June 11th


I had been focused on the date June 19, 2012.  The date my novel, THE MARRYING KIND would be available in stores and from the major online sellers. I hadn’t realized that my book would be for sale directly from Bold Strokes Books. And on an earlier date.

Today, June 11th.

The date is not without significance for me.  It is the anniversary of the death of my older brother, Gene. He died of AIDS on June 11, 1996.  I stared at my page on the Bold Strokes Books website and my eyes filled with tears. But even before the tears hit my cheeks I was laughing.   No matter what date my book was released I would think about my brother—that was certain. But falling on this particular day, I imagine I’ll think of little else.

This is so my brother.

I was always the quiet and shy one. My brother was loud and showy and enjoyed being the center of attention. He was Auntie Mame and I was Patrick Dennis.  When I first moved to New York—years after he did—he had me over for dinner every Sunday.  He would have a rotating cast of fascinating characters but I was always the constant. The timid baby brother who mostly observed while the more gregarious guests smoked and entertained me with tales of their exploits.

I loved my brother but he was very guarded.  I didn’t know many of his secrets.  He was HIV positive for nearly 14 years before he told me.  Actually my mother told me on the phone and through tears: “When your brother has dinner with you tonight he’s going to tell you he has AIDS. Act surprised,” she added, like she’d just spilled the beans on the details of a birthday party.

And that is mostly how it was with my brother. I loved him. He loved me. And there was so much I didn’t know about him.

THE MARRYING KIND was actually due to come out two years ago by another publisher. That did not occur because the publisher went out of business before releasing my novel. Still I spent a lot of 2010 thinking about my book and its possible impact on marriage equality.  I also spent a lot of time wondering if my brother would be proud of me.  I wasn’t sure because I had never thought of Gene as a very political person. He was funny and sarcastic and he threw a great party. But he didn’t fight for his rights.

Around the time my book should have come out but did not, I opened up Time Out magazine and was leafing through to find a film to take my mind off the fact that my book was not coming out! But I turned the pages too quickly and sailed by FILM and landed on GAY & LESBIAN.

There was a feature story on the history of the Gay & Lesbian Center.  Accompanying the article was a photo Of Harvey Fierstein and three unidentified volunteers working on the AIDS Memorial Quilt.  I actually wasn’t sure at first. But there he was.  My brother seated to the left of Harvey.  My brother, it turned out, was an activist.  That was a great gift to learn all those years later.  I imagined then that he would be proud of me and of the message of THE MARRYING KIND.

And I’m very proud of him—of the man he was. I don’t know how he managed to get my book released on June 11th.  But I’m so honored that he did.

Oh, and Gene, since you seem to have a lot of clout: bestseller list?

21 Responses to “June 11th”

  1. 1 Laydin June 11, 2012 at 10:29 AM

    Your brother has to be proud of you, Ken. Thank you for sharing this very touching story. What a great way to start the day. Looking forward to reading your book.


  2. 3 Kim June 11, 2012 at 11:30 AM

    Ken, congratulations on the release and I’m certain that your brother is very, very proud of you.


  3. 5 Angie Bradley June 11, 2012 at 11:44 AM

    That had to be so amazing Ken, to see your brother in that photo.
    It’s so hard when we lose loved one’s, but it’s wonderful when they let us know their still around.
    Best Wishes for your book.


  4. 6 franchescah June 11, 2012 at 1:10 PM

    Love it! Mysterious things happe in the name of love. 🙂


  5. 7 lynchly June 11, 2012 at 1:11 PM

    That’s beautiful, Ken. Much luck to you.


  6. 9 Ken O'Neill June 11, 2012 at 1:12 PM

    It was amazing and surreal, Angie. What I didn’t mention in the blog was that then my partner contacted the magazine and got the jpeg and had photos made. So I have that.


  7. 10 Lynne Buckley June 11, 2012 at 1:23 PM

    Thank you for sharing such a wonderful story about your brother. Good luck with the book.


  8. 11 Debbie P June 11, 2012 at 1:41 PM

    How inspiring. I know some people downplay such events as coincidence, but I don’t. Two years from the day my partner’s mother died, our beloved daughter arrived at National Airport to her forever family. Her name, Kathleen…same as her grandmother that she never met. Or maybe she did… Best of luck on the best seller wish! 🙂


  9. 12 Denna June 11, 2012 at 2:36 PM

    What a great way to pay tribute to your brother and celebrate your book. Congratulations on your release and finding out more about your brother 🙂


  10. 13 Nora Olsen June 11, 2012 at 3:37 PM

    What an amazing story!


  11. 14 Eliza June 11, 2012 at 4:59 PM

    Beautiful, Ken. I never met your brother, but I always loved hearing all your stories of him. I can’t believe so much time has passed… Congratulations on everything!


  12. 15 Daniel W Kelly June 11, 2012 at 6:55 PM

    See? These life changing experiences don’t just happen in Hallmark movies. Wonderful story.


  13. 16 Michelle June 11, 2012 at 7:43 PM

    Fab story Ken. There’s no way that could be coincidence. Your brother clearly planned to share your journey. Good luck with your book.


  14. 17 jeffreyricker June 11, 2012 at 8:52 PM

    That is a wonderful and inspiring story. Congratulations, Ken! I can’t wait to read THE MARRYING KIND.


  15. 18 S.A. June 12, 2012 at 6:41 AM

    Thank you for sharing this story! How wonderful it was that you saw that picture. Congratulations on your book!


  16. 19 Ken O'Neill June 12, 2012 at 11:02 AM

    Thank you all for your kind words and thoughts. I really appreciate them.

    My best,


  17. 20 Carol June 12, 2012 at 6:46 PM

    Touching story. Thanks for sharing it, Ken.
    Congratulations on your published novel. Gene would be proud, I have have no doubt.


  18. 21 Marie Foose June 14, 2012 at 5:27 PM

    Wonderful story about your brother, Ken. It always amazes me that the ones who seem the quietest are sometimes the ones who move the mountains. Best of luck with your book!

    Take care,


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