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Oct 16 2023
Tim Murphy Of CAFTAN CHRONICLES Talks New Novel SPEECH TEAM Comments (0)
Tim-Murphy-Speech-Team-gay-boycultureTimmy, are you queer?!(Images via Viking)
I've posted about Tim Murphy's The Caftan Chronicles, a Substack featuring lengthy Q&As with mature gay men, and he may also be on your radar thanks to his 2016 NYC AIDS novel Christodora.
His latest novel, Speech Team, he describes as a “very queer and very Gen X page-turner about four 1980s high school misfit friends who reunite 25 years later, in the wake of a fifth friend's suicide, and decide to track down and confront the teacher and speech team coach who was both their mentor and their tormentor.”
More from Tim about his intriguing new book:
On How Queer Speech Team Really Is ...
Well, one of the two gays in the foursome is a very haughty and successful NYC menswear designer, a kind of Tom Ford wannabe, and the other is a big mess who's still traumatized by the abuse he suffered in high school and can't seem to keep messing up his life with alcohol, cocaine and extramarital hookups. So there's that. And when they were in high school, they spent all their time talking about the bratty new pop sensation named Madonna and reenacting scene's from last night's episode of Dynasty. So I'd say it's pretty queer.
On Whether His Hero, Tip, Is Based on Himself ...
When I was in high school and still not out even to myself but apparently pretty gay-acting, I had a teacher who I otherwise considered pretty cool pull me aside and tell me I had to stop acting like such a flaming homosexual. So I would say that what happens to Tip in high school, the constant physical and verbal bullying, as well as how that affects his young adult life, is pretty close to home, but what happens to the gang when they reunite and track down this teacher 25 years later is entirely fiction. 
On Whether Queer Kids Today Have It Better Than We Did in the '80s ...
We are seeing a lot of horrible anti-LGBTQ laws being passed in red states, particularly toward trans and non-binary kids, so obviously we are not living in a queer utopia. But I'd say that the biggest difference is that these laws and the anti-queer sentiment behind them are a backlash to a huge cultural shift toward acceptance and normalization of queerness in the past few decades, whereas in the 1980s that hadn't even begun and it was open season on gay kids. To call someone a faggot or queer at school wasn't grounds for disciplining... It was the first years of AIDS, before gays had really risen up militantly in the form of ACT UP, and the general attitude toward gays, even by moderate people, was that they were disgusting and sick and getting what they deserved. So I would say that the moment we're in is better than that, but whenever any marginalized group starts gaining acceptance and rights, there's going to be a very ugly backlash from some quarters of society. 
On the Most Fun Parts of the Novel ...
It was recollecting the happy side of being a queer kid in the 1980s — the pop culture, the incredible music in an era when synthesizers really took hold, the clothes and the hair. There were no anti-bullying programs or Gay-Straight alliances in schools, but we still had Madonna and Boy George and Pet Shop Boys and The Breakfast Club and Dynasty and all these other things that, in a very conservative era, were paving the way for the nineties, which gave us gay visibility and cultural acceptance, k.d. lang and Melissa Etheridge and Ellen's coming out and Paris is Burning and Will and Grace.
On What He Hopes Readers Get from the Book's Ending ...
I realized after I finished the book that I was channeling The Wizard of Oz without knowing it. Dorothy and her friends think that somebody else, this authority figure they're journeying to see, is going to solve their problems for them, fix them, and in the end they're thrown back on themselves and realize they have to create their own resolutions, and that the resources to do so were inside them all along. I'm not saying that that's exactly what happens in the book, but whether it does or not, it's really their only hope.