Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2021-09-01



BOOKS Chris Rush looks back on 1970s adolescence in debut memoir
by Lauren Emily Whalen

This article shared 2134 times since Sat Apr 20, 2019
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Chris Rush was a closeted Catholic 12-year-old when he took his first tab of LSD.

"My older sister introduced me to [drugs] at a very young age," the author of The Light Years said via phone from his Tucson home. "That said, if my sister hadn't given it to me, I could have gotten it easy as pie from the kids at school. The whole country was under a wave of psychedelics in 1968."

What followed was a rollicking cross-country adventure involving Christian drug smugglers, runaway flower children and even the president of the Amalgamated Flying Saucers Club of America. After decades of substance abuse, going clean, coming out and eventually establishing a career as an award-winning painter, Rush decided to write down the memories of his adolescence—which became his first book.

"About 10 years ago I was seized with a great curiosity about … what had happened," he said. "I thought it was going to be kind of a romp [but] the more I wrote, the more peculiar it became. I realized I might have lived a very strange childhood."

Although Rush didn't officially come out until age 20—"I showed up at a queer bar and danced with another guy"—he never doubted who he really was.

As the middle child in a suburban New Jersey family, Rush said he "very much grew up around all the slanderous terms. 'Sissy' certainly followed me my whole life! I can't say I was offended because it seemed somewhat accurate, [but] I really didn't know what I was supposed to do.

"When the events of the book transpired, I was aware that I was a total love child," Rush continued. "And one of the things that I was in love with, besides the mountains and LSD and my favorite sister, was boys."

Acting on said love was a bit messier. "I was madly in love with many of my peers, beautiful young men," Rush said. "I didn't suffer with that knowledge, but sometimes when I attempted to act out, there were problems. And that got complicated. ... At a certain point, I was paralyzed."

As Rush explained, "Gay liberation was very much an urban phenomenon, and I wasn't in New York or San Francisco. Stonewall is a great story, but no one knew about it." Looking back, this lack of information was an opportunity to define queerness for himself. "In trying to understand who I was and what I was supposed to look like, I had to invent it on my own."

While writing The Light Years, Rush called on his career. "The one thing I knew as an artist … was studio life. I knew how to sit still alone in a room for long periods of time," he said. Rush read memoirs set in the same era and decided to avoid clichés of drug-fueled anecdotes. "I slowed down and tried to remember in a way that was particular to me."

Rush also put himself back in his younger shoes. He said, "I decided to write as much as I could in the mind of the child and teenager and young adult [I was], because otherwise I was going to spend the entire book explaining why the hell I did all that crazy stuff! I tried to enter in the memory of what I once thought, so I could stay close to the events and write in a way that was really experiential and fresh."

Lastly, he spoke to members of his large family. ( Rush is one of seven children. ) "They're a chatty bunch and they just talked," he said. "I don't think they got the idea [I was writing a book] until the third or fourth interview."

Now that The Light Years is out, "there had to be a little intervention here and there. There were some tears," he said. "But they've really come out in supporting the whole enterprise. They realize there is something wonderful about capturing this crazy time."

When it came to Rush's now-92-year-old mother, "I think she was a little troubled by the book, but when she read the review in Time Magazine, she was just fine. She said, 'when I read a review of your book, I think of my life in a new way.'"

One family member Rush couldn't interview was his father, who died two decades ago and "really disliked that he had a gay son."

"He really confided in no one," Rush said, "and there's not much evidence of his inner life to be found anywhere. I had to do a great deal of contemplation and a little sleuthing to understand how he ended up the man I knew." In doing that, "I fell in love with him all over again. He's a perfectly flawed human."

For Rush, the most challenging part of writing The Light Years was "to find what the book was trying to reveal." For this he had the help of his partner, the novelist Victor Lodato, and his editor Colin Dickerman, who is also gay. "We talked about what was essential, what we needed to do to make the piece work," Rush said. "I had the book by the fourth edit, I just had a little too much book!"

The Light Years has garnered positive reviews comparing Rush to David Sedaris and Augusten Burroughs. "I am the same age as Sedaris, and there are some similarities," Rush said. Writing-wise, "I took a lot of inspiration from Denis Johnson," he said. "There's this certain kind of high lonesome Western desert lore, that I feel very strongly about. It's contemplative [and] very American."

Rush continued with a laugh, "But I'm also a queen from New Jersey. I'm loud. I'm ridiculous. I'm campy! I got caught up in these very strange circumstances and found an adventurous way to proceed."

The Light Years is available wherever books are sold.

