What if Daron lived in 2015 instead of 80's - Dating by Cecilia Tan + Excerpt
The fans of Daron's Guitar Chronicles laughingly call it "historical romance" since it takes place in what seems like an ancient era: the 1980s. There are no cell phones. MTV still plays music videos. Paranoia about AIDS is peaking. And there are no out gay celebrities of any kind.
I started writing DGC when I was a teenager myself in the 1980s. I wasn't a very good writer back then, and I threw away a lot of drafts. I started over in 1992 in a grad school MFA program and that's the version I went to when I started serializing it in 2009 online. I thought seriously at that time about whether I could or should update it to 2009 and decided I was better off leaving it as a period piece about a "bygone era." But I have often thought since then about what life would be like for Daron today if he were starting over as a music school dropout RIGHT NOW.
The biggest difference by far is that right now there are more gay-positive messages than ever being beamed through pop culture and the internet. Look at the massively striking differences in the careers of Adam Lambert and Freddie Mercury. Mercury not only had to deny his sexual orientation in order to get airplay for Queen in the United States (c'mon people, the band's name was QUEEN...) he hid the fact that he was dying of AIDS until right before the end. Lambert came to fame through 21st-century reality TV (American Idol) and both America and the media fell for his boyish queer-tinged flair--just look at that Rolling Stone cover he graced. There's a kind of tragic but triumphant poetic justice in Adam Lambert now fronting Queen on a massive worldwide sold out arena tour. And everyone knows the story. Queerness is no longer a rumor: it's a marketing hook.
So if Daron were 19 years old again, would he even be in the same situation in 2015 that he's in at the start of DGC, where he's in the closet and not out to anyone in the world including himself? Might he have already come out and dealt with some of this stuff? Well, maybe...
Maybe. Because there's still a ton of homophobia in this world. Although we have many, many more gay (and lesbian and trans) role models on TV (Ellen, Laverne Cox) and in the music business than ever before (Frank Ocean, Sam Smith, etc.), the voices of homophobia and hate have gotten much louder, too. Just look at the desicable people who protest at the funerals of gay US military members. The closet is real and many people are still trapped in it, afraid to come out. Some need to stya hidden to stay safe. If Daron had tried to come out while still a teenager, living with his parents, would he have been subjected to physical abuse, for example? Was his father only able to suppress his feelings on the matter for so many years because Daron kept it as quiet as possible?
In Daron's case I think you would still have a case of someone whose father's fucked up ideas of masculinity shaped him and whose early life in suburban New Jersey would still be oppressive in the sense that conformity is always crushing no matter who you are. He would have still hidden it as long as possible even if he came to accept it about himself somewhat earlier. The biggest difference is that where silence used to be the norm--being gay was something no one talked about, even if they knew about you, and that was true in both private spheres and in the media--now everything is out in the open. Social media, blogs, paparazzi: it wouldn't be as much a question of whether to come out so much as whether to actually try to use it as a marketing tactic or not. That wouldn't have even been an option in 1989: now it's something that would have to be explicitly strategized.
The other thing that would be hugely different now is that it's much more possible for musicians to sidestep the traditional path to success--getting signed by a major record label--by building up their own fanbase and using the Internet and social media to book tours, sell albums, and sell merch. In 1989 bands were still collecting fan names by self-addressed stamped envelope.
So if Daron's story were told today it would be different because the oppression that tries to squeeze the life out of him--both in terms of homophobia and the music industry--is less monolithic and there are more options for escape. But it would still require the same process of self-growth and self-acceptance before Daron would be ready to take any of those escapes.
Ziggy, on the other hand? If his story started today, Ziggy would just be upset that Adam Lambert got there first.
Sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Coming out and coming of age in the days of AIDS, MTV, Reaganomics, and Just Say No. Winner of the Rose and Bay Award for Crowdfunded Fiction!
Daron Marks is a young guitar player with a dream, make it big like the guys he grew up idolizing in New Jersey--or at least escape his dysfunctional family. He makes it as far as music school in Rhode Island, and the rock clubs of Boston beckon him. But it's hard to succeed from the closet. A story of how finding one's self is key to finding love, and loving one's self is key to loving another.
In this excerpt, Daron's in a hotel in New York City. It's Christmas time, and Daron knows Ziggy's in New York, too. They had a brief encounter the night before and Ziggy slipped his pager number into Daron's pocket. It's almost six in the morning and Daron's been awake all night when he gives in and pages Ziggy:
The phone rang gratifyingly quickly. "Hey. I guess you're not sleeping either."
"I'm on West Coast time," Ziggy said. "Where it's only three in the morning."
