Tag Archives: mary tyler moore

A pOptimistic Christmas Note

Today on Alphabet City: Jon Paul’s Christmas note announces the end of the ABCityblog sitcom as we know it, but the launch of a new pOptimistic network.

2010 Christmas Card Wreath

Receiving Christmas cards is one of my great holiday joys.  I’m not one of those curmudgeons who complain about the cutesy pictures of kids posed in their holiday finest, or roll my eyes at the “year in the life” letters that could have used a deft editing touch.  In the age of Facebook, when you’re only one passive peek away from knowing the latest thought of your 389th best friend, I find Christmas cards wonderfully anachronistic.

Maybe it’s the sense of anticipation that has me addicted to holiday snail mail.  Will I make it back onto the Jewish Billionaire’s Christmas card list having run into him on book tour a couple times this year?  No, but his company sent me an e-greeting with a recipe for a trifle.  Bah-humbug. Will Tyra see her way clear to forgive a little out-of-context PageSix book publicity?  Unfortunately, no.

But then there are the true friends and family on whose cards I can always count.  Frida’s veterinary pet insurance kicks in the season early with a note that arrives right after Thanksgiving.  My 83 year-old Uncle Cleigh typically sends a picture montage card—usually posed with his dogs and sky diving on his last birthday.  My best gay Gareth chooses a homosexually charged fold-over.  Keith mails an artistic and intricate pop-up cut out.  Cathy manages to unearth yet another jokey Mexican theme featuring yet another Chihuahua, this year posed in a sweater with message, “Fleece Navidad.”  Which, by the way, has Chef in stitches—never underestimate the power of homonym humor to a non-native speaker.

Given my love of the card tradition, you’d think I’d get in on the action.  But no, I’m just a greeting voyeur.  And I don’t even feel guilty about it.  I suppose if you get right down to it, that’s what this blog is really: each post one big Christmas card note, a snapshot of my thinking at a certain point in time.

Here then is my (electronic) Christmas card missive:

With Chef in Mexico

Dear friends, family, fans and casual readers—

2010 has been a life-changing year for me, and I couldn’t have done it without the love of Chef, my partner of a decade (yikes!), not to mention all the encouragement and support you’ve given me along the way.  A year ago, the success of this blog in connecting with readers convinced me to muster the courage and independently publish my humorous memoir Alphabet City.  And what a joyous journey—both literal and emotional—with consequences I never anticipated.

On book tour, I had the opportunity to connect personally with so many of you who graciously opened your homes for book parties with friends.  Christine E., Cathy, Mandy and the ladies of Chi Omega in Dallas/Ft. Worth made my hometown welcoming again—and the reconnection with my stepmother Christine C. was an early Christmas gift.

Alphabet City themed cupcakes at sister-in-law Laura's party

My Mexican family—Isabel in S. Florida, and in-laws Laura and Miguel in Boston—thanks for trying to translate Mary Tyler Moore to a Latino audience.  Of course, the coastal gays jumped into action: Bryan K. for the first Manhattan gathering, Larry for LA’s Gay Pride, Chris and Tom for a weekend on Fire Island.  I had the opportunity to see dear friends blossoming in their new homes: Kara in DC, Dana in LA, and Jimmy in Madison.  Old friends like Shannon took me to new places like Lubbock where her sister Colleen charmed the boots off of me!  Even older friends (and family) introduced me to their new friends and family: sister Paige to the Whole Foods gang, Valerie to Austin’s Media Mavens, including Tammy and her gorgeously renovated historic abode.  Not to mention the reconnections along the way: Kathryn, Mila, Julia, and Diana.

The love I felt from you, your friends, and the fans I met along the way, made me truly believe that I have a unique, fun and optimistic voice that is connecting with readers.  And that is what has given me the courage to announce my next journey: following my passion and dream of being a writer, and doing so full-time.

