John R. Gordon

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John R Gordon
Born 1964 (age 52–53)
Portsmouth, England
Residence Shepherds Bush, London, England
Occupation Novelist, screenwriter, playwright, publisher, artist, art designer

John R Gordon (born 1964) is an Afrocentric white gay male writer[1] and resident of Shepherds Bush, London, England. Although he was a "white person from a white suburb", according to Gordon, in the 1980s he became deeply interested in black cultural figures such as James Baldwin, Malcolm X and Frantz Fanon, and they have influenced his work ever since.[1]

Early work[edit]

Between 1993 and 2001 Gordon published three ground-breaking novels of black gay British life, Black Butterflies, Skin Deep, and Warriors & Outlaws. In 1995 he directed his play Wheels of Steel, about a closeted young thug paralysed in a joyriding accident and his flamboyant male nurse, at the Gate Theatre, London. It starred Rikki Beadle-Blair and Karl Collins, who went on to play each other's estranged husbands in Beadle-Blair's Channel 4 series Metrosexuality. He wrote a 1999 sitcom pilot The Melting Pot about a macho black British man (Felix Dexter) coming to terms with his long-lost Jamaican brother's homosexuality. Although it never made it beyond Channel 4's Sitcom Festival to television, the Independent praised it for offering innovative characters and situations.[2] It also starred Terry Alderton.

Noah's Arc[edit]

Gordon script-edited two seasons of Patrik-Ian Polk's television show Noah's Arc (2005-6) for the US cable channel Logo. He wrote two episodes of the second season,(Desperado and Under Pressure), and across 2007 co-storylined (with Polk and Q. Allan Brocka) the spin-off feature-film, subsequently co-writing the screenplay with Polk. The film, Noah's Arc: Jumping The Broom, was given a limited release in six American cities, where it played to sold-out houses at the end of October 2008 and recouped $500,000 in ticket sales alone. The "Jumping The Broom" script that Gordon and Polk wrote was nominated for an NAACP Image Award,[3] as was the film itself in the Best Independent Feature category. In April 2009 the film won the GLAAD Best (limited release) Feature Film.

Souljah (short film)[edit]

His 10-minute short film Souljah[4] - about a gay African former child soldier (B3/Angelica Entertainments 2007), and directed by Rikki Beadle-Blair - premiered at the London Film Festival on 30 October 2007. In July 2008 Souljah won the award for Best Short Film at the Rushes Soho Shorts festival.[5] April 2009 it won Best International Short at the Toronto Reelworld Film Festival. It was directed by Rikki Beadle-Blair for Team Angelica Productions produced by Beadle-Blair, Gordon and Carleen Beadle.

Later work[edit]

In 2009 he co-wrote the screenplay for the short film Manali Cream (dir. Navdeep Kandola). In summer 2009 his play Afro-Pik - a play about Black Man Hair, featuring Fisayo Akintunde was premiered at the Central School of Speech and Drama summer school. In summer 2010 his short play Work! premiered at Theatre 503 as part of Golden Delilah's production, '7:1 Beyond Control'.

Gordon was art designer on the feature films Fit, KickOff, Bashment, and the hour-long film Free, (2014) (all Team Angelica productions).

In 2011, with Rikki Beadle-Blair he established the imprint Team Angelica Publishing.[1] Its first book was Beadle-Blair's What I Learned Today. In 2013 they published the well-received and ground-breaking short-story collection Fairytales for Lost Children by gay Somali author Diriye Osman.[6] On 8 October 2014 Fairytales for Lost Children won the Polari First Book Prize.[7] In 2015 they published Roz Kaveney's novel, Tiny Pieces of Skull, which went on to win the 2016 Best Trans Fiction Lambda Literary Award.[8]

2012-2017 Gordon and Beadle-Blair co-mentored Angelic Tales at the Theatre Royal Stratford East, a lengthy development project for new writers culminating in two week-long seasons of staged readings on the theatre's main stage. Several of the plays they developed, such as Somalia Seaton's Crowning Glory (2013) and Lynette Linton's Step (2013) have gone on to full productions and/or tours.

