3 Days And Counting… Amazon Chart Twerk update!


amazonrank

Great news! My book has cracked the top 674,000 on Amazon! I actually noticed it go as high as the top 176,000 shortly after I announced the presale, but clearly most of you have been holding out for the official chart twerk, which takes place this Friday, October 4, at 12pm EDT (or as close to that as you can manage to be near a device running Amazon.com). I’m hoping then that I’ll see a much higher ranking, which of course, will give my publisher a big boost of confidence and hopefully convince more booksellers to stock it.

I’ve been so touched by all of you who’ve said you’re going to participate. I’m happy you want to read the book and grateful that you’re willing to help me out with my crazy little plan. (Admittedly, the one thing that’s likely to get a bigger boost than my book’s ranking is my own ego.)

For the rest of you, I’ve realized that maybe you need some more convincing. Maybe just some more information about this book I’m asking you to shell out your preorder money for. So, if you’re curious what’s contained in these 264 pages, here goes:

This memoir began as kind of an expanded version of a Modern Love column I wrote for the New York Times. You can read that original column here. That piece mostly centered on the amazing gift my partner and I received from my sister-in-law Susie, who selflessly donated her eggs to help us have children. The hardest thing about writing that column was fitting the whole thing into such a limited space. There was so much more to our story. So many more amazing people who deserved to be included, so many more unbelievable anecdotes I was dying to share. Writing the short version convinced me that I wanted to write about all of it. For my own sake, for my kids’ sake and, hopefully, for a bunch of people who might be moved by or just get a kick out of our story.

What I didn’t want to write was some deep, ponderous, self-important memoir like so many of the others out there. If you’ve been reading my blog, you’re familiar with my writing voice – snarky, jokey and then, when you least expect, ridiculously sentimental, because that’s just the kind of guy I am. That’s exactly what you’ll get from the book, too.

If I do say so myself, it’s also just a great story. Here’s the synopsis I put together for the publisher, which you can also find on the book’s Amazon page.

As a teenager growing up in the 1980s, all Jerry Mahoney wanted was a nice, normal sham marriage. 2.5 kids and a frustrated, dissatisfied wife living in denial of her husband’s sexuality. Hey, why not? It seemed much more attainable and fulfilling than the alternative—coming out of the closet and making peace with the fact that he’d never have a family at all.

Twenty years later, Jerry is living with his long-term boyfriend, Drew, and they’re ready to take the plunge into parenthood. But how? Adoption? Foster parenting? Kidnapping? What they want most of all is a great story to tell their future kid about where he or she came from.

Their search leads them to gestational surrogacy, a road less traveled where they’ll be borrowing a stranger’s ladyparts for nine months. Thus begins Jerry and Drew’s hilarious and unexpected journey to daddyhood. They meet a surrogate who’s perfect in every way… until she rejects them. They squabble over potential egg donors, discovering that they have very different notions of what makes the ideal woman. Then, Drew’s sister Susie makes a stunning offer that turns their entire journey on its head. If they’re interested, she’ll donate her eggs.

For the first time, Jerry and Drew imagine what it would be like to have a baby who’s a little bit of both of them. From then on, they’re in uncharted waters. They’re forced to face down homophobic baby store clerks, a hospital that doesn’t know what to do with them, even members of their own family who think what they’re doing is a little nutty. Along the way, Susie receives some devastating news that threatens to crush all their dreams of parenthood. One thing’s for sure. If this all works out, they’re going to have an incredible birth story to tell their kid.

With honesty, emotion, and laugh-out-loud humor, Jerry Mahoney ponders what it means to become a Mommy Man . . . and discovers that the answer is as varied and beautiful as the concept of family itself.

If you have any questions, post them here. I’d be happy to answer them. And if you need a reminder to place your order with the rest of us, just let me know and I’ll add you to my email list.

I have no idea how high a ranking this book can get, but I’m dying to find out. Maybe some day you can say you helped me crack the top 8,000!

[Remember: the Amazing Amazon Preorder Sales Twerk is this Friday, October 4, at 12pm EDT. You can place your orders here.]