An optimistic attitude, like Mary Tyler Moore

That means I bid a fond farewell to life as a marketing/public relations consultant, and say hello to the life of a writer.  While I anticipate many ups and downs, I’ve learned that my passion, creativity, hard work and optimistic attitude can take me far.  Already, my focus and energy landed me an important story for Condé Nast Traveler (watch for it in March 2011).  And I have many more exciting changes in store, including a complete redesign and relaunch of this blog.  The topics I write about are more than can be captured in a sitcom called Alphabet City.  With favorite shows like Tex and the City (culture), Green Globe Trekker (travel), and 40, Love (life), and soon-to-be-released shows like Service Entrance (food) and Biz Savvy Blogger (technology), I may just need my own network—like Oprah.  As the wise and wealthy media mogul says herself in promos for her OWN channel:

“What if I could take every story that ever moved me?  Every lesson that motivated me?  Every opportunity that was given to me?  All of my most special celebrations?  And shared them with you?”

Some might call that nauseating, others might call that Facebook and Twitter, but I’m calling the new JP network:

Watch for this fresh, frank, fun website-network to launch in the New Year.  I can’t wait to share this next part of the journey with you.  As Oprah says, “Oooh, this is gonna be good!”

Until then, wishing you a

Viewer programming note: To prepare for the Poptimistic programming change and to celebrate the season, ABCityblog will be going on hiatus—except for instances of breaking thoughts/news.

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Catcher in the Wind

Today on Alphabet City: A query on Jon Paul’s blog leads to a new friendship, an intro to a phenomenal new book 85A, and a party.

Sometimes I imagine how Mary Tyler Moore would get along in the age of the Internet—instead of a job as Associate Producer in a TV newsroom, she’d probably be creating online content.  But I like to think Mary would resist the all-too-easy temptation to be bitter in the blogosphere.  Hopefully, she’d remember her Sonny Curtis theme song, continue to “turn the world on with a smile” and remember that with “each glance and every movement” she shows it.  Of course, for the web world you’d replace “movement” with “keystroke.”  Which is why I take reader questions and comments so seriously—the response sends a message to the world.

Back in June, I received a simple question from fellow first time novelist Kyle Thomas Smith.  He’d read an article about me in EDGE, and wrote for some advice on book tour publicity—and I took the reply very seriously.  Writers are all in this together—we need each other.  What I got out of posting a thorough reply would have made Mary proud—I gained a new friend and an introduction to his captivating book 85A.

By the time I secured and cracked open my copy of 85A in late August, Kyle and I had already hung out together a few times.  The most I knew about the book was some of the promotional material on the back cover that opens with this line, “What do you get when you cross Holden Caulfield with Johnny Rotten?”  Honestly, I cringed when I read that—thinking it was a bold claim to make a comparison to one of America’s most enduring narrators from Catcher in the Rye.  So I was a little nervous when I started the book a few days before going to Kyle and his partner Julius’ home for dinner—what would I say if I didn’t think the book lived up to the hype?  That’s a set-up for an awkward MTM episode if ever there was one.

Boy, I shouldn’t have worried.  Instead, from the moment I began my journey across late 1980s Chicago with narrator Seamus O’Grady, I couldn’t put this book down.  To me, Kyle has created one of the most captivating, riveting and engaging narrators in modern fiction—it’s not a stretch at all to compare Kyle’s character to Holden.  As Seamus tells his story while he rides the 85A bus across various suburbs neighborhoods of the Windy City, I bonded with his disaffected, punk rock persona in ways I hadn’t expected.  [NOTE: both here and in my Amazon review, I called Seamus’ route across “suburbs” when in fact, as the author notes, “he lives in the city but in a part of the city that’s in the most wretched fear that minorities will move in. That’s one of Seamus’ big gripes is that the neighborhood is a segregationists last stand in the changing city.” An important distinction–one that adds immeasurably to the layers of this story]

According to the book’s time period, Seamus and I are pretty much contemporaries—except that Seamus is the kind of kid I wouldn’t have necessarily understood or appreciated at my fancy prep school.  Failing out of school and ostracized because of his interest in the punk scene, Seamus feels like the world doesn’t understand him.  It takes a skilled author like Kyle to make me want to get inside Seamus’ head—and moreover, feel sympathy for him.  When Seamus isn’t allowed to do the one thing he most loves in school—my heart breaks for him.  And when he finally discovers the hipster coffee shop where he might just fit in—I cried.  It took me back to the first time I was able to walk into Dallas’ gay bookstore—hoping I found others like me.

