Souljah

JOHN R. GORDON'S NEW NOVEL, Souljah, comes with an unusual gimmick: A movie trailer. That's because a short film, starring Ludvig Bonin and Nathan Clough, recreates a key sequence early in the novel. You can head over to YouTube and watch it right now.

Done? Enjoy that, did you? Make you want to find out what happens next, did it?

This wonderful little short is just a hint of the rollercoaster ride Gordon takes us on with Souljah, which oscillates between horror, comedy (one of the most grimly funny sex scenes you'll ever read), tragedy, and in the nail biting climax - which takes us on a heart-stopping night chase through London's streets, thriller.

"When violent thug Evill and his drug-dealing South London crew menace Stanlake, a young African refugee, and his mother Poppy, little do they realize that this effeminate youth is a former child soldier, capable of the most extreme responses. Forced to meet violence with violence, Stanlake stands up to his tormentors, only to find himself drawn into a darkly erotic and passionate relationship with the damaged, closetted Evill. As love begins to bloom between the two deeply-scarred young men old evil erupts, threatening to consume them both and compelling Stanlake to face – and move beyond – his past."

Gordon takes us back to when Stanlake was growing up, before, and most gruelling of all, during his time as a child soldier. Anyone who's seen Johnny Mad Dog will know what to expect: a catalogue of dehumanising horrors, that nevertheless somehow play out in a hyperreal, dreamlike way. It's Lord of the Flies: boys doing things they really shouldn't. Gordon doesn't allow us to look away from this, and uses that to filter our view of urban Britain. Turns out it's no less cruel than the war zone Stanlake fled from.

Gordon has form with this. His brilliant 2012 novel Faggamuffin saw a gay Jamaican fleeing "the most homophobic country in the world" (a title now hotly contested by a number of African countries), and we got to see London through his eyes. With Souljah, he goes deeper; Stanlake must endure the dehumanising process of seeking asylum, and find his place in a world that is completely alien to him.

But it's not all doom and gloom. Stanlake's - and his mother Poppy's - observations about modern Britain are often amusing, and his slowly blossoming relationship with Evill a joy - albeit one that constantly feels like it might be crushed by the ugliness around it.

Despite its depth and power, you probably won't hear about Souljah in the gay press. This month's Attitude has previews of books about Oscar Wilde, and the latest from the lady who wrote Tipping The Velvet, and The Advocate is similarly backward looking and whitewashed. The stories of black gay men just aren't of interest to the gay mainstream.

That's a shame, because this is a story that deserves everyone's full attention. Souljah is genuinely breathtaking, in scale, and in ambition. At times, it had me crying like a baby. As events rapidly escalated in the novel's final act, I found I just couldn't put it down. You won't want to either. Trust me: go out and buy Souljah. You won't be disappointed.

Souljah is out on Monday 22nd September 2014.


Issue 189: Ken Dahl, Doug Locke, Diego Lauzen, Todrick Hall, HotRod, Ballet Boys, John Waters, John Rechy, Ray Rice, rape, Regan, Rainbow Laces, and more...



the week's
news
& pop
culture,
with a
gay
bias.


| ponder this |

|  Who pops the question - top or bottom?


<  Why is there no room for male victims in the discourse we have created around gender and violence?


<  How abusers destroy the very tools victims need to escape them.

|  Will misogyny bring down the atheist movement?


<  Would Daniele Watts have been arrested if she was a white woman, or a black man?

|  Why do we assume that all working-class people crave social mobility?

|  The privileged few are tightening their grip on the arts. "Politics, journalism, the arts – they are all increasingly controlled by nice people from wealthy backgrounds. And their niceness is strangling us."

|  Millennials aren't using credit cards, and it might come back to haunt them.

|  Adulthood isn't dead - it's just growing up.

