Genre enthusiasts may know writer-director Douglas McKeown best for The Deadly Spawn, the 1983 cult classic that has garnered deserved love from monster kids, worldwide. But McKeown has also spent substantial time as a teacher and a theatrical artist, often directing and designing for the stage. He is also the facilitator of the Queer Stories for Boys workshop, which resulted in an outstanding self-titled 2004 collection, from Thunder’s Mouth Press.
Carefully edited by McKeown, this book shares a wide offering of experiences from a variety of gay men, ultimately, showing the diversity and strength of the community, as a whole.
In particular, Brad Gretter’s stories about growing up legally blind resonate with a wild sense of self-humility and otherness. His recounting of a childhood accident in a grocery store is hysterically funny while his tale about finding his sexual power in a leather club as an adult is both humorous and profound, offering up hope for anyone with self-doubt or esteem issues.
James Campbell’s Miss Betty, meanwhile, is story of pure beauty, elevated by the narrator’s sense of surprise and humbled discovery of how understanding and loving a true family can be. Miss Betty, herself, meanwhile emerges as a colorful character that all readers wish that they had gotten to know.
Activism (highlighted by Ronald Gold’s tales), sexual longing (presented in extremely relatable levels by David Ferguson and Rich Kiamco) and struggles with sports (nicely accentuated by Harry Schulz’s self deprecating memories) are some of the other topics tackled here, as well.
McKeown, himself, ably narrates a couple of tales, too. Liza’s Kiss is a truly enjoyable retelling of his straight brother’s ecstatic encounter with LGBTQA icon Liza Minnelli. Children of the Night, though, will probably resonate with lovers of horror and macabre the best. Here, he tells of his childhood adventures as the neighborhood terror, disguising himself as classic monsters to terrorize some unsuspecting locals. The final moments of this accounting linger the most, though. Anyone who has ever regretted an exchange with a loved one will be haunted by the sorrow expressed by the angry exchange that is documented between the author and his mother…a witness to how powerful (and necessary) this collection is, as a whole.
While Thunder’s Mouth Press, unfortunately, no longer exists, copies of Queer Stories for Boys can still be found on Amazon. McKeown, meanwhile, is active on the web at https://www.facebook.com/The-Deadly-Spawns-director-Douglas-McKeown-91628635424/.
Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!