Robert Oscar Lopez Is Self-Publishing A Bizarre Series Of Gay Fiction Books
July 24, 2013 9:31 am ET by Carlos Maza
Robert Oscar Lopez is best known for his public opposition to marriage equality, including his repeated warnings that same-sex couples should not raise children because they are abusive and pedophilic. Meanwhile, Lopez has been self-publishing a series of ridiculous gay fiction novels titled “Mean Gays,” complete with damaging myths and graphic depictions of gay sex.
Who Is Robert Oscar Lopez?
Robert Oscar Lopez is a rising star in anti-gay circles. As a self-identified bisexual whose mother was in a same-sex relationship during his childhood, he bills himself as telling the “untold children’s view” of the alleged harms of same-sex parenting. His vocal and extreme opposition to LGBT equality has made him a kind of celebrity in many right-wing organizations, including the National Organization for Marriage (NOM).
He’s written prolifically against LGBT equality for right-wing publications like Public Discourse, Crisis Magazine, and American Thinker. He runs a blog called “English Manif,” where he regularly posts anti-gay commentary.
He also spoke at a massive rally protesting France’s marriage equality law and was scheduled to speak at NOM’s anti-equality rally in front of the Supreme Court in March. On March 12, he testified against Minnesota’s marriage equality law, warning that same-sex marriage would turn children into property.
His anti-gay commentary typically revolves around the idea that allowing same-sex couples to raise children is a “crime against humanity” akin to slavery, putting children at risk of exploitation and sexual abuse. He’s called same-sex adoption “racist,” claimed that being gay is a “choice,” and accused LGBT activists of being “full-body totalitarians.”
In a December 2012 column, Lopez explained his own decision to leave the “gay lifestyle,” writing:
Twenty years ago, I had never been with a woman, but I had had relations with quite a few men... Now I am twelve years into a happy and faithful marriage to a woman. I sinned at different times, but talking things over with people helped me overcome my harmful behavior. I begged God for forgiveness. You couldn't pay me to have sex with a man at this point in my life.
There's no point in obsessing over my sexual ontology, never mind obsessing over other people's. I have to tend to the garden out back, as Voltaire would say in Candide. We have better things to do with our time -- especially "gay men," who have chosen to go into a dating scene that's small, often incestuous, vulnerable to disease, and sometimes cold. [emphasis added]
While Lopez claims to have left the “gay lifestyle” behind, his dabbling in gay fiction tells a different (and seriously uncomfortable) story.
The “Mean Gays” Book Series
In a December 4, 2012, column for American Thinker titled “Mean Gays,” Lopez lamented about the mean behavior – akin to the “backstabbing cliques” of high school girls – within the gay community, writing:
It is time for a Mean Gays moment: a film or something to wake gays up. They need to stop being mean. Unless they can, nothing political will lift the cloud from their lives and allow them the joys felt by those they envy. [emphasis added]
Lopez apparently had a very specific “something” in mind. On December 20, 2012, Lopez announced that he would be self-publishing a three-part book series titled “Mean Gays.” According to a post on WildWestCoconut.blogspot.com, a blog Lopez created for the books:
The three books coming out over 2013 go together in the "Mean Gays" series, following up on an article I wrote for American Thinker earlier this year. Mean Girls was such a pivotal moment for pop culture, because it forced girls and women to examine their interactions and use storytelling to imagine other possibilities.
The three books in the “Mean Gays” series are Johnson Park, Gay Wars, and The Melville Affair, though only Johnson Park has been published as of late July.
The plot of the still-unreleased second book, Gay Wars, which was supposed to be published on June 15, sounds like something Lopez came up with during history’s most intense gay fever dream. According to his website:
[O]n June 15, comes GAY WARS! This is a fantasy epic about twenty-six supernatural showdowns between gay ideas, gay people, gay concepts, gay characters. They use weapons both celestial and carnal to duel each other. The whole thing is chronicled by "Coco Rico," an Internet phantom who led the gaywars in 2010, on a defunct site called The Wild West Coconut Show.
There are cameos from everyone ranging from Jack and Ennis to J. Edgar Hoover, Adam Lambert to Coco Chanel, the fifth French Republic to Pandora, and more! It all culminates in the final, cataclysmic showdown for ownership of the gay soul -- yes, Ovid's famed characters Narcissus and Hyacinthus will battle it out just beyond the seventh bridge to nowhere, while Marlowe coaches one side against a motley collection of stolen Shakespeare characters on the other side, and Sor Juana and Emily Dickinson form a proto-lesbian cheering section. You won't want to miss this one! [emphasis added]
It’s unclear how a book like Gay Wars will convince gay people to “stop being mean” to each other, but honestly who even cares after reading that plot description?
Johnson Park’s full title is actually Johnson Park: Five Gay Boys, One Street, Too Much Shade.
Not a joke.
According to Amazon.com:
JOHNSON PARK is about five gay boys, a city falling apart in the Rust Belt, and a sleazy street wedged between a gayborhood and the barrio. From the county holding center to the drag catwalk to a landscaping nursery; Joseph Mancuso, Angel Morales, Agosto Cruz, Harry Litwin, and Riley Murdock search for their place in a world that doesn't seem to understand them. Sometimes the best you can ask for is a set of doors made of colorful plate glass.