The deck seems hopelessly stacked against Seamus, including a horrific home life filled with abuse from a homophobic father and brother, and a mother unwilling to do what it takes to protect her son.  The two people in his corner—a sassy best friend Tressa who opens his world to other possibilities, and his therapist Dr. Stryeroth, both reveal themselves to have much more complicated agendas than originally presented.

But through it all, Seamus’ dream of moving to London keep him moving forward at all costs.  Anyone who has ever experienced being an outsider, being different, not fitting in for any reason, will connect with Seamus’ desperate struggle to find a way to escape and be accepted.

Some reviewers have objected to Seamus’ colorful language—and to that I say phewey.  His use of expletives is completely in character, especially for a kid who feels like the world is against him.  Sadly, the world in which Seamus is bullied and abused is still very much alive 20+ years later as recent current events about suicidal teenagers can attest.  Thankfully, Seamus’ dream of a better life in London is able to keep him alive.

Little did I know it, but Kyle delivered a gift when he first emailed me for advice.  Today, I hope to repay the generosity and take a cue from the folks across the country who opened their homes to me on my book tour this summer.  Chef and I have invited our friends around for an 85A book party gathering at our home featuring the author Kyle.  It’s the kind of thing I imagine Mary would do—yesterday and today.

Tomorrow on ABCityblog: Tips and recipes for throwing a book party for under $100 by taking advantage of Whole Deals at Whole Foods Market Upper West Side.

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Reading Rainbow

Today on Alphabet City: Jon Paul and Chef battle a tough crowd of gay boys to sell some books; women save the day.

The JP's tag-teaming an event

Not to get all hot pants about it—but I’m starting to get concerned about literacy in Gay Boy America.  Appearing at a recent men-centric networking event where I was billed as a “celebrity,” here are some rather worrisome nuggets thrown at me after guys willingly approached the Alphabet City display table:

“Oh, I’ve stopped reading.”

Each time I heard this line, I just nodded and grinned my fake PR smile.  I’m not sure I’ve ever met anyone who made a conscious choice to be illiterate.

“Don’t want to go into too much detail, but I’ve recently had surgery and am not up to reading.”

Already, that’s too much info.  Gone are the days when post-op recovery meant catching up on a pile of trashy novels.

“Maybe I’ll buy it on Amazon.”

It seems online buying habits have so altered consumer behavior that we’re unable to appreciate the beauty of buying something directly from the artist.  The author is standing right there.  Begging for a sale.  Offering to personalize it.

“I’m only into audio books now.  If you recorded one, I might buy it.”

Clever use of a conditional tense—even if I laid down a voice track, I still might not be good enough.

Thankfully, Chef was working the room to bolster my sales.  As a Demo Specialist for Whole Foods, he knows a thing or two about getting customers to sample the goods.  Chef has his own tales of woe about customers taking a bite of his cooking and saying in a deadpan voice, “Not bad, actually.”  As if he’s really going to serve them shit on a stick.  Using the word “actually” indicates that they anticipated the food would be disgusting.  So why did they even try it?

As my personal coach, Chef observed my initial pitch to a couple of gays.

“Hi, I’m the author of Alphabet City, a funny memoir about my life as a gay Mary Tyler Moore.  I moved from Texas to New York, and fell into a job as a publicist for celebrities like Tyra and Whoopi and later at magazine publisher Condé Nast.  It’s a little bit Sex and the City and a little bit Will and Grace.”

Chef offered some hard earned demo strategy tips.

“Good, but watch your audience.  Young guys and immigrants have no idea who Mary Tyler Moore is.  Go right to the celebrities. Also, after the basic pitch, as they look at the book, fill in the silence with a question.”

My next potential victim fan was young hottie, the kind of boy who had a Fire Island summer share.  Per Chef’s advice, I played up Tyra and asked what I thought was a genius question.

“Are you looking for a great beach read?”

“I hate the beach.”

Alrighty, then.  Before I could even deliver my pitch to the next guy, he slammed the book down and yelled.

“Why would I need a guide book to Alphabet City?!  I live in Grammercy just a hop, skip and jump away for God sakes!”

