I want to thank Michel for stopping by the blog today. He's treating us to an inside look on a profile for one of his characters, Kreema Dee Kropp. <3
Before I wrote Happy Independence Day, my new release from Dreamspinner Press, I’d heard about the Stonewall Riots of 1969 and knew the headline: Queens top cops, launch gay liberation movement. Okay. Let’s stop for a minute. Close your eyes and visualize the scene.
Got it? Good. If you imagined a bunch of men in wigs, dresses, and high heel shoes battling the police, you’re not even half right. Don’t feel bad. I came to this project with the same image in mind. The headline is true, but the word “queen” conjures up a different image today than was true fifty years ago.
Referring to gay men as queens is nothing new. Gay men get a lot of use from the word too. To us, for example, a group of gay men—whether decked out in chains and harnesses or in full drag—is still a bunch of queens. We might not say so in the company of our straight friends, but it’s what we’re thinking. Trust me.
In the sixties, queens came in varieties now believed to be extinct. Flame queens, scare queens, and fright queens were specific types of homosexuals that allegedly went the way of the dinosaur after the Stonewall Riots. I’ve never been clear on the distinctions between the three types, or whether they’re synonyms for the same type, but suspect the differences came down to attractiveness, age, and maybe style.
Details about what happened in the early morning hours of June 28 are sketchy. Reports vary, with conflicting eyewitness accounts, very few pictures, and no video footage. But by all accounts, queens—including drag queens—played an important role in the uprising and, consequently, needed a voice in Happy Independence Day. Many, I suspect, would identify as trans* today.
In my notes, that voice was to come from Chica Boomboom, a sassy Puerto Rican drag queen. But Chica refused to talk to me, probably due to my ignorance about her language and culture. By the time I started writing from her point of view, she’d morphed into Kreema Dee Kropp, an African-American from somewhere in the South. Uhmhmm.
Unlike the scare queens and flame queens of the day who’d sometimes wear a little makeup, don a women’s blouse or high heel shoes, and tease their hair for a night on the town, Kreema lived as a woman all day, every day. A quick wit and a sense of humor were survival skills. Writing her character opened my eyes to the challenges she and others like her must have faced in the 1960s when gay life was hard—even for white men.
Kreema Dee Kropp is the strongest character I’ve ever written. Her voice is loud, persistent, and demanding. She’s not going to let anyone take advantage of her, including me. Writing her character was a revelation that left me wondering what she might have accomplished in a more accepting and tolerant world. I suspect she’ll turn up again in a future story—perhaps in a starring role, rather than the supporting role she plays in Happy Independence Day.
By Michael Rupured
Blurb:Terrence Bottom wants to change the world. A prelaw student at Columbia University majoring in political science, his interests range from opposing the draft and the war in Vietnam, to civil rights for gays, to anything to do with Cameron McKenzie. Terrence notices the rugged blond hanging around the Stonewall Inn, but the handsome man—and rumored Mafia hustler—rebuffs his smiles and winks.
Cameron McKenzie dropped out of college and left tiny Paris, Kentucky after the death of the grandmother who raised him, dreaming of an acting career on Broadway. Although he claims to be straight, he becomes a prostitute to make ends meet. Now the Mafia is using him to entrap men for extortion schemes, he is in way over his head, and he can’t see a way out—at least not a way that doesn’t involve a swim to the bottom of the Hudson in a pair of cement flippers.
Cameron is left with a choice: endanger both their lives by telling Terrence everything or walk away from the only man he ever loved. The Mafia hustler and the student activist want to find a way to stay together, but first they need to find a way to stay alive.
Available for purchase at
Michael Rupured has always loved to write. Before learning the alphabet, he filled page after page with rows of tiny little circles he now believes were his first novels, and has been writing ever since. He grew up in Lexington, Kentucky, came out as a gay man in the late 1970s at the age of 21, and considers surviving his wild and reckless twenties to have been a miracle.
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