Ep. 11: Gay Liberation, Writing, Death Threats, and Recovering Faith - A Conversation with Author Thom Nickels

Thom Nickels interview.

Rain storm. Northern Liberties in Philadelphia. 


“Gone are the days where you go to a bar and there’s just the sound of conversation.”

What we were drinking: Thom had Coors Light, and plotting on French wine. Chunjay drinking PBR and bourbon, the Philadelphia “City Wide Special.” 


Sharing a memory of a Russian New Year mishap.

Thom’s faith past. Roman Catholicism, agnosticism-atheism, Orthodoxy. Walking out on Ash Wednesday.

“My father tried to break down my door, because he wanted me to stop reading.”

Discovering his sexuality, discovering gay bars.

On 1969/1970: “To announce that you were gay to your family then, was really paramount to saying you had a mental illness. Nobody talked about it.” 

Working in the hospital. 

Falling in love with all the wrong people. One night stands. Collecting experiences. On marijuana and drugs.

The Gay Liberation Movement. The Black Panthers.

Homosexuality in black and Latino communities. His first partner was black.

On pacifism. Bringing his partner home to his family.

On wrestling with homosexuality and faith.

“The whole concept of a gay emotional life, a gay person, didn’t exist then.”

“Were we to be in an automobile accident, and were a priest to come to our bedside, we would confess our ‘gay sins,’ as it were.”

“We are all slaves to our baptism. I can’t entirely liberate myself.”

“Certainly promiscuity, wild ‘Don Juan’ promiscuity, whether you’re gay or straight, it may feel wonderful, you get a diverse hors dvours sense of tasting of the lights when the moon is full…. But falling in love changes the speedometer.”

“I think that promiscuity whets your appetite for more promiscuity. Once you’ve opened those doors, really really wide, it’s really hard to go back and settle for one person.”

St. Mary of Egypt and promiscuity.

Visiting an older gay man in the hospital who was near death.

Chunjay introduces "Bad Haircuts" and misremembers the age of a girl mentioned in the song.


“Bad Haircuts” Demo by Royal Ruckus from Seventeen Candles, free at http://noisetrade.com/royalruckus


Chunjay talks about Samson Society. 

Straight men with same-sex attraction. Does bisexuality exist? “Situational homosexuality.” A band-aid.

“Some straight men, let’s face it, are so tired of doing what society expects, worshiping and pleasing the woman.”

“When you go to situations where there’s no emotional connection, that feeling of let down will easily turn into disgust, because there’s no real human connection. You’ve both used each other as a way to get off. That’s when our higher selves, our spiritual nature, reminds us that we’re not total machines, we’re not sexual robots.”

How Thom found his way back to faith in Christ. Considered being a monk or a priest. An experience at a Benedictine monastery. His work as a writer, exploring reincarnation and New Age thinking.

The death of a friend.

On Western Rite Orthodoxy.


“The Lone Gunmen” by Royal Ruckus from The Summer of the Cicadas LP.


On being a newspaper writer. Being the first openly gay writer in the mainstream press? Death threats. 

Should gay men grow beards?

On transgender issues.

On writing gay fiction.

Chunjay’s experience in 2002 with a gay bookstore. The shifting culture.

50 Shades.

My Father the Devil. Important people in Philadelphia.

Biography of writer Dominic Dunn.

Find Thom Nickels at Philadelphia Magazine online, HuffPost, Icon Magazine, and buy his books at Barnes and Noble or Amazon.

On dancing to rap music. Disco dancing is great.


"Rhymer's Block" by Royal Ruckus from The Summer of the Cicadas double LP. Video available at http://summerofthecicadas.com/videos


Mentions: St. Michael the Archangel Russian Orthodox Church, James Joyce’s "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man,” St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans, Elizabeth Taylor’s film Ash Wednesday, Janis Joplin, Woodstock, Macklemore, The Pirate Monk Podcast, Milo Yiannopoulos, Bill Clinton, Thom Nickels’s Walking on Water book, The 6000 Beards of Mt. Athos book, Allen Ginsberg, Joan Baez, Bishop Spong, The Get Down on Netflix, more.

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