Five Questions With… Damian McNicholl

Damian McNicholl is the author of the Lambda finalist A Son Called Gabriel, who I met at a Lammy reading here in NYC. He’s from Northern Ireland, and Gabriel is about a young man growing up in a Catholic community in Northern Ireland. McNicholl’s blog can be found at, and A Son Called Gabriel is in bookstores, and available, of course, through
1) Considering all the scandals here in the US considering priests and pedophilia, how have people responded to your novel?
First Helen, thank you for the opportunity to visit your site and answer your questions.
While the scene where Father Cornelius seduces Gabriel amounts to only one scene in A SON CALLED GABRIEL, nevertheless, its inclusion was something I wondered about because the scandal involving the church had broken and was gaining momentum. I wondered if it would cause anger among the American-Irish community, particularly among those who are fervent practitioners of their Catholic faith. But any reservations I had about including the scene did not last long because, within me, deep within, I knew I had to remain true to Gabriel, and his story, and the truth in this regard had to be presented. The truth is that in real life some priests have taken advantage of young girls and boys. It has happened in the United States. It has happened in Ireland. It has happened throughout the world. And, of course, I did have a counterbalance to reflect how things are in life because not all the priests are warped: Gabriel’s headmaster at the grammar school is strict but proper, and the parish curate is a very kindly man who’s very much in touch with the needs of his parishioners.
And I am very happy to report that my readers are sophisticated enough to realize these terrible crimes have been perpetrated by renegade, if not evil, priests, and those who have commented or asked about it have done so positively. Indeed, I’ve had more questions from readers about the issue of bullying that’s also covered in the novel, as well as the isolation a young person endures growing up gay in a very conservative community.
And, to be absolutely honest, I really didn’t care about what anyone conservative would say or think about my work after they’d read it. I didn’t, because I was pretty sure no conservative person would read the novel. I mean, let’s face it; conservative people are not interested in reading or learning about or dealing with truths like this because it simply does not conform to their views of the real world.
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Terribly Worried

Actually, I’m not terribly worried about this. I mean, one hopes that the Iraqis protect women’s social rights as much as possible. It certainly seems clear that in protecting the political rights, there’s no discussion of women not having the right to vote. I think it’s important to remember that in the year 1900, for example, in the United States, it was a democracy then. In 1900, women did not have the right to vote. If Iraqis could develop a democracy that resembled America in the 1900s, I think we’d all be thrilled. I mean, women’s social rights are not critical to the evolution of democracy. We hope they’re there. I think they will be there. But I think we need to put this into perspective.

(italics mine)
This choice little quote comes from yesterday’s Meet the Press, as spoken by Reuel Marc Gerecht, Director of the Middle East Initiative for Project for the New American Century.
Women had more rights under Hussein than they’re going to have after the US “liberation”? Um, how does that work? And what on earth does the word democracy possibly mean if women’s social rights don’t matter? 1900?
I’m flabbergasted.
Thanks to Betty for blogging this one; you can find links to other bloggers on the same topic in her post.

Blogging Betty

My lovely partner has decided to start a blog in order to rant about the innumerable things she thinks and reads. My best guess is that little will be trans-related, but it’ll be a great resource for interesting reading, especially political notes.
I suppose this means I have to start acting.

Our Old Friend Mike Bailey

Well, he’s done it again. Like a child you’ve told to quit putting beans up his nose, we’re once again in the emergency room, this time having a fava bean extracted.
Professor J. Michael Bailey, infamous for The Man Who Would Be Queen, finding no fault with parents who’d abort a gay foetus, and sleeping with his clients/research subjects, is in the pages of The New York Times with a study on bisexuality, where he concludes – big shocker! – that bisexuality is suspect. That is, that bisexual men, specifically, are either really straight or gay.
It sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Blanchard & Bailey have made names for themselves with stating that TSs who aren’t autogynephilic really are, or might be, and that crossdressers really are turned on by crossdressing, even when they say they aren’t. And all this, thanks to a fabulous little device called a plethysmograph.
I’m not the only one who is fed up with this guy getting funding and coverage. It’s not just the trans community he’s misrepresenting anymore. It never was, really, considering he has audiences listen to recordings of men speaking and asks them to guess which speakers are gay, and that his whole judgement of transwomen was based on how attractive they are to him is pure, unadulterated sexism. He didn’t have much nice to say about crossdressers, either.
Anyway, I’ve written a Letter to the Editor of the NYT, as has our own newish board member Megan Pickett, and I’d encourage more of you to do the same. You can send emails to, but remember two things: 1) less than 150 words, 2) include your full name, address, and phone #.
Much thanks to Donna for several important links, and to the rest of the MHB Board Members who added useful insights and much-needed facts.

Voices of New York

Last night I had the pleasure of reading with 7 other Lammy nominees at the Center, and it was a very cool event. (Aaron Krach, author of Half-Life, commented that he wished all readings had been like last night’s: five minutes, no Q&A, with a bunch of queer, friendly people in the audience.) I’m really thankful for Lambda Lit, because as I sat there listening to the readers, it occurred to me how stupid it is that there is so little room in mainstream publishing for GLBT writers. The stories were remarkable: one about an older man who’d fallen in love with a man with Downs Syndrome (Perry Brass, from Serendipity); another about a married man whose male lovers were being killed by a murderer (Gary Zebrun’s Someone You Know); another about a young Irish lad’s meeting with his priest at his mother’s behest (Damian McNicholl’s A Son Called Gabriel, and whose blog I just checked out); another a confrontation between a lesbian of color and her father (Laurinda D. Brown’s Fire & Brimstone).
me readingThey were all powerful stories, they were all stories that went beyond some definition of GLBT. They were about what stories are supposed to be about, the quiet little ways we suffer and rejoice in being our lovely, pathetic selves. But at the same time, without the Lammies, who would recognize a wife’s story of her trans husband’s beauty? Where else would I meet people who’d tell me about the tranny they knew, growing up?
It was a lovely night. I’m not 100% better, not yet, but I was damned glad I wasn’t still contagious, and could be there. I regret having missed the reading in DC even moreso now, but I am very much looking forward to the Awards Night at on June 2nd.

Microsoft Abandons Gays

Especially in a political era of attacks on gays, we need the corporate leadership to stand up.
Microsoft has done so in the past, with its own policies as well as politically, but it has just pulled its support for a gay rights bill in Washington state in response to the pressure exerted by exactly ONE anti-gay pastor.
Please, read more at, and contact anyone you know personally at Microsoft, as well as any/all of the contacts listed at that site.

Friday Cat Blogging

betty endymionFriday Cat Blogging, for those of you who don’t know, has become a tradition of the lefty blogosphere.
Some notables of the lefty blogosphere:
Talking Points Memo
Friday Cat Blogging began with Kevin Drum of The Washington Monthly, after he heard the news about Iraq and looked to his cat, but it only become a “thing” later.
I think it’s a good way to start a weekend, myself.
Betty with our big, sweet boy Endymion (weighing in at nearly 20 lbs). (I don’t know what Betty weighs.)