When Harry Met the Fairy

August 18th 2008 - Inspiration pt2The first book I ever wrote wasn’t called Senseless. It was called Harry and the Fairy. I came across it about a year ago as I scoured my parents’ attic for proof of a high school sweetheart that is still, sadly, pending.

The book was well-received in my close-knit literary circle (mom said ‘nice job’), the public (teacher gave me a gold star, and one to my sister Amanda, age 10, for illustration) and critics (I was invited to the Young Writers of America festival at the Bucks County Library). Everyone was, I think.  

But how can you miss with such a plot line? A troublesome young boy named Harry goes into his closet and finds a fairyland (Yes, a fairyland. Yes, in his closet). Once there, he meets some helpful fairies who have a hell of a chat with him and show him that being a bad kid is no way to go through life. Harry comes out of the closet a changed boy.

Um, what?

OK, so as I flipped through, riveted to the not-so-subtle undertones prancing rampantly through the five-page tome, one thing became clear to me:

I was gay.

Let’s recap the obviously homosexual plot line: bad boy goes in the closet, bad boy meets fairies in the closet, bad boy changes in closet, bad boy comes out of closet, bad boy not bad anymore.     

There are a few points I’d like to outline that make the fact that I wrote homosexual fantasy fiction at age 12 a little surprising.

In the first case, I am not gay. Second, I don’t think I was gay. And third, at age 12 my exposure to anything gay was limited to one ‘very special episode’ of The Golden Girls and an unmarried aunt who had a ‘roommate.’

I had broached the subject of my aunt once with my dad and though I don’t completely remember (suppressing all kinds of things these days, evidently) the interaction probably went something like this:

“Dad, why does Aunt Kelly live with Susie?”

“They are roommates.”

“But they sleep in the same bed.”

“Look, there’s a TV.”


Now, I am not disturbed by my book, a little confused, but not disturbed. I am, however, a little annoyed that I didn’t make a whole lot more use of this debut literary work.

In the first case, women love gay men and women love writers, and at the age of 12 I was both. So instead of spending my high school years up to my bedazzled wings in real women, I was in my bathroom compulsively studying theoretical women in magazines.

Second, had I known I was a budding gay writer, I could have taken advantage of it to embark upon a literary career. It was huge to be a gay writer in the early 1990s (look at Michael Chabon and the kid who played Urkel) and I could have finagled this into a scholarship of some sort. Not to mention the success I’d be having now!  

And really, my I&R mission out of the closet had none of the resulting advantages that I have since heard so much about. I did not feel a sense of relief, pride, strength or solidarity. Nor did I develop a fashion sense, a knack for decorating, or an ability to dance. And nothing ‘got better’ until I was dropped off on the University of Pittsburgh’s doorstep five years later.

I have, however, developed an ability to exploit tired stereotypes for a quick laugh. Despite these disappointments, I am thinking of writing a sequel. So stay tuned for:

Harry and the Fairy Enjoy a Crisp Chardonnay and Talk about Life’s Tribulations

  1. #1 by Emma on April 18, 2013 - 1:47 pm

    My first book was a dramatic re-telling of “The Owl and the Pussy Cat” that I dictated to my father (I couldn’t do joined up writing, which I somehow thought was instrumental to writing successful fiction). The work was much hampered by the fact that my father couldn’t write the word pussy without giggling to himself, and that my memory of the real version petered out somewhere around the area where they got in a boat.

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