Title of Book: One Gay American
Author: Dennis Milam Bensie
Author Website: http://dennismilambensie.com
Publisher: CoffeeTown Press
Publication Date: September 2012
Genre of Book: Memoir
About the Book: Dennis Milam Bensie is One Gay American. Born in the 1960s and raised with traditional values in Robinson, Illinois, Bensie desperately wanted romance, a beautiful wedding, and a baby to carry on the family name. He denied his sexuality and married a woman at nineteen years old, but fantasized of weddings where he could be the bride. The newlyweds "adopted" a Cabbage Patch Doll and ironically witnessed a Cabbage Patch Doll wedding (a successful fundraiser staged by a local women's club) where the dolls were granted the type of grand ceremony off-limits to gay couples.
In search of his identity as a gay man, Bensie divorced his wife and stumbled through missteps and lessons that still sting his generation: defending against bullies, "disappointing" his parents, and looking for love in gay bars, bath houses and restrooms. He helped his straight friends plan their dream weddings and mourned his gay friends dying of AIDS.
Although true love has not yet come his way, Bensie has learned to love himself. Bensie is the author of the much-lauded memoir, Shorn: Toys to Men, which recounts his battle with paraphilia. One Gay American tells the rest of his story and draws parallels to gay history, decade by decade, with newspaper headlines and quotations. Bensie is the gay neighbor that you either love or hate. Either way, he's got a lot to say and says it with no apologies.
I love reading memoirs as they are the raw truth (or perspective) in one’s life. It gives me pause about how I look at my own life and my world around me. Sometimes I am given hope and then there are the few occasions I am saddened by our world, but no matter, what I have a new outlook and my eyes are opened just a bit more.
Dennis Milam Bensie is one of those authors who not only brought back many of my own childhood memories but also gave me a new insight to the world I grew up in. I (only being about ten years younger) remember many of the same things happening in the media and politics of my youth. I didn’t really focus on them as much as I am not gay, but I do remember the effects it had on some of my friends who were gay.
One Gay American is not only a memoir about a man growing up, discovering who he is in the world and wanting the American Dream. It is also about a country trying to understand, grow and change to a new population it tried to hide and pass shame on for many years. It is about a population here in America who will no longer stay a slight voice among their peers and will continue to fight for their civil rights to be recognized by all. “I’m gay! I’m queer! We are here!” is a shout I still remember ringing out from Hollywood Blvd as I sat in my office at Frederick’s of Hollywood during one of the Gay Right Parades in the 1990’s. No matter if you agree or disagree with this lifestyle, Gay Americans are people with rights and I commend Dennis for sharing his struggles and joys as One Gay American in this heartfelt memoir.
About the Author:
Dennis Milam Bensie grew up in Robinson, Illinois where his interest in the arts began in high school participating in various community theatre productions. Bensie’s first book, Shorn: Toys to Men was nominated for the Stonewall Book Award, sponsored by the American Library Association. It was also a pick in the International gay magazine The Advocate as “One of the Best Overlooked Books of 2011″. The author’s short stories have been published by Bay Laurel, Everyday Fiction, and This Zine Will Change Your Lifeand he has also been a feature contributor for The Good Men Project. One Gay American is his second book with Coffeetown Press and it was chosen as a finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards and the Indie Excellence Book Awards. He was a presenter at the 2013 Saints and Sinners Literary Festival in New Orleans. Dennis lives in Seattle with his three dogs.
You can find out more about Dennis Milam Bensie, his memoirs and World of Ink Author/Book Tour at http://tinyurl.com/lhtvxyt
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