Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Dennis Milam Bensie, author of One Gay American
Dennis Milam Bensie grew up in Robinson, Illinois where his interest in the arts began in high school participating in various community theatre productions. Bensie’s first book, Shorn: Toys to Men was nominated for the Stonewall Book Award, sponsored by the American Library Association. It was also a pick in the International gay magazine The Advocate as “One of the Best Overlooked Books of 2011″. His short stories have been published by Bay Laurel and Everyday Fiction. One Gay American is his second book with Coffeetown Press and is featured in The Good Men Project. Dennis lives in Seattle with his three dogs.
Title: ONE GAY AMERICAN
Author: Dennis Milam Bensie
Page count: 242
Genre: LGBT, memoir
Tell us about your book:
ONE GAY AMERICAN is a coming of age story of my life as a gay man. I was born in
1965 and I have been lucky enough to see the rise of gay culture in American after the
Stonewall riots. I grew up as America grew more aware of the LGBT community. Each
chapter of the book begins with a few words about where America was with gay
tolerance at the time of that chapter of my life. Gay culture has come a long way and I
feel that by documenting the past, we can make a brighter future.
How long did it take to write the book?
about a year
What inspired you to write the book?
With the shift in LGBT civil rights, I wanted to make a contribution. I felt telling my story
would help others.
Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any
research, and if so, what did that involve?
Usually I get an idea and I can’t wait to get to the computer and write it down.
Then I can’t wait for someone to read it so I email a chunk of it to my friends (who I’m
sure are all tired of this process). I force myself to write it out. Even if I feel it is not going
so well, I finish it. Then I sit on it for a few days and then go back and revisit it. It often
looks completely different a few days later. I can see what needs to be changes or fixed.
The I sit on it again and wait. I try my best to get someone else to read it and give me
feedback along the way. It is sort of like building a house: I start with a foundation and
build up from that. The last thing is to decorate it---play with the words. Maybe I change
some words here are there to add flavor.
My writing is mostly non-fiction so I like to go back to the places where things
took place. Or look at pictures---that is a big help. Even if I don’t literally reference or
use the research, it fuels me. I do as much research as I can.
What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?
I have lived a colorful, yet sometimes challenging life. I try to work through everything as
a lesson and move to the next challenge in life. If reading about my experiences can
help someone else, then I have done my job.
Excerpt from book:
My first real kiss from a man was from a stranger in the library restroom. As we stood
in the bathroom stall, the handsome, dark-haired guy looked me in the eyes, cupped
my face in his hands and softly kissed me. He was much taller and more muscular
than I. We were the only men in the room and he picked me up in a big bear hug and
lifted me until my feet were actually dangling off the floor. He kissed me again and
looked at me. No one else in the bathroom had ever really looked at me.
I felt love for the first time. Real love … ever so brief. The stranger made me feel whole.
All the other guys I had seen in the restroom were focused on genitalia, but this man
saw me as a man with a face and a heart. I had waited my whole life to be
romantically kissed by a man. In that moment my life changed. I could finally be who I
wanted to be.
It was such a significant event in my life, and I was sad that it had taken place in such
a depressing place.
Was this the best I could do? My first romantic kiss in a seedy public restroom? I didn’t
even know the guy’s name.
Most of these guys were just looking for quick sex. If I wanted a partner, where would
I find him? Carbondale wasn’t exactly a Mecca for secure gay men.
I just had to have faith in myself and be patient. I was twenty-two, in my sexual prime.
Did I have to wait for love to come to me? Shouldn’t I go out and look for it?
I knew I probably wouldn’t find it in the library restroom or the gay bar. However, it
would only take one guy just like me. If he existed in Carbondale, then surely we would
find each other in the only gay spots in town.
While I was being hugged and kissed, we both heard the sound of Keys entering the
restroom. My kisser released me and fled. My feet were back on the ground. I
remained in my door-less stall. Keys walked by, as I had seen him do dozens of times,
and took his place in the stall next to mine.
I never saw my kisser again.
I left the library bathroom not knowing if Keys had ruined the opportunity of a lifetime
or saved me from myself.
Where can we go to buy your book?
There are many online booksellers who carry it. I like to use small LGBT vendors.
Any other links or info you'd like to share?
Book Trailer Link: