#64: Expert Interview with Bryce Summers, Author of Queer Sense [Podcast] - Jenn T. Grace—Book Publisher, Speaker, and Author Skip to the content

#64: Expert Interview with Bryce Summers, Author of Queer Sense [Podcast]

episode-64-bryce-bentley-summersLinks mentioned in today’s episode:

Listen to the episode by clicking the play button below.

 

A short bio about Bryce Summers:

Bryce Bentley Summers is a psychologist, fiction novelist, and founder of Queer Sense theory. Bryce has authored the young adult dark fantasy Amen to Rot series, which includes the final piece, Nyte God which pits a group of teen heroes against alien invaders. The Zombie Squad is a teen supernatural thriller where four teens find themselves in New Orleans during a zombie apocalypse. The Zombie Squad recently received RUNNER-UP in the New York Book Festival in the unpublished manuscript category.

Rotville is the newest novel, a sci-fi thriller that follows Dylan, a genetic engineered human who breaks out of prison and from the clutches of a cruel director and finds himself inside a quarantine city filled with deadly mutants.

Fresh Meat is s supernatural suspense with multicultural and gay themes. This novel received Honorable-Mention in the San Francisco and New York Book Festivals. This novel parallels the institution of American slavery with the man-versus-punk political system that defines modern day prisons.

Queer Sense examines how people form attitudes toward sexual orientation, for those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered, as well as those who are not. The unique aspects ofQueer Sense are the influence of three factors that all occur within the ecological model: 1) exposure to social models whether they are a person (MSNBC commentator Rachel Maddow or your parent for example), or institution, like the Republican Party; 2) connections – also known as attachments – we make to these social models; and 3) the language we use with these social models.

Would you prefer to read the transcript than listen to the podcast? No problem! Read the transcript below.

AUDIO TITLE:  Episode #64 – Bryce Bentley Summers Interview

Jenn T Grace:

So I want to start off by asking you just a little bit more about I guess either your personal past, or your professional past, just basically what has brought you to the point where you are in your career right now as you’re kind of in the throes of launching this book, and really kind of what brought you from before to the current. If you just want to kind of share anything that you feel is of interest and we’ll kind of take it from there.

Bryce Summers:

Oh sure. Well I had gotten my Master’s degree in Psychology around 2002, and when I had done that I had- I was in a residence studying lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender kind of issues, but I had never quite pursued that. And then fast forward several years later, 2006 I started my PhD program, and I was very- I was definitely- I was wanting to pursue a research in this area. And I looked at different things to do research on, and in the end collaborating with my advisor, we decided to look at attitudes towards- heterosexual attitudes towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people. And from that I did my dissertation on that, it was a very niche kind of project that was- had done pretty simple, quick. Simple quick, I mean it was like three years. But that branched out though into me looking more about how do people- how do we all form attitudes, you know whether we’re heterosexual, or whether we’re gay, or transgender; how do we all just form attitudes in general? How does this come to be? And so then I started- that’s when I just started doing more writing on myself to try to kind of bring out some of these answers, and that kind of really helped as flushing out the idea that there’s, you know ecological- we’re all in the ecological place in society. So you know, I live in Dallas, Texas, and someone might live in Boston, Massachusetts, and all these cultures shape our attitudes by the churches we see, and the people we see. And so that really helped me kind of look at how does culture really shape our attitudes, and that’s kind of where I’ve been led to today.

Jenn T Grace:

Interesting. So I know that you have your book. Can you I guess share the title of it, and also share a little bit about the foundation of it? Because you really- you just kind of briefly mentioned it about the- how we have different cultures, and different attitudes, or a culture impacts our attitudes. Can you try to put it in I guess the most layman’s terms possible? Because I know that when we had talked prior to today’s interview, you had really kind of given me kind of a high level overview of what it really means. But I would love to just kind of enlighten the audience listening who is both part of the LGBT community, and also allies to the community. So maybe just I guess from a high level overview of just really what the book talks about, and what your research is really in more about.

