The story in Maybe Next Year takes place in 2007.
There are two reasons why I chose to place the story in this timeframe.
First, I have six more novels in various stages of development. These books will follow some of these characters as they go to college, begin their careers, enter into relationships, and eventually deal with people and issues from their past. Starting the storyline when Bryan and Chris are teenagers in 2007 will allow them to age into their roles in future books.
Second, setting the book in the mid-2000s serves as a reminder of the social and political environment for LGBT people during that era. Starting in 2004, many states passed amendments that prohibited same-sex marriage. Those amendments were the culmination of the Republican party’s anti-gay agenda that they have been actively promoting since the early 1980s to appeal to conservative voters.
In the mid-2000s, numerous ex-gay ministries existed for the purpose of attempting to convert LGBT people into a heterosexual existence, aided by the support and funding of several national ultra-conservative religious organizations. Conversion therapy, also called reparative therapy, was not yet illegal anywhere in the United States. In fact, the spouse of one of the 2008 presidential candidates ran a clinic that practiced reparative therapy and received federal funding. Clandestine “camps” existed where parents could send their children for weeks or months at a time. These were harsh, brutal places where LGBT teens would be subjected to various abusive practices aimed at converting them to a heterosexual orientation. Today, it’s hard to believe that these places actually existed, but they did. Maybe a few still do.
These ex-gay ministries and conversion therapy clinics and camps were in full swing in the mid-2000s. The right-wing national organizations had significant influence in the political sphere and in society. This sets up one of the conflicts in the storyline.
I feel it’s important that we remember what the environment was like for LGBT people in the not-so-distant past. Change seems to take forever while we’re waiting for it and while it’s happening, but it’s amazing to reflect upon how much has changed in just a decade and a half.
Now, many within the Republican party are seeking to undo some of the hard-fought progress LGBT people and their allies have made over the past two decades. “Don’t Say Gay” laws and laws that harm transgender kids and their parents are being introduced and passed. Books containing positive references to LGBT characters are being removed from libraries in Texas and other parts of the country. It’s not lost on me that Maybe Next Year and my upcoming books would be banned in such places.
Marriage equality and open military service are now widely accepted throughout most of society. But considering the laws mentioned above and the current legislation and court rulings restricting abortion rights, it seems probable that attacks on equal marriage rights, open military service, and employment protections (where they exist) may be forthcoming soon.
My primary objective in writing my books is to tell an entertaining, engaging story. Each book will contain elements of romance, humor, conflict, and drama. But beyond that, I hope to convey a historical perspective of the social and political environment LGBT people lived in and the issues of the day. I feel it’s important to remember our history and our past struggles.
Setting the story in 2007 also means that many of the technology products and social media apps that are such a significant part of our lives today either didn’t exist or were in their infancy. The first iPhone was released on June 29, 2007. Prior to that, people had flip phones that required the user to press number keys numerous times in order to spell out text messages. Selfies were not a thing yet. Facebook was opened to the public on September 26, 2006, but it would not gain widespread use until several years later. YouTube and Twitter were in their infancy. Instagram and most others did not exist. In the 2000s, the main social media options were MySpace and LiveJournal. Music streaming services existed and MP3s could be downloaded for listening on iPods and similar players, but CDs were still in wide use.
Hopefully, this information provides context for the book.
It has been an interesting experience to revisit some aspects of what 2007 was like. I’m filled with gratitude that so much progress has taken place during the last 15 years! I hope we don’t slide too far backward.
© 2022 Dave Hughes. All rights reserved.
Sent to newsletter subscribers on April 24, 2022.