The book, which was released in March of 2013 and spans over 600 pages in paperback, tells the story of five gay men living in Buffalo, New York, who become ensnared in a truly ridiculous web of sexual drama.
Riley, a paramedic, marries Agosto after saving him from a suicide attempt. Angel decides to move back to Buffalo to live with his childhood friend Joseph, who he maybe raped when they were teenagers. Joseph is sleeping with his sister’s husband, Harry, who is secretly gay. Angel becomes a court advocate for Riley’s troubled younger brother, during which Riley decides to leave Agosto for Angel. Agosto then claims to be Angel’s cousin in order to get a job at Joseph’s family business, where Harry is employed. Agosto realizes that Harry actually tried to rape him years earlier, sparking an altercation that lands Agosto in jail, with – surprise, surprise – Angel acting as his court advocate. Angel eventually leaves Riley, Joseph leaves Harry, and they both decide to live with Agosto. They seal their trifecta with tongue kisses (seriously) and decide to move to New York City together at the end of the book.
If you’re having a hard time keeping up, don’t worry. This book is terrible.
In addition to the book's glaring plot issues, Lopez’s attempt to write “urban” characters is frequently cringe-worthy, with non-white characters drinking 40s and delivering gems like, “I had nothing to do with it, yo. I ain’t a crack dealer.”
Literary criticisms aside, though, Johnson Park is a fascinating look into Lopez’s tortured personal views on same-sex relationships and homosexuality generally. Throughout the book, it’s easy to spot the way that Lopez’s characters have adopted the author’s damaging ideas about gay people:
- Pedophilia Is A Normal Part Of Homosexuality. Johnson Park repeatedly employs the idea that gay men seek out young boys for sex. Riley, who is 22, becomes sexually attracted to Agosto when he is only 16, marrying him shortly after. Harry’s first gay sexual experience was having sex with an older man in a park when he was 15. Years later, when Agosto is still only 16, Harry tries to rape him in that same park. The myth that older gay men are sexual predators is a recurring theme in Lopez’s anti-gay writings, so it’s no surprise that this kind of behavior is so prevalent in Johnson Park.
- Being Gay Is Lonely And Depressing. One thing that Lopez’s characters have in common is that they’re all miserable. Angel is body-obsessed and has sex with strangers on an abandoned dock at night, describing the gay scene in New York City as “death. Slow and painful.” Harry is closeted and has sex with strangers in Johnson Park. Agosto is suicidal and in a failing marriage with Riley. Joseph is secretly sleeping with his sister’s physically abusive husband. For every character, homosexuality is a source of shame, sadness, and pain – which is exactly how Lopez describes the “gay lifestyle” in his professional writing.
- Gay People Are Homophobic Too. One of the weirdest things about the characters in Johnson Park is that they all seem pretty comfortable mocking other gay men and using anti-gay slurs. They repeatedly insult each other by calling each other “faggots” or, in one instance, a “fat FAGGOT!” (Lopez, as the narrator, also describes gay bars as “faggot bars” in the book.) Angel is openly hostile towards gay men, describing them as petty, gossipy, and “squeal[ing] like teenage girls around good-looking men.”
The list of flat-out bizarre depictions of homosexuality in Johnson Park doesn’t end there.
One of the characters realizes he’s gay after he becomes obsessed with his father’s chest hair as a boy. Another character’s homosexuality is repeatedly described as a “demon.” Riley continuously refers to his husband Agosto as his “wife” – a title that Agosto adopts without hesitation. In one scene, Agosto – who at no point throughout the book identifies as transgender – inexplicably dons mascara and lipstick, shaves his body until he’s “perfectly smooth,” and soaks himself in baby oil before having sex with Riley.
These details, penned by another author, might be passed over as harmless. But when written by a man who’s accused gay people of living like “rutting, uncontrolled animals,” they’re more problematic.
Still, there are points in Johnson Park that reveal a surprising degree of empathy on Lopez’s part towards the struggles faced by gay people. His characters experience school bullying, family rejection, fear of being outed, and suicidal thoughts. Agosto, for example, is savagely beaten after his religious father discovers that he is sleeping with Riley.
Lopez’s ability to at least occasionally recognize the hardships caused by homophobia is refreshing, but it also makes his continued promotion of homophobia in his professional life especially abhorrent.
And then there’s the sex.
For a man who claims to have turned away from the “harmful behavior” of homosexuality, Lopez sure wrote a lot of graphic gay scenes into Johnson Park.
Equality Matters counted 10 in total, including a potential rape scene between Angel and Joseph and a dream Riley has where he has sex with what sounded like a male figure made out of gold. In the opening of one especially ridiculous scene, Lopez describes Harry and Joseph’s first sexual rendezvous in a greenhouse full of flowers:
[Harry] pulled out buckets of flowers, lifting them over his head and emptying them onto the table. Joseph slowly calmed himself, lying passively while Harry pelleted him with lilies, roses, daffodils, daisies, tulips, carnations, lilacs and irises. He rubbed the flowers against Joseph’s skin, letting their fragrances soak into his chest, his arms, and his legs. He went softly at first, tickling Joseph’s nipples and thighs with the stems. Then he probed deeper into Joseph’s skin, rubbing the red, white, orange, violet, and yellow petals into him, painting him with spots of soft, moist perfume.
The paperback edition of Johnson Park has no “about the author” page, and no picture of Lopez appears in the book.
The book’s dedication simply reads “For my gays.”