Bryce Summers:

Sure. And the book’s still in the process of being completed. But in speaking in more of lay terms, we all have role models in our society, and sometimes when we say role models we think of people that are famous, or people in the media. But role models really are anybody that we are associated with, and they can be a role model that we- who we think has good messages or someone that has some bad kind of negative messages. So that can be your parent, your brother, your sister, your aunt, a teacher, a coworker. And we all make connections to these people, we all make- we all have feelings towards these people, and we make emotional connections to them. And as we’re making connections to these people in our lives, we also tend to speak with them about LGBT issues and all three of these role models or feelings towards them- our connections basically, and the language all shapes how we are forming our attitudes, and forming our feelings towards LGBT people, and that kind of influences our attitudes. So for example someone might be talking- someone might be- or we might be talking to someone and they might be talking about same sex marriage, and they might be kind of ambivalent about it saying, “Well you know I don’t- I’m not against gay people but I’m just the whole marriage thing is- I don’t like that, I’d rather you use the word civil union.” And that is a specific kind of language you’re using with this person who’s your role model and you’re attaching to, so this is shaping your feelings towards LGBT people in general.

Jenn T Grace:

Interesting. So I’m trying to figure out the best- the best avenue from here. Maybe one of the questions I do like to ask, is that we’re talking some really in-depth research here, and the fact that the book is- it’s still kind of in production if you will.

Bryce Summers:

Yes.

Jenn T Grace:

So would you mind sharing maybe just a little bit more about yourself in terms of possibly talking about a coming out story that you might have. Because I think that maybe an example of one of your coming out stories might tie back into some of the research of your book, and some of the theories and topics that you’re kind of talking about within it.

Bryce Summers:

Of course, yeah. When I was- I grew up in the 1980’s in Kansas, in a small suburb of Wichita, Kansas. And of  course that was during the times of the AIDS epidemic, and the big cities, you know people were dying of AIDS and you know at first no one knew why people were dying, and then you know they identified it as AIDS. And where the small town I lived in, I was completely unaware of the AIDS epidemic. I didn’t know there was such a thing until much later. But even though I didn’t know about it, it still had an influence on my kind of culture where I was living in Kansas as far as we don’t talk about the idea of homosexuality, we don’t talk about gay people, and when we do it’s usually spoken about in a negative kind of slanted way, and if I was to bring it up with my parents who are not religious in any such- in any kind of way, if I was to- if that topic ever came up, they would say, “Well I feel really bad for the gay people because it’s such a hard thing to be gay.” And that would be the kind of language they use. But when I was thirteen I came out to my mom and my dad the first time, and my father was I think confused would be maybe a good description. He didn’t understand why I would not like women. And then my mom thought I was just going through a phase, and thought there would be no way that I could know at thirteen whether I was gay or not. And so at that point I thought to my- I probably thought to myself, and I can’t remember that time real well, but I probably thought, ‘Well geez maybe I am confused. Maybe I don’t know.’ And that same year we moved from Wichita, Kansas to Seattle, and I flew back for summer to visit my grandparents. And there was a boy that I had gone to school with in Kansas who I was really attracted to, and I really liked, and I knew for sure that I was gay, and I told my paternal grandparents, I told them I was gay. And their reaction was even more negative than my parents, and they ended up sending me to a psychiatrist who- without telling my parents, they sent me to a psychiatrist who was more into conversion therapy, and I didn’t know what conversion therapy was or knew that existed. But I’d met the psychiatrist, and he asked me questions, and you know I really liked him as a thirteen year old, and I trusted him. And I remember the end of the conversation after we talked about things, and I’d told him that I had a lot of attraction to this boy, he said, “Well we’re going to fix this so you’re not liking boys.” And from that point on, I never talked about being gay ever again until my twenties.

Jenn T Grace:

Wow.

Bryce Summers:

And I know this- I mean well looking back I know this all has an influence on my writing because you know, as I was saying I was growing up in the eighties during the AIDS epidemic, and I didn’t know there was an AIDS epidemic, but it was certainly a thing that was influencing everybody’s feelings and attitudes because of the people were just scared of getting AIDS, and you don’t want your son to have AIDS, and I’m sure that was going through my parents’ head, and I was in the suburb of Kansas that was very religious, had a religious context to it. And I know when we went to Seattle just for those few months, it was- it was completely night and day and my parents really liked Seattle, and I had met a couple of kids. We only lived there for a year but I met a couple of kids, and you know looking back I’m kind of wondering if they were bisexual or gay, you know, I don’t know. But I kind of had a feeling that they might have been. And it was kind of an eye-opener as far as it was like these two different cultures of here’s Kansas and this suburb, and here’s Seattle, and this is a very more liberal kind of place to live and looking at things in a very open, different way.

