Publisher: Booklocker.com, Inc. (November 29, 2014)
Book Provided by: Author
Author: Johnny Townsend
Posting Date: January 16, 2015
Gayrabian Nights is at once an allegorical tour de force encapsulating the gay experience through the lens of faith, and at the same time it picks at the insular layers of a belief system that oft times defies logic, even within the tenets of socio-religious rationales.
The subtext of many of the tales is a revelatory expose on the damage done by indoctrination on the very young and impressionable. It outlines the confusion, the fear, the cravings to be normal, to be like others, to be the saint and not the sinner, and it translates that into an extended form of adolescent behaviors and justifications that are at once familiar and strangely alien. The reach is both specific and universal, its implications disturbingly applicable across all social landscapes.
Some of the tales are horrific in their implications, some are heart-wrenchingly sad, others amusing, and all feel real and compelling and bear kernels of truth even though we know they stretch and preen and exist to make a point, to prove and disprove, to alienate and to embrace. They are designed to teach and to mentor and to explore. They are delivered with the soft sensitivity and hushed steps of the insecure, or they employ evocative sights and sounds and
images to nudge awareness from the grip of denial, or they strike with a sledgehammer blow aimed to kill.
If you come to this seeking titillation or the usual sturm und drang of conflict and angst, this isn’t the story you’re looking for. But if you wish to educate yourself on an aspect of the gay experience under the sometimes harsh illumination of faith and beliefs, this might open your eyes … it certainly succeeded for this reader.
The narrative is precise yet packs a hard-core emotional punch. The brilliance of the author shines through when you realize you are being led, carefully and purposefully, to reach an open-ended conclusion, yet you proceed willingly because each lesson ends with a pause to reflect, to decide if it’s worth going on.
Gayrabian Nights is a twist on the well-known classic, “1001 Arabian Nights,” in which Scheherazade, under the threat of death if she ceases to captivate King Shahryar’s attention, enchants him through a series of mysterious, adventurous, and romantic tales.
In this variation, a male escort, invited to the hotel room of a closeted gay, homophobic Mormon Republican senator, learns that the man is poised to vote on a piece of anti-gay legislation the following morning. To prevent him from sleeping, so that the exhausted senator will miss casting his vote on the Senate floor, the escort entertains him with stories of homophobia, celibacy, mixed orientation marriages, reparative therapy, coming out, first love, gay marriage, and long-term successful gay relationships. The escort crafts the stories to give the senator a crash course in gay culture and sensibilities, hoping to bring the man closer to accepting his own sexual orientation.