to convince her to take part in a more personal celebration?

The other stories in this collection range from New Year’s Day through to Christmas with contributions from Alane Hotchkin, Erin O’Reilly, Erica Lawson, Ali Spooner, Lacey Schmidt, Annette Mori, Charlene Neil and TJ Vertigo.

So why not see what’s ‘in her kiss’ and give to a worthwhile cause at the same time.


Books by Jen Silver

Links for The Circle Dance: Affinity eBooks/Amazon US / Amazon UK / Bella BooksSmashwords / Apple iTunes

Ebook links for The Starling Hill Trilogy:

Starting Over: Amazon US / Amazon UK

Arc Over Time: Amazon US / Amazon UK

Carved in Stone: Amazon US / Amazon UK