ETA: Since I've done this one before with different questions, I didn't add the "interview me" part, but if anyone wants to, here's how it works. You put "interview me" in comments and I ask you five questions. You post the answers to your journal and invite anyone who wishes to to put "interview me" in comments. I love to ask questions, so please play if you haven't before (or even if you have).
1. How did you meet your current partner?
Planetout.com. I had a really spectacularly disastrous breakup in 2004, the first relationship after the divorce from the other mother of my children. As part of my moving on activities, I had put a personal ad on planetout in June of that year. I went on a few dates with a few women, but shortly thereafter, I got involved with an old friend. She had rallied round at breakup time and we spent a lot of time talking and emailing and one thing led to another... Anyway, the complication was that she lives across the country from me, in San Francisco. We decided to see if we could make it work.
R. and I were doing the long distance thing and I didn't really want to date anymore. But I'd paid for a year of Planetout. So, I changed my ad from looking for a date or lover, to looking for friends. I'd been getting lots of responses when it was looking for dates, but absolutely none when I switched it. Nobody wants to be my friend. ::sobs quietly:: At least nobody looking at personal ads. Anyway, I totally forgot about the ad.
Fast forward to June of 2005. Planetout sends me a thingie saying my year is up and do I want to renew. By this point R. and I have decided it's just too far. Neither of us could move; we only see each other once a month; the time difference makes it hard to even talk at length many days (by the time her kid's in bed, it's midnight here). So, we've given up on being lovers and are back to being friends. And I'm back to being single. But not so into dating, since I went from one relationship to another to another and I'm thinking maybe it's time to stop and take stock. OTOH, I'm not ready to totally give up. So I don't sign up for another year paid, but I don't delete altogether, just maintain it as a free ad and switch back to looking for dates/lovers.
Enter C. She does a Planetout search and my ad shows up as "new or changed" and apparently I've got some of what she's looking for :-). So, we email a bit and talk on the phone and then we go out for the first time Fourth of July weekend, while my kids are with their other mother. The rest is history in the making :-). I think we would have met eventually, anyway, as we know people in common. The lesbian Jewish gay social circle in the NYC area is not that large.
2. What's your coming out story?
I fell in love with my best friend. I met S. my second day at university and we became friends very quickly. I was in deep, deep denial. Looking back I can see I was attracted to women before - girls in high school, teachers, movie stars :-), but I was totally defended against noticing that. I'd also had enjoyable relationships and enjoyable sex with men (boys, I guess) so that helped me stay in denial.
S. and I fell in love over the course of a year, but we didn't want to know that. We missed each other dreadfully when we went to our respective parents' homes for the summer. We were roommates the following year. We acknowledged being in love in late October, and learned all about lesbian sex together :-). We were married for over a quarter of a century. A legally unrecognized marriage, but we moved together twice (including one international move) and had three kids and bought a home together. It was very good for a very long time. Getting together so young (I was 19 and she was 20) I feel like we were really lucky that we grew and changed in ways that let us stay together and grow together. Then at some point we ran out of luck. Of course, you asked about coming out, not divorce, yet somehow I feel obligated to say that part, too. I guess because it's all tied to my relationship with S.
3. How did you learn to write such good gay male sex scenes?
First of all, thank you. I'm glad you like them. I should say that what I'm aiming for is realistic sex scenes, which I know is not what everyone wants from slash. Sometimes (most often) I want them to be hot as well, sometimes sad, sometimes creepy, sometimes funny, sometimes some combo of the aforementioned, but I always want them to sound like real people having real sex (even though I do have them use their mutant superpowers during sex from time to time). So my sex scenes are informed by what real men - articulate, sexually active gay men - have told me about their sex lives. I've been active in gay community for a lot of years. I started off within the women's community but by 1980 I was beginning to get involved in mixed gay/lesbian groups and I had close male friends. I was involved in AIDS activism from fairly early on, as well. I've been listening to men tell me about their sex lives for well over 25 years now, and I use what I've learned in my stories.
One experience was really seminal :-) in my knowledge of and comfort with male/male sex. I worked as a volunteer on the first National AIDS Hotline. Every Monday night I was one of several volunteers who staffed the telephone line. We had an initial training of several days and then monthly in service trainings. It was a wonderful education - there was new information all the time. I remember all those sessions very well. Almost all the men who taught them are dead now :-(.
Anyway, they taught us to mirror the caller's language. If he's talking about fucking, and I'm saying "anal intercourse" it's pretty offputting. But it's equally off-putting if I'm talking about fucking and he's saying anal intercourse, yk? So, I learned lots and lots of ways to talk about how men have sex and lots and lots of ways that men have sex, and then I answered questions. Most of the time, I basically spent my Monday evenings telling men how to have sex with each other. Believe me, as a lesbian, that felt very strange at first! But you get used to anything. At the beginning I felt awkward. After a few months it was a wonder I wasn't stopping strange men on the street and offering sex tips. And over the course of a few years, I heard lots of stories, lots of experiences, lots of preferences, lots of voices. It came in handy for slash many years later. Who knew? Well, I firmly believe that learning is always fungible.