“Yep, I’m Gay… Now Step Off!” Jodie Foster’s Sad, Defensive Coming Out Speech

Jodie FosterWho would’ve guessed that an A-list actress admitting her real age would be a footnote of her awards show acceptance speech? Jodie Foster had bigger things to confess at the Golden Globes… or did she? You’d think with all the years she had to plan her big coming out moment, she would’ve seemed better prepared for it, that she at least would’ve owned it more.

I know we’re in for some kind of Big Gay Debate over what happened tonight and, especially, how it happened. And straight people, for the most part, are going to shrug and say, “What’s the big deal?” or accuse the mean gays of being too rough on Jodie, thus validating her resistance to come out in the first place.

I don’t want to attack Jodie Foster, who I will always think of first as a brilliant actress and filmmaker before I give a rat’s ass about her personal life. I’m not going to judge her reluctance to come out for all those years. Coming out wasn’t easy for me, and I didn’t have 100 million fans to do it to.

But I want to say something to her.

Look, I know it’s really petty and condescending and almost always a lie when you’re having an argument with someone and you say, “I’m not mad. I just feel sorry for you.” Honestly, though, that’s how I feel.

I feel sorry for you, Jodie Foster.

I know celebrities appreciate the Golden Globes as much for their open bar as for their prestige, but for whatever it’s worth, those nice, befuddled foreign press people were trying to tell you how much they like your movies. They were saying, “Hey, in case your money and your fame and all the other awards you’ve won haven’t clued you in, you’re kind of good at what you do, and we’re grateful to have you around.” And then you take their statue made of precious metals and wave it around and start settling scores. I’m sure quite a few of the people who nominated you were backstage warbling, “Que?” and “Porquois?” and however you say “WTF?!” in German.

Nobody told you to do that, Jodie. Instead of giving the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and the viewing audience a good anecdote from Taxi Driver or even a spirited defense of The Beaver, you chose to make the moment all about your sexuality. And at the same time, you were saying, “It’s none of your business!” Or something. Maybe it was the open bar, but your point was a bit unclear.

All I know is that you weren’t coming across the way people should in their acceptance speeches for lifetime achievement awards. What’s the word I’m looking for? Oh, right. Proud.

You want to keep your private life separate from your filmmaking? Do a damn Advocate interview about the gay stuff and then use the Golden Globes to talk about, I don’t know, movies.

The strangest part of the whole thing was your joke about your publicist being nervous about what you were about to do. Really? Because if your publicist was nervous about anything, I’m guessing it’s that you wouldn’t need her anymore. That’s what it’s like to be open about who you are, especially if you’re as boring as you say. Once it becomes clear that you have nothing to hide, people will stop looking.

Your publicist’s phone is going to ring a lot in the next few weeks, sure, but then it’s going to stop. Eventually, all the calls she makes will be outgoing, the next time you have a movie to promote. You being a lesbian can’t compete with Lindsay Lohan being a total train wreck, especially not in 2013. There’s even a lesbian senator now, you know? You are approximately the 9,438th high-profile lesbian to come out of the closet. Um… congratulations?

Look, you’re a one-in-seven billion type of talent, a totally uniquely gifted person, and I forget sometimes that people I respect as much as you can be sad sometimes. You weren’t just hiding your sexuality all those years. It appears you were hiding a lot of anger, too. I’m sorry to hear that, but honestly, now that you’ve come out, I hope you can let that go.

If you were worried that homophobia would sink your career, I think you’ll find that Hollywood and America love you and always will.

If you were worried that the gay community would shun you because it took you so long to come out, I think you’ll find them swooning over you even more now, whether or not you ever grand marshal a pride parade.

And if you were worried that you wouldn’t win any more awards now that we know this little fact about you, I think you forget how easy it is to win a GLAAD award. Christina Aguilera has one. Seriously.

I still love you, Jodie, and I think you’ll find that admitting your sexuality isn’t some horrific surrender of your privacy, like you seemed to fear. It’s empowering, exhilarating and one hell of a big relief. Take some time now that you’ve made the big announcement, but I guarantee you’ll be glad you did it.

