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Merritt, Rich: Secrets of a gay marine porn star

Cover: secrets of gay marineRich Merritt
Secrets of a gay marine porn star
Kensington Publishing Corporation
ISBN: 0758209681
Paperback: 468 pages

How do you tell the world, after being a “normal” kid growing up in Greenville, South Carolina, after having had a “normal education” at (admittedly ultra-rightwing Christian) schools, after having had a “normal” career in the U.S. Marines, that you’re gay? And not only that you’re gay, but that you have been a gay porn star all along? Write an autobiography!

Born in conservative Greenville, South Carolina in 1967, Merritt’s parents sent him to Bob Jones Elementary School, the bastion of rightwing ultra-Christianism for tots. From there he “naturally” went on to Bob Jones High School and Bob Jones University, all along learning to be a good little Jesus-lover, to have only pure thoughts, abstain from sex and never lay a hand on himself. Enter snag one in making Merritt into a good little soldier for Christ: He gets expelled for being a “bad puppy” before graduation from college.

Explaining away the whys and attributing them to “youth,” Merritt goes on to get a degree from (not quite as repressive, somewhat more centrist) Clemson University. Upon graduating, he enlists with the U.S. Marine Corps, home of the Leathernecks, that original, all-American rough and tumble corps of killers working on the government payroll, where “there ain’t no queers” and certainly men are men and women are women, because, after all, “that’s the way God intended it to be,” now ain’t it?

Not quite. One small detail must have been overlooked by all those officers and superiors and basically by just about everyone in the Marines... Captain Merritt is gay. Not only is he gay, he is an active gay porn star who uses the screen name Danny Orlis, which he tells us he stole from a series of goody-goody two-shoes Christian adventure novels for boys in which the hero gets into all sorts of adventures and always manages to extricate himself from whatever perils lie in wait by appealing to God.

Definitely not unnoticed, even during the heady days of cum-stained blue dresses and nubile young interns with chubby cheeks having presidential sex in the White House, Merritt chose to come out in a high-profile manner – on the cover of Time magazine in an exposé on gays in the Marine Corps. As is often the case, once you open your closet door, others will come along to rummage around in it, and sure enough, The Advocate did just that, exposing Merritt’s porn Orwellian, no make that Orlisian, past and sharing the details of the Captain’s “other career” with the world. The result was a prompt discharge from the Marines (honorable, strangely enough) and a descent into the world of drink, drugs, circuit parties, and addiction.

Does our protagonist go to ground after this? No, like the “true blue” Marine he is, he picks himself up, shakes off the dust and reinvents himself once again – as a lawyer and author, sharing his secrets with us in Secrets of a Gay Marine Porn Star. A good read, especially now in the days of the “Cocktober Surprise” and all those nice, juicy scandals plaguing the holier-than-thou fundies and their chosen scion, George W. Bush. The book is admittedly a bit long and sometimes even grows preachy or long-winded, but generally is a thrilling ride through the “good little Southern boy goes bad” life Merritt led, supplying sufficient spice and detail along the way to probably make your average revivalist preacher choke or gasp for breath.

The end of the story, all’s well and everyone lives happily ever after? Not quite. The publication of Secrets of a Gay Marine Porn Star had its consequences. Merritt was promptly fired by his law firm for publishing a gay tell-all book. Time felt betrayed that Merritt hadn’t been forthcoming about his “extracurricular” pornographic career and threatened legal proceedings and some obviously Bush-inspired hypocrites among the LGBT world gave the good Captain a tongue-lashing for having been one of those people they secretly watch on DVD behind closed doors every night at home, lube gel and Kleenex at the ready.

Like a good Marine, though, Semper Fidelis Merritt comes out on top: He’s busy researching a new book at present based on the wild adventures and aimed at exposing the truth about the double standard of so-called “Christian” universities and colleges in the U.S. On his website, he solicits other victims of fundie schools to share their “naughty nights” with him for his upcoming work:

Did you go to a fundamentalist college?
Do you have a funny, wild, wacky, maddening and/or tragic story to tell about your time there?
Would you be willing to have your story published in an anthology?
General guidelines: stories must be first-person, anecdotal, i.e. "This is what happened, this is how I felt, this is how I reacted, this is what they did."
If so, please email a 3-4 sentence summary of your story to me...

Merritt-Orlis is alive and well, and has truly come out on top. The book’s worth the read and (even in the long-winded, preachier parts) a fun one, to boot. Never one to shy away from controversy, he’ll undoubtedly present us with more whenever his new book is published.

Added:  Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Reviewer:  Peter Weeren
Related web link:  Rich Merritt Website
hits: 9640
Language: eng