Well of course, how silly of me not to know that.

When I finally did make a sale, it was  like pulling teeth.  Some guys came back to the table multiple times, fondling the book—as if they were purchasing diamonds at Neiman-Marcus.  At $15, the book was less than the Tanqueray and Tonic they’d ordered at the bar.  When a fag finally forked over the cash, I was willing to do anything they asked—including personalizing the book to “Golden Finger Fister.”  Scrawling that gem with my Sharpie, I sealed the door shut on any future political career.

Back in May, when I found myself in a Miami gay bar selling books barstool-to-barstool, I didn’t run into any uncomfortable excuses.  My stereotypical view of those boys had always been they were more interested in working their biceps than brains.  But those hunky Latinos couldn’t have been more welcoming—and I wasn’t even a “celebrity” there.

Maybe Manhattan breeds a quirky, competitive kind of gay accustomed to building defensive coping mechanisms to survive this urban jungle.  Rather than honestly saying, “Good luck with the book, it’s not for me,” they concoct a convoluted excuse like, “My attention span is too short to read anymore.”

But I’m not discouraged.  In Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, the famous comedienne advises never to turn down an opportunity—and I ended up selling 15 books and learning a load.  Who knows, maybe I’ll take Joan’s cue and sign-on to some reality show to raise my profile.  America’s Next Top Novelist, anyone?

My biggest lesson so far on book tour is that WOMEN are my biggest readers and most supportive fans—by far.  From the straight sorority sisters of Texas to the lesbian moms of DC, they all have some nurturing gene that encourages literary endeavors from an emerging artist like me.  Better still, they buy multiple books for friends—no hemming and hawing, no excuses.  Once again, Goddess bless the girls who love the gays.  Gary Tyler Moore would be no where without you.

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(Way) Over the Rainbow

Today on Alphabet City: Jon Paul summons up show tunes and sitcoms to battle the blues over mediocre reviews.

You’d think by now I would handle mediocre reviews better than I do.  As a child actor, I was nearly done in by a particularly unflattering Dallas Times Herald critique of my performance as Eldridge Van Zandt III in the sickeningly sweet all-child musical review Calling All Kids.  As I relate in Episode 2 of Alphabet City, I thought the show was my chance at tripping the lights fantastic on the Great White Way with Tommy Tune, but the local liberal paper of record panned the show and called me “chubby.”  It wasn’t enough to dash my hopes of living in NYC, but enough to launch my life-long battle with body image problems.

So I knew that releasing Alphabet City would open me up to even more criticism.  And as an artist and writer I tell myself that not everyone will connect with my work.  But that doesn’t mean you don’t secretly hope everyone in fact will adore it.  Which is probably why it’s taken several talk-me-down-from-the-ledge talks with Chef to get over a posting on Rainbow Review.

Here’s the good part—the excerpts I will promote like a movie ad taken out of context:

The premise of this book is very clever… a very amusing (especially if you have any interest in the celebrity or publishing scene) glimpse into the chaos that keeps our rumor mills going.

Here’s the bad part—the excerpts I won’t be promoting other than to react on this blog:

Several incidents are related with a laugh track mentality that seemed to cry out as moments that were truly severely painful for the writer… All of these are surface stories. No emotional substance to any of them until we get to the last few episodes when we are wrapping up the series…I hope the spin off is more heartfelt and revealing dramedy than plain sitcom.

Ouch.  So here’s the thing: in this book, I view and tell my life through the lens of a sitcom.  And writing in that form requires certain conventions—like not being bitter about any of the guest stars, be it celebrities or family members.  Each episode presents a challenge and a lesson learned—and overall, the kid from Texas who moved to NYC with a personal life a mess, finds a new life (and love) in Manhattan.

The reviewer seems to want a different type of show altogether—something darker, more suitable on HBO or Showtime, than the network of Mary Tyler Moore.  To me, that’s asking for a different book entirely.  It’s like wanting to see MTM ten years later—bitter, depressed and in therapy.  More Augusten Burroughs than Gary Tyler Moore, I’d say.  My readers and fans want and enjoy something a little lighter—more optimistic.  They know I’ve suffered through painful moments, but at the end of the day, I’ve learned and keep moving and keep smiling.

