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A Gay Pride Guide to Carve’s LGBT-Themed Stories

Carve has never shied away from presenting stories that showcase a diverse array of life experiences, including those from the LGBT community (case in point, the LGBT-themed spring 2012 issue). So in the spirit of Gay Pride Month, we’ve prepared for our readers a brief guide to Carve’s gay and lesbian-themed fiction offerings through the years.

“The Exhausted Pose” by Jeremy Garrett

A good place to start may be this story about a teenage boy’s bumbling first exposure to the gay world. High school senior Alex treats a photo shoot with gay professional photographer Jarrett as if it were a date; but the photographer, older, hip, and jaded, is more interested in his camera’s viewfinder than in Alex. Achingly funny, the story explores a boy’s inept insistence at being loved, as well as youthful resilience. It shows a young man resolutely strutting his way ever forward, despite embarrassing starts. Read “The Exhausted Pose.”

 

“Weather Girls” by Marylou Fusco

This gem about a girl’s sexual awakening appeared in the spring 2009 issue. Christine may be a “fairy princess” but she is no damsel in distress type. Instead, she imagines herself in the role of rescuer, carrying “the weight of another” in her arms. Naturally, she develops an interest in natural disasters, in meteorology, and wants to predict the damage, as well as opportunities for rescue, that storms bring. Enter Meredith Durmont, whom Christine watches one day running for cover from a hailstorm. Meredith is an enigma who seems to attract disasters, and by extension Christine herself. Fusco limns Christine’s awakening - her first glimpse of female flesh and her first meaningful kiss - with such delicate attention; the final passages are especially a beaut. Read “Weather Girls.”

 

“Chlorine Mermaid” by Rachel Steiger-Meister

From the innocence of youth and burgeoning sexuality, we shift to this darker story about homophobia and self-hate. On her thirtieth birthday, a seemingly innocuous visit by Sylvia to her childhood best friend turns into a nightmare. Throughout, Sylvia remembers the tenderness of first love, which serves as devastating counterpoint to the climactic scene of this gritty story. Read “Chlorine Mermaid.”

 

“Angels” by Jennifer Pashley

A morose story about the maddeningly destructive effects of unrequited love. Creative partners at a Chicago ad agency, Gray and Kenyon consummate a harbored love they’ve had since their college days. But Kenyon’s feelings for Gray are more nonchalant. To further complicate matters, Kenyon is married. His wife has always been aware of Gray’s love for Kenyon - she and Gray, we are told, are “satellites of the same moon” - but the betrayal of Gray’s and Kenyon’s sexual indiscretion submerges Gray into debilitating and tragic muteness. Read “Angels.”

 

“What You Miss” by Sarah Terez Rosenblum

A story about the personal demons we grapple, centering on a road trip and homecoming for “an alcoholic raised by alcoholics” whose mother is dying. Irritable from wine, stress, and the reopening of old wounds, she commits a deplorable act against her ingénue girlfriend, one act of so many that she “should never have done.” Read “What You Miss.”

 

“The First Fire” by David Stoler

This 2007 Million Writers Awards “Notable Story” recounts a son’s discovery of his recently deceased father’s homosexuality. He uncovers his father’s secret through a journal detailing his obsession with a neighbor, a “not-so-bright boy of seventeen.” By turns contrite and boldly unapologetic, his father follows through on this impossible and forbidden courtship. With the “beauty and horror of the dream fulfilled,” only heartbreak and tragedy awaits him. Read “The First Fire.”

 

“Promises, Promises” by Susan Finch

This third-place prizewinner from the fall 2011 Carver Contest centers on a stepfamily in the making. Teenage daughter Taylor has difficulty coming to terms with her mother Lauren’s lesbianism, and is loath to accept Lauren’s lover of two years, Missy, into their home and their family. Missy thus finds herself in the precarious position of the outsider being begrudgingly brought into the fold. Finch’s uplifting story about acceptance “promises” a surprising and moving ending. (Watch, too, for some interesting scenes depicting an air ambulance team in action). Read “Promises, Promises.”

 

“At the Last Minute” by Martha Miller

A fitting story to end your tour of Carve’s LGBT-themed fiction might be this heartbreaking piece about not just acceptance of one’s sexuality, but also of one’s mortality. A lesbian couple is faced with an impending death in this story that explores the compromise of settling down and the inevitability of stopping, of a journey’s end. Strong and melancholy, with a quietly devastating ending, Miller’s piece placed second in the summer 2009 Carver Contest. Read “At the Last Minute.”