On World AIDS Day, Author Shines Light on Forgotten Era

Human Rights Campaign’s 2011 Father of the Year Honors Deceased Partner in Debut Novel
Nov. 28, 2011 - PRLog -- In our current, highly-charged atmosphere of political and social discourse, many in both the general public and the LGBT community regard the AIDS era as merely an inconvenient footnote in human history.  But for others, that moment in time when countless lives were lost remains indelibly inked in their souls.  On World AIDS Day, Thursday December 1, 2011, award-winning director Kergan Edwards-Stout will pay tribute to those lost through a reading and book signing of his first novel, Songs for the New Depression, with 30% of the event proceeds being donated to a local AIDS organization.  

“It is important to honor those we lost, particularly as some, even in the gay community, have chosen to forget that period of our shared history,” Edwards-Stout states.  Inspired by his years of working at AIDS Project Los Angeles, as well as the loss of a partner to the disease, Songs for the New Depression peels back the curtain of silence, exploring the life and loves of Gabriel Travers, who, in the face of his impending death, struggles to make amends to those he has wronged.  

“I came of age during the AIDS epidemic ,” Edwards-Stout notes.  “And for my then-partner Shane Sawick, who died in 1995, being remembered in some manner really mattered.  The idea that we could have walked this earth and then be so quickly forgotten really stuck with me.  Many people don’t seem to want to acknowledge that era.  Whether painful or not, my belief is that we are all better off by holding onto the memories of that time of heartache, honoring the people we lost, instead of just brushing it aside.”

Mixing the contemplative styling of Michael Cunningham with the black humor of Augusten Burroughs, Songs for the New Depression takes its readers on a journey to personal awakening.  Charles Perez, author of Confessions of a Gay Anchorman and founder of the No Shame Project states that “Songs for the New Depression is a bold reminder that life, especially in its most difficult moments, is worth living.   It is an important book.”  

“While I was initially inspired to write the story by the death of Shane, the tale is a fictional one,” Edwards-Stout explains.  “Through loving him, I became a better person, and that theme of redemption fuels my novel.”

Songs for the New Depression takes its title from a 1976 Bette Midler album, as lead character Gabriel is a big fan.  Back in his youth, when he first discovered her artistry, life had seemed so easy, but a string of bad choices then has led to his imminent death.  And so, with the clock ticking, Gabe begins to finally peel back the layers and tackle his demons — with a little help from the music of the Divine Miss M and his mom’s new wife, a country music-loving priest.  

Edwards-Stout elaborates, “My goal was to celebrate life, in all its complexity.  So while there are some tender and sad moments, the book also celebrates the laughter, the love, the sex…  My hope is that this novel will ignite a spark in the hearts of those who read it, to love themselves and others more fully.  We lost too many, far too young, and we need to honor them, as well as the gay community, who really united during the epidemic, becoming a positive force for change in the world.”

Kirkus Reviews calls Songs for the New Depression "a distinctively entertaining novel written with moxie and bolstered by pitch-perfect perspectives," while Echo Magazine gives it 5 out of 5 stars and Frontiers Magazine/Los Angeles notes it is “simply stunning.”  

“We have the opportunity to build a better world for all of us, but we can only do that by honoring the many we’ve lost along the way, and treasure their contributions and spirit,” Edwards-Stout states.  “Through the novel, I’m both paying tribute and showing gratitude for the increased capacity to love that I gained through the AIDS era.  My hope is that my book will trigger an emotional response in the hearts of those who read it, and create a sense of unity in our shared human experiences.”


Kergan Edwards-Stout is an award-winning director, author and screenwriter, and recently published his first novel, Songs for the New Depression, through Circumspect Press. Inspired by his years of working at AIDS Project Los Angeles, as well as the loss of a partner to the disease, Songs for the New Depression takes its readers on a compelling journey to personal awakening.

Shorter works, including essays and short stories, have appeared in such journals and magazines as American Short Fiction and SexVibe.  He is honored to have been named by the Human Rights Campaign as a 2011 Father of the Year.

Kergan lives in Orange, California, with his partner Russ Noe and their two sons, Mason (11) and Marcus (9).  

He is currently at work on his forthcoming memoir, Never Turn Your Back on the Tide.

For a full electronic press kit, please go to:  http://kerganedwards-stout.com/media
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Tags:Gay, LGBT, Bullying, Hiv, Aids, Lesbian, Book Signing, Benefit
Industry:Books, Literature, Entertainment
Location:Orange County - California - United States
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