Newtown Literary contributor: Russell Ricard
My short story "Second Skin" was first born, many moons ago, from a prompt in a writing workshop. The prompt was something to the effect of: write two pages about a character with a major life regret.
As per usual, I approached this prompt through the lens of my utter fascination with the psychosocial aspects of otherness, which I define as the quality or fact of being different. And it’s my belief that, depending on the situation (not everyone in the room, at any given time, can be alike in every way), every human being is capable of being defined as an "other".
Without giving too much away about the story or protagonist’s arc, I delved into the story from that very place, imagined what kind of "otherness" might he be experiencing that correlated (back to the initial writing prompt) with a major life regret. The result: an exploration of how the protagonist struggles to come to terms with the psychosocial aspects of masculinity, and how that plays into his embrace, or not, of his sexual identity.
I’m 50 years old. I’ve been out and openly gay since I was 16. I’m a person of color. I’ve seen and learned a lot about the good and bad effects of "otherness". I’ve seen change, but there are still struggles for acceptance. Much more change is needed in society that would help those of us in the LGBTQ community find peace, love, and understanding.
In short, I write from this place, from a writer’s voice that tells stories like "Second Skin", which I hope will reach any person, regardless of how they, or society, defines their sense of "otherness", to find self-acceptance, and of course reach a universal audience.
How wonderful this feels, in particular, for me to have "Second Skin" published in Newtown Literary’s issue #10 during June Pride month; especially with a launch date of June 25th, which happens to be the same day as New York City’s annual LGBTQ Pride celebration.