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Arts & Culture

Gay Conversion Therapy

Mike Glatzer Photography

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I have come across many stories from people about conversion therapy and “pray the gay away” retreats. The main focus is to cast out the “gay demon” inside of us. My husband went through it and I have friends that did also. Ty’s story is another glimpse into the life of someone who was told he wasn’t good enough because he was gay. I feel these stories need to be told till everyone is loved for who they are. Ty wrote a one-man play about it and he sat down to talk to me about his experience and the play.

What can you tell us about the upcoming play “A Southern Fairytale?”

This play explores what happens to a young gay man who is told from an early age that he would never amount to anything, or be anything, because he is living in sin. Throughout the show you see him struggle not only with his family, friends and school, but also with the truth of his orientation. My hope is that even though this play is based on real stories, that anyone of any gender and orientation can see a part of themselves in this particular story. We all struggle with thinking we aren’t good enough, but we don’t always recognize that struggle exists.

How did the idea of “A Southern Fairytale” start?

Alex Bond can be blamed for this show; she was an actress that had grace and beauty like no other. She was also a mentor of mine and the last day we spoke she told me to write my story down and share what I have to say about love, acceptance, and self-worth. When she died very suddenly, I felt like I had an obligation to finish this play in memory of her.

Can you tell me a little about your experience with conversion therapy?How did it impact your life? What sort of damage did you experience from going through it?

I’m very lucky in the sense that the conversion therapy I went to wasn’t very aggressive. I was originally sent to a therapist to help manage my anger issues, but when I came out the first time, that quickly shifted to teaching me how I was living in sin, God was never going to bless me, how much I would hurt those around me, how I would become evil and sinful, etc. Beyond the conversion therapy, what really had a profound impact on me was when the people I cared the most for left me isolated and alone. Those people told me I wasn’t fit to be around little kids or to volunteer. So, in combination with your therapist telling you your life is going to shit because of “a choice” and everything you know slipping away from you, you start to believe that because you are gay you are destined to live a life full of unhappiness and loneliness.

In the “story” section on your website, you mentioned you plan to continue to push through your fears and dreams even further to see how you would grow as a performer. If you don’t mind, can you tell us some of your fears and dreams?

Oh geez, we are going to go there? Let’s start with fears and then work towards dreams. End on a happy note. I will let you in on one of my biggest fears because it actually is a reason why I am writing “A Southern Fairytale”. I’m afraid that I am wrong about being gay and that it is a choice and I’m making the wrong choice. It’s from years and years of people telling me it is a choice that will have a profound impact on my life. I just have a hard time shaking it off some days. Especially when I go through a bout of anxiety or extreme stress.

Now, one of my biggest dreams is that I will be able to support myself solely on my work as an artist by telling stories that have a real, lasting impact on the people involved and people watching. I want to get to a place where one day I’m not waiting tables, promo modeling, or tending bar at parties. All my energy and efforts can go into supporting the work of people making a difference through the arts.

What is next for Ty? What obstacle do you want to tackle next?

After my one-man show goes up at NY Summer Fest, I plan to develop the full-length version of the play and finish writing another play I have in the works at this moment. Beyond that? Truthfully, I want to be signed on by an agency to start building a team to help me work more efficiently. Hopefully I can accomplish that soon!

Ty, thank you so much for sitting down and talking with me. If you want to catch Ty and his one man show “A Southern Fairytale” he will be performing at NY Summer Fest in New York at the Hudson Guild Theater September 13, 15, and 16. You can get tickets at Brown Paper Tickets. You can keep up with Ty on his website, and Instagram.

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Arts & Culture

Giving a voice to gay Arab men

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Samer Bo (image supplied)
Samer Bo (image supplied)

I caught up with author Samer Bo to talk about writing erotic gay fiction in Egypt.

What led you to start writing erotic gay fiction?

I was forgetting what was happening. I noticed that when someone asked me about what happened to me the previous week, I couldn’t remember the details.

I think forgetting was my defence-mechanism for all the pain and trouble.

So, I started by writing my diaries, which ended to be quite erotic sometimes. Then that moved to erotic fiction.

Where do you draw inspiration from for your stories?

Inspiration comes from my personal experiences and sometimes my friends’ experiences. Other times, I just meet a guy or watch a movie, and it inspires me to write a story.

Who are your target audience?

I write for myself before anyone else. I’d love all gay men to read and get aroused by my stories.

But I guess I do write for minorities — people who don’t usually get represented in media, porn, or erotic stories. I want people to see themselves represented in my novels.

What sort of feedback do you get from your readers?

I get a lot of positive feedback from people in the Middle East who finally find a voice speaking to them. Some see me as a role model — a type of Egyptian guy that they never see in the media.

Do your friends and family know that you write erotic gay fiction?

Only some close friends know. I’m not in touch with my family anyway. Samer is my real name, but I changed my last name to Bo.

Have you had any negative reactions to the gay erotic fiction that you write?

I only tell people about my writing if I know that they’re either gay or gay friendly. So I haven’t had negative reactions in that respect.

However, I have had multiple incidents of homophobia. I was arrested once.

Son of the President isn’t an erotic story, how did that story come to you?

That story is based on the real-life story of an older friend that I met a few years ago. I told him about my erotic stories, and he asked me to write an erotic story inspired by his experiences.

However, I felt that if I wrote it as erotica, it would take away from the essence of the story. So I left it as non-erotic story.

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What do you hope that people feel when reading your stories?

First of all, aroused from my erotic stories. Plus, I want people to feel represented.

Gay Arabs are not represented in any kind of media. We’re being suppressed and discriminated against. A lot of gay men in the Middle East feel that being gay is wrong, and that homosexuality is a sin.

This is my small way to help those men feel better about themselves.

What are some of your goals and ambitions for the remainder of 2018?

More stories, maybe some non-erotic ones. I’m also helping a friend of mine to change his non-erotic short story into a play.

Read the novels by Samer Bo

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