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Two Hearts Desire


  1. Cover
  2. About this book
  3. Title
  4. Copyright
  5. Double Visions: A note from the editors
  6. Matthew Rettenmund & José Vélez
  7. I ♥ José — by Matthew Rettenmund
  8. The Little Things You Do — by José Vélez
  9. Craig Lucas & Patrick Barnes
  10. Reality/Fantasy — by Craig Lucas
  11. Fantasy/Reality — by Patrick Barnes
  12. Arnie Kantrowitz & Lawrence Mass
  13. Why I Love Larry — by Arnie Kantrowitz
  14. Life With Arnie — by Lawrence Mass
  15. Reggie Cabico & Guillermo Castro
  16. It’s not so much his kiss I recall as much as his voice — by Reggie Cabico
  17. You & I Are Guests of Garcia Lorca — by Guillermo Castro
  18. Edmund White & Michael Carroll
  19. Meeting Michael — by Edmund White
  20. Meeting Edmund — by Michael Carroll
  21. Mark Thompson & Malcolm Boyd
  22. Mash Note for Malcolm — by Mark Thompson
  23. Moments from a Gay Marriage (On Our Tenth Anniversary) — by Malcolm Boyd
  24. Richard Labonté & Asa Dean Liles
  25. My Housekeeper — by Richard Labonté
  26. Notes from the Housekeeper — by Asa Dean Liles
  27. Tom Bianchi & Mark Prunty
  28. My Magnificent Other — by Tom Bianchi
  29. Happy 4th Anniversary — by Mark Prunty
  30. Douglas Sadownick & Tim Miller
  31. Leaving Tim — by Douglas Sadownick
  32. He/I/We — by Tim Miller
  33. Michael Bronski & Walta Borawski
  34. Trying to Write a Love Poem for Michael Bronski — by Walta Borawski
  35. Remembering Walta — by Michael Bronski
  36. Paul Monette & Winston Wilde
  37. Notes to Wake Up To — by Paul Monette and Winston Wilde
  38. Christopher Isherwood & Don Bachardy
  39. From October — by Christopher Isherwood
  40. From Last Drawings of Christopher Isherwood — by Don Bachardy
  41. Harlan Greene & Olin Jolley
  42. On Valentine’s Day — by Harlan Greene
  43. Olin Replies — by Olin Jolley
  44. About the contributors
  45. About the editors

About this book

A declaration of love — gay couples talk about their significant other.

Current and past liaisons, passion and daily routine, longtime relationships and the tingle of first dates — the day-to-day reality of love is manifold. This anthology also tells about a time of loss, when many men lost their partners — and how hope and the will to live prevail. But most of all, this eBook is about something timeless: Love.

TWO HEARTS DESIRE, the touching, erotic, and funny portrayal of gay love, was first published in 1997

Michael Lassell & Lawrence Schimel (ed.)


Gay Couples on their Love

Double Visions: A note from the editors

For at least as long as recorded history — both pagan and Judeo-Christian — there have been same-sex couples. These partnerships have been called many things, from platonic friendships to sexual couplings, and yet the image of the gay man is of a solitary creature drifting through life without the anchor of family, often promiscuous, more frequently unhappy, only recently liberated in any sense of the word, but invariably outside.

Part of the reason has been the way we gay/homosexual/queer men have portrayed ourselves. Even when we write of love, it is from the viewpoint of the individual and “the other,” mimicking that sense of exclusion we feel when first discovering our attractions to other men. This is the literary tradition by which homosexuality has passed through the millennia, yet despite fierce persecution, we gay men have left behind a hefty sheaf of poems, stories, personal testimonies that speak openly of our desire even when that witness could never be published.

What history has not left in any great measure are the shared recollections, confessions, letters of both men in these relationships. One obvious reason for this absence is that writers do not often live with other writers. But there are other reasons, too, which have to do with same-sex love as a taboo even more odious, apparently, to the mainstream than same-sex “promiscuity.”

