Chasing Fate by J.P. James
I’ve always wanted to be a writer covering LGBTQ+ affairs. As a member of the queer community, our issues don’t get enough press and I see it as my job to shine a light on the many amazing things we’ve achieved. To help me out, my dad sets me up with an internship at his best friend’s company, which is a place that puts out a weekly newsmagazine. It’s perfect because I can use this opportunity to write about gay-centric issues to my heart’s content. But the problem is that the boss doesn’t necessarily see it that way. Dane, my dad’s friend, is handsome, forbidding, and dare I say it? A little scary. He’s used to giving orders, taking risks, and making money hand over fist. Despite being gay himself, he doesn’t want me to use his paper as a platform for our community because he says quote-unquote: “It won’t sell.” Since when has everything become about money? Have we, as a society, lost our moral compass? Even more important, how can I change his mind? On the one hand, sparks fly whenever Dane and I clash. But on the other, can I really be with a man who won’t stand up for the cause closest to my heart?
I took on Chris as an intern as a favor to my oldest friend. After Nick begged, cajoled, and pleaded, I agreed on a three-month summer internship for his son. With an emphasis on temporary. Chris and I weren’t even supposed to cross paths because as the boss, I don’t really interact with newbie reporters. Yet the moment he walked into my office, I knew that Chris was going to be trouble. The young man is lively, forceful, and hell-bent on writing stories that highlight the achievements of the gay community. Of course I support him, at least on some level. After all, I’m a member of the LGBTQ+ community myself, and proud of the discrimination we’ve overcome, not to mention the acceptance we’ve achieved. As a result, I have nothing against his ideas per se, except that they won’t sell very many papers. Does that make sense? As a player in capitalist society, we have to market our wares in order to survive. But why can’t Chris understand my point of view? Sure, everyone knows that the publishing industry is in jeopardy and facing a sea change in terms of how we do business. But how can I make the young man see this? How can I help him understand that the world is more complicated than it appears, and that sometimes, we work for many masters and wear many hats simultaneously? Most importantly, how can I convince Chris that I’m worthy of his love when his commitment to LGBTQ causes may outweigh his affection for me?
***This is a full-length MM novel with no cliffhangers and a happily ever after.***
After we check into our hotel and drop our bags off, Dane and I stroll hand-in-hand down the main streets. We take in the sights, window shop, people watch, and soak in the perfect summer weather. It’s a sunny Saturday afternoon but not too humid today. Everything looks straight out of a postcard. We see kids in khaki shorts and Sperry deck shoes riding beach cruisers, eating ice cream, and laughing so loud they leave our ears ringing. We pass a coffee shop and I practically drag Dane inside, even though I had two espressos before we left this morning.
As we’re sipping our drinks, I take the opportunity to mention some LGBTQ issues that could potentially be included in Globix publications. There’s one about how fundraising for LGBTQ issues is particularly challenging given the current political climate, and another one pertaining to an upcoming Supreme Court case.
“What do you think?” I ask casually, my heart beating with anticipation. Hopefully Dane likes the ideas and assigns me to report these stories.
He’s noncommittal, merely squeezing my hand and looking off into the distance.
“It’s a beautiful view,” he says in a low voice. “I love this part of the Northeast.”
I shoot him an even look.
“No seriously, Dane. You know these issues are important to our community. What do you think of the fundraising article? Or the Supreme Court case? Front page stuff, right?”
This time, he turns to look at me and sighs deeply.
“Chris, what did I tell you about the Supreme Court?”
“Nothing,” I answer stoutly. “Why?”
Dane muses a bit for a moment.
“You’re right. I never did mention how I feel about those stories, and how they play out for our business. Well, I’m not going to hold back because I think you need to hear it, sweetheart: stories like that, as compelling as they are, don’t speak to our readers. Our readership likes mainstream stuff, even if it pains me to say it.”
I wrinkle my nose.
“What are you talking about? This is mainstream. We are mainstream. That’s what we’re trying to do!”
Dane sighs again.
“No, Chris, we’re not mainstream yet. A small, yet significant proportion of the population identifies as queer in some way, but we’re not there quite yet. And because we’re not there, it means that most of the people buying our papers are straight. They want to hear about issues that pertain to them, or they want to hear about fun human interest tidbits. They don’t want to hear about cut and dried Supreme Court decisions, and they definitely don’t want to hear about fundraising. It’s not going to sell papers.”
I stop and stare at him.
“But we have to feature these articles because we want to become mainstream. Only by including these stories will we make a dent in the overall American consciousness. Don’t you want to do that? Isn’t that a worthy goal?”
Dane sighs again and his shoulders slump a bit.
“Of course I do, but there’s this thing called revenue, and also Globix’s board. I answer to them, and if we don’t deliver good figures, you know what happens? I’m out of there, and so are you, frankly.”
I’m stunned. How can this be? I can’t believe that Dane would nix an idea because LGBTQ issues aren’t what our readers want to read about. Sadly, it makes a sick sort of sense and I turn to him with a horrified expression.
“When’s the last time we featured an LGBTQ-centric article?” I ask in a quavery voice.
The publisher merely looks down.
“It’s probably been two months,” he says in a low voice. “And that’s if you don’t count how Charlize Theron is raising her oldest child as a transgender girl.”
My heart pounds painfully in my chest. Oh my god, I had no idea. Or I did, but I had no idea it was this bad. I seize his hand.
“Well, we can feature more,” I say in a rush. “There’s plenty of space in a couple of the newsmagazines, and I’m sure I can get two or three articles ready in no time –”
Dane cuts me off.
“No Chris,” he says in a low voice. “That’s not going to help. The long and the short of it is that sometimes, we have to wait for the world to be ready for us, and right now? It’s ready, but not that ready. We can’t force a slew of LGBTQ pieces down readers’ throats because they’ll never buy our stuff then. A small trickle of gay-friendly stories is okay, but we can’t make them drink from a fire hose.”
I stand frozen in place. This is so difficult to swallow, but I make myself nod.
“Yes of course you’re right,” I say, still trying to catch my breath. “Revenue matters. Keeping readers engaged matters.”
And the thing is, I actually believe these things, but the revelation is still devastating. What’s more important? Money or the cause close to my heart? I swallow and take Dane’s hand again, and we begin to walk once more.
It’s moments like these when I feel like I’m in over my head. Dane knows so much about the practical realities of business, whereas I know so little. But am I willing to let go of what I love in order to succumb to the gods of money? Or will the realities of capitalism pull me apart from this man whom I adore?