By Jeff Baker
The year was 1993 (or pretty close.) I was running a delivery route in-town and on my lunch hour I ran into a used bookstore and grabbed a horror anthology I hadn’t heard of. “Masters of Darkness,” edited by Dennis Etchison. In three volumes, the books feature horror stories selected and introduced by their authors, stories they think may not have gotten the exposure they deserved on first publication. Robert Bloch, Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell. And Clive Barker.
I’d heard the name, but this was where I first encountered Barker. His selection was “In the Hills, the Cities,” one of the first stories I ever read with openly gay characters. I’d heard of Barker, and “The Books of Blood,” but I didn’t know he was gay. Times and moods were shifting in the country when Barker began publishing fiction, and openly gay characters were no longer taboo. Today, Barker is himself publically out and is becoming an elder statesman of the horror writing world and movies based on his work are familiar fiends, I mean, friends around the world.
For those keeping track, some of the Barker works I’ve found which include gay characters or gay references are “In The Hills, The Cities,” “Human Remains” and “In The Flesh.” In addition the main character of Barker’s novel “Sacrament” is gay. About this, Barker was quoted in Gay Celebrities Wiki https://gaycelebrities.fandom.com/wiki/Clive_Barkeras saying; “The issue of the book was not homosexuality, but I was very comfortable with the idea that the hero, like me, was gay and having his sexuality was part of who he was and part of the narrative.”
To close out with more LGBT reading for the Halloween season, Lethe Press’ Edgar Allan Poe and Dracula anthologies, (with queer takes on both) are well worth the reader’s time: Edited by Steve Berman, “Where Thy Dark Eye Glances” and “Suffered From the Night” are perfect accompaniment to the season of pumpkins, falling leaves and strange things in the lengthening shadows.
Jeff Baker blogs about writing and reading sci fi, fantasy and horror and other sundry matters around the thirteenth of each month. He has been published in Queer Sci Fi’s anthologies and in Lambda Literary. He appears on Facebook as Jeff Baker, Author.https://www.facebook.com/Jeff-Baker-Author-176267409096907/ He also blogs and posts fiction at https://authorjeffbaker.com.https://authorjeffbaker.com/ He lives in Wichita, Kansas with his husband Darryl, where it’s Halloween all year round.