“LOFT Pride 2017,” held at The LOFT Community Center in suburban New York June 3 to kick off Pride Month, was a thoroughly satisfying experience for me as an author of gay-themed novels and not just because I sold a lot of books and met interested book club leaders. Under breezy, sunny skies amid a rainbow of picnic umbrellas and tents, people of all shapes, sizes, colors and persuasions enjoyed food, shopping, a pet costume parade, a runway strut, performances by drag queen Sutton Lee Seymour, guitarist Ryan Cassata and others and just good old-fashioned conversation. That was the big takeaway for me. Trump should’ve been there. It might’ve done him good. Then again, I’m sure he’d miss the point.
Of course, being a storyteller meant listening to a lot of stories. Shakespeare said everybody has one. In listening to others, I found that others listened to me. And occasionally, I connected with someone, which, of course, is sheer bliss for a writer.
For the first time, however, I became really aware of what books mean to people in the digital age. This was a revelation. People love books. They still love to read. But they don’t want to pay for books – at least not a lot. Since this was a Pride event, I had instituted a pay what you wish or two novels for $20 policy. (“Water Music” retails for less than $13, “The Penalty for Holding” for $16.) Two people did two for $20. One person paid $5 for one. One paid $2 for one. And three teenage girls, minority students, paid nothing, although one offered me candy – after taking four Mini Snickers from my dish. I later spied them at a makeup booth. Ladies, ladies, priorities. (On the other hand, I felt the need to encourage the young members of my sex in particular in the reading and writing departments.)
Everyone has his or her priorities. In the scheme of things, books have an Everest of a challenge competing for bucks in the free-for-all tech age.