Fairytales for Lost Children by Diriye Osman

FFLCIt was timely that we started reading this as the refugee/’migrant’ crisis flared up. We were grateful to read a Somali writer. One member experienced powerful meetings with the author through each story and felt that eros jumped out of most pages.

The book is beautifully produced with a covert that is pleasant to hold and with lovely line drawings/woodcuts.

The author knew that he loved boys by age 6. The experiences portrayed in fiction mirror those told in non-fiction in ‘Unspeakable Love: Gay and Lesbian Life in the Middle East’ by Brian Whitaker https://gaymensbookclubbristol.wordpress.com/2015/06/16/unspeakable-love-gay-and-lesbian-life-in-the-middle-east-by-brian-whitaker/. Both books are insightful clarion calls for acceptance and compassion with differences.

The title ‘Fairy tales’ is almost a single entendre.

Some of the stories were quite powerful but many were more like documentary that short story. Because of this, some said that they really wanted to like it but felt disappointed.

I especially liked “Tell the Sun not to Shine”, where a Muslim recognises the imam at Peckham Mosque who was his lover years earlier in Nairobi.

Also the story about the Somali teenager who became the lover of his grandmother’s servant from Burundi.

I liked the teacher turning Snow White black.

Particularly vivid is the story with the lesbian turned psychotic, having internalised all the insults and harassment she had suffered. This portrayal of the author’s fractured self was particularly moving.

I liked the gaydar story though we thought its ending was silly..

Some wondered why a man wrote sometimes as a woman. Is this the result of the schizophrenia suffered by the author, a reflection of gender being fluid, or was it something he was encouraged to do by his creative writing tutor? Carl Phillips does this sort of thing much better.

There were lots of words that I didn’t understand but tried to look up dhuux (p. 18) – to no avail.

Don’t use Vaseline with condoms.


“We became two strangers bound by blood and bad history.”

“I’ve always loved being gay. Sure, Kenya was not exactly Queer Nation but my sexuality gave me joy. I was young, not so dumb and full of cum!

There was no place for me in Heaven but I was content munching devil’s pie here on earth”

‘Your silence will not protect you’

“We may not have the power to choose the family we’re born into, but we can certainly choose the family we choose to make our own”

return to the home page

Like People In History by Felice Picano

LPIH(Not discussed by the group but written in a personal capacity.)

I read this book because a member of the Cheltenham group, who were discussing it, recommended it to me.

It took me a while to ‘get into it’ because I read the first few chapters during a noisy train journey. However, I don’t like any of the characters. They’re too camp and drug-fuelled. The main ones do redeem themselves towards the end.

I don’t like novels involving AIDS – too depressing.

I had to look up delphinoid – resembling a dolphin – describing a boy swimming; BVDs = a brand of underwear marketed by Bradley, Voorhees & Day;

Skeezix = slang for a total loser, lamer, pencil necked geek, named after one of the main characters of the old comic strip Gasoline Alley.

a story of three people – Roger, Alistair and Matt – and how their lives intersect. Set in the present but told through ‘flashbacks’, it shows what people will put each other through but ultimately how love is enduring.

Nine-year-old cousins Roger and Alistair first meet in white-picket-fence 50s America, their story will end in an ambulance in the 1990s

friendship and rivalry, of betrayal, of love and of reconciliation.

The account of pain caused by an ingrowing wisdom tooth brings back memories of my youth.

And how’s this for good style: I nodded. Silence descended. Alistair sipped. I smoked. The rain dripped.

I had to look up multitonal – two words = multi tonal; plotzed = collapse or be beside oneself with frustration, annoyance, or other strong emotion. (Yiddish); zaftig = (of a woman) having a full, rounded figure; plump.

LPIH 2Quotations:

Wally checked his widow’s peak in the fish-eye corner mirror, then slid me against one wall and began to tongue-kiss me as though he were trying to ingest both of my tonsils simultaneously. This, of course, was intended to shut me up and to incite any purple-haired woman with a Lhasa apso unfortunate to have rung for the elevator.

I’d been surprised to hear Sandy say of a man sit­ting on a bench, “That guy’s a hummersexual.”

