Today’s guest is Shae Conner talking about:
Religion, Coming Out, and “Ice Cream Dreams”
By Shae Connor
One of the themes I touch on in “Ice Cream Dreams” is the relationship between religion and homosexuality. Volumes have been written on the subject, but in this story, it’s a relatively minor thing. The main character, Gage, is worried about coming out to his Uncle Gordon because Gordon has always been a regular churchgoer. In some situations, that might not be an issue, but in the rural South, it’s a legitimate cause for concern.
I grew up in that rural South, and one of the things we did every single week was go to church. We changed churches a few times, going back and forth between Presbyterian and Methodist, but we rarely missed a Sunday. We attended Sunday school, Sunday night services, Wednesday night dinners, revivals, Bible studies, choir rehearsals, Vacation Bible School… you name it, and we probably did it.
What we didn’t do was throw the Bible at people in the street.
My parents are Southern Christian conservatives, but unlike many in that category, they’ve always encouraged me and my sister to make our own decisions. We’ve turned out a lot differently when it comes to religion. While both of us are Christian, and our faith is strong, my sister is actively involved in a church, and I’m not. She and my parents tease me sometimes about being a “heathen,” and I know my mom especially would prefer for me to be in church, but they don’t hound me about it. They respect my choice.
Their attitudes toward sexuality run much along the same lines. They’re kind of in the “it’s a sin, but we’re all sinners” place right now, but I’ve seen that gradually swing toward greater acceptance over time. Since I started writing gay romance, my mom and I have had a number of conversations about sexuality, and in particular about how parents handle it when their children come out. It makes her particularly furious to hear of parents throwing their underage kids out of the house for being gay.
That’s the place I drew from for Gage’s Uncle Gordon. There are so many virulently anti-gay characters in gay fiction (and I’ve got some of my own on my list) that I want to be sure there’s representation from the other side. Just because the loudmouths are loud doesn’t mean they’re everyone—much less that they’re right.
In this excerpt from “Ice Cream Dreams,” the main characters, Gage and Loren, discuss the possibility of Gage coming out to his uncle—and Loren’s own coming-out story:
“The shop is closed on Sunday. Uncle Gordon and Aunt Emma were pretty active in their church, so he never tried to open on Sunday. Uncle Gordon hasn’t been going as much since she died, and now he’s sick, but the hours have stuck.”
Loren straightened. “Oh. I…. Sorry about your aunt.”
Gage gave a half smile. “Thanks. She died four years ago, pretty suddenly. Uncle Gordon’s never gotten over her. I don’t think he ever will.”
Loren stirred the vegetables, a pensive look on his face. “It’s not…. You say your uncle is pretty religious. It’s not going to matter that I’m….”
“Gay?” Gage thought about it. “I don’t think so. I mean, I hope not.” He swirled his coffee idly. “I’ve never told him about me. I’m out at school, and I came out to my parents at Christmas a few years ago. They kind of didn’t react, but they didn’t throw me out or anything either. But yeah, Uncle Gordon’s always been more religious. He’s a great guy, but I just don’t know how he’d react.”
“I told my parents on my sixteenth birthday.” Loren grinned as he poured the eggs into the pan. “They’d just finished telling me how proud they were and all that, gave me a freaking car, for God’s sake. I figured it’d be pretty hard for them to do a one-eighty and go from that to screaming at me to get the hell out.”
“Good strategy.” Gage rested his forearms on the counter in front of him. “I guess it’s possible Gordon knows. He’s my mom’s brother and they’ve always been really close, but even more so since Emma died. Plus, y’know, I never had a girlfriend or talked about girls or anything, except sometimes at school when it was kind of expected.”
Loren shrugged one shoulder again. “Worst case, he won’t have anything to do with me or my restaurant.” His head shot up and he stared at Gage. “Oh, hell. No, worst case would be he reacts like that and takes it out on you. Jesus, I can be so self-involved sometimes.”
Warmth flooded Gage. “No, it’s fine. We all tend to think about how things affect us first. Psychology 101. And, man, all the people-management stuff I’ve had to study at school? Trust me, 90 percent of the world would never even realize they’re doing it. Makes me think I want to work for myself like you do and not have to deal with all the office politics coming down from the CEO.”
Blurb: A guy’s got to make a living. He can do it the conventional way—by selling cars, scooping ice cream, or delivering sandwiches—or he can earn his money as a spy, a historical interpreter, or the host of a myth-busting television show. Whether the men in this anthology are working hard to build their own business or performing in drag at a dance hall, every day has the potential for surprises and the chance to satisfy their lust or maybe find something more permanent. For the guys in these stories, what’s all in a day’s work might be anything but what they expected.
“Ice Cream Dreams” by Shae Connor
Blurb: Gage Albert is working at his Uncle Gordon’s ice cream shop when well-regarded young chef Loren Rey stops by, interested in using the shop’s unique flavors for his new restaurant. Gage plies Loren with samples and banter and soon finds ice cream isn’t the only thing on the menu. After the men share a hot night together, Gage approaches his uncle about Loren’s ideas, but he fears Gordon’s religious nature may mean rejection not just for Loren but also for Gage, who isn’t out to his uncle. Torn between the business and the personal, Gage has to decide if a future with Loren is worth revealing all.
Dreamspinner (Ebook): http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=5461
Shae Connor lives in Atlanta, where she’s a lackadaisical government worker for a living and writes sweet-hot romance under the cover of night. She’s been making things up for as long as she can remember, but it took her a long time to figure out that maybe she should try writing them down. She’s conned several companies into publishing her work and adds a new notch on her bedpost each time another story is unleashed onto an unsuspecting universe.
Shae is part Jersey, part Irish, and all Southern, which explains why she never shuts up. You can find her hanging out on Twitter most any time @shaeconnor, but for the more direct route, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website at shaeconnorwrites.com.