DESIRE LINES - A NOVEL
Desire Lines is a journey through gay New York in the 1980s—the sex, the drugs, and the trauma of AIDS—from the fresh perspective of a young Black man coming of age. The novel explores African American queer identity in Africa and examines the intensity of relationships between gay men and our female friends. An unflinching and passionate look at a moment in American history marked equally by dramatic devastation and fierce determination, Desire Lines confronts the shame too often associated with our desires and pulls us back from that awful abyss.
Of all the really great books, movies, and shows produced about gay men’s experience with AIDS in the 1980s, none have focused on Black gay men. Of all the great work about cocaine and crack addiction, none focused on the experience of Black gay men. The 1980s was a period of hysteria and pain, but it was also a moment of intense introspection and spiritual alignment. You either sank or you swam. Many of us swam and continue to swim, and I want to tell this story. Also, sex. Sex, sex, sex. It was good, we enjoyed it, it gave us life and brought us together. This book reclaims that joy.
– Cary Alan Johnson
Cary Alan Johnson is an author, activist and Africanist raised in Brooklyn and currently living in Central Africa. He studied writing with Wesley Brown, Jane Copper Alexis DeVeaux, Randall Kenan, Louise Meriwether, and Susan Scarf-Merrell and has a Bachelor’s degree from Sarah Lawrence College and a Master’s degree in International Affairs from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. A long-time innovator in national and international queer politics and cultural activism, he was a founder of several groundbreaking organizations, including the Blackheart Collective, Gay Men of African Descent, Other Countries, and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. A public health and HIV specialist with experience living and working in Guinea, Haiti, Mali, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Ukraine, and Zimbabwe, Cary is currently the country director for Population Services International in Burundi.
DESIRE LINES PLAYLIST
We lived our lives to a rich and heartfelt soundtrack in the 70s and 80s. From Motown to Disco to African Rumba, here is a sampling of songs mentioned in the novel and that set the mood for the story and the era. Enjoy.
Jackson 5 - Dancing Machine
Shalamar - Right in the Socket
Loleatta Holloway - Love Sensation
Teena Marie - Square Biz
Franco Luambo Makiada - Mario
Sharon Redd - Beat the Street
Van McCoy - The Hustle
Angela Bofill - I Try
Luther Vandross - Too Far Down
Luther Vandross - Wait for Love