Jenn T Grace:

Yeah, I feel like that’s such an interesting perspective to think of this small suburb in Kansas versus a big progressive city like Seattle. And I recently- actually it was probably a couple years ago at this point, was talking with somebody that is a colleague of mine, and it just happens to be in San Francisco and she’s right in the heart of the city. And we were just talking about the difference of her day-to-day as an out lesbian, versus my day-to-day as an out lesbian in a very suburban town in Connecticut. And how just our cultures are so incredibly different, and the way that we interact with people is different as a result, and the way others perceive us is different as a result; so yeah, I feel like that’s not something that’s talked about nearly as much in terms of just I guess cultural differences right within our own backyards just in the United States.

Bryce Summers:

Right, that’s right.

Jenn T Grace:

That’s really interesting. And I guess going back, there’s a couple of things that you had said that I want to just kind of talk about for a minute. I know that you had mentioned something really briefly about conversion therapy. And my audience really is a good healthy mix of both people part of the community, people who are not part of the community, people who are young, people who are older. So I have a hunch that there’s probably a handful of people listening to this who do not know what conversion therapy is. Could you just give like a- the quick down and dirty of what that is?

Bryce Summers:

Oh yeah. Conversion therapy is taking- providing therapy to someone who has attraction towards a same-sex person, and trying to convert them so they no longer have those feelings, but will have feelings of attraction towards the opposite sex. So basically converting someone from gay to heterosexual.

Jenn T Grace:

And are there- there are so much LGBT stuff happening these days, that I just honestly cannot keep up anymore. But I know that that has been banned, is that accurate in some states, but it’s still perfectly fine in others? Do you know if that’s right?

Bryce Summers:

I’m sure that is correct; I know that President Obama was calling for a complete ban of it all through fifty states. But I think as of right now it’s up and going in certain states.

Jenn T Grace:

Definitely, definitely a nuisance for sure. More than a nuisance. If we’re talking about- I think stuff of what you’re talking about in terms of like culture, and how culture and influence; how do you see communications and the way people communicate with one another, kind of tying into all of this as well?

Bryce Summers:

As far as people communicating as just whether it be between two friends, or like looking at social media? Or all together?

Jenn T Grace:

I guess all of it, yeah I’d be curious to hear all of it.

Bryce Summers:

Well I think as far as when we’re talking together as far as friends and friends or coworkers and coworkers or whatnot; we are all- we get used to using a specific type of- we get a habit of speaking in a certain way, and we might use words that we don’t reflect on unless we’re questioned or someone stops us and says, “Well what do you mean by that?” And we use words like ‘straight,’ and I use the word ‘straight.’ But we use words like ‘straight’ and sometimes we don’t quite- we might not wonder what connotation that has underneath it. If you look kind of at the history of the word ‘straight,’ there’s I think a biblical reference as far as being straight is being someone who is honest, and then if you look at just the literal- the literal definition of straight, the opposite of straight is crooked. And that’s just one example as far as like kind of these words that we mix into how we’re communicating between one another. But the way we communicate, the phrases we use, and the way we speak about things, it does have an influence on how we feel towards things. And they haven’t looked at this specifically towards sexual orientation, but they have looked at, you know how language shapes your thoughts in general, and that they have been able to see that the way we speak does influence our thoughts. And one example they look at in research, is looking at an Australian Aboriginal tribe. And this tribe uses only cardinal directions rather than egocentric directions. Basically that means they just- rather than saying, ‘Go right, then left, down- go take a right at the next street, then take a left at the next street,’ they say, ‘Go north down this street, and then turn east, and then go west.’ The idea of right, left does not exist in their language. And so that means that from the time that they’re raised as a small child, that the language that they’re always using is always oriented in using north, east, south, and west. And they find that if you were to televise an Aboriginal person telling a story that was very- using very vivid and using a lot of descriptions as far as north, south, and east, and west, and they re-tell that same story and another three years they will use the same directions verbatim. And I think that the language in itself I think has a very powerful effect on how we feel about things.

