December 15, 2008

Homosexuality & Writing: Lee Hayes, Editor of Flesh to Flesh

The Author


Lee Hayes is the bestselling author of the novels Passion Marks and A Deeper Blue: Passion Marks II and The Messiah. On May 20, 2008, Mr. Hayes released his fourth book, an anthology of gay erotic short stories entitled Flesh to Flesh.

Mr. Hayes is a southern native, born and raised in Tyler, Texas, a small town approximately ninety miles east of Dallas. He graduated from the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas, with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. In the summer of 2005, Mr. Hayes completed his graduate studies and received a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from Bernard M. Baruch College, City University of New York.

Mr. Hayes understands and truly believes in the exceptional and profound power of words to delight, to heal, to entertain as well as to elicit change in lives of readers. It is his sincere hope that by reading his words that people will come to understand that actions yield real consequences which will affect their lives for better or for worse. He hopes that we all choose wisely. He also hopes that readers realize the innate value of their existence and that they dare dream to become more than they ever thought possible.

Mr. Hayes currently resides in Washington, D.C., where he is busy working to complete his third novel, as well as an anthology of erotic stories focusing on the unique lives of gay African-American men. He can be reached via e-mail at: lee@leehayes.info or via his website at www.leehayes.info or www.myspace.com/leethewriter.

Mr. Hayes was the 2004 winner of National Black Book Awards for the Urban Spectrum Newspaper in Denver for Passion Marks and was a finalist in literature for the Clik Magazine Elite 25 Honors held in Atlanta on November 25, 2006.



The Book


“I can’t tell you what he looks like, neither can he describe me, but we will be written in history as blind lovers forever to be...”

Maurice Murrell, Flesh to Flesh Cover Model


Erotic is defined as arousing, or designed to arouse, feelings of sexual desire. In his latest effort, Lee Hayes, the award-winning and highly-acclaimed author of Passion Marks and the thriller The Messiah, steps out of the box and adds to his writing credentials as editor of the highly anticipated erotic anthology Flesh to Flesh, released on the Simon and Schuster imprint, Strebor Books International. Taking a page from Strebor International’s founder and New York Times bestselling author Zane, Hayes picks up the torch and provides an electrically charged and unapologetic look into the sexual lives of gay men—a world once considered taboo and forbidden.

Hayes has assembled a virtual “who’s who” in gay literature, including teacher and performance artist Tim’m West (Red Dirt Revival: A Poetic Memoir in Six Breaths & Flirting) and the ever prolific L.M. Ross (Manhood: The Longest Moan and The Moanin’ After). Flesh to Flesh also offers scintillating tales of love and passion from up and coming voices of gay writers, including Rodney Lofton (The Day I Stopped Being Pretty) and Dayne Avery (I Wrote This Song). The lives of gay men are presented in a rare, totally honest view of their pursuits of passion, unbridled love and candle-dripping lust.

Poet and Flesh to Flesh cover model Maurice Murrell sets the tone with his thought provoking "I Can’t Tell You What He Looked Like" and the excitement grows from there. The hot and yet heartbreaking, "Pretty in the Hood" by Fred Towers offers depth, passion and pain while the title story by Lee Hayes brings sexy back with familiar characters from his previous novels. Flesh to Flesh has something for everyone: passion, power, heat and heart.

Through this peep hole into the lives of men who have sex with men, Flesh to Flesh will titillate, excite and make you squeal with delight! These raw and gritty stories seethe with passion and desire, love and lust, sensuality and sexuality all in time for the sultry days and nights of summer.


Click the cover above to order FLESH TO FLESH today!



Questions

How have your works been received by readers of all orientations?

In general, my books have been received surprisingly well by people from all walks of life. One of the things that I try to do is try to create whole and fatally flawed characters, just like in real life. I don’t focus on sexuality as an aberration; my characters aren’t struggling with their sexual orientation, they know who they are and their homosexuality is just a part of their lives. So, when you create real people with real issues that folks can relate and connect to, then the reader usually gets caught up in the lives of the characters, not just their sexuality.

In Passion Marks, my first novel, I deal explicitly and graphically with domestic violence; in my book, the violence takes place within the context of an affluent, African-American male couple, which is far from the stereotypes surrounding abuse. The theme of domestic violence is universal and people can relate to it because they’ve heard of it, seen it in their own homes or, unfortunately, they’ve experienced it. Domestic violence does not discriminate and there is no demographic group that is immune or exempt from it, not even gay men and lesbians. Passion Marks is an in-depth exploration of what it feels like to live in an abusive relationship and people, through their own personal pain, connect with this book because its themes are boundless and the story itself feels very real.


In the stories you have written and are planning to write, what ideas and themes do you see reoccurring that shed light on homosexuality?

I am so into the idea that we—all of us—are far more alike than we are different. Gay people have the same hopes, dreams, pain, love and desire as straight people. So, as I write, I write about whole people, not caricatures in which sexuality is exploitative or gratuitous. I live in the hope that as we evolve as a country and as a world, sexuality will be less and less important. Clearly, in a perfect world, no social evolution would be needed because we’d accept everyone as equal, for who they are. That day is elusive, yet I believe it is within our destiny.

Also, one of the things that creates a divide between people about homosexuality is religion. I’ve spoken about gays and the black church in A Deeper Blue and The Messiah. In A Deeper Blue, there is a scene that takes place in a church where a renowned preacher is giving a fire and brimstone condemnation of homosexuality and is challenged, at last, by someone from the congregation, Kevin Davis and Danea Charles. Kevin speaks to the pastor about spreading hate and how venomous words fill the heart of people with contempt and loathing. At some point, he says these good Christians need a lesson about what it means to be a good Christian. Christianity, the way Christ taught it, was not about judging and condemning your fellow man. It was about love and acceptance and the church these days, insofar as homosexuality is concerned, does a grievous disservice to Christianity, gay and straight people, by building this animosity within its hallowed walls.

As a gay man, I understand people will have varying opinions of homosexuality and that their religion may teach them that it is wrong. I’m perfectly okay with people disagreeing—that’s what this country and life is about; however, I am not okay with people telling me that because I am gay that I am “less than” and that I don’t deserve the same civil rights as straight people. That’s some bullshit. I and other gay people pay the same taxes and live under a banner in a country that proudly says, “equal protection under the law” but gay people, in innumerable ways, are denied equal protection. In well over 30 states a person can be fired from their job simply because they are gay. My boss could walk into the room and say, “I found out you’re gay. You’re fired” and there is no recourse because there are no laws protecting gay people from employment or housing discrimination in many places. Tell me, what is equal about that?


At the end of the day, if there was one thing you wanted your readers to remember in regards to homosexuality, what would that thing be?

Again, that we are far more alike than we are different. We are your sons and daughters; your brothers and sisters, friends and co-workers. We are a part of this American tapestry and we deserve, by virtue of the fact that we are here, equal rights—not special rights—but equal rights.

I also want the church and Christian people to know that, as in my book The Messiah, you create monsters when you spew hate. Words have power and there are so many children who commit suicide because they are told they are going to hell because they have feelings that are natural to them, but yet is condemned with such weight by folks who have no business judging. I want the church and Christian people to know that they give tacit permission for horrific gay-bashings all across the nation in which gay men and women are beaten with bricks, stomped to death or beaten and tied to fences in the middle of a deserted field by creating an atmosphere in which gay people are treated as “other” or “those people.” I want the church and Christian people to know that you can disagree with homosexuality without being hateful and without filling our children with so much dread and fear that they only way they can see out of the pain is through suicide. Lastly, I want Christians to always know that their words have power. Judge not, lest ye be judged.

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