<  Death and horror: there's no spectacle we so eagerly pursue – but can we see it for what it is? "Seeing a person dead or in agony, we oscillate between the visceral relief of ‘that’s not me’ and the sickening horror of ‘one day it will be’. But should we look in the first place?"


|  Are corporations the new gay advocates?

| america |

|  Gay man commits suicide in the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station car park.

|  Alabama mother attempts to deny her dead son's husband his estate.

< Walter Lee Williams, founder of the International Gay & Lesbian Review, has pleaded guilty to having sex with underage boys he met online.

|  Gay immigrants hold rally in front of the White House.

<  Harlem preacher warns out NFL player Michael Sam could marry a 9-year-old boy.

>  The New York wine bar offering "The Big STRAIGHT ice cream."

|  Disowned gay Georgia teen Daniel Ashley Pierce has helped launch a new homeless gay youth shelter in Atlanta.

<  Thirteen times the Reagan White House press briefing erupted with laughter over AIDS.

|  Thirty-eight men are sexually assaulted every single day in the US military.

|  Everything you need to know about the war on drugs.

<  Why black Chicagoans distrust and fear the police.

| europe |

|  England: Transport for London (TfL) is to install a rainbow crossing outside Arsenal Tube station, in support of Rainbow Laces 2014.

|  England: Police tell men using Brighton cruising spot to "#zipitup".

<  Wales: This is 20-year-old Tyler Maddick. He was blinded in one eye after having petrol thrown in his face in an anti-gay attack.

|  Finland: The Halpa-Halli chain of department stores have refused to stock the new Tom of Finland stamps, for fear of offending customers.

|  France sends emigrants to more countries than anyone else.

| latin america |

<  Brazil: This is eighteen-year-old João Antônio Donati. His body was found in a vacant lot in the Brazilian city of Inhumas, his neck broken. Police are investigating the possibility that he was murdered in a homophobic hate crime.

<  Colombia: This is sixteen-year-old Sergio Urrego. He killed himself last month after persecution by his Catholic school. "My sexuality is not my sin, it's my own paradise," Urrego wrote on Facebook before he took his life.


| africa |

<  Gambia: The National Assembly has passed an anti-gay bill that uses almost identical language as Uganda's overturned Anti-Homosexuality Act.

|  Uganda: The most anti-gay nation on earth is still chasing gay travel dollars.

>  South Africa: Mpumalanga makes history with first pride parade.

|  Hell in the Hot Zone. "As the Ebola epidemic rages, two questions have emerged: How did the deadly virus escape detection for three months? And why has a massive international effort failed to contain it? Traveling to Meliandou, a remote Guinean village and the likely home of Patient Zero, Jeffrey E. Stern tracks the virus’s path—and the psychological contagion that is still feeding the worst Ebola outbreak in history."

| asia |

<  New Zealand: Mr Gay New Zealand, Troy Williams, denies allegations by the organisers of the Mr Gay World contest that he was kicked out of the contest for improper conduct, including being “drunk and disorderly.”

>  New Zealand: Matt McCormick and Travis McIntosh - two straight men - have got legally married in order to win a competition to attend the next Rugby World Cup.

|  New Zealand: Young men drugged, assaulted in hostel.

| middle east |

<  Egypt: The men arrested for the country's first gay wedding have "tested negative" for homosexuality.

|  Afghanistan: The girls who live as boys.

| inside the spaceship |


|  Go ahead with your wearables and your iWatch. Just don't say I didn't warn you about the day your iPants would crash. "The more we convert accessories to digital, the more disruptive it is when they inevitably fail."

|  Facebook is testing expiration dates for your posts.

|  Big Cable's big problem in the net neutrality debate: Everyone hates them.

| art & design |

<  Exhibit B, the human zoo, is a grotesque parody – boycott it. "This show perpetuates objectification of the black body. If you pay to see it you’re colluding in the worst kind of racial abuse."

<  Be sure to check out Tatjana Plitt's pictures of Gay Warriors.

| word! |

|  Margaret Atwood's new work will remain unseen for a century.

|  John R. Gordon's writer's diary: Ecstatic alchemy.

