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Gay City: Volume Two brims with emerging talent Seattle's summer music pleasures -
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Gay City: Volume Two brims with emerging talent Seattle's summer music pleasures -

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Staff Writer

Bailey-Coy Books hosted the editor and contributing writers of Gay City: Volume Two for a book launch party July 23 at 7 p.m. inside the Capitol Hill bookstore. The party was open to the public and gave readers a chance to meet with the contributors and have their copies of the book signed.

The second volume of the Gay City publication is a celebration of how far the Gay movement has come in the 40 years since the Stonewall rebellion. Gay City: Volume Two celebrates the ongoing transformation with 69 pieces of Queer-themed short stories, comics, poetry, photography and art. The book features works by 27 contributors, most of whom are from the area.

Beyond the notable multi-award-winning contributors, the book is full of emerging talents. The project's editor, Vincent Kovar, penned a dedication at the beginning of the book, which reads, "This book is for all the artists and authors we've lost and for all those we've yet to discover." Within the nearly 200-page collection, there certainly is much to discover.

Gay City: Volume Two is an easy read, particularly because of the abundance of short stories it contains. You could, if you were so inclined, read the book from cover to cover in an afternoon at the park. Most of the short stories deal with so-called hot button issues (Gay marriage, coming out, living with HIV, etc.), but still manage to flow together nicely. As editor, Kovar did a great job placing the right story on the right page. Instead of a stutter, the book is a prolific speech.

While many thought-provoking poems grace the pages of the book, it's the collection by Michael Carosone that stands out. The first poem, "Back," is inspiring; the poet declares the Gay movement will never be pushed back into the closet by referencing women's suffrage and the black civil rights movement. The next poem, "Gay 101," is directed towards a Gay suicide attempt and speaks of referencing positive Gay role models for inspiration. The third poem, "Wedding," is my favorite. It is short, but packs a punch. In just 12 lines of text, Carosone sums up marriage inequality in a profound way. The last poem, "My Laundromat," is a metaphorical trip to the poet's personal Laundromat of life. It is warm, to the point, and a good read.

Artist Shane Rooks has three paintings on display in the book. Each one is an image of a flag dancer, which Rooks describes as superheroes. He says the paintings are meant to convey the joy within the Gay community.

Photographer Russ Morgan's work is a breath of fresh air; erotic yet tasteful, the photos are as intriguing as they are sexy. I particularly appreciate the simplicity of his portraits. His use of light, or in some cases the lack thereof, seems natural. Also, the models are men who look as though you'd run into them on the street, rather than in the pages of a Versace catalog.

Cartoonist Steve MacIsaac's "You Do The Math" is witty and smart. The comic-style cartoon is a journey into the conversation between two Gay men with very different views on what it means to be "out" in today's society; screaming queen, or discreet and in denial? There is some humor in the piece, but it is mostly satire based off very real situations or experiences nearly every LGBT person has been faced with.

The idea for a Gay City-produced book came about four years ago, according to Kovar. The book's content is based on submissions by local talent, but anyone is welcome. He said private donors and community support make the book possible. He plans to put a new volume out each year and will begin taking submissions in the fall for next year's Gay City book. All submissions are judged without knowledge of name, associations, and so on. Kovar said it is the work which is judged, not the individual.

Kovar said all of the proceeds from the book go towards supporting next year's version as well as Gay City's HIV/AIDS testing clinic. Gay City Health Project is a multicultural Gay men's health organization located in Seattle and is the premier provider of HIV and STD testing in King County. Gay City seeks to promote the health of Gay and Bisexual men and prevent HIV transmission by building community, fostering communication, and nurturing self-esteem.

Most of the time, Kovar doesn't get to meet with contributors until events like the Bailey-Coy release. All contributors are unpaid, though Kovar said they each receive two complimentary copies of the book.

For more information about Gay City and Gay City: Volume Two, visit www.gaycity.org.

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