Welcome back to the blog, Ryan from Wordsmithsonia!
We all remember our first time. It's a little hard to forget the way your heart sped up, or the way you forgot to breathe. You had that tingly feeling in the pit of your stomach, you know the one I'm talking about, it was the one that wouldn't leave you for days. You had to have more, and the idea of not spending time with him, made that feeling turn into painful disappointment. You needed to hear his voice, gaze into his eyes, feel his arms wrapped around you, and no matter how much you desire it, craved it, it was never going to be. For those of us who get lost in a book, falling in love isn't always as easy as asking for his number. Every once in a while falling in love sucks. There is no number to get, no flirtatious looks you can use to your advantage, it's a little hard to get the man of your drams when he only exists on paper.
The first man I met, that I knew I couldn't have, was Herald Mage Vanyel Ashkevron. I was just out of college, and I hadn't really had a lot of time to explore gay fictional characters over the last few years. In high school the only books I could find were what some would call the "gay classics," written way before me time. They, for the most part, had depressed men, living sad depressed lives, and rarely had a happy ending. So I ignored the works of Jean Genet, James Baldwin, E.M. Forester, Christopher Isherwood, and others. I'm not saying they were all bleak and depressing, but I had enough of that crap in high school. By this stage in my young life, I was hooked on fantasy and I got turned onto the Last Herald Mage trilogy by Mercedes Lackey. I believe it was one of my brief boyfriends who told me to read them, and once I started Magic's Pawn, I was hooked.
Vanyel is not my normal type. I generally stay clear of long hair on men, it's never done much for me in the past. Nor do I like someone who can be so self effacing and arrogant, all within 5 minutes, but there was something about him that had me captivated from the start. Through the course of three books, Vanyel went from a confused, lonely, sullen teenager to a strongly selfless man who was willing to sacrifice himself for those he loved. What made me fall for him though, was that he's the perfect guy. He's caring, intelligent, has a wicked sense of humor, hot as hell, has gifted hands, emotionally sensitive, physically strong, has the voice of an angel, and is as gay as I am.
He was the first openly gay character, from a non gay author, that I can remember coming across that wasn't a negative stereotype. He was a fully fleshed out human being, who loved and lost, bled the same way we all do, and doesn't allow those around him to define who he is. He was not only the perfect man to fall in love with, but he was the perfect example of what I wanted to be as an openly gay man.
I still visit him about once a year. I still get those fuzzy feelings in my stomach when he makes his first appearance. I still smile when he first deals with his attraction to Tylendel. I still share in his anguish when his first love is ripped away from him. I rejoice when his life is slowly put back together, and eventually finds himself fin the arms of Stefan. And by the time I'm done with the third book, Magic's Price, I still have tears in my eyes, bereft at the sacrifice that they had to make. I"m still a little in love with Vanyel, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Thanks for sharing, Ryan!!
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