It’s funny—I’m running into people on book tour who are desperate for me to reveal more snarky details of celebrities and my family, and aren’t happy when I tell them that Gary Tyler Moore tries to remain above that.  I think it’s sad when people root for others—even famous faces—to be unhappy.

As I complained to Chef this morning, he just looked at me, “All press is good press, right?”  That made me smile.  I don’t necessarily believe that.  But I do know that mediocre reviews are a Fact of Life.  Like that sitcom’s opening, “You can take the good/take the bad/you take them both/and there you have/the Facts of Life.”  And I also know that it’s a fact of life that not everyone will love you or your work.  So the rest of the day, I’ve been singing from one of my most inspirational Broadway productions [title of show]:

I’d rather be 9 people’s favorite thing, than a hundred people’s 9th favorite thing.

When I head back out on book tour in a week, I can’t wait to keep meeting those 9 people.

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Gary Tyler Moore

For Gary Tyler Moore, love is all around

Today on Alphabet City: Jon Paul welcomes a new alter ego into his life.

There’s a power in naming things.  And this week, in the midst of media training for my upcoming book tour appearances, Susan was pointing out the number of times I say “gay Mary Tyler Moore” in my messages—when she accidently called me Gary Tyler Moore.  We both looked at each other in astonishment at the genius of the flub—finally, a name for my alter ego.  Gary Tyler Moore—you know, Mary’s gay brother?

Die-hard fans of my cult film GayTV: The Movie will recognize that last line as an homage to the character Marty Stewart, you know, Martha’s gay brother.

Giving birth to Gary couldn’t come at more opportune time because he’s been very busy—what with book tour beginning this weekend, and all.  He’s a jack of all-trades really.  A promotional photo shoot inspired by his sister Mary (hat toss and all) on the real streets of Alphabet City with genius photographer Jamie Beck of FromMe-ToYou.Tumblr.com was followed by filling orders for independent bookstores across the country to carry Alphabet City.  Please frequent stores like Legacy Books/DFW, Books & Books/Miami, Giovanni’s Room/Philadelphia, Obelisk/San Diego, and Cahoots Cards & Gifts/Salt Lake City—Gary is totally intrigued by this last one and is talking to me about arranging a tour date there!  More bookstores are signing up daily!

Gary’s day ended with performances as a Cher Impersonator and Sammy the Investigator—a potty-mouthed, washed-up kiddie TV performer done in by Dora the Explorer and her f*ckin map.  And that’s just a taste of what was on stage last at the Level 2 graduation performance at The Pit under the direction of Kevin Scott—whose own improv troupe Centralia Gary and I both agree borders on genius.

Over the next several weeks, Gary and I will be crossing the country on book tour sponsored by Kimpton Hotels and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force—read along for recaps of life on the road, links to press coverage, and travel tips on tour cities.  Dallas, here we come!

Gary Tyler Moore is ready to turn the world on with his smile.

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Tex and the City: Fresh Meat

Today on Alphabet City: Jon Paul’s new Aussie friend turns the talk show table on him; a special Tex and the City.

When I first moved to Manhattan, folks told me that you may start calling yourself a “true New Yorker” only after living here 10 years.  It was always said with such conviction that I never questioned it.  As a newbie, I just assumed it was a given fact that everyone understood.  I imagined that upon my 10th Anniversary there might be some ceremony in Tompkins Square Park where the local homeless guy/artiste awarded me a special accomplishment badge from the Girl Scouts (now Foursquare).  That’s when I would have enough Big Apple experience under my belt to share common ground with my fellow citizens.  But recently, I’m not so sure I buy the decade argument after all.

Any time I meet a recent immigrant come to set-up shop near the Great White Way, I’m reminded that it’s that energy, enthusiasm and passion for this city that makes it buzz with excitement.  It’s that shared sense of awe for all that is possible in New York that bonds us.

