Saturday, October 13, 2007

Leventh Heaven

If you've read my third novel Cyclizen (and if not, why not?), or know about the tribe of people involved in ACT UP (the AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power) in the late 80s and early 90s, you know of a smaller group within that organization of AIDS activists called "The Swim Team."

They weren't swimmers, actually, but a group of tall hunky guys known more for their good looks and photogenic talents on posters and at demos. They were the guys who may have seemed a bit casual about the more serious aspects of ACT UP, but showed up at meetings and demos, not just because it was the right thing to do, but it was also the cool thing to do.

Some of them didn't get taken too seriously, even though they were serious. They were just so utterly handsome that everybody -even some of the lesbians- wanted to sleep with them. I always felt like a little satellite around them; dated a few, but never really fit in, since in between the dancing and performance art and working and riding my bike, I rarely had time to indulge in gym-going.

Part of what I explore in Cyclizen is the quest for connection with such men after the wave of activism died down. After I (and my narrator in Cyclizen) left New York, I often wondered what happened, got ongoing reports as people moved away, moved on, or told me who had died.

So, it was with a warm feeling of renewal that I recognized some similar characteristics in Eric Leven, a writer in New York mentioned by the wonderful Joe.My.God (who recently swag-Tuesday'ed my book). They read together at an event in NYC.

Eric Leven would have fit right in with the sincere, astute, sensitive and totally gorgeous hunktivists that made ACT UP so much fun. Yup, in the middle of a pandemic, we found love and warmth and brotherhood and romance.

Leven writes, reads, makes short films, and has organized and participated in a few protests, including one at Caliente Cab Co., a restaurant (which I never liked) that discriminated against a lesbian. That incident has resulted in a lawsuit. Leven blogs about public school's refusal to teach about safe sex, and coming out to his parents, topics that concerned a previous generation as well.

Anyway, Eric said I could post a few pics and link a video of him reading a short essay. Suffice it to say I find him utterly adorable, and am encouraged by his sincerity and spirit. I doubt I'm beary enough for his tastes, but I'd be happy to hoist a banner with him any time.

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