Jenn T Grace:

And so if we’re using another example, you were saying like straight versus gay. So those two are typically put side by side, and then there’s heterosexual versus homosexual; and I know homosexual just from a- not from a clinical standpoint or a research standpoint or an educational standpoint, homosexual and heterosexual certainly kind of go hand to hand because it’s the opposite of one another. But when you’re talking about the word homosexual in a business environment, or a social environment, it is just riddled with all sorts of connotations and negativity. So how do you think that language is kind of I guess different or the same as the language of like gay and straight?

Bryce Summers:

Well when I looked at- when I was looking- I did some research here with language as far as sexual orientation, I was looking kind of at the word homosexual. And it was interesting to find that the word homosexual was first came about as trying to be- to create positive change. It was- I can’t remember if this is the right country, but I think somewhere in Germany there was an individual named Kurt Beneen, I’m probably not pronouncing the name right. And he was advocating for gay people at this time, and this was in the late 1500’s, 1600’s, and he said rather than torturing gay people or you know, doing all the awful things that you’re doing to them, this is something that’s innate, this is something they- this is something that’s more of a clinical issue. And he wanted to come up with a scientific term to say this is something we can help these people with. And so that’s how he came up with the word homosexual. And of course over time we fast forward to the 1900’s and the mid-1900’s and the diagnostic statistical manual used the word homosexual to describe a clinical diagnosis, and of course this using homosexual and the diagnostical statistical- sorry and the diagnostical statistical manual, also known as the DSM, resulted in people getting fired from their jobs, and people being outcasted and that of course never went away until 1984. And so that word homosexual is certainly as far as when you’re using it in any kind of social context, it has a lot of negative connotation because it is tied to a clinical diagnosis.

Jenn T Grace:

Yes, and I think that I was just doing a training recently, and we- it was a two day training, and it was with a Fortune-sized company, and when I was talking to them I was- it was really just kind of like basic education around the LGBT community, and what it means, and all the different nuances. And it was the end of the second day, and the woman who’s one of VP’s there who had hired me had said, “You know, if you had asked me yesterday if it were better to say that someone is a lesbian, versus saying that someone is homosexual, I would have thought that homosexual was definitely the better of the two ways to have described that person.”

Bryce Summers:

Oh wow.

Jenn T Grace:

And yeah, and it’s- she is not a close minded person in any way, she is not coming from an ignorant background, or anything, and it’s just- it’s interesting to me to have had that conversation because she’s just such a warm, and friendly, and genuine person. But she really at the core just didn’t know that homosexual had any type of negativity or anything associated with it. So it’s really kind of about educating people on why certain words and certain language is or isn’t acceptable, because I feel like in some cases we just kind of expect people to know, or just you know, expect people to understand that yeah we don’t want to hear that word because there’s a negativity to it, but in the grand reality of it, there’s so many people who don’t know that. And it’s I feel like for me, that’s just kind of like what I do, it’s my job to help educate them on those proper communication styles and tips along the way.

Bryce Summers:

Yeah I think that- I think just the whole place where we’re at, I think people may be- there are some more comfortableness talking about LGBT issues, but there’s also a lot of discomfort. And when you have discomfort you avoid the subject of LGBT, and when you avoid it you stick to the things you’re used to- you’ve learned, and you’ve- wherever you learned that from. And so if someone learned a word, you know the word homosexual is what you use to describe LGBT, then that’s what you’re going to use. And you won’t know any better until you go to a training where someone teaches you.

Jenn T Grace:

Yes. And in what you just said, of somebody just kind of reverting to what they know. Is there any I guess tip that you could share with anyone in terms of being able to break past that uncomfort level? Because I think it really- I think a lot around the LGBT community lies with people not- not that they don’t care or don’t want to know, but they just are absolutely like have fear. They’re just like stopped dead in their tracks because they’re fearful to say something wrong. So they’d rather just not say anything at all. So is there anything you can think from just your research and your background that you could say in order to overcome that fear, or overcome that uncomfortableness you could try to do this. Is there anything that just kind of pops in your mind thinking about that?

