The Bookpushers host the latest stop on the Boys in the Band blog tour, with authors Paula Coots, Cecilia Tan, L.A. Witt, and Rowan Speedwell. Each of these writers has brought a gay rock star to life in a recent romance release, so they got together to talk about music, musicians, love, and good old “sex, drugs, and rock and roll.”
Today they answer the question: “A lot of real life rock stars and celebrities have come out of the closet as gay or bisexual in recent years. Some did it with a big announcement (Lance Bass on the cover of People) while others were lower key (Billie Joe Armstrong, interview in The Advocate), and still others were out from the start of their careers (Adam Lambert). Why is being out (or staying in) such a big deal for rock stars and give us your prediction for who you think we’ll see open the closet door next?”
Scroll down for the answer and a chance to win a prize pack of all four books!
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With the Band by L.A. Witt
Hard rock band Schadenfreude is finally on the verge of the success that’s eluded them for the last several years. With Aaron McClure as their new lead singer, nothing’s going to stop them…except maybe a steamy, secret relationship between Aaron and bassist Bastian Koehler. Aaron knows all too well what can happen when band members get involved with each other. After all, his last band was a casualty of his last relationship, and Schadenfreude forbids band members from dating for that very reason. But Bastian is too hot to resist, and besides, it’s just sex, so what’s the harm? Their passion in the bedroom is rivaled only by their ambition as musicians, though, and pretty soon, it’s going to tear them, and Schadenfreude apart, if they can’t get back to playing with the band.
Another Rock Star by Paula Coots
Music is the driving force in Reed Lang’s life and he’s hit the jackpot when it comes to signing a major label deal and scoring a hit single or two. It’s never an easy task and certainly not for an out and proud gay man, even in this day and age. Now, it’s time to hire the backing band, shoot the videos, do all the promotion work and get out on the road. But what happens onstage is only half the show. When the wild energy onstage can’t be contained some become more than just hired hands. Friends. Mentors. Tormenters. Lovers. Surviving the circus of the music business, the rigors of the road, staying true to your art and discovering your heart show Reed that maybe there is more to life than being just another rock star.
Daron’s Guitar Chronicles by Cecilia Tan
It’s the 1980s, the era of MTV, AIDS, and Just Say No. Daron Marks is trying to make it as a guitar player in an industry where the whole world is the closet. Keeping his sexuality a secret would be a lot easier if he hadn’t developed a huge crush on his band’s lead singer, Ziggy Ferias. In fact, everything would be a lot easier without his crush on Ziggy… except for fame itself. In the latest volume of Daron’s Guitar Chronicles (volume 5), Moondog 3 are on the road. Is the tour bus the pressure cooker that will meld them together or will the pressure blow them apart?
Illumination by Rowan Speedwell
Adam Craig is burned out. Lead singer of the hard rock band Black Varen, he’s tired of the empty life of groupies, paparazzi, and hotel rooms. Worse, a life in the closet. Miles Caldwell is a brilliant artist, tied by agoraphobia and social anxiety to his family’s lodge. Alone but for his parrot, he spends his days illuminating manuscripts and hiding from the complexities of life. Somehow, the man who’s never home and the man who never leaves it must find the strength to fight for a future together.
THE QUESTION: “A lot of real life rock stars and celebrities have come out of the closet as gay or bisexual in recent years. Some did it with a big announcement (Lance Bass on the cover of People) while others were lower key (Billie Joe Armstrong, interview in The Advocate), and still others were out from the start of their careers (Adam Lambert). Why is being out (or staying in) such a big deal for rock stars and give us your prediction for who you think we’ll see open the closet door next?”
Cecilia Tan: I think some people expect rock stars to be sex machines who will do anything that moves. It comes with the territory. Maybe that makes it a little easier to accept when a rock star comes out than, say, a professional athlete who has all kinds of “wholesome hero” expectations on his image and his masculinity. Then again maybe it depends on the genre of music: have you seen country singer Steve Grand’s big gay coming out video, “All American Boy”? Brave move but it’s working out for him, I think!
These days I think most musicians who are afraid to come out fear two things: one, no one likes a ton of tabloid attention into their bedroom regardless of orientation, and coming out is like an invitation to be invaded in that way. Two, some are afraid to be pigeonholed or categorized: women especially. As if lesbians can only listen to crunchy granola folk songs! As for who will open the closet door next? It would be massive if any member of One Direction came out. They’re so huge (and cute) right now that they might be getting more mileage out of the constant speculation about their sexuality than they would out of any kind of declaration. Even more massive would be if one of the major rap stars came out. In my fantasy world, Jay Z and Beyonce BOTH come out as bisexual! I can dream, can’t I?
