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Friday, January 30, 2015

Becoming Andy Hunsinger, Jere Fishback

Ever heard of Anita Bryant, the Florida Orange Juice Queen, turned anti-gay crusader? She launched her religion-drenched "Save Our Children" campaign to repeal gay rights ordinances, first in Florida, and later in cities throughout the United States, during the mid-1970's. I attended law school at Florida State University during those days. I helped start the Alliance for Gay Awareness (AGA) an FSU gay/lesbian student organization. When Bryant visited Tallahasee, seeking a statutory ban on gays and lesbians adopting children, AGA staged a protest outside a restaurant where Bryant was dining, just prior to her appearance before a committee of the Florida Legislature.
Back in mid-1970's Florida, the gay rights movement was in its infancy. Most gay men and lesbians hid their sexuality from friends and family. We led secretive lives we guarded carefully. Openly gay men could be fired from their jobs or given dishonorable discharges from any branch of the U.S. military.
Now, forty years later, with gay marriage legal in Florida, the homophobia we dealt with back in the Anita Bryant era seems almost impossible to comprehend, but it really happened, and last year I decided to write a New Adult novel about my experiences from that time. 
The result is Becoming Andy Hunsinger, available in digital format from the Prizm Books website:  The book is also available in print format through Amazon:
Here's the blurb for Becoming Andy Hunsinger:

"It's 1976, and Anita Bryant's homophobic 'Save Our Children' crusade rages through Florida. When Andy Hunsinger, a closeted gay college student, joins in a demonstration protesting Bryant's appearance in Tallahassee, his straight boy image is shattered when he's "outed" by a TV news reporter. In the months following, Andy discovers just what it means to be an openly gay in a society that condemns love between two men. Can Andy's friendship with Travis, a devout Christian who's fighting his own sexual urges, develop into something deeper?"

And here's a quote from Andy Hunsinger himself:
"My participation in the Anita Bryant protest shattered the straight-boy image I’d created for myself -- instantly and permanently -- and since that day I haven’t hidden my sexual orientation from anyone. I have lived as an openly gay man, an unapologetic faggot who loves as he sees fit."

Throughout the book, Andy struggles to find acceptance of his sexuality from friends, co-workers, his employer, and his own family. It's not an easy road to travel.  Andy works as a part-time caddy at Tallahassee's most exclusive golf club, and when he's "outed" during the Bryant protest, his job is threatened by conservative club members who disapprove of Andy private life.  Andy encounters hostility from his fraternity brothers as well, and his closeted boyfriend isn't too happy either.
Andy also struggles to find another guy to fall in love with. Again, it's not easy in conservative Tallahassee, where there isn't even a gay bar. Andy puts it like this:

"As time passed, I began to wonder if I’d ever meet a guy I found attractive -- one who might also want me -- but I had no success finding anyone.

"Maybe my experience with Jeff was dumb luck.

"Each Friday and Saturday night, I returned home from the Pastime, to my empty apartment, and then I lay on my mattress, staring at the ceiling.

"Is this how it’s always going to be?

"Sometimes I second-guessed myself; I wondered if maybe I had made a mistake in leaving the fraternity house. Maybe I wasn’t suited for the gay subculture. Was there something about me that gay men -- guys my age, anyway -- found unappealing? Was it so obvious I was a needy youth with little knowledge of the homosexual world and its rituals?"

Since Becoming Andy Hunsinger was only released December 30, 2014, I think it's appropriate to blog about the book during January 2015, which is "new release month" at Guys Like Romance, Too.

I hope you'll enjoy reading my new novel. You can check out my other books at my website:

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