Bryce Summers:

The only thing I can think of just right offhand is with anything that you have discomfort to, and you have anxiety about bringing it up in a social situation, and maybe there’s a reason that you have anxiety, maybe the person that you talk to gets defensive, or you feel like they’re defensive or you know, maybe you’re hypersensitive and maybe you perceive things as them being defensive. And so I would say the best- you know maybe the best thing is to do readings and with our social media today you just have the work- you type anything you Google, and you can type up phrases not to use with- phrases that gay people don’t like, and I mean I’ve done that and I’ve come up with some really great stuff. And I think I can’t remember where I got it, but one was giving like a comparison between two types of words you could use; one being something like- like we were talking about straight versus heterosexual, or homosexual versus gay, or marriage versus a lifestyle, because some people say, “Well you have a certain lifestyle,” and that has a negative connotation to it. So I think reading about this stuff in the comfort of your home while you’re alone can really help you become more comfortable. And then if you’re talking to someone, you’re telling them, ‘Well this is what I’ve been-‘ and just be able to acknowledge that you’re still learning, and you’re ignorant about this can sometimes bring people closer to you, as they see that you’re trying to learn more about a particular issue, and then they’ll be more likely to talk to you about stuff.

Jenn T Grace:

I love two of the things that you just said, and just the ending of what you just said is if you’re- it’s almost like being vulnerable and letting your guard down, and just being honest with the fact that you’re trying to learn, and that you don’t know everything. I think that that is such a key when working with LGBT clients, or prospective clients, because I don’t think everyone expects the person that they’re communicating with to be an expert on LGBT, if I just happen to be LGBT and you happen to be straights. Like I would not expect you to be the expert. But if you kind of walk down a path where you say something that you feel offended me, and then you just kind of- you clam up and you don’t know what to do, I feel like it sends like an interesting message. But if you just say, “You know what, I’m sorry, I’m still learning here, I’m still trying,” I feel like that would absolutely do what you said it would do, in terms of just making that relationship closer because then you’re respecting them for at least the effort of trying. I think that is such a big takeaway.

Bryce Summers:

Yeah. I think- and it tends to work. I mean when you are open to someone and you’re vulnerable, that tends to build that connection, and you’re making that connection with that person, and that all goes back to this whole idea of Queer Sense of that we have role models, and we make connections to these role models, and that we use a language with them, and that’s how we change our feelings and that’s how it happens.

Jenn T Grace:

Yeah, I think that’s great. And the other thing that you had mentioned, and I would love for you to elaborate on it a little bit more, is the phrase lifestyle. So from your perspective could you share with the listeners- because I have my own plenty of thoughts and ideas around why lifestyle is not a good choice of words? But I’d love to hear it from your perspective.

Bryce Summers:

I’d like to hear yours too. When I hear the word lifestyle it brings up the idea that a person is choosing a particular- well first they’re picking, their choosing their sexual orientation. And then second, they’re in this type of life- they’re doing a life that’s somehow very different from everybody else, and they’re kind of an outlier. And that person might be just a lesbian person who is married to her partner and they’re raising children just like anybody else, and it’s not a lifestyle. It’s they’re lesbian women raising children just like a heterosexual couple raising their children. And so putting the word lifestyle on it, it kind of marks them as being different, and puts them out as being as an outlier to the rest of the people.

Jenn T Grace:

That is exactly the avenue I would have gone down. Yeah it’s just the fact that it’s not a choice. And I feel like by the mere- just the phrase lifestyle, because there’s so many other lifestyles that somebody can have; so that lesbian couple that is no different than that heterosexual couple, yeah they have plenty of different lifestyles, their sexual orientation just happens to not be one of them.

Bryce Summers:

Right.

