Mark is an eighteen-year-old boy who wants what we all want: to love and be
loved. His dreams are realized when he meets Taylor, the boy of his dreams. The
boys struggle to keep their love hidden from a world that cannot understand, but
ultimately, no secret is safe in a small Midwestern town.
Mark's thoughts about "Ancient Prejudice":
I've always been horrified by the high suicide rate of gay youth. These are needless deaths that are caused by the non-acceptance and abuse of our society. Everyone who says negative things about gays or calls others names such as "queer", "fag", "fairy", and all the rest are directly responsible for the suicides of gay youth. It is very difficult to get this point across to most individuals however. In Ancient Prejudice I sought to show how this process works, how taunts of classmates and general non-acceptance makes life unbearable for gay boys (and girls). We are a society that sentences our children to death because we won't accept them for what they are. Mark and Taylor take their own lives, not because they desire to do so, but because the society in which they live gives them no choice.
Another point I wanted to make in Ancient Prejudice is that the traditional gay stereotypes are untrue. There are definitely those who fit the stereotype, both homosexuals and heterosexuals, but to stereotype any group does it a disservice. There are all kinds of gay boys, just as there are all types of boys. Mark is the opposite of the gay stereotype, he is athletic, confident, popular, masculine, and etc. Even Taylor, with his more sensitive nature, is not what many think of as gay. The truth is that there are many gay boys out there just like Mark and Taylor. To assume that all gay boys are effeminate, weak, and not into sports is ridiculous. There are all types of gay boys, just as there are all types of boys. Sexual orientation is irrelevant to the characteristics that are considered to be "gay". There are far more heterosexual boys who fit the gay stereotype than there are gay boys who fit it. The gay stereotype simply does not hold in the real world.
In Ancient Prejudice the problems come from without. Both Mark and Taylor are quite proud of what they are, as they should be. It is the non-acceptance of others and the mental and physical abuse that create difficulties for them. It is time that our society realizes that gays are the not the problem, the non-acceptance of our society is the problem.
Is Ancient Prejudice Break To New Mutiny Based on Romeo and Juliet?
When I started writing Ancient Prejudice, I intended it to be a gay version of Romeo and Juliet. The very first version was even written in almost Shakespearean English. I decided such language was bit heavy to sustain and a bit much to read however, so I quickly dropped it. I tried to base Ancient Prejudice as closely as possible on Romeo and Juliet, but I soon learned it was unworkable. Parts of the story simply wouldn't translate and too much of what I wanted to say would have had to have been left out. I took the story a further step away from Romeo and Juliet to achieve the effect I wanted.
Who is Mark?
I based Mark largely on myself, although he is more the person I'd like to be than who I really am. I used my own name for this character because it was much easier to write the novel that way. I had originally intended to change the name in the final draft of the novel, but by that time the name and character were one. He was Mark and no other name would suffice. Mark's feelings and thoughts are very much my own. Those that are close to me will quickly realize that there is little difference between the fictional Mark and the real one.
I do want to point out that Mark's parents are in no way based upon my own. They are almost the exact opposites. I've received some letters from readers asking if my life at home was really like that. It definitely was not. Unfortunately Mark's life is all too much like the lives of many gay boys.
Who is Taylor?
I've been asked many times who Taylor is based upon. There is a lot of me in Taylor, especially his thoughts and feelings. He is almost as much me as Mark. In some ways he is more like me than the character that bears my name.
Taylor is actually someone I've had running around in my head since I was a boy. I guess you could call him my "dream boy", the one I always wanted to meet, the one I always dreamed about having as a boy friend. When I began to write A.P. it seemed only natural that Taylor be the boy that Mark fell in love with. Before I even started writing, he was there, fully developed, ready to play his part.
If you are thinking about suicide, read this:
Two of the main characters in my novels commit suicide. They do it not because it is right, but because they see it as the only way out. Unfortunately, this happens not only in fiction, but in the real world. The suicide rate of gay youth is obscene. Suicide is something that crosses the mind of most gays. Our society is so non-accepting and actively discriminatory that it drives gays toward suicide. Suicide is never the answer however. I know from personal experience, and from the experience of talking with suicidal friends, that suicide often seems like it is the only answer. If you are reaching this point (and even if you are just approaching it), it's time to get some help. This site has some links, including a toll free number, to help those who are, or are becoming, suicidal. It's important to reach out and get help. I know from personal experience that after being suicidal, I was glad I didn't actually do it. I saw things quite differently the next day. Anyone who commits suicide doesn't have the next day however. There is no chance to go back and undo what has been done. Suicide is the biggest mistake that anyone can make and there are no exceptions.
ęCopyright 2000 Mark A. Roeder