Rowan Speedwell: I think that things are slowly changing everywhere, but there’s still a mistaken perception in society that gay=effeminate, and if there’s one thing big bad rock stars don’t do, it’s effeminate. That’s a holdover from days gone by – hell, even the early girl rockers like Joan Jett and Grace Slick had the “tough as nails” thing going on. And then there’s the groupies and all that – they don’t call it “sex and drugs and rock and roll” for nothing. Rock stars – particularly male rock stars – are held up as being edgier and more masculine than others. It’s part of the mythos.
I think that that is changing, though, as the industry changes and as gender identity and sexual orientation become more politicized. If there’s one thing rock music has always been, it’s political. I think we’ll see more and more people coming out publicly rather than staying closeted simply because it’s become a broader issue, and this is a way of making an impact.
As to who…? Hell, I don’t know! I was waiting for Michael Jackson to come out, but sadly it’s too late now…!
L.A. Witt: I think we’re at a point in our culture where it’s not as shocking when people come out, and a big part of that is public figures coming out. The more they do, the more normal it is for people to have to face the idea that — OMG — not everyone is straight. You can only see so many productive, successful people coming out before you have to accept the fact that, hey, maybe being gay is not such a horrible thing after all. While I don’t think public figures should feel like they owe it to anyone to come out — they spend enough time in fishbowls as it is — I do think it’s great whenever one decides to do so.
Paula Coots: There is still an element of homophobia in our society, and shockingly to me, even the music business. I hope there will come a day, and soon, when the question is not any type of issue. I think that Adam Lambert has absolutely done the right thing by not trying to hide anything, but has it hampered his career? Nobody sings like him, nobody outperforms him. People knew he was gay. He was red hot after coming in second on American Idol (probably because he was gay) and his appearance on the American Music Awards in 2009 was hyped to the gills. He was the closer of the show, even headlining over Lady Gaga. Most of America had only seen him as “that sweet boy with the amazing voice” on Idol. His album was coming out that Tuesday. And then he let loose with that infamous, over the top (for a male!—talk about double standards) sexual display with the male dancers (nobody cared that he pulled at the crotch of a female dancer’s panties) and then kissing his male “keyboardist” and you’d think we lived in the 1950’s. That Monday after the show, he was even banned from Good Morning America, and a month and a half later on “New Year’s Rocking Eve” as a censure from ABC. What?? Ten years from now, I hope all of society will look back on it as a groundbreaking moment. This year, the AMA’s even used a pic of Adam’s performance in the blurb: “Catch the AMA’s. Where anything can happen!” Uh. Yeah.
Would he have reached a wider audience had he approached it a bit more slowly? He said at the time, “I think maybe it was too soon in my career.” On Ellen that week, he talked about how his dad had talked to him about apologizing, and Adam said, “I’m not apologizing. I didn’t do anything wrong.”
I think no performer should have to apologize for artistic expression.
But on an even deeper level, they shouldn’t have to apologize for being who they are.
Who do I think will come out next? I have no idea and in some ways, I really don’t care! But right now, it is important to do so because it’s another area in our society that is broken. And every person who utters those brave little words, “I’m gay,” hopefully makes it a tiny bit easier for those who follow.
Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for a prize pack including all four ebooks below!
About the Authors:
Paula Coots: After seeing David Bowie and his lead guitarist, Mick Ronson, when she was eleven, Paula knew what she wanted to do with her life. Her plan was to play lead guitar in a band and hopefully make it big, and then after that focus on writing. Well, she didn’t “make it big” as a rock star, but she has had her share of traveling band adventures as a lead guitarist over the past twenty five years. And now she writes!
Facebook | @PaulaRCoots
Rowan Speedwell lives in a tarpaper shack in the North Woods, without so much as cable TV to keep her warm. She is allergic to publicity and loathes marketing, so her books only sell one or two copies. If you have one, she thanks you, as your purchase enables her to buy cat food for her diabetic feline companion, Kimball O’Hara.
Website | @RowanSpeedwell
Cecilia Tan mostly writes erotica and science fiction/fantasy, but she started writing Daron’s Guitar Chronicles back in the eighties and is still writing it today. She is the author of Slow Surrender, The Prince’s Boy, the Magic University books, and many other novels and stories. She was inducted into the Saints & Sinners GLBT Writers Hall of Fame in 2010 and is currently a nominee for the RT Magazine Career Achievement Award in erotic fiction. She lives in the fantasy utopia of Cambridge, Massachusetts with her three cats and her partner of 23 years.
Daron serial website | Blog | @ceciliatan | Facebook
L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer currently living in the glamorous and ultra-futuristic metropolis of Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband, two cats, and a disembodied penguin brain that communicates with her telepathically. In addition to writing smut and disturbing the locals, L.A. is said to be working with the US government to perfect a genetic modification that will allow humans to survive indefinitely on Corn Pops and beef jerky. This is all a cover, though, as her primary leisure activity is hunting down her arch nemesis, erotica author Lauren Gallagher, who is also said to be lurking somewhere in Omaha.
Website | Blog | @GallagherWitt