In the rip-roaring 1960s, a withdrawn man named Fred Ecklund meets a kaleidoscopic soul called Harry Faulkner, instantly changing both of their lives. The next three decades are a harrowing and heartwarming period of danger, passion, and soul-deep love under the oaks of the oppressive Deep South. Brace yourself for acclaimed author Seth King’s most impactful story yet, a transcendent tale of heartbreak, resilience, and the astonishing habit of true love to bloom even in the darkest of hours.
I just read Sunlight by Seth Nicholas King and I feel the way I felt, years ago, when I watched the movie, Love Story, but worse, so much worse.
This story, as shared by the author, is the true-to-life story of Fred and a million other men (and to a lesser extent women) of his time. It is a story that I know intimately although rarely discussed, rarely spoken.
Initially, I was overcome with a sense of hopelessness and overwhelming sorrow. I thought, ‘No you didn’t, Seth King. You didn’t rip open this wound.’ But he did. After I had a chance to recover a bit from the shock, I came to understand that Harry and Fred (from the book), and James, and Johnny and Danny (people from my life) have an important story to tell through the heart and soul of this author. After the tears, nasty gulping stuffy nose tears, I thought of my social media connections who live their truth and I know that it is possible today. The cost was so damn high.
The story begins on June 26, 2015, with the Supreme Court ruling that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage. We join Fred at age 73 or so, as he reminisces about his ‘one’, “the boy with the midnight eyes”. The one he loved throughout his life from the time they met while Fred was in his final year of junior college, perhaps 20 years old.
This is also a story of ‘different’ men, gay men, who disappeared or were found dead and it is the story of thousands of men who died, often with the stated cause never spoken or called ‘the flu’, cancer or some other disease without the stigma associated with AIDS.
Fred fell in like with Henry during his final year of junior college and through a series of secretive meetings and walks in the woods and parks they both came to appreciate, understand that their attachment was much stronger than ‘like’. The danger of being identified as homosexual in the south was frightening and fear of what they knew could happen if they were discovered couldn’t be borne. Fred told himself that he was “content with aching for Harry..like the grass ached for the morning dew in the dawn.” Fred’s memories of his time with “his ONE” lived in his flesh and his bones.
This is an epic LOVE STORY, not a romance novel and the HEA isn’t there, in the traditional, expected sense. Now that I can breathe again I choose to join Fred of this story and smile as he considered the effect of light and wondered “How different would his life have turned out if people had just let him step into the sunlight”.
I will spend my afternoon watching videos of Yanis Marshall, Matthew Richardson Circus Arts, Fabrice Calmels and other talented, beautiful artists while I think of all of the wonderful men and women who I know are living in the sunshine!