In 1997, we live in a time in which the gay community has been ravaged by a disease that was flagrantly ignored as long as it was seen as unique to gay men. That plague, it is said even inside the gay “community,” has caused individuals to reassess the freewheeling sex of the ‘70s, in particular, and to come to consider the values of pairing. Meanwhile, politicians across America are falling all over their bilious rhetoric to amend the U.S. Constitution to preclude any members of the same sex from ever enjoying the rights and privileges — the decency of public acknowledgment — of marriage. These same politicians, civil and religious leaders, of course, are vehement in their condemnation of gay “promiscuity.”

Heterosexual attitudes about gay interactions have been among the strongest defining forces affecting how gay men relate to each other. We rebel against a society that tells us our sexual feelings are bad or nonexistent with bold and loud declarations of our sexuality and identity — such as the annual Gay Pride Parade and openly sexual modes of dress like leather or drag. We transgress against their limiting notions of monogamy and marriage by creating our own versions of coupling and congress. (Among cutting-edge queers, pairing exists in many forms. Or as a trendy witticism runs: “Two’s company, three’s a gay couple.”)

But none of these reactions against heterosexual notions are as powerful as the desire two hearts can feel for one another. Throughout a cruel history, men — and women, of course — have been willing to die for that love, and we have.

TWO HEARTS DESIRE is our attempt to portray ourselves in the context of relationship. We call it a “double vision” approach, since each partner is writing about the other; the relationship itself becomes evident in how the two men see one another. The book is a totally unscientific, not-quite-random sample of gay “marriages.”

For one of our couples, who are just starting out, the decision to appear in print was their way of publishing the banns: They are declaring their love in print in a way denied them legally. Another couple has recently broken up after many years, but they write here about their continuing bond. Devotion, courage, and dedication are perhaps most poignant for those whose partners have died or who are dying now, even while they are recording their love. While history has provided ample precedent for gay marriage, TWO HEARTS DESIRE is about the realities of love, of intense and passionate love, in an era of loss mitigated only by our people’s determination to recover, rebuild, and survive.

As such, it is a monument — albeit a monument in miniature — to all those hearts who desire one another.

Matthew Rettenmund
José Vélez

I ♥ José — by Matthew Rettenmund

I’ve never been in love before.

I have said “I love you” to more than one guy. Though I usually wasn’t out and out lying, I think I always knew I was just saying that phrase in the hope that if I said it often enough it would come true. Instead, I wound up saying it so freely it didn’t really mean much at all, except “I like you a lot,” “You’re nice,” or “Don’t stop cuddling me.”

I’m the exact opposite of all those people who have such a hard time saying that they love someone. I’m an “I love you” slut.

It wasn’t my fault. I found, after starting to date, that gay men who were not primarily interested in one-night-stands — in other words, gay men who wanted to date as opposed to hunt and who could envision finding a lover to settle down with at some point — were extremely trigger happy in the “I love you” department. One guy told me he was falling in love with me the first night we met! This has less to do with my charm, good looks and winning figure than with the feeling of desperation that can descend on gay men as we sit in bars looking for Mr. Right. You sit there long enough and pretty soon the meanest queen can provoke love at first sight.

When I met José, things were different.

We did not meet at a gay bar, we met at a party, which is basically a gay bar with fewer people, more women and softer music — I mean, we still had to engineer an awkward meeting and start getting to know each other from scratch.

But things were also different in how and how quickly we got to know each other.

First of all, I had made so many mistakes with other men — either by deciding to date them in the first place or by saying or doing something that poisoned the relationship prematurely — that I had pretty much gotten all that bullshit out of my system. I wasn’t nervous because I’d had enough dates to realize they weren’t the end of the world, and also because José was so remarkably real and attitude-free and smart and funny that I knew early on that he and I were going to be important to each other for a long time. I didn’t have to try to impress him or try to find something about him to latch on to to make myself fall in love with him. I just had to keep seeing him and calling him in order to fall in love — falling in love with him was all a matter of casual contact.

Most interestingly, we did not say “I love you” for many months. I remember jokingly asking him for permission to introduce him as my “boyfriend” a month into our relationship, thinking he’d laugh ...

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