As 2017 opened, the United States took several steps back in the progress toward equality. In response, a group of authors has stepped up to offer positive stories of hope and love. In an effort to help fight and support those groups who are facing even greater challenges, we wrote these stories to offer a small amount of aid.
Stories of hope, resistance, and ultimately triumph fill the pages of this anthology.
All proceeds of the anthology go to The Trevor Project and GLAAD to help fight the effects of the dark times we’re facing.
Book Excerpt (Get Off of My Runway)
“Have you lost your mind, Timmy,” Lily said as she popped a tater tot into her mouth. It was Wednesday and the cafeteria smelled of . It was everyone’s favorite lunch choice. “This is seriously a bad idea. No one here is that well-adjusted. Seriously.”
“Look, I know it’s a long shot, but I am tired of this shit.” I was pissed off, because
semester we were doing another musical that was female driven. Its my senior
year and last semester the theatre department did, My Name Is Alice. There were only girls in the cast. It wasn’t fair. I had
finally hit my threshold of tolerance. This semester we would be performing
Gypsy. I loved that musical. I just didn’t like the boys’ parts in it. “I swear
I am literally going to explode.”
“Yeah, I get that, I do, and you should totally talk to Mrs. Lovett about it,” she said as she chowed down. It always kind of grossed me out a little. She had braces and talked with her mouth full.
“Sure,” I said throwing my hands up in the air, exasperated at what she considered the best way to handle it. “And do you know what she will do? She will tell me that I need to be a team player.” I had previously spoken to Mrs. Lovett about my theatrical concerns before. They fell on deaf ears. “How am I going to get into NYU or UCLA with crappy roles?”
“I know,” she whined, sitting her fork down and leaning onto the table. She was getting serious. “But, maybe, you could just try a little harder. Make the role something better than it is. I mean, everyone knows that you are the best in the school. What does Tony say?”
Tony was my boyfriend. We had been dating for the last year and he was always the assistant director for our school’s shows. Mrs. Lovett adored him.
“He can’t help me,” I pouted “Besides, I can out sing and out dance any of those girls.”
“But you are not a girl,” she gasped. “Unless you are trying to tell me you are Trans and I am being a horrible friend. Is that what you are telling me?” The look on her face was priceless. I had to force myself not to mess with her.
“I have blue hair, Lily,” I said seriously. “I like my blue hair. I like being a boy. We talk all the time in society about roles and where we fit into them. Well, why can’t I decide where I fit? Why can’t a boy audition for a girl’s role? This school sucks.”
“That I agree with.” She crossed her arms defensively. She knew I was right. “Okay, so you’re right,” she huffed. I told you she knew. “You can audition for whatever you want. If she will let you. You should talk to Sam. He would be able to give you better insight than me.”
She was right. Sam was what I liked to call a swishy sister. The halls of Hell High were his personal runway and he could give a shit. Sam was great. He always had a huge smile on his face and was one of the nicest people I knew. People called him Sassy Sammy. It started out as a slur in middle school, and he turned it into a badge of honor. He was president of the GSA in our school and captain of the debate team. I made a mental note to talk to him as soon as I could find a moment away from prying eyes. He might have some insight into my apparent bad idea.
I found Sam in the library. He worked there in fourth period and loved it. I knew trying to talk to him in his sacred place was a bad idea.
“What?” he asked cattily. I know I’d said he was usually smiling, but I apparently caught him in an off moment.
“Can we talk for a second,” I whispered. I wasn’t afraid for people to know my plan, but I was afraid of the librarian. She had a reputation for being a hard ass.
“I really don’t think now is a very good time, Timmy. I have to put all these stupid books back into circulation,” he said, gesturing to the four books that were lying on the desk in front of him.
“Are you serious, right now?” I replied, trying to throw a little shade his way.
“Whatever,” he said as he grabbed a book and headed towards the stacks. “Well, are you coming?” he said as he pivoted back toward me.
“Yeah, sure,” I said, following him past poetry and into the biography section. “I wanted to ask your opinion about something. Wow, did someone read that?” I gestured to the copy of The Art of the Deal by Donald Trump he was holding in his hand.
“Welcome to Republicanville, Timmy. Have a great time here. Of course some idiot read this. And you can just stop, Lily told me,” he said, whipping around to face me. “Seriously, have you lost your fucking mind? People will lose their shit over this.” So, I was the reason he was not smiling.
“Okay, so it might be a terrible idea. But that doesn’t necessarily mean I shouldn’t do it, Sam.” I tried to sound confident. It would have worked if my voice didn’t crack.
