Bi Lines VII, which took place on Saturday night, was the seventh installment of the bisexual multi-arts reading that is now paired with the Bisexual Book Awards Ceremony. The program boasted talent from all corners of the literary world...literally.
First on the program was Bushra Reyman, a girl from Queens, whose family is Muslim and from Pakistan. Reyman read excerpts from her semi-autobiographical novel Corona. She talked about hitchhiking with her girlfriend and being picked up by a Christian couple who tried to convert them, while the husband was ogling them in the rear view mirror.
Next was J.R. Yussuf, a young Nigerian-American writer/actor/photographer from Queens who read from his story "Face to Face" from the newly released literary fiction anthology Best Bi Short Stories, edited by Sheela Lambert. In "Face to Face," a lonely and bored young man meets a dynamic young woman at a party who blows his mind, then his body, then blows out of town leaving him heartbroken. In the aftermath, he realizes he is drawn to his outrageous, gay buddy Tony and ventures a kiss, which turns into an exciting new chapter.
After that was Jean Roberta, who came all the way from Saskatchewan province in Canada, reading from The Flight of the Black Swan, her historical fiction erotic novella set in 19th century England. In her excerpt, a girl loses her boarding school girlfriend upon graduation, and to console herself, she writes a story about riding horseback behind an Amazon queen, with her arms around the queen's waist, pressed up against her. At the end of their ride, they get naked and make love. She confesses that this fantasy gets her so worked up she feels the need to lift her skirt and put her pen to another use.
A rousing musical break came from Michael David Gordon and Howell Mooney. Michael David wowed the crowd by making up verses on the spot about the event to a song written by Mooney. They made a couple of returns to the stage during the program, providing musical breaks from the readings.
Marina Peralta read from her memoir, Barriers to Love: Embracing a Bisexual Identity, set in both Mexico and the US. She told about a heartbreaking incident that happened when she was 19 years old when Peralta and her girlfriend Laura were confronted by her mother and grandmother, who had found Laura's letters to Marina. They called Laura a perverted degenerate and accused her of trying to seduce Marina. They berated Laura until they hounded her out of the house, crushing any desire on her part to see Marina again. After that, Marina was sent to a convent for three months.
Charles “Zan” Christensen made a very humorous presentation from his comic anthology, Anything That Loves: Comics Beyond Gay and Straight, showing art panels from several strips up on the big projector screen as he commented. He also recounted how, for an entire year, he was saying over and over, to anyone who would listen, how important a bisexual comic anthology would be...then decided to create one. The kicker is...he's not even bi himself, he is gay.
Lena Chandhok then presented "Comics Made Me Queer," her humorous and touching comic strip bio from the same anthology, telling her personal biseual coming out story.
Cecilia Tan, who is part Chinese-American and came down from her hometown of Boston, read from "Dragon's Daughter," her mystical Asian tale in the Best Bi Short Stories anthology. Her reading was captured on video, so you can see why she had the audience enraptured.
Mary Anne Mohanraj, who was born in Sri Lanka but grew up in the US and now lives in Chicago, read from The Stars Change about the bisexual awakening of her Alien lizard character, who is working as a University cop, living on a planet colonized by South Asians, a few hundred years in the future. While on patrol, he complains to his partner about the lack of other lizard people on the planet for him to have sex with, griping that his thing will fall off from lack of use, when his partner, a human male, reaches across the gear shift to grab his crotch and give him a hand with his problem. He is so startled, he almost crashes their vehicle. You can see her tell the story on the video as well. She will be a keynote speaker at the upcoming Because Conference.
Manil Suri, who is from India but is now a University professor in Maryland, read from his novel The City of Devi and explained it was based on a myth about the Hindu god Shiva, who had a baby with the god Vishnu, yet also had a wife and children. In the novel, Karun, a Hindu, is missing and his wife, Sarita, is searching for him. But so is Jaz, his Muslim ex-boyfriend. All during a dystopian war scenario between Muslim and Hindu.
*Only 20 photos will fit in one slideshow, so more photos will follow. Photos of the Bisexual Book Awards will be in separate articles also.