This article shared 2134 times since Sat Apr 20, 2019
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Equality Illinois CEO Brian C. Johnson on new book, 'Our Fair Share' 2021-09-22
- In Equality Illinois CEO Brian C. Johnson's new book, Our Fair Share: How One Small Change Can Create a More Equitable American Economy, he posits that receiving a Citizen Dividend will help all U.S. residents achieve ...

Gay News

BOOKS 'Mission Possible' released before 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' anniversary 2021-09-20
- C. Dixon Osburn, co-founder and former CEO of the Servicmembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), has written Mission Possible: The Story of the Repealing 'Don't Ask Don't Tell. This is the inside story of SLDN, which was ...

Gay News

Women & Children First hosting virtual event with Anita Hill on Sept. 29 2021-09-11
- Anita Hill—the University Professor of Social Policy, Law, and Women's and Gender Studies at Brandeis University who played a major role in the 1991 Senate confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas—will be part ...

Gay News

Chicago Literary Hall of Fame announces 2021 class of new inductees 2021-08-18
--From a press release - Chicago, August 17, 2021 — The Chicago Literary Hall of Fame (CLHOF) announced that its 2021 Class of Inductees will include Frank London Brown, Jeanette Howard Foster, Carlos Cortez, and Gene Wolfe. The inductees will be ...

Gay News

Chicago-area author releases book about gay, autistic African-American 2021-08-18
- PenPower Book Marketing Services and Chicago-area author Jaire Sims have released his debut young adult novel, Getting By, which was named a finalist in the African American (Fiction) category in the 2021 Next Generation Indie Book ...

Gay News

Printers Row Lit Fest returns to Chicago Sept. 11-12 2021-08-12
--From a press release - CHICAGO (August 12, 2021) Printers Row Lit Fest, the largest free outdoor literary showcase in the Midwest, returns for its 36th year with 100% free programming for book lovers the weekend after Labor Day, Saturday, Sept. ...

Gay News

THEATER REVIEW Rent 2021-08-10
- Playwright: book, music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson At: Possibilities Theatre Company at NorthCenter Town Square, 4100 N. Damen Ave. Tickets: suggested donation $20; or ...

Gay News

Equality Illinois' new deputy director talks goals, position and books 2021-08-01
- On July 15, Mony Ruiz-Velasco officially started in the new position of Equality Illinois' deputy director. Ruiz-Velasco is an experienced attorney who has worked for immigrants rights for many years, and has even been the legal ...

Gay News

Gerber/Hart comedy benefit Sept. 18 2021-07-31
- Gerber/Hart Library and Archives, 6500 N. Clark St.. will host a comedy benefit, "Stacks of Laughter," on Saturday, Sept. 18. At 6 p.m., there will be a VIP reception with local historian John D'Emilio. Also, a ...

Gay News

NATIONAL Amazon, condo collapse, T-shirt controversy, GLSEN 2021-07-18
- At least two Amazon employees have resigned in recent weeks to protest the company's decision to continue to sell a book they say frames young people who identify as transgender as mentally ill, NBC News reported. ...

Gay News

BOOKS Author, activist Roy Wesley on his new book about his father 2021-07-12
- Gay Chicago author, activist and Fermalogic, Inc. COO Roy Wesley has written a new book about his father—Invisible Vision: The hidden story of Dr. Newton K. Wesley, American contact-lens pioneer. Windy City Times: What made you ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Pray Away,' film contest, LGBTQ book, musicians, 'Star Trek' 2021-07-11
- The new Netflix Original Documentary Pray Away, from executive producers Ryan Murphy and Jason Blum, will make its global launch on the platform Aug. 3, a press release noted. In the film, former leaders of the ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Wanda Sykes on TV, trans jazz musician, book award, 'Red Table Talk' 2021-06-27
- Wanda Sykes has been tapped for a recurring role in the upcoming fifth season of Robert and Michelle King's legal drama The Good Fight, on Paramount+, Deadline noted. She will play Allegra Durado—a brilliant, strategic attorney ...

Gay News

BOOKS Grandma, Grace Jones are heroes in non-binary author's children's book 2021-06-22
- Non-binary author, alternative hip hop artist, mother and activist Ris iRAWniQ Anderson has published the children's book in Charlie's Best Work Yet. Charlie's Best Work Yet tells the semi-autobiographical story of Charlie—a shy, artistic ...

Gay News

New book: Majority Leader Hoyer unsung hero of Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal 2021-06-22
--From a press release - WASHINGTON, DC — In a new book, LGBTQ Lobbying in the United States, authored by Dr. Christopher Pepin-Neff, LGBTQ researcher and Senior Lecturer in Public Policy at the University of Sydney and first lobbyist for Don't ...


Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.