If you would like to learn more about him and his books, please visit: www.leebantle.com.
What inspired you to write David Inside Out?
The desire to speak openly about my experience growing up. To be a witness to history. To let gay people know that they are not alone, that what they are going through is also what I have gone through and many others.
What was the hardest part while writing David Inside Out?
Describing experiences that were humiliating. To write lines where Sean sneers at David for his sexual interest (e.g., "I don't put it in my mouth.")
And the easiest part?
The hopeful, romantic scenes. David falling in love with Sean.
Do you have any written projects you are working on at the moment?
I am working on a novel called "The Memoirs of Odell P. Singleton, Grade Six." It is the story of a biracial boy in the age of Obama.
Are there any other topics or genres you are hoping to explore?
I'm not into vampires, though I understand the appeal. I like reality based fiction. I like characters who are struggling with their identities. At my ripe old age, I realize that this is a life long pursuit (if we're lucky) and good fiction can propel us on the journey.
On a more personal level, how similar is yours and David's experiences with each other? And how are they different?
I came of age in the last century. Coming out in high school would have been social suicide. David lives in a 21st century world. But many of his feelings are the same as mine. Much of the world still does not approve. In California, the voters took away the right to gay marriage. In the military, saying you are gay brings on discharge proceedings. Gays have come a long way. We can get married in Dubuque. But we can't get married in New York or LA. The world is a little mixed up on this issue. And so is David. Embracing his true identity does not come without pain.
When did you realize you were not interested in girls?
I realized I was not interested in girls during makeout sessions. It felt like a chore. The poor girls who fell in love with me were like Kick in the book. They had no idea. I was fun, gentle, verbal, polite to the parents. But there was one big problem!
In the book, Kick ultimately moves on from David which is the only answer for her. But hopefully, she and David will stay friends because they genuinely like each other.
Was it difficult to accept your identity?
It was incredibly difficult for me to accept my identity. The pressure to be straight -- society, parents, peers -- was powerful. I even tried aversive therapy -- which is something out of the dark ages. But I just couldn't be straight! In the end, that was my saving grace.
When did you finally come in terms of peace with yourself?
I found peace in the gay community, in friendships, in love relationships, in the acceptance of my family. But I am still not at peace. I cannot be while so much discrimination continues against gay people. I have to fight against it. One way is by writing this book. Another way is through my work. I am also an employment lawyer who brings lawsuits against companies that discriminate based on sexual orientation, gender, race, or age. These are the ways I give meaning to my life.
Please give us an interesting fact about you that not many people know of!
Sonia Sotomayor wanted me to be her boyfriend until she found out I was gay. If I had been willing to switch teams, I could be married to a Supreme Court Justice. But that wasn't going to happen. :) BTW -- she's great, and I hope she gets confirmed.
Now time for a giveaway! 2 signed copies of David Inside Out will be given out so that means there will be 2 winners! How to get the entries:
1+ = comment in this post here
1+ = comment on my review of David Inside Out
2+ = if you are already a follower either through blog roll, Google Reader, or both
1+ = if you just became a follower either through blog roll, Google Reader, or both
1+ = post this contest on your blog or whatnot (sidebar is fine)
Please keep everything in one comment in the format above. If you do not post, you get no entries!
Ends June 30th, 2009! Only Canadian and US addresses are eligible! Sorry international readers!