Award-winning author David Pratt on love, family, and ‘Looking After Joey’

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Pratt: My father had already died when I came out. My mother was, shall we say, anxious but supportive. Members of my family have been hugely supportive of my books. One of my cousins, who is straight, not only read “Bob” when it came out but had favorite passages and questions for me. Another cousin, who once described herself as “a conservative old lady,” wrote me about my story collection, “My Movie,” singling out the most perverse story as her favorite!

“My Movie” may be my favorite of my books, because it’s my virtual autobiography from about age eight to age 35. Lots of family-of-origin stuff there — childhood heartbreak, loneliness, dysfunctional relationships and sexual addiction. My current immediate family of two did not form till after I wrote most of those stories.

Edwards-Stout: With both of your novels, we don’t learn much about where your lead characters come from — their families of origin — so that concept, “family of choice,” seems primary to you.

Pratt: I feel my family of choice has been there for me much more. This is reflected in the novels. The books in “Bob” actually can’t have families of origin; they were manufactured, their selves self-made, as is true of a lot of gay people. Joey is like that, in that he has no real past. I feel cut off from my past, from the time before coming out. I communicate with people “from before,” but they did not know the real me then, and some may only want to know just so much of the real me now. On a positive note, many friends I haven’t seen in years open their hearts and homes to me as I go around doing readings. This has greatly augmented my family of choice.

Edwards-Stout: So many of our dearest friends have become like family, but that process doesn’t happen overnight, nor are such people easy to find. So you and Rogério — is your family now complete?

Pratt: Our immediate family is complete. But we do add to our family of choice. And Rogério family is huge. Some are in the U.S. and some in Brazil, but I keep up with all of them on Facebook. Which is how I keep up with you, in fact!

Edwards-Stout: That Facebook connection helps expand our families of choice, doesn’t it?

Pratt: Yes! People say social media debases the idea of “friends.” But I have connected and reconnected with people who would have been lost or, like you, never found were it not for Facebook. Overall, a good thing for someone with a rich but complicated past!

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