<  Talking to City of Night author John Rechy.

>  Book review: Male Sex Work And Society, Victor Minichiello and John Scott. "A compelling new book... that examines the practice of sex work by men from both a modern day and a historical perspective."

<  Book review: Lincoln Avenue: Chicago Stories, by Gregg Shapiro. "A lively collection of stories that are fun, nostalgic, and sexy."

|  Marvel knows you love Wolverine. So it's killing him.

| shouting in the night |

>  Broadway star Cheyenne Jackson has married his boyfriend Jason Landau.

<  Theatre review: Briefs – The Second Coming. "A sickeningly delicious, beautifully executed feast for the senses."

>  Theatre review: West End Bares 2014 – Nude Dunnit? "This show opens at boiling point and just gets hotter and hotter as the night progresses. There is plenty of flesh, if that’s what you’ve come for, but there’s also plenty of talent and this is what sets it apart from any other strip show you’ll see on any other stage in any other town."

| at the movies |

|  What makes a film "gay"?

|  Talking to John Waters.

|  New Queer Cinema: Renegotiating Male Hustlers. Male sex workers, as entertainment.

<  Twenty-six hustlers on film.

|  DVD review: Bruno & Earlene Go To Vegas. "A film about the bonds that form between those living on the outside, which packs a punch and entertains, far outstripping its microbudget roots."

<  DVD review: I'm A Porn Star. "It's an enjoyable and diverting lively romp that will fascinate and amuse anybody with the slightest interest in the subject."

> Cinema review: Ballet Boys. "The cinematography takes on a Nordic noir feel, the dancers dimly lit amongst twinkling Norwegian cityscapes... Above all though, this is a documentary about boyhood friendship and becoming a man – themes that are utterly relatable beyond the boundaries of ballet." (So So Gay) "A refreshing insight into ballet from a male perspective for a change, and even as lightweight as director Kenneth Elvebakk has made this profile, it is still difficult not to be charmed by these three young men and want them all to succeed and be happy too." (TheGayUK) "Even if there's nothing particularly new about this film, the upfront Scandinavian approach sets it apart, as does the lively, often very silly camaraderie between these three teens." (ContactMusic)

<  Cinema review: Pride. "A great story you probably haven’t heard before, one that deserves to be heard loud and clear." (So So Gay) "A hark-back to classic 90s films such as Full Monty and Billy Elliott, but with a much more out and proud attitude, along with a lot more laughter." (Big Gay Picture Show)

>  Richard Kiel, the actor best known for his role as Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me, is dead. He was 74.

|  Take a first look at Paternity Leave, the forthcoming film starring Eating Out's Chris Salvatore and Charlie David (Dante's Cove); and watch the trailer for Ballet Boys.


| the box |

<  Gay web series Tough Love seeks funding on Kickstarter.

|  The web series is dying – and Netflix and Amazon Prime are responsible.


|  Why Boardwalk Empire just jumped from 1924 to 1931.

|  Nurse Jackie will end next year, three years after it should have done.

<  Little House On The Prairie just turned forty. Celebrate its decline into weirdness.

|  Why there's not much point in arguing about Moffat's Doctor Who any more.

|  Looking back at Joey, ten years on.

>  Gays of our lives: The latest from our favourite gays in soaps, with Anthony D. Langford. Left, Finland's Secret Lives.

<  Gay couple become the first real life couple to marry on the old Coronation Street set. The series moved to a new outdoor set last year, and the old one is due to be demolished in the near future.

|  Watch Todrick Hall's latest parody, Cell Black Django; the trailer for Red Band Society, a new series starring Wilson Cruz and Dave Annable (Brothers & Sisters); David demonstrates his talents for his fellow celebrity housemates; and a 1977 clip of Joan Rivers and Robin Williams, who recently passed away within a month of each other.


| beats, rhymes & life |

|  Snoop Dogg Tweets, deletes anti-gay slur at Instagram user.

|  Why do rappers put on fake accents?

>  Talking to Doug Locke.

|  Bob Crewe, the gay musician and songwriter perhaps best known for co-writing The Four Seasons' Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, is dead. He was 82.

<  Sam Smith teams up with A$AP Rocky for a new version I'm Not the Only One. By the way, after saying he doesn't want to be a spokesman for the gay community, he's changed his mind. He now does.

>  Videos: Gay singer-songwriter Solomon - Crash Into You; Ken Dahl - Casper; Perfume Genius - Grid; and Zebra Katz speaks.


| sex |

<  The booty-eating renaissance. "Long considered a taboo in heterosexual circles anilingus has been a steady topic of conversation over the past few months. Trend pieces have been written in New York, GQ, and Cosmopolitan. Chris Brown Instragram'd (then promptly deleted) a picture of himself licking a model's ass with the caption 'Eat da booty! #idgt [I don't get tired] lol.'"

>  Crunching the numbers on male prostitution.

|  Finding haven in gay saunas.

>  Talking to "escort, powerbottom, bon vivant, and social media maven" Eli Lewis.

<  Hotrod's adventures in Montreal. "So apparently losing your glasses in the club and not being able to see shit constitutes being "too drunk" which results in getting thrown out of the club, dragged to the middle of the street by security, handed over to cops, handcuffed and thrown in a police car to be let out 2 blocks after. Of course this isn't over... And we're starting with that cow of a woman you call security."

>  Oh dear God. More pictures of Diego Lauzen and newcomer Flex on the set of TimTales in Barcelona...

...And Ken Ott (far leftlooking cute for VoyeurBoys.

|  And this: Bel Ami's living boy God Kris Evan's bareback bottoming debut. It's been years in the making.

|  Sean Zevran and Brent Corrigan come together for Falcon.

| arena |

<  Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp’s relationship was far from "normal". "In acquitting Pistorius of murder, Judge Masipa seems to be saying that brutality is part and parcel of ordinary life."


>  Oscar Pistorius: Reeva Steenkamp was a victim of South Africa’s macho culture. The "trial put a spotlight on the pervasive male violence that has survived apartheid, with women all too often the collateral damage."

|  Oscar Pistorius: The verdict exposes South Africa’s fraught racial history. "Reeva Steenkamp is dead, a mythical black intruder invoked, and the defence is frankly implausible. Just what does a man have to do to be found guilty of murdering a woman?"



<  Ray Rice was indefinitely suspended. Why weren't these players?

>  Here's another NFL asshole: Adrian Peterson. The anti-marriage equality bigot has been indicted on a child abuse charge.

|  Why now is the perfect time for a gay NFL player to come out.

| the human body |

|  Is "undetectable" the new safe sex?

|  Slut-shaming is a cause of HIV.

|  Deadly contact: When animals and humans exchange diseases.

|  What's wrong with alternative medicine?

|  How much sleep do we really need?

<  "Introvert" isn't a dirty word, or a character flaw to be overcome.

|  Trying to change your regional accent is practically impossible.

|  Do subliminal messages actually work?

|  It's time to stop photoshopping your selfies.

| betta work! |

>  Dignity. "Fast-food workers and a new form of labor activism."

|  Six science-based tips to make you more productive at work.

| planet earth |

|  The ozone layer is recovering.

|  The oceans are acidifying at the fastest rate in 300 million years. How bad could it get?

| and whilst you're thinking about that, think about this... |

|  Pubs? Shopping? What are the things we do today that we’ll be nostalgic about in decades to come?

<  This abandoned Rotterdam water park is now a mushroom farm.

|  Legoland adult night!

|  The worst thing about SeaWorld? How boring it is.

|  And finally, has Andrew stumbled into porn? Davey Wavey enlists porn star Topher DiMaggio to talk about the Homo Code; Rogue "Marbie" Scott opens up about depression; and Walter on why gay African Americans aren't supporting Michael Sam.

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