Gordon was script consultant and associate producer on Patrik-Ian Polk's feature film Blackbird (2014) - a Tall Skinny Black Boy/Hicks Media co-production, written by Rikki Beadle-Blair and Polk, adapted from Larry Duplechan's novel of that name, and starring Mo'Nique and Isiah Washington.

On 28 April 2014 Gordon's short HIV-themed comedy play, Yemi and Femi go da Chemist, was premiered at Team Angelica's Boom! event as part of the AmBush at London's highly respected Bush theatre, to an enthusiastic response from the sold-out audience. He and Rikki co-dramaturged the event, which showcased thirty-eight writers over two nights. The text of the play was included in the Team Angelica anthology, Black and Gay in the UK.

On 3 November 2015 a theatrical version of Faggamuffin, directed by Rikki Beadle-Blair, was presented at the Bush Theatre as part of the Gay Buddies Week.

Faggamuffin (novel)[edit]

His book Faggamuffin was published in 2012. It is about a gay Jamaican reggae producer on the run from gangsters.[1]

Souljah (novel)[edit]

On 22 September 2014 Gordon's sixth novel, Souljah, was published by Team Angelica. It's an extrapolation of characters and situations first presented in the award-winning short film of the same name. It was favourably reviewed by "this is a story that deserves everyone's attention. Souljah is truly breathtaking, in scale, and in ambition. I cried like a baby at times, and as events rapidly escalated in the novel's final act, I just couldn't put it down"[9] and in the Huffington Post: "...a novel that defies categorization. It's a mashup of the immigrant saga, a chilling gangster thriller, a state-of-the-nation novel, a coming-of-age story and an intimate family portrait with a harrowing war crime at its heart. The fact that Gordon never once drops the ball makes Souljah a sprawling, visually arresting masterpiece." [10] On 4 March 2015 it was shortlisted for a Lambda Literary Award.[11]

Black and Gay in the UK: an anthology[edit]

Published on 20 October 2014, Black and Gay in the UK was co-edited with Rikki Beadle-Blair. Its 352 pages of poems, memoirs, fictional stories and essays exploring the lives of black gay men with some connection to the United Kingdom includes writers, artists and activists such as Leee John, Dean Atta, Adam Lowe, David McAlmont, Adebisi Alimi, black British photographer Robert Taylor, Topher Campbell and Jide Macaulay.

Yemi & Femi's Fun Night Out: a graphic novella[edit]

Published in September 2015, Yemi & Femi's Fun Night Out is a 42-page black-and-white graphic novella about Yemi and Femi, two gay British-Nigerian club-kids, Femi's boyfriend Mixtape, and their adventures one night after being thrown out of a nightclub. The graphic novella explores issues around HIV, safe sex, PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis), PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) and sero-discordancy in a comical way, in street-level language and urban slang. Gordon received an Arts Council grant to make copies available free to gay urban young people and sexual health charities.

Published works[edit]

  • Black Butterflies (GMP 1993), winner of a New London Writer's Award in 1994
  • Skin Deep (GMP 1997)
  • 'Immigrant' (short story) in New Century, New Writing (ed. P P Hartnett, Millivres-Prowler 2000)
  • Warriors & Outlaws (GMP 2001).
  • My Life In Porn: The Bobby Blake Story (Perseus Books 2008, cowritten with Bobby Blake)
  • Faggamuffin (Team Angelica Publishing, January 2012)
  • Colour Scheme (Team Angelica Publishing, January 2013)
  • Souljah (Team Angelica Publishing, September 2014), nominated for a Lambda Literary Award 2015
  • Black and Gay in the UK: an anthology (Team Angelica Publishing, October 2014) (co-editor, with Rikki Beadle-Blair, and contributor)
  • Yemi & Femi's Fun Night Out: a graphic novella (Team Angelica Publishing, September 2015)
  • 'The Parasite That Grew Bigger Than The Animal' (short story) in Speak My Language (ed. Torsten Hojer, Robinson Books, Nov 2015)