Jenn T Grace:

And I find that I get into this conversation often with people. Is that sometimes it’s really hard to get somebody to understand that- you know for example my wife and I have two children. Sometimes it’s really hard to get other parents to acknowledge the fact that just because we happen to be two women married together, that our family structure, and the way we raise our children, the way our household is run, is like absolutely no different than the person next door in terms of like any gender having any part of it. Yeah there’s probably a million other ways that we could be raising our children differently, or choosing different schools for them to go to, or choosing different products for them, you know food products, clothing, whatever it happens to be; those are all going to vary based on one household to another. But in terms of just the general structure of a home, whether you have two people of the same sex, or two people of the opposite sex, it really- there’s just no difference. And I find that that’s something that a lot of people seem to have a tough time wrapping their heads around.

Bryce Summers:

And I think that all goes just to the idea of the culture that we’ve grown up with. And I imagine there’s probably some cultures in the world where that’s more fluid, and there’s not such a rigid stance of it being so hard to get your head wrapped around that. The idea that there’s two married lesbian women that are raising children just like this heterosexual couple. And I think- I don’t know what the Supreme Court will do as far as this decision on same sex marriage, but as time has come, we’re becoming more accepting of LGBT people in general, and by virtue that brings the whole concept of- again, of being about your discomfort. And the more you are- you have to face these issues of LGBT issues, the more conversations there will be about it, the more conversations we have there will be more acceptance, and that will kind of lead to more fluidity about there’s all these types of families raising children, and there’s not just one specific way.

Jenn T Grace:

Yes. Yeah, I think that’s really important. And it’s obvious that you’re passionate about this subject, and the topic that you’re writing about and teaching people and all that kind of stuff. And is there at any point- I know that you talked about your past a little bit, but was there any point in this journey of coming up on this whole idea that you had an ‘ah-ha’ moment where it just kind of snapped, and you realized that this was indeed the direction that you had to pursue, even if maybe you were pursuing a different direction at the time that you had that epiphany?

Bryce Summers:

I would say after I completed my PhD program, I started having more downtime. Prior to that point I had always been in school doing some type of schoolwork, doing some kind of research paper. And whether it be my Master’s degree or PhD. And the ‘ah-ha’ moment was I was just starting to write about myself, and I didn’t quite have an idea about this whole queer- the Queer Sense, which is the name of the book. But I wanted to write about myself because I wanted to discover more, and then I found that I had like- I really enjoyed writing. And I had always had novels I always liked to write- or read, and I always enjoyed that. And then it came to me, well you know I thought, ‘Well I’d really like to write this book at some point.’ Where after I started writing about myself I was like, ‘Well I’ve kind of gone off on a tangent here, and I’ve kind of created more of a theory.’ And so I was like, ‘Well I’d like to write this book,’ and then one of the things when I’ve read books in the past as far as fictional books, they don’t always have a lot of gay characters in them, or transgender characters. And I wanted to- I want to be- go more into the fictional writing and write under the umbrella of Queer Sense; meaning that I want to create more of a diverse range of characters that you can attach to in a story. And when I talked about role models previously, one kind of role model you can have is someone who you see on TV or you see in a movie, or someone you read about in a book. And this can be very powerful to have a role model that you’re reading about in a book, and kind of watch how they interact with their world, and how they have conversations. And you make attachments to these people, and that can be very influential just as far as influencing your feelings and attitudes. And so that was kind of my ‘ah-ha’ moment. It’s like I wanted to be a fictional writer, and kind of write under this idea of Queer Sense of building these diverse characters that have this- that have a wide sexual orientation fluidity, or gender orientation, that might not be the typical- that you normally would see.

Jenn T Grace:

And we’ve crossed into the- kind of the other hat that you wear. So you have this one nonfiction book that’s talking about theory, and really focused on LGBT. But then you also do a lot of fiction writing; I know that you have some titles that are already available on Amazon. Do you want to talk a little bit about that as well? Because I feel like that’s- you know I think most of my audience at this point knows that I work with a lot of authors, so it’s very natural to kind of come up in conversation that you do have a handful of other books that you’re pursuing as well. I’d love to hear a little bit about those.