“Homosexual,” I corrected.

“We call ’em hummersexual, because whenever you pass one, he goes, hmmmmmmm!” Sandy illustrated.

Sure enough as we passed by, the man went “Hmmmmmmmm!”

Todd is gone. Five minutes later, he appears on the circular platform, which is slowly rising through a hole in the floor into the middle of the dance floor. The fence goes up too. Just in time. Because it seems like every gook in the place charges it. The lights darken, then spots come on Todd. Theatrical lights. The music suddenly changes to Elton John’s ‘Candle in the Wind.’ Todd’s wearing some kind of field dress—fatigues, equipment, everything but a loaded rifle. He begins to gyrate and strip. When he takes his shirt off, he’s got a sweaty grunt A-shirt on underneath, and every gook in the place moans. When he opens his pants, they sigh. When he pulls them down and grabs his dick, they groan and cheer. By the time the third Elton John song comes on—`Bennie and the Jets’—he’s naked except for his boots and a cap, and he begins to masturbate. Mind you, the little platform is slowly revolving, and mind you, even with the fence, they’re all reaching out their hands, so that at certain times, depending upon the angle, they’re stroking his legs, the boots, sometimes even his ass, which Todd sometimes sticks out for them to reach—just barely.……”When Todd comes, he yells like some guy at a rodeo, and all the gooks yell right along with him, and he does what he said, he sprays them with his jizz, and they reach out for it. It’s like completely animal­istic and the all-time hottest thing I’ve ever in my life seen. The gooks are still begging for more as the platform begins to descend, with Todd dropped down on it with his knees spread out, sitting on his haunches, like a rock guitarist who’s just played the wildest set, only Todd’s hold­ing his dick instead of a bass guitar.

“Well, I found him down in his dressing room, and I was so hot, I just screwed Todd right there, even though I’m sure Bubbles Dao and some other guys were watching through the poorly constructed bam­boo walls.

“When we left, Bubbles Dao told me to come again, anytime, and work for him. He already had an act in mind for me.”

“Did you go back?” I asked, already knowing the answer.

“Not only did I go back, I became Bubbles Dao’s star,” Matt said. “On every leave, I’d do two, sometimes three shows a day. I did soldier ­and cowboy acts and construction worker and surfer boy acts, and I packed ’em in. He had to pay me two hundred dollars a minute. _And sometimes I did it for special groups, smaller groups, including women, for three hundred a minute, people who would stay there after I sprayed them, as I kept milking it, and who’d stand there as I sprayed piss all over them.”

“What if Stonewall hadn’t happened? Would we all be zipping around and hiding like those poor fifties queens? Daring our jobs, our lives, to be ourselves, to even protest?”

“We’ve been the first generation of gays to force ourselves or to be forced out of the closet. We had to experience the traumas of coming out, and making the gay movement happen, not to mention the more general trauma of getting through the roller coaster of the late sixties….”

“Golden lads, that’s what Haussman called the huge promising generation of young Brits mowed down in the First World War.”

“Nature is usually so tightfisted with what it provides. So very prudent how it husbands its resources. Why would Nature go to the trouble to create so much luxuriance in what after all was a group of nonreproductive creatures? Why create such an extraordinary generation of beautiful, talented, quickly intelligent men, and then why let them all die so rapidly, one after the other?”

“My doom was of another kind. Perhaps survival was to be my doom.” “Who’s left? How few of us? Why bother to leave any of us? Why not just wipe the slate clean and admit it was a mistake?”

“Don’t tell anyone, but I’m negative.”

“You needn’t be ashamed,” Ron said.

“I don’t know how it happened. I did all the wrong things with all the wrong people in all the wrong places at all the wrong times.” “Someone’s got to escape.”

“I know. But it’s, well, embarrassing at times. Not to mention highly uncomfortable in existential terms.”

 Since I’d become a Buddhist, it was all I could do to kill a cockroach.

Evidently, Junior’s was that type of personality, not uncommon among homosexuals, called “an injustice collector”; except that, altruisticallv, he seemed to collect injustices for others as well as for himself.