And you know how you can let people know that you’ve made your peace with who you are and how the world sees you? Maybe next time you win an award, you’ll just hold it up and say, “Thank you.”

Before It Got Better

One of the reasons I love getting comments is that it helps me learn who my readers are, which helps me figure out what kinds of posts people might appreciate.  A few of the comments I got on my 5 People You Meet as a Gay Dad post were from younger gay men, maybe a couple even too young to be called “men” yet.  A few said they hoped to have kids someday and one teenager, who’s still in the closet, asked “how I came to be like this”.  If you mean “gay”, then I think I was born that way.  If you mean “a gay dad”, then the answer is much more complicated.  One of the reasons I’m writing a memoir is to detail how I went from a scared gay kid to a happy, fulfilled gay man who thinks all the struggle was worth it.

Here’s a piece I wrote before my kids were born.  I performed it at a reading series here in Los Angeles called Spark.  The theme of the evening was “Surprise”.  And yes, it’s all true.  I’ve never published this anywhere before now, but hopefully, for anyone curious, it gives some insight into how I came to be like this.

“I’m gay.” Two words I didn’t hear much growing up in the 80s.  “You’re gay.”  That, I heard a lot.  That was easy to say.  Everybody said it.  Because you didn’t have to mean it.  You didn’t have to think about what the word “gay” really meant, only that it was bad.  If you said “I’m gay,” you’d better mean it, because then, suddenly, everyone would be thinking about what “gay” really meant.

Being a gay teenager in the 80s meant being terrified, pretty much all the time.  Terrified of not being able to throw a football, of not producing ample quantities of drool over Samantha Fox or Kelly LeBroc, of not laughing hard enough when some kid got called a “faggot” – or worse, of being that kid.

I wanted an adolescence like the horny teenagers in “Porky’s” had, where all that mattered was getting laid.  Getting laid wasn’t even on my five-year plan.  I just wanted to feel human.

My best friend Greg wasn’t helping.  My other friends liked Greg because his dad gave him a Playboy, and when we went over to his house, he let them look at it.  I just wanted to get back to watching MTV’s world premiere of Janet Jackson’s “Pleasure Principle” video, an underrated gem.  I was terrified my friends would suspect something was wrong with me, and sometimes, I had hints that they did.

This being New Jersey, we were all in a bowling league together.  I assigned myself the job of leading a team cheer every week.  “2, 4, 6, 8 who do we appreciate?  You, you!  You’re team number 2!”  One week, this twelve-year-old twit from a rival team came up and asked, “So, are you guys gay or something?”  My friend Dave shook his head, then pointed to me and said, “No, just he is.”  I knew this was his idea of a joke and that he didn’t actually think I was gay, but still, a voice in my head warned, “He’s onto you!  Retreat!  Retreat!”  I eventually stopped the cheers.

One time, Greg and I were hanging out, playing “The Legend of Zelda”.  We’d just uncovered the entrance to the ninth dungeon at Spectacle Rock, when out of the blue, Greg said the most hurtful words anyone had ever said to me.  “I could never be friends with someone who was gay.”  I wasn’t sure what exactly about our quest to save Hyrule had provoked this, but clearly it had been on his mind.  So there it was: my greatest fear emphatically confirmed, underlined and bolded. If I ever told Greg I was gay, there’d be no more friendship.  I’d be sitting alone in the cafeteria, with no one to discuss ALF with and forced to save Hyrule on my own.

Of course, that was 17 years ago.  A lot had changed since then.  I knew Greg must’ve met some gay people in college, that he was probably on good terms with Ned from Accounting.  I was sure he’d seen “Ellen” and “Will & Grace” and Tom Hanks’ Oscar-winning performance in “Philadelphia”.  One thing that hadn’t changed in all that time was that Greg and I were still close.  I saw him every time I went back east, and we talked on the phone every few weeks.  But still, my love life was something we never discussed.  If Greg knew I was gay, and he was cool with it, he would’ve brought it up by now… wouldn’t he??

I couldn’t believe I was about to move in with my boyfriend, Drew, happier than I’d ever been, and I was still afraid of being rejected by somebody I considered my best friend.  I realized I hadn’t come as far as I’d thought, that on some level, I was still that scared teenager, full of shame.  And there was only one way to change that.