Bryce Summers:

Well the earlier books, when I first started writing I really just wanted to just push my writing, and see- you know just kind of experiment with it, and just push my- just push myself as being a writer. So I created this dark fantasy called ‘Amen to Rot,’ which is just about a thirteen year old boy kind of befriends this creature, and the creature was someone who used to be a Latino man who was gay and had a partner. And Amen- his name is Amen, and he happens to like eating the undead which is Amen to Rot, that’s where kind of the whole title comes from. And so there’s four books called ‘Amen to Rot’ series, and then the final one is called Night God. And then after I did those, I had written a book that I was very compassionate about, and that was a book called ‘Fresh Meat,’ which is out, and just real quickly briefly about that. When I was in my Master’s program- and I went to a Master’s program in the San Francisco bay area. I somehow got interested, I think I met someone who was in prison, and I had met someone, he was like a fifteen year old boy, and it sounded like that he was getting abused as far as from the correctional guards. And so I just started being more interested about prisons and that led me down to just sexual assaults that kind of plague our prison systems, and the fact that in society here- and not just in America but kind of overall, we kind of just accept that as being the norm and a lot of times we’ll laugh about it, or even joke about two males getting raped. Though you would never hear any jokes about a male raping a woman. But it’s pretty much accepted that that happens in male prisons, and you’ll hear- you know, you hear all kinds of jokes like ‘bend over and take it,’ or you know, whatnot. And so I wanted to write about that, but I didn’t want to write like a serious story, so I wrote something that was more supernatural horror story, and also parallel- I made it parallel the American slavery system. So one of my characters is an old elderly woman who has- who happens to have some powers that come up every twenty years, and you find out why later in the book. But basically the story ties together three people, including a very psychopathic warden, and a seventeen year old boy who comes into his prison that just basically is called punk. And punk is the label that guys get in prison when you are someone who’s been identified as someone you could rape. And then there’s the old woman. And so all these people are all tied together and it becomes clearer as the story goes of how they’re all tied together. And so I wanted to write something that was- that spoke to this. And also the- you know every time that we kind of joke about two men getting raped, it also kind of- it kind of puts a negative connotation on just being gay in society. And so I wanted to bring this highlight that two men that are gay, they love each other and they have mutual respect for each other, and it’s not about sex. There could be sex involved, and in prison it’s about sex and power and overcoming someone, and I just wanted to highlight that. So that’s kind of more of a serious, but also a dark book that’s very fictional because it is supernatural, it does have- the lady has powers, and there is a creature in there. And then the more lighthearted book is The Zombie Squad, which is follow four teens in New Orleans, and there’s a zombie apocalypse that happens, and it will be coming out here very soon. And then the last one is probably the best book I’ve written so far which was Rotville which is a sci-fi thriller, and it’s basically has all kinds of things, and- that are popular today that people like to read. It has gladiator fights, a Latino guy who’s an experiment who becomes- who has memory implants that makes him think that he’s a- kind of a modern day samurai, and there’s a city that’s quarantined that he has to go into and save this child. And it’s just kind of a very, kind of fun read.

Jenn T Grace:

It’s definitely quite a bit of diversity in terms of what you’re writing about. And I would imagine- because since I myself have written two books, I know what a- it’s a rewarding experience, but at the same time it can be I guess somewhat lonely because you’re just sitting there kind of with your own thoughts and your own words.

Bryce Summers:

Right.

Jenn T Grace:

So do you find that there’s anything in particular, whether it’s your writing for your fiction or nonfiction that just kind of keeps you inspired, and just kind of motivated to keep on pushing through even when you’re kind of tired of just sitting alone writing by yourself?

Bryce Summers:

I have not found the good answer for that. Except that it’s I did receive- I sent that Fresh Meat into the book contest, I did get Honorable Mention, which was- that was kind of a motivator for me as far as it being- that someone at least read this and found it at least had enough merit to put as Honorable Mention. And when people- the few people that I do talk to that have read my stuff, they genuinely do seem like they’re- they like what they read. And so that I’m of course wanting to increase that number exponentially. But I think it’s sad as the idea that I can reach out- that I have the potential to connect to a lot of people out there. That keeps me going. And as far as the fictional writing, whenever I do write fiction, like there’s always a release and it always feels really good when I do it. But there is a lot of alone time and I don’t- that part I don’t- that’s not the best part.