Last night’s New York fresh meat was Jono from Australia, whom I e-met through our dear mutual friend Katie.  He moved here to open Hyatt’s new property Andaz on 5th Avenue, and since I have an instant crush on anyone with an accent from Down Under (I have the Sydney Opera House tattooed on my arm, after all), it wasn’t a hard sell to arrange for get-to-know-you drinks.

you've never seen Manhattan quite like this, unless you live in NJ

The rooftop bar at Kimpton’s new ink48 property on 11th Avenue and 48th street was the perfect place to exchange observations on Manhattan.  Sometimes, I worry about spots overlooking the Hudson River because once the sun sets, you’re stuck looking at, well, New Jersey.  But ink48’s locale, a tad bit off the beaten path, gives it a spectacular new perspective on the city—the bar looks back fondly with unobstructed views over the Midtown Manhattan skyline.  Unless you own an apartment on the West Side highway, you probably haven’t seen this view.  There’s indoor and outdoor seating, and floor-to-ceiling windows letting you take it all in.  Just know the hotel strictly controls the number allowed up to the 16th floor, but you can always wait in the groovy lobby lounge.

Poor Jono, when I meet someone new, I have a habit of behaving as if I have my own talk show.  I think at first he was a little overwhelmed by the amount of questions I peppered him with about life in New York and at the hotel.

“Has your family come to visit?” is one of my favorite questions, the answer revealing a multitude of sins—everything from how the subject gets along with their parents to what they showcase to visiting relatives.

And then quickly the tables turned.

“What do you love about New York?  What keeps you passionate about this city?” Jono asked.

I sat looking at him awed at his ability to take the upper hand in my interview.  Like a terrible guest, I was silent, stumped.  But like a good host, Jono vamped to fill in the gaps.

“You either love New York or you hate it.  And if you hate it, you get out.  For people who have stayed, like you, there must be a passion for it.  What’s yours?”

I smiled.  As a caring and helpful host, he had given me a wide opening to plug my book.

“Well, Jono, as I wrote in Alphabet City, New York is a place where anyone can move and follow a dream.  You can leave your baggage behind, and with ambition and talent, you can reinvent yourself.”

He nodded in agreement.  I smiled pleased to have hit my message point, and remembered one more.

“I like to think there’s a little bit of Mary Tyler Moore in all adopted New Yorkers.”

With that, we raised a glass to MTM, and toasted all the opportunities in the Big Apple.  And I decided that it’s not the amount of time you spend in New York that determines if you can call it home, it’s your attitude that earns you that right.

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Hometown Heroine

Today on Alphabet City: Jon Paul’s book causes dramatic revelations about long held family secrets.

JP wonders if he'll ever wear Big D on his sleeve

There’s no way around the fact that I’ve always had a delicate relationship with my hometown Dallas.  Anyone who has read Alphabet City: My So-Called Life knows that part of my Mary Tyler Moore life in the Big Apple has been about leaving behind painful parts of my Big D past.  But when wearing my (very stylish) PR hat, I knew it just made sense to start my book tour in Big D—after all, that’s where the journey began.  But the ramifications of that decision are just beginning to unravel—revealing unexpected connections, hometown heroes and dramatic revelations about long held family secrets.

Mockingbird Hilton turned Kimpton's Hotel Palomar, an urban oasis

First, the connections.  Because Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants is a national sponsor of the Alphabet City Book Party Tour, their Hotel Palomar is my first stop.  When I was growing up, the property that opened in 1967 was called the Mockingbird Hilton.  On the corner of Mockingbird Lane and Central Expressway, there was no way of avoiding the modern structure when traveling to and from our house on Hillgreen down the road.  Over time, I developed an immense fascination with the hotel.  There were the giant Tiki masks outside the ground floor Trader Vic’s restaurant that served smoking drinks!  And the top of the building featured floor to ceiling windows from a sparkling disco that my older sister Pam sometimes frequented.

Hotel Palomar lobby in its retro-chicWhen I was 10, my mother left Dad, and took up residence at the hotel for a week or so.  That’s when I got my first taste of a real live urban oasis.  For a couple of days, I kept her company lounging poolside, just feet away from the perpetually clogged highway, while some of her best girlfriends showed up to commiserate with her misfortune.

