“The Right to Be”
Guest Writer: W.D. Foster-Graham
Indeed, it is exciting to have a new book launched. In writing Never Give Up: A Christopher Family Novel, I wondered in the beginning if I could write a whodunit, given that I love to watch movies and shows like Midsomer Murders, Forensic Files, Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple, Inspector Morse, Poirot, and the mystery movies of the 1940s. As it turned out, I’m glad I listened to that voice within that said, “Yes you can, in your own voice and style.” It was work, and yet it was fun. And now, the characters of Earl, Juanita, and the rest of the Berry family have taken on lives of their own.
Still, a novelist’s work is never done, and the next novel in my series will be released tentatively sometime late this year or early next year. I’ve always wanted to write a full-on male/male romance novel, given how much I love reading them. The Right to Be: A Christopher Family Novel is that novel, and in a subgenre that is predominately about white gay men, mine will be about a couple that is rare: two African-American gay/SGL men
I have read novels about Black gay male couples, but they have been under the subgenre of urban fiction. This work, however, is squarely in the realm of romance, complete with all the passion thereof and a requisite HEA (happily-ever-after); after all, I am certainly one for Black Love and its representation.
That being said, to Wyatt, to my readers, here’s an exclusive peek at an excerpt of the next Christopher Family Novel, The Right to Be, and Allan Christopher Davis’ journey to true love:
DECEMBER 31, 2005
The ocean breezes of a tropical evening caressed and cooled Allan Christopher Davis’ body as he trudged along the road to his car, which was hidden by the foliage. He was reluctant to go home, at least not yet, and his identical twin brother Mickey had promised to cover for him should their parents question his whereabouts. He reached the Range Rover in almost no time at all, sliding his muscular, 6’5” body into it with ease. New Year’s Eve was OK, but it could have been much better, he thought as he let out a wistful sigh. No doubt Mickey had found a honey, and he was having a great time at one of the New Year’s Eve parties in town. Not that he was jealous of his brother—he simply wanted that kind of fun for himself. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the way things worked there. Lowering the windows and starting the vehicle, he headed up the road, with the wind blowing through his dreadlocks and having no particular place to go.
He found himself stopping at a deserted stretch of Viewpoint Beach. Maybe it was because his astrological sign was Pisces, but the water had always been a place where he could go, sit, and work things out in his mind. Although 2005 had been an active hurricane season that included Katrina, Rita, and Wilma, the Bahamas weren’t as hard hit as other parts of the Caribbean and the U.S.; for that, he was grateful. He grabbed a beach towel, locking his car before he strolled down to the sand, ready for a skinny dip in the ocean.
The water soothed him, the gibbous moon in the sky reflected by the shimmering waves. Later, his body refreshed, Allan stretched out on his beach towel, his “Beckley eyes” drinking in the night scene before him, the calming sound of the water relaxing his mind—somewhat. He and his boyfriend, Thomas Hamilton, had had the same old argument an hour earlier before he left in sheer frustration. They always had to meet in places way below the radar, like tonight. Thomas had been under him for nearly two hours and loved every minute of it, sharing passionate kisses and sweet nothings filled with desire and heat. However, he absolutely refused to be seen in public with Allan, much less entertain the notion of coming out. And Allan sincerely wanted a boyfriend who loved him, someone who wasn’t afraid or ashamed to stand by him, the kind his cousins had.
Why, why did he have to get involved with a cop? That was one item on the laundry list of reasons Thomas gave him for keeping their relationship secret; after hearing them so often, they sounded more and more like excuses. Another one was Allan’s age, since he was two months shy of his 18th birthday. Then there was Thomas’ family and friends, his position in the community, and so on, and so on, and so on.
Topping the list was Allan’s own lineage. He was the son of Michael and Lissa Davis of the internationally acclaimed jazz ensemble Sunrise, winners of multiple Grammys and numerous other music awards, with enough gold and platinum records to give them legendary status in the music industry. He was named after his grandfather, self-made business mogul Allan Beckley Christopher, the founder of Christopher Electronics and the third African American billionaire in the U.S. His aunt, Victoria Christopher Mitchell, was the company’s current CEO, who in turn made it a Fortune 100 company. Elijah Edwards, his first cousin twice removed, was an electronics whiz and instrumental in the expansion of the company back in the 1970s. Elijah’s wife, Donna Gray Edwards—affectionately known in the family as “Madear”–was the queen of Twin Cities society, but she could easily reach across oceans to make things happen.
Although they retained their U.S. citizenship, his parents had made Nassau their home for many years. Having that level of fame, they said, was often a mixed blessing. Allan had been openly gay as long as he could remember, with the unconditional support of his family. No one on the islands dared to give him a hard time because of this celebrity status. Unfortunately, Thomas threw that fact in his face lately when they argued.
Not only did their status guarantee attention and stories, but like their parents, Allan and Mickey’s looks never failed to turn heads. They had the sultry “Beckley eyes” they inherited from their grandfather, the aged ivory complexion, nose, and gap-toothed smile from their father, and the height from their mother. Sandy-brown dreadlocks reached to their waists, gracing bodies by Peterbilt with phat bubble butts, supported by size 14 feet. In school, they led the pack as honors students. Their parents instilled in them from an early age that their looks were a gift and to treat them as such, but it didn’t stop the overt female attention Mickey received and the covert male attention given to Allan.
During summer break, mere months ago, Allan captured Thomas’ attention. Thomas had attended a benefit concert given by Sunrise, all professional and police business—at first. The hot specimen of Bahamas’ finest fell under the spell of Allan’s “Beckley eyes” and subtly asked him out. One thing led to another, and a few dates later Thomas was begging to be taken by Allan. The glow of passion and the desire to be together was good–up to a point. The culture and environment surrounding them, however, was like a nimbus cloud tainted with fear, one that refused to go away.
Allan’s eyes saddened as he lay there in solitude. He thought it would be different this time, different from the guys in his high school. Thomas may have been older than them, but he was still another boyfriend in a line of boyfriends looking for monsters under the bed. Mom and Dad were concerned about his state of mind, as was Mickey. Will things ever change here? he wondered in disappointment. He’d made previous attempts in speaking up about the state of affairs for LGBT people on the islands along with the very few men and women who were out. Despite being born and raised in Nassau, his concerns were dismissed as being those of an outsider. I want what Mom and Dad have, but I’ll never find that here. And if I leave, Thomas won’t come with me.
With the remnants of Thomas’ scent washed off by the Atlantic, and the reality of life for him in the Bahamas staring him in the face, a quote from an article he read online came to him: “If he won’t come out, get out.” I have to get out, Allan said to himself, lifting his eyes toward the clear night sky as 2006 rolled in. I can’t stay here any longer…
© 2020 by W.D. Foster-Graham. All rights reserved.
W.D. Foster-Graham is an independent novelist from Minneapolis, Minnesota. He received a B.A. in psychology from Luther College, and he was an original member of the multi-Grammy Award-winning ensemble, Sounds of Blackness. He has also been recognized by the International Society of Poets as one of its “Best Poets of 2003.”
His tastes in writing run to family sagas and M/M romance, seasoned with his own brand of African-American flavor—at the end of the day, it’s all about the love. He shamelessly admits to a love of romance novels, whodunits and classic movies of old Hollywood. He was also inspired by the late novelist E. Lynn Harris, who believed that an author should write the books he/she wants to read.
Current works in development are a continuation of his Christopher Family Novel series: Never Give Up, a blend of historical novel/family saga /whodunit, and two M/M romance novels, The Right to Be and To Thine Own Self.