"Uh huh," I said, unconvinced.
We sat there in uncomfortable silence for a few minutes. I was the one who had paged him, so was it on me to say something? But he was the one who put the "call me" message into my pocket, so....
"Maybe we should get together to talk," I finally said.
"Can you get away from your family?" he asked.
"For a couple of hours, no one'll miss me," I said. "But I wanted to ask what you're doing for the holiday tonight. Tomorrow. No pressure, but you could join us here."
"Daron, how should I put this..." He breathed, and I imagined him sighing with his eyes closed. "Your group there is kind of overwhelming. I'm not good with crowds."
"I never thought I'd hear you say that."
"You know what I mean."
"Actually, I don't. Explain it? I'm listening." I lay back to listen.
"I mean, I'm fine with crowds if I'm the center of attention. But I don't want to be—and shouldn't be—the center of attention at your chosen family's gathering."
"Why shouldn't you be? You outshine everyone in any room you walk into." This room felt like it was spinning slightly. I had definitely drunk more than usual.
"Like there's a spotlight on me?"
"Like you're a star that fell out of heaven. Ziggy, you're the most gorgeous human being I've ever laid eyes on, and that's as true today as it was that day in the park."
"I'm telling the truth."
"Because you're drunk."
"Because I've been to therapy. And I've realized there are a lot of things I could have been saying that I haven't been." I thought about what Bart had said, that maybe me being forthright and truthful about my feelings was actually scary to Ziggy. If so, I was probably freaking him out completely right now. "Am I freaking you out? I'm not trying to. I just... have this thing about the truth."
"Uh huh," he said cautiously. "And if the truth is... it's too late?"
"Then tell me to go fuck myself: break my heart and send me on my fucking way."
"Whoa. Whoa." There was a kind of long silence while I guess he tried to figure out what to say to that. Or got himself together. I don't know which. "I didn't mean it like that."
"It's worth asking, isn't it? Is it too late, Zig?" It felt crazy-good that I could send him spinning by speaking so baldly. Of course, the only reason it didn't hurt like fuck to say was because alcohol had numbed me so much at that point. "Did I wait too long to tell you I loved you? Is it just fucking tragic when I say it?"
"Okay, you know what? I want to make a rule. No saying 'I love you' over the phone."
"You don't want me to tell you I love you?"
"On the phone. Seriously. I'm coming over there and then you can say it to my face."
MORE IN THE SERIES
I write about my passions, which include baseball, erotica, gourmet food, martial arts, tea, and travel. I write fantasy, science fiction, erotic fiction, paranormal romance, and anything else that stimulates my imagination. My BDSM romance SLOW SURRENDER from Hachette/Grand Central Publishing/Forever Yours won the RT Reviewers Choice Award in erotic romance and the Maggie Award for Excellence from the Georgia chapter of the Romance Writers of America.
I'm the author of numerous other novels, many published as erotic romance with fantasy and science fiction settings, others published as sf/fantasy with erotic elements, some as erotica... which means I never know what to answer when people ask what genre they are. Fortunately here on Amazon they can be ALL of the above!
My work spans sexualities the same way it spans genres. I write heterosexual, gay, bisexual, and trans characters, and the eroticism runs the gamut from vanilla to bondage to transcendental magical sex.
I'm the author of the Magic University series, a four-book contemporary fantasy about a hidden magical school inside Harvard, recently re-released by Riverdale Avenue Books. The Prince's Boy is my erotic gay high fantasy BDSM swashbuckling romance (not kidding). Daron's Guitar Chronicles is my award-winning gay "coming out and coming of age in the 1980s" series. Struck by Lightning is my BDSM contemporary trilogy from Hachette. There is more in the works, too, of course!
In the erotic short story realm, I've been published everywhere from Ms. magazine to Penthouse, and I'm in many, many anthologies and the Best American Erotica series. Susie Bright called me "simply one of the most important writers, editors, and innovators in contemporary American erotic literature."
I've also edited many anthologies including Women of the Bite, Cowboy Lover, Sex In The System, Wicked Pleasures, SM Visions, for many different publishers, and many many books and ebooks for the independent publishing house I founded, Circlet Press. Those include Best Fantastic Erotica, Erotic Fantastic, Like an Animal, Like Crimson Droplets, and many others, both for Kindle and in paperback.
In science fiction/fantasy I have been published in Asimov's magazine, Strange Horizons, Absolute Magnitude, and many other places.
I also write and edit baseball nonfiction under the name "Cecilia M. Tan."
You can find out way more about me and my obsessions at www.ceciliatan.com