“Whoa, girl,” he said with his finger in my face. It was very diva of him. “I don’t think you have the capital at this school to pull off something of this magnitude. Mrs. Lovett will never allow it, and what of poor Janice? You know she has been excited about this all week.”
“Do you want to hear Janice sing?” I asked, scoffing at him.
“Of course not, she is the bad audition on American Idol. But she’s a girl. You are a boy. And don’t even think about playing the transgender card with me, because you are not,” he said as condescendingly as possible. Being a debater he was really good at it.
“But,” I started.
“No buts. If this was Porgy and Bess would you think it’s okay for you to play Porgy? A black man?” he said knowingly.
“Of course not. I couldn’t be Kim in Miss Saigon either because I am not Asian. However, Momma Rose is usually played by a white woman and I am—” He cut me off again.
“A woman. She is a woman and you are,” he said, trying to lead me towards his logic.
“An actor,” I said stubbornly. “Who can play Momma Rose. Do you agree that I would be the best Rose?”
“Probably,” he shrugged.
“So if it is based on talent, I should get the part?” I said twisting his logic around to fit my needs.
“Probably,” he said getting even more annoyed at me.
“Look, I just think that the odds are stacked against me in this school whenever it comes to the theatre program. There are more girls and they choose plays that are tailored to the girls here instead of the boys. I sat on the sidelines through the pitchiest musical I have ever heard this fall, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to do it again,” I said getting fired up. “If I choose to audition for only the role of Rose, then I should have that right. Right?”
“Well yes.” He shook his head. “But Mrs. Lovett also has the right to not cast you.”
“Well that I don’t agree with,” I said sliding down the wall and landing next to a Britney Spears biography that hadn’t been read in a decade. “If I give the best audition, why shouldn’t I be cast?”
“I find it strange that I have to tell you where we live, Timmy,” he said as he sat down across from me, looking over his shoulder to see if the librarian noticed us having a heated conversation. “This is a very small town, with small minded people who already have a hard time dealing with the fact that there are gay people in their midst. Getting the GSA in this school was a battle at the time, did you know that? The churches and the school board were against it, and it took a few very brave people to stand up and make it happen. They were ostracized at first and belittled and probably beaten up, Timmy. But they did it, so you and I didn’t have to. So we could be a little safer and happier than they were. So we could be having a discussion about you wearing a teddy and prancing around on stage. You would be spitting in their eye.”
“I would be picking the mantle up and taking us to the next level,” I said. “Maybe?”
“This isn’t about advancing a cause Timmy. This is about your own ego,” he said, standing up, signaling that this discussion was over. We were lucky, the librarian had just noticed us.
I am so excited about our charity compilation, Resist and Triumph! GLAAD and The Trevor Project our organizations that are close to my heart. I used to be on the TV and film nomination committee at GLAAD for many years. The work they do is important and creates change in our world by having strong visibility and representation of LGBT characters and news stories to teach and enlighten society. As for the work that The Trevor Project accomplishes daily I am astounded. The helplines alone save lives every day. Supporting these two worthy organizations was an easy choice for me.
My short story, Get Off of My Runway is about a small group of high school students who affect change in their community by standing up and being their authentic selves during a school production of Gypsy. It is loosely based on my old high school in Kentucky. The microcosm of a small town is always my favorite place to set a story. In Kentucky, your choice of church can affect your social standing, well at least in my small town. The churches hold great power there and the people of the community listen more to the pulpit than they do to each other. Don’t get me wrong. I am proud of where I came from and I love it greatly. I also could not wait to leave.
Being gay there was not easy. I hope that today the LGBT youth have an easier time than my generation did. I hope that the visibility of those who came before them has transitioned the minds and feelings of the masses. I hope.
AND, I hope that you like the compilation of short stories that was collected for this book. There are a wide variety of stories and themes and the editors did a great job putting it all together. Enjoy and listen to the soundtrack to Gypsy as you read. It’s a great musical and the idea of a high school doing it is quite funny to me. This is the first YA story I have ever written. I do not think it will be my last.
Writing is one of the ways that I can resist. Stand up. Be vocal. Resist. Triumph!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shane K Morton lives in California with his husband Jody and their fur baby Slayer. His novel’s The Trouble With Off-Campus Housing,Private Waterloos and The Year of the Cock as well as his short stories Ginger In The City & And We Call It Bella Notte are available on Amazon. When not writing, Shane can be found at a film festival or performing cabaret somewhere in a dark dive bar in LA. To learn more about Shane, or even message him, check out his website at www.ShaneKMorton.com