4. If you could meet anyone dead or alive, who would you choose?
This is one that would vary a lot with my mood, but I think I'll say Thomas Jefferson today. I've always been fascinated by him and I'd just love to see him in action, talk to him. The kids and I went to Colonial Williamsburg last year and they had an actor who does him. He gives a speech but then also answers questions from the audience in character. I suppose that's as close as I can get.
5. What's your favorite book and why?
This one I find impossible to answer. I couldn't even narrow it down to five for the book meme that came round last year. So, I'll just repeat what I said then, which did give five books, but narrowed the criteria further.
Five books that mean a lot to me.
Like everyone else, I'm a little befuddled at the idea of keeping this to 5. So, I'll restrict it further - five books that mean a lot to me that I've discussed on line in the past week. And I'll number them with Roman numerals, to avoid confusion with the numbers of the questions (hey, I told you I'm anal).
I. The White Hotel by DM Thomas. A truly beautiful, disturbing and moving novel of the Holocaust. It's particularly meaningful to me because I broke my Holocaust reading ban with it. I spent several years refusing to read anything about the Holocaust, even when my spouse at the time begged me to read King of the Jews. I think I had just OD'ed on the subject, being of the generation of Jews that was deemed likely to forget if we weren't forced to listen to first-person accounts from camp survivors as soon as we could speak. I decided to get over the no-Holocaust-book thing when Thomas's book came out, and it turned out to be a great choice for ending the ban. It's a complex and multi-layered novel and there are parts of it that haunt me to this day. I'll tell two stories about that book (because I'm a storytelling type and can't help it). One is about meaning getting lost in translation and the other makes me sound a bit of an intellectual snob, but I'll risk it.
Okay, the one about me first. I read this book and totally loved it, but I was just shocked that it was a best seller. It's not an easy read, by any means. Part of it is in blank verse. Part of it is a case study "by" Freud and it sounds exactly like the translations of Freud's case studies I've read, and they aren't all that accessible. It's not told linearly at all. It's sometimes unclear what's really happening and what's fantasy. It's a totally wonderfully beautiful book that I would think would be over the head of the people who have made Dan Brown and Stephen King rich, yk? So, I couldn't figure it out. And then it hit me: it's got Sex and Nazis! Of course it's a best seller. The only thing that could sell better than that would be Sex, Nazis, and Cats. If Thomas had put some cats in it, it would still be on the Times list.
Second story - There was a profile on Thomas in the NY Times magazine some years back and he told a story about being interviewed about this book for a French magazine. He had said, among other things, that he was very happy the book did so well, but that he was particularly pleased to see it well received among certain very specific populations. As a man writing a woman's sexual fantasies, he felt gratified that it was getting a good reception from feminists; as a non-Jew writing about the Holocaust, he was very happy to see such praise from Jewish sources; and as a non-Freudian writing first-person Freud, he was pleased that the psychoanalytic community was so positive about the book. Well, the interviewer didn't quite understand what he was saying. The resulting article said that the book was not only generally popular but particularly liked by three groups of people: les femmes, les juifs, et les fous. Women, Jews and crazy people. :-)
II. Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles Mackay. If you haven't read this book, do so! I first read it for a History of Popular Culture course in grad school. It's just full of Fun Facts to Know and Tell and Fun Facts to Know and Tell are my life. But its greater meaning to me is it was my introduction to facsimile reprints!
III. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. One of my main fanfic characters is an English teacher and he was recently teaching this book (See http://www.livejournal.com/users/mofic/783.html) for details. What he says about it reflects how I feel about the book (funny how that happens sometimes).
IV. Everyman's Talmud: the Major Teachings of the Rabbinic Sages by Abraham Cohen. I find the kind of weirdly convoluted logic of talmudic thought really fascinating. I'm amused that in their non-religious meanings the words "talmudic" and "jesuitical" are synonyms. This is the book that first made talmudic thought accessible to me. It's a great intro and summary and left me feeling able to take a class where I looked at texts directly.
V. Our Right to Love: a Lesbian Resource Book by Ginny Vida. The first edition of this book came out in 1978. I came out in 1974 and was still struggling with both lesbian identity and community at that time. The book was a revelation - it was the first one I'd seen that really showed lesbian experience as a wide spectrum and depicted lesbians in a variety of occupations, at assorted ages, in various family structures. It was a book I read cover to cover and then flipped through often for years afterwards. In 1989 I was contacted and asked if I would be willing to have my picture in the new edition. They were looking for "an out lesbian in a mainstream job" - someone out enough to have her picture taken at work. I was out enough, but I worked for a quasi-governmental agency where we were not allowed to have cameras at work without permission. I said that I was willing to do it if my employer was willing to let me. I went through the ridiculously bureaucratic red tape and got approval. So the "new" edition has me in pumps, pearls and business suit, in my office. There's a picture of my infant son in the background. He's 17.5 now, so it's not such a new edition.
Thanks for the interesting questions! I'll get dressed and go to work now.