I mustered whatever courage I had, and I dialed Greg’s number.

Coming out of the closet is one thing at which practice never makes perfect.  Though I’d done it dozens of times by this point, I still made all the rookie mistakes.  Being nervous, assuming the reaction would be bad, and the worst, starting with the words, “I’m sorry…”.  In this case, it was, “I’m sorry to do this over the phone,” which, although true, was far too dramatic a setup.  As was what followed: “Greg, I have something very important to talk to you about, something I’ve needed to say for 17 years.” Then, I stopped.  How the hell do you go from there to “I’m gay!”?

Greg knew something was up.  He was totally silent. Too silent.  Too long.  Finally, I just said it.  “So… I’m gay!”  Still nothing. Absolutely nothing. I couldn’t bear the quiet, so I kept talking.  “It’s been a really long process, and I hope you’re not hurt that it took me so long to tell you, but that’s more a reflection on me than on you and, hey, have you seen Philadelphia?”

“It’s okay. You can stop,” he said.  He took a long pause. “It’s fine. I’m cool with it. I’ve… I’ve kind of been going through the same thing.”

WHAT?!?!?

“I’ve been… you know, questioning.”

Oh my God. He couldn’t even say it. Here I was apologizing for being so slow in coming out, and it turned out he was even further behind in the process. He hadn’t even accepted himself yet. His voice was shaking.  He was petrified.

It became clear that Greg had been questioning his sexuality for years – and that his question had pretty much been answered. But he hadn’t told anyone. Anyone.

I tried to be supportive, I tried to say all the right things. I told him about Drew, and about how happy I was, hoping he’d see a light at the end of the tunnel.

I reminded myself that when he answered his phone a few minutes earlier, he had no idea that his lifetime of hiding was about to end. We talked for half an hour, and it was easily the most open talk we’ve ever had, and then we said goodbye. I didn’t want to overwhelm him, and besides, I was still a little overwhelmed myself.

I had certainly considered the possibility that Greg might be gay. If there was one person I’d ever known who was even more secretive about his love life than I was, it was him. His dad’s Playboy aside, girls and sex were subjects the two of us never discussed, and I think that’s part of why we became such good friends, though I guess I always assumed he was doing me a favor.

But somewhere along the way, I dismissed my suspicions. I mean, come on, the guy was in his 30s now. He had to be straight. The only other possibility was that he was gay and even more in the closet than I was. What were the odds of that?

I thought back to what he’d said that day at Spectacle Rock. “I could never be friends with someone who was gay.” And then I remembered what he said next: “Could you?” Suddenly, I realized that his statement hadn’t been motivated by hatred, but by fear. It was a possibility I didn’t even consider at the time. Back then, I was crushed. And I had to respond. But how? I was caught off-guard. I was afraid. All I could say was, “I don’t know.”

“I don’t know.”

And what followed was seventeen years of “I don’t know”. It seems absurd now.  All that time we were both struggling in private, we could’ve been there for each other, had someone to talk to, someone to share with, someone to make us feel human.

Growing up gay was hell, and there’s nobody I would rather have gone through that with than him. If only we’d known. If only we hadn’t been so afraid.

In the weeks that followed, Greg and I talked a lot.  I felt like we got to know each other for the first time.  Not only was I seeing a new Greg, but Greg was becoming a new man, day by day.  Within a week, he’d come out to his whole family.  A few days later, it was his 31st birthday, and he gave himself the best present he could think of.  He took a dozen of his closest friends out to dinner, and he made a big announcement to the whole table.  In an instant, his hiding was over.

Greg didn’t have any bad experiences coming out.  No rejection, no hostility, no drama.  Just like with me, the fear was so much worse than the reality.

And during his whole coming out marathon, he had to make one really hard call, to his best friend from college.  When Greg shared his news, his friend got quiet at first, and Greg started to panic.

Then the friend cleared his throat, took a deep breath, and said, “It’s okay.  I’m cool with it.  Actually, I’ve kind of been going through the same thing.”

Me (l) and Greg (r) at the Simpsons ride, 2008