A few years ago, the property was returned to all its ‘70s chic retro-glam by Kimpton, and I find it too delicious that my tour begins at Hotel Palomar.  Thanks Kimpton for being such a terrific company, and for expanding your creative marketing to the GLBT community by sponsoring the tour!

Second, the heroes.  Sometimes on a journey like this you never quite know how folks are going to respond—from the press to family to friends.  So far, so good.  Robert Wilonsky’s post yesterday on the Dallas Observer site sent my blog numbers through the roof.  David and Arnold at the Dallas Voice have been a delight—as always.  Now fingers crossed for Dallas Morning News and D Magazine.  Local PR maven Kellie McCrory is all over it.  As is my extended family hosting Book Club Parties—Christine and the Greenhill Alumni Gang (shout out to Katie Young); my mother-in-law-once-removed Cathy and her Colleyville Ladies who Lunch; and certainly can’t forget the TCU Chi Omega Sorority Alumni Book Club arranged by my sister-in-law-once-removed Mandy.  I mean amazing.

Finally, the revelations.  Are you ready for the really juicy part?  Often I am asked if I am worried about reactions from the people who appear in the book.  For the most part, I am not.  The memoir is not snarky, and even when celebrities appear, it’s more about my journey, than it is about revealing hidden dirt.  The parts that involve family members are included to show a sense of my sometimes painful background—so readers understand what motivated me to take this journey.  In essence, it’s my truth.  I did check-in with the major co-stars and guest stars with whom I have ongoing relationships—more to give them fair warning than make changes.  Chef, Susan, Angela, even my Mom, have all read the book.

But after yesterday’s Dallas Observer post, I realized there was one person with whom I hadn’t checked in.  I did so last night, and the results have been, dare I say, life altering.  Folks who have read Episode 2—and I’m not going to give it away or spoil it—might remember that there’s a confrontation with my father about my then partner Nathan and I being allowed to stay at his home.  Let’s just say that in the book, my father’s position is shocking because it runs counter to his early support of gay rights as a federal judge.  But he basically “explains” it to me as a decision coming from my stepmother whom, as his wife, he must support.  From the book:

my Dad felt it was his duty to support her.  Never mind that Dad was a hero to many in the gay community and knew better.  He had never taken my side—I had always been a burden.  And now he was through with me.  I had been written out of his show.

One of the hardest parts for me in the whole affair was the stake that it drove between my stepmother and me.  She had always been one of the people whom I credited with getting me through my very rough teen years (and I’m putting it mildly).  So the idea that she was uncomfortable with my sexuality just never made sense to me, nor my sisters.  But Dad’s word was final and he told us not to make an issue out of it with his wife.  Slowly, I drifted away from one of the key mother figures in my life.

But my journey often takes unexpected turns—especially with this book in hand.  Yesterday, my stepmother, who reads my blog and reconnected with me at my Dad’s funeral last year, emailed me within minutes of the Observer post to say, “how cool is this?”  I used that as an opportunity to give her a heads up about what was in the book, but that I felt like that was water under the bridge and had more to do with my difficulties with Dad than with her.  Not only did she take it in stride, but she shed some new light on the situation—she never expressed any concerns about me being gay (after all, she was the one who snapped a Polaroid of me “coming out of the closet” and put in the family photo album).

Seems like my father might have had a unhealthy habit of spreading untruths when it came to emotional issues—he was possibly covering up some of his own complicated feelings about my sexuality.  In retrospect, given all of the other issues Dad and I encountered over the years, that seems to make sense.  Sometimes very admired public figures lead much more complex private lives—and none of this should take away from my father’s well-regarded accomplishments civil rights, just add another intriguing layer.    Unfortunately, I will never be able to clear the air with him.  But I can with my stepmother—she and I are having a much deserved catch-up dinner when I’m in town on book tour.

There's room for Pegasus

On my arm, I have a couture tattoo of all my favorite places—Sydney, Paris and, of course, New York.  My amazing tattoo artist Friday Jones at Senses in NYC has always questioned me about why Dallas is missing from the mix.  Maybe it’s time to change that, and let a little Pegasus love into my heart, and onto my arm.  Like Mary Tyler Moore taught me: things always work out in the end, and when they do, remember to have on a cute out fit—and, now, tattoo.

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