Now, I’ve known Anatole for close to a decade, and I know he cat’ be bullied. I also know that he carries some deep-seated resentment about being gay. Nothing personal or even psychological, mind and most of the time he’ll deny it. It exists on a simple, practical Anatole believes that being gay has held him back, kept him reaching his fullest social potential among the rich and powerful this world. That, Anatole will be the first to admit, is all he ever desired. He’ll also admit that it’s a silly, superficial desire, but being what they are, that makes no difference at all. Anatole’s belief of course, true: his gayness has held him back. What he hasn’t recognized is that it’s also protected him from getting too close top that great source of American decadence and—worse—dullness: To Anatole, however, it’s all particularly irritating, in that he sees being gay as the only thing holding him back, when in fact being Jewish with a made-up last name is at least as crucial a factor.

Cross my scrotum and hope I get crotch rot if I’m lying.

“It’s really fabulous!”

“Really?” Phillip asked. “As good as The Persian Boy?”

“Oh, honey! That book’s trash,” Ian quickly put in. “You’ll have to forgive Lip,” he explained to the attorney and Nils.

“What do you mean trash! I thought The Persian Boy was wonderful!” Phillip insisted. “I read it twice and cried both times!”

“I work overtime every night.”

“How can you have a life?”

“This is my life.”

“How ghastly! What about . . .”—Alistair looked around—”boys?”

“I occasionally go to the tubs! The Ritch Street Baths,” I clarified.


“And an occasional bar. A few interesting ones opened south of


“You mean . . . Aren’t leather bars dangerous?” Alistair asked. “Don’t be silly! I used to go to Kellers and the Eagle in New York all the time. These places are no different.”

“Really? Near Hamburger Mary’s off Folsom Street? We drove past one last month and . . .”

“It’s not what you think, Alistair.”

“I blame myself for ruining you,” he overdramatized.

“Grow up, gir—” I caught myself. “Grow up, Alistair. It’s not all and stuff. It’s mostly attitude and costume.”

“You have a lovely apartment, a good job: you should have a lover. “I don’t want a lover.”

“Surely you don’t want to hang around street corners at three in morning wearing dead cow and waiting for someone sleazy to come and . . . do whatever you do?” He trailed off aimlessly.

When she was gone, he said to Matt, “We only have cocktails from thir­ties and forties films. If Bette or Joan didn’t order it, we won’t dare.

“Vegbian! Vegetarian Lesbian! That’s what we call the Lorraines and Elaines who move to rural lanes with their lovers and who eschew males and machinery and who don’t shave their underarms and who wear enormous overalls and get very fat and very strong and who raise other people’s children and lots of animals using only breast-feeding and only eat vegetables and who suffer in silence when some male has an orgasm sixty miles away.”

“Well! As Dorothy Parker said, ‘You can lead a whore to culture, you can’t make her think’!”

Poor women, taught all their to bend to men even when the men are stupid or wrong. Taught to be direct or forward or openly angry . . . No wonder they become backstabbers.

I do consider your gener­ation of gays to be filled with mediocrity! What made my group stand apart was not only our attractiveness, our social cohesion, but that by the time we appeared at the Pines in 1975 or so, we were already achieved individuals, architects and composers, authors and designers. illustrators and filmmakers, choreographers and playwrights and direc­tors and set designers and . . .

“Not perfect, God knows, not anything like perfect! Troubled. Has­sled certainly. And why not? We’d been the first generation of gays to force ourselves or to be forced out of the closet. We had to experience the traumas of coming out, and of making the gay movement happen. not to mention the more general trauma of just getting through the roller coaster of the late sixties. . . . But despite that, we were almost godlike in our creative power. Face it, we pretty much created the sev­enties! Its music, its way of socializing, its sexual behavior, its clubs. clothing, its entire sense of style and design, its resorts, its celebrities, its language! We were always creating, always doing something!

“Golden lads,” Wally said quietly. “That’s what Housman called the huge promising generation of young Brits mowed down in the First World War.”

Remember Tony Bishop with the scrumptious body, enormous nipples, and not terribly big wee-wee for a person of the colored persuasion? No? Well, he was a sweet and pretty lad, and I was in my Third-World Phase, an when we began screwing

return to the home page