“One Gay American”
by Dennis Milam Bensie
Published by Coffeetown Press
In Dennis Milam Bensie’s first book “Shorn…” the reader was introduced to the author by way of his finding his way through life struggling with being a gay man in a cruel society and on top of that having to struggle with his obsession with hair. This was a very brave move for Dennis to expose himself to the world. Dennis has taken that newfound bravery and further explains his life and struggle to find who he is and where he belongs in the world in his second book, “One Gay American.”
From his first memory of his mother’s wedding dress, Dennis desires to one day have that perfect wedding and maybe that perfect wedding dress. What starts out as a desire for a beautiful dress develops into the author wanting to have a meaningful relationship with a lifelong partner and actually being wanted and having a sense of belonging. He starts out with a photo of his mother at her wedding in which to his amazement and horror is not decked out in a traditional white flowing wedding dress. For the rest of his childhood Dennis is trying to make up for that by making bridal dolls for family members and even one for the woman he marries.
Dennis does marry a woman, all the while struggling with the realization that he is a gay man and that this marriage is a sham. Being the loving person he tries to stay married so as not to crush his bride, her family or worse yet his family. He wants to impress his father, who doesn’t know how to show his feelings for his effiminate son. Eventually Dennis cannot handle living that lie and gets divorced. The rest of his life from his college years to working in the theatre, Dennis struggles with trying to find the right person to share his life with. This is the basic struggle of all human beings, finding love, loving and being loved. The big difference is to find love with the right person when your passion is for someone of the same sex and all the while society looking down on your lifestyle.
Dennis tells his life story while at the same time comparing with what is going on in gay rights history. Each Chapter begins with an event in gay rights history and the authors response to that event and compares that to what is going on during that moment in his life. One day in the future when same-sex marriage is accepted and gay rights are an accepted norm, this book will serve as the perfect textbook in this history of America’s civil rights movement. From the gay bashing of Anita Bryant to California’s Prop 8 turmoil, Dennis’ life parallels the struggles of any Gay American, this book just makes it more personal.