Wednesday, 27 July 2016


Best Gay Stories 2015
Editor: Steve Berman
Authors: Various
Publisher: Lethe Press
Genre: Gay Stories
ISBN: 1590210506
Reviewed By: Sandra Scholes

The table of contents to this book features fresh ideas, old hands, burly faces, genderqueer souls, shades of skin and hair as much as it does timber of voice, both actual and authorial. Best Gay Stories 2015 starts and ends with a kiss--between pressed lips are stories about our lives, our daydreams we want to leave our lives for, our oubliettes of our own making that define some lives. And there is laughter and tears and passion and pain, and between these kisses you find pasts, presents, and futures that leave you breathless and mindful that a lot can happen after as well as before you share that kiss.

Over the years, the way gay lives have changed has been much quicker than expected and many have taken the bad with the good. What Steve has tried to say is that new problems have developed as our identity has changed, body dysmorphia affects far more people than anyone could have thought and the tools for getting a potential partner such as Grindr can help or hinder depending on who uses them.

Steve has collected several of what he considers to be the best stories that cover the various problems that gay men can have whether in relationships or not. There are those who are stay at home carers for their elderly parents who sometimes rarely get a break from their responsibility, those suffering the effects of being HIV positive, and do have partners who struggle to help them and a myriad of people who all live with the stresses and strains of modern life.

Here, collected for the first time in one volume is the best stories of 2015 and in my own personal view, my review of these starts out with my own personal favourites.

What Did I Know by Joseph R.G. Demarco. When a friend is diagnosed with the same condition as his aunt, he doesn't know what he can do to help the man he loves. As the tests were done, the results got, all that was needed was for him to keep him comfortable until the inevitable happened. Or at least that is what he imagined until he had the idea of finding someone as all the men at the Gay Liberation Groups had partners. he found one in a member who attracted him, and hoped in some way he might feel normal again. Joseph gives the reader a look at what a fatal illness can do to a person before death and the emptiness one feels after such a loss.

In Lovely Company by Ron Schafrick is about a man who gets a phone call from  his father about him thinking he has got a girlfriend. After his wife had died, his father had become lonely, though  his son doesn't like the prospect of calling a stranger his step mother. The son's own private life is less great, he is trying to keep friendly with his former lover, Michael, though he still has feelings for him. Father and son, both lonely people, yet only one can talk about how he feels and what his son thinks his father feels at having a son who hasn't dated a girl, engaged her, married her and had grandchildren. It is quite a heart-warming story.

Needle by Peter Dube. Drake and Blue are lovers, guys who love tattoos, but Blue's the boss in their relationship. Drake thought Blue was a cool guy at first, but later found him to be too rough and inconsiderate in bed. There is nothing they haven't done in bed or out of it, get high, drink or just being plain happy, but Drake knew he didn't really love him, he only wanted him around for the sex. What started out as nights of sex is obscured by drink, drugs and violence, and before long, Drake can't take any more of it.

The Case for Prep by Evan J Peterson is about a man who takes Truvada, a HIV-prevention pill for PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) while he is HIV-negative, as it prevents infection. he knows friends who are also taking it who haven't had bad side-effects from it. Here he shares his experiences of using it for the first time and what everyone else thinks of it, that it is a way of being able to sleep around and not get AIDS. The whole story gives readers a sense of hope, that gay men can have unprotected sex without catching HIV.

Stories I Tell to Friends by Richard Bowers has a brother/sister friendship where they tell each other stories about their childhood and while he tells his, he also remembers what he did with the men in his life from being a young man to the older man he is now. I got the impression he thought others might not understand him or his ways for being different, but he knows he had a strong enough bond with his sister to forgive others for not opening their mind to him.

Love comes in all shapes and sizes and most when you least expect them to. Best Gay Stories 2015 has tales of gay love in all guises, about all topics, from the HIV-Preventative Pill and its effects,  a man who recalls his years as a young man having many affairs and men in abusive relationships. Each story is different, the characters who love deeply or not at all. Steve Berman has gathered a bunch of ling and short fiction for all tastes and interests.