"Before the Last Dance" is fiction, but its subject is so true to life. Growing older in the gay community is a big concern for many. The culture is drowning itself in beauty and youth. If one is fortunate to be born with good looks, it is only a matter of time before it is taken from them. Such a cruel reality makes one wonder if it is better to be born average rather than be faced with watching the years take away that God-given gift of beauty. For those blessed, as time passes and their looks wilt, they, as with other older gay men, fade into the background only to be soon forgotten by the very culture they once played a vital role in nurturing.
This book addresses that very concern for two gay men, Tom and Trey, by allowing readers to peek into their lives. They were lovers for three years and remained friends over a span of seventeen. Tom, the older by twenty years, is obsessed with youth and beauty so much that it later spirals him out of control. Eventually, at fifty-nine, he attempts suicide after falling in love with Andrew, a young call boy, who Tom sees as his last hold on youth. Trey, the younger, can only stand by and watch the demise of his once lover and long time friend. He too is finding himself caught up in the obsession of hitting the gym five times a week to maintain the gay image of beauty. The reader will find out if Trey ends up walking the same path as Tom, or if he takes a different one and accepts aging with grace and understanding.
This story will grab you in the gut. Nothing has come out in print that will touch the hearts of readers and make many rethink their own journey into maturity. The pages of this novel are filled with passion, erotica and heartache. It is destined to be this summer’s favorite read. Head to the beach with this book under your arm and become a welcomed voyeur into the hearts, minds, souls, and bedrooms of Tom and Trey.
NEXT CHAPTER FOR RENOWNED ATLANTA AUTHOR
In a world obsessed with youth and beauty, how do the rest of us survive? This question is asked - and answered - in critically acclaimed Atlanta author and artist James Randall Chumbley’s latest release, "Before the Last Dance" - a brutally honest and hauntingly beautiful tale of the sexual politics of growing old in the gay community, coming to terms with one’s own mortality, and the passion of new love and the heartache of losing it.
Chumbley’s first novel, "In The Arms of Adam," was met with critical success. Reviews like "That Chumbley is able to express himself with such eloquence, such logic and control, is a bonus that makes this book a read to be treasured," "A strong and compelling book," and "I can not tell you how beautiful and moving your book was for me. I know the book is going to help a lot of people," only begin to scratch the surface of how much the book affected readers.
And now, with "Before the Last Dance," Chumbley further explores the issues of growing up gay, finding oneself, and coming to terms with the aging process - all in a community that covets youth, vitality, and appearance. It is a novel that addresses these concerns through the lives of two men. Meet Tom, a handsome, wealthy man born with these gifts, but now growing older, having to face the fact they are fleeting, and Trey, a sexy 19 year-old boy who is unaware of the power and influence these gifts possess. The book explores the parallels of their lives: both born in Birmingham, Alabama, but 20 years apart; the similar paths both take in coming to terms with their sexuality; and their chance meeting in Atlanta that starts a passionate, yet stormy, relationship that will change both of their lives - forever.
"This novel has a very special meaning to me," says the author. "I promised myself after I wrote ‘In The Arms of Adam,’ I would not write about myself again; I put all of my heart, soul, and some of my most intimate of moments on those pages. I’m glad I wrote it so openly - that’s why it touched readers so deeply, but it was also an exhausting experience that left me feeling vulnerable and somewhat exposed. So, I decided my next writing project would be about other people. That’s why I was so surprised when I discovered after finishing ‘Before the Last Dance,’ that I had done it again. To a large degree, I had once again written about myself. But this time, two fictional main characters became a composite of my experiences and I labeled the book a novel."
"Perhaps writing this book was a way for me to face some of my fears and get to a place of understanding about my own maturing years," Chumbley continues. "Especially that life is one big dance floor and it is for everyone, young and old."
Chumbley was born in Fayette, Alabama in 1955 and grew up in Columbus and Warner Robins, Georgia. He received a Bachelor of Arts from Mercer University in Macon, Georgia in 1977 and soon thereafter moved to Atlanta where he began making a name for himself in the art world. Today, he continues his painting as passionately as he does his writing and is highly effective within several AIDS, youth, and equal rights service organizations.
A moderate breeze whistles through the open doors leading out to the posh balcony, giving life to the sheer draperies, the curtain rod unable to restrain their dance into the room. Like overly-large wings of butterflies, they waltz up toward the ceiling, pausing briefly somewhere in the middle to do a ballet. It is a beautiful dance like two lovers engrossed in a ritual of foreplay. They tease one another in lighthearted amusement, touching and twisting together in midair before untangling. Over and over again they twist and untangle in the soft light of the room. The draperies hover effortlessly in the air before making their minuet back down toward the floor. Wide awake, Tom watches until the breeze stills, and the drapes return to their hanging state. They now stand motionless as the breeze’s voice hushes. He continues to watch them in their frozen state until the breeze kicks up again, whistling into the room, and the draperies’ foreplay continues, puppeted by the wind.
The rest of the room remains quiet and still as two nude bodies find repose in a late afternoon bliss. Soon the night will slowly begin to pass through the same open doors into the room, where Tom is in a state of contentment as Andrew slumbers soundly in his loving arms. It is becoming a familiar state of serenity, where many afternoons pass in much the same manner. Unquestionably, Tom is in love. It is a strange and forbidden affection, this love he feels, where he has lost control of his emotions, and any reality - his existence up until now - may have once bestowed on him. For years Tom has resisted love to the point of running away, but now it has become a master of him. He feels it in the pit of his stomach where it grows out of control. Like a parasite, it has made him weak, forcing him to surrender everything practical or sane. Like the draperies dancing in the air at the mercy of an outside source, Tom is at the mercy of an uncontrollable force: his obsession.
A message from the author
I am thrilled to be receiving such great remarks and feedback from so many readers about my latest book. Please know your support is greatly appreciated. I know the book addresses some touchy issues relating to growing older in the gay community, respect between older and younger men, condom use, and faithfulness. The very reasons I wrote the book. I would like to reiterate that the book is about TWO gay men, not ALL gay men. There is no question the obsession with youth and beauty addressed in my book is very prevalent in not only the gay community, but straight society as well. If you don’t agree, just linger at the magazine section in you local book, grocery or drug store and see what models are used on a majority of the covers. Look at the television commercials and see what actors and models advertisers use to sell their products. Then ask yourself, is it the advertisers, or the consumers that perpetuate the obsession? Is it the advertisers disregard for a large segment of the population, or is it the consumers who buy the products they represent? Ever ask yourself why they have twenty-something women advertising wrinkle creams? Although things are getting better, there is still a lot more work to be done before we see more variety of ages, looks, body types, races, etc. looking back at us from the newsstands.
The few negative comments I have received have been regarding the false concept that I am trying to insinuate that all older men want to have sex with younger ones. Again, the book is about TWO gay men, not all gay men. On those rare occasions I have run across this, it was clear to me by the wording of those comments that my book triggered a personal issue those individuals are having, which makes me think they are not dealing well with their own maturing process. Plus, they missed the obvious fact that Trey, the younger character in the book, is in love with Tom, the older. So, apparently the book is not just about older men wanting to have sex with younger ones.
I am passionate about my writing, with the goal in mind to be honest and understanding. I hope my work is entertaining, while shedding light on current issues a lot of us face in our lifetimes.
Copyright James Randall Chumbley 2018 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED