A word from the author
Why would I want to read your memoir? Are you famous?
I get variations of this question often (usually from people who do not read much or know the difference between a memoir and an autobiography).
Well, apart from the fact that it is hilarious, outrageous, deeply moving, sometimes shocking and never dull (in other words, exquisitely written), it is also a story about a generation of gay men - my generation - who came out at the same time as AIDS; who lived through sickness and tragedy; who suffered tremendous loss and an everpresent fear bordering on terror; who turned to drugs and booze and sex to escape, and then found themselves caught in downward spirals of illness and addiction; who faced rejection, ostracism and hatred from loved ones; and for the fortunate few - the survivors - who now find ourselves marrying and raising children, healing from our burdensome journeys.
It is easy to label this as a memoir about a spoiled, indulgent, crazy trust fund baby - a "one-percenter" as one editor called me - who has written "50 Shades of Gay". But it is my hope that the marketing won't overshadow what this memoir is really about, besides Dollsie and me. It is a poignant story of survival and courage and a lifelong search for identity and companionship and authenticity in the face of incredible odds.
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About Sergei Boissier
I was born in New York City, and spent my childhood being shuttled between New York, Switzerland, and Miami.
My parents were impossibly glamorous. Dad - half Swiss and half Buffalonian - was a banker, first in New York, then in Geneva. Mother - born in Philadelphia and raised in Havana - was a social worker in Harlem by day and a society lady by night. She would pay the crack dealer on the corner ten bucks to watch her jaguar while she worked in the ghetto, then rush home to spend a few minutes with us while dressing to go out to some fancy dinner party. She claimed that she was the first to appear in public wearing hot pants in the late sixties; according to her, she "launched" the fad in New York after she saw Twiggy wearing them in London. She was a trip. A legend in her own mind.
They were too young, too beautiful and too privileged for their own good. It was the seventies. They had affairs, and divorced when I was ten. The fairy tale was over.
I "came out" the day I started college. That very first night, I snuck off campus and walked through the streets of Georgetown feeling a rush of liberation that was better than any drug I had ever ingested. I could finally be me. It was exhilarating. I had waited four long years for this moment. I met a hot black kid and we had sex in his car, right there in the middle of Georgetown. That was the beginning of it all. I was never the same.
After graduating from Georgetown, I moved back to New York to get my first novel published, but instead, I ended up with a job in publishing, first with Atlantic Monthly Press, then with Nan Talese at Doubleday. Two years later, I moved to Cali - first Pebble Beach, then San Francisco - and went back to school to become a psychotherapist and family counselor so that I could work at the forefront of the AIDS epidemic. After completing my degree, I decided it was time to move again, this time to France. During my decade in Paris, I wore many hats: family therapist, couples counselor, sex therapist, HIV expert. I learned all about identity & desire.
Twenty moves in twenty years.. exhausting. Growing up, we were exposed to the world but never seemed to put down roots anywhere. Mother was too busy creating her fairy tales - for us and for herself. I guess i'm the same way. I have a hard time with permanence. Wanderlust.
My great grandmother on my father's side came from a big tobacco growing family in North Carolina. "Southern Aristocracy" all the way. As a merry widow with a fondness for whiskey living out her remaining years on Fifth avenue, Mooma would routinely get thrown out of taxis after referring to the drivers as Boy. I remember one time being in the cab with her and mother. “Boy, take me to Park Avenue and 61st.” The driver heard screeched to a halt and threw us out. As Mooma was getting out, she turned to my mother, and in her aristocratic southern drawl, said: "Dollsie, I simply don't understand why these nigros have gotten so uppity these days." Mother, no doubt fearing for our lives, gave the old woman a big push that practically sent her flying onto the pavement.
On my mother's side, my Cuban grandmother claims that we are descendants of the first Grandees of Spain, royal representatives of the spanish crown who were the first to "rule" Peru in the sixteenth century, shortly after Columbus "discovered” America after taking a wrong turn. These viceroys colonized a continent and enslaved its indigent people. I'm less proud of my roots than she is.
Both of my great grandmothers, as well as my grandmothers and parents, were raised by descendants of slaves, kind benevolent women who gave them all of the love that their own mothers would not or could not. And who also fed them. I don‘t recall ever seeing my parents or grandparents prepare a meal.
So I find it oh so cosmically perfect that Yasmina Charlotte (aka Mina) came into my life almost nine years ago and that I find myself dedicating the second half of my life to my beautiful brown daughter, a fierce and funny Caribbean mulata who gives me more love in one day than I ever expected to receive in a lifetime. I am raising her to be aware, fierce and independent. To be who she wants to be, and not to be concerned with who others think she should be.
One of the recurrent themes of my life has been how shocked I am at what passes for love in families, especially my own. I am grateful each and every day that this child has come into my life to teach me about love. My indigo child.. She found something in me that I never knew was there, or had long ago forgotten.
I am in awe of her beauty, both inner and outer. She is the love of my life, pure and simple, and my life insurance as well. She keeps me going. She is my inspiration, my raison d'être; the best thing that has ever happened to me and one of the few things I have done right in my life. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that her life will be happier and less lonely than mine has been.
So the circle is complete. Karma can be a wonderful thing.
We spend our summers on a beautiful island in Greece called Hydra. No cars or other motor vehicles. Just donkeys. The islanders cherish and adore Mina; they've known her since she was a baby and have watched her grow up, summer after summer. The old folk love to rub her nappy sand-filled hair, and the young waiters ply her with candy and treats, hoping no doubt to plant some seeds that will bear fruit down the road. They call her koukla, which means baby doll. She is truly the island diva; I’m just known as “koukla's dad.”
Nowadays, I am a writer and a stay-at-home parent. I also like to think of myself as an amateur photo-journalist and chronicler of the Black South, which I learned to love during my college through the novels of William Faulkner and the plays of Tennessee Williams, along with Zora Neale Hurston, Eudora Welty, Flannery O'Connor, Truman Capote and Colleen McCullough. I drive around New Orleans, always ready for action, I-phone in hand, ready to aim and shoot, to capture the moment.