Jenn T Grace:

Yeah. So switching gears a little bit, if- so since my audience, you know they’re listening for a lot of different reasons, but I know one of the primary reasons is because they want to understand how to market themselves to the LGBT community. Whether they are part of the community or allies. So if you were to give someone listening to this just one piece of advice that you think would kind of help them along their way; and honestly I think you’ve already given some good information in the beginning when we were talking about just communications and being open, I think that’s a huge takeaway of this episode. But in addition to that, do you have any other piece of advice that you might give a listener to kind of help them be more successful or get a little bit further on this journey that they’re on?

Bryce Summers:

Yeah, well I would- this kind of reiterates what I had mentioned before, but just being willing to share with people they’re not an expert and they’re very interested in working with the LGBT population. And maybe have reasons why they’re interested in doing that. Maybe they’ve- you know, I guess find whatever the- maybe let people know why they’re interested in doing that. And if they have- if they have any forms that people fill out or anything that- as far as like the paperwork, just being mindful of the categories they have on there. Sometimes in there it says, ‘Are you married or single?’ Or ‘What’s your sex, male or female?’ Just being aware of that kind of language on the form because in Texas you still can’t get married if you’re gay. So here in Texas you probably want to put ‘Married Partner, or Single’ or whatnot, ‘Divorced.’ But I would say that just be willing to share with people you’re not an expert and let them know that you’re interested, and you want to work with the LGBT population, and you’re wanting to learn from them, and I think that lets them connect to you.

Jenn T Grace:

I think that’s fabulous, fabulous advice, and I know I wrote a blog post quite some time ago that was talking about the experience that an LGBT person has when they have to fill out a form. And the proper box is not listed. So in all of the people I’ve had on the show, and this is- I’ve done ninety episodes at this point, I don’t think anyone has actually said that as a piece of advice, so I think that’s really good and I’m glad that it came from you. And so I think that’s such one of those low-hanging fruit type of scenarios that a business can just look at the forms they have and just immediately put the LGBT person walking through their doors at ease by just having the right boxes to check, that seems like such an easy thing for people to do.

Bryce Summers:

Yeah, it is. Yeah. And it lets people know- I mean that’s a small thing, but it has a very powerful impact.

Jenn T Grace:

I absolutely agree, because it’s still not quite the norm to see that done. So when people are doing it you know for the most part that it was a conscious choice to do so.

Bryce Summers:

Right.

Jenn T Grace:

So just a couple more questions here. If you were to look kind of at your career and your business and just all the things that you’re working on, have you found that there’s just one either a book or some kind of program, or some kind of resource or tool or something, that’s just kind of been a- something that’s really helped you in your career? Is there any one particular thing you could think of?

Bryce Summers:

Well the book called ‘Outliers’ I think by Malcolm Gladwell, that was very useful for me when I read that. ‘Outliers’ speaks to the fact that the more experiences you have doing something, obviously is going to lead you down to a path of being an expert in that particular field. So and then they- in ‘Outliers’ he uses the word- uses 10,000 hours as being the- kind of the point where if you’ve done 10,000 hours in a particular endeavor, that you’re going to be going into become an expert in whatever it is you’re doing. So I always remembered that when I’m writing and I know that when I first started writing those- the ‘Amen to Rot’ and compared to now, that my writing- that there’s been quite a learning curve. And it has exponentially gotten really good as far as writing. And so I’m always remembering that the more I persist with this, and the more I do it, then the more the better I get.

Jenn T Grace:

That’s I feel like a really good point, and getting to 10,000 hours, that takes a while to get there, to really build that level of expertise. And I think one of the points in the book was that it doesn’t matter what you’re trying to be an expert at; whether it’s consulting on a certain topic, or playing piano, it’s still you have to put in that time and commitment to really get to that place.

Bryce Summers:

Right, yeah.

Jenn T Grace:

So I know- one of the last questions I ask is always just something that you’re working on right now that’s really exciting. And I would venture a guess that you’re- the stage of your nonfiction book, that’s probably going to be pretty exciting. Is there a way that people can support what you are doing in terms of just knowing about the book, talking about it, if there’s some kind of funding campaign that you’re working on? You know if that’s even the one thing that you would like to discuss. If that’s not it, feel free to share anything else that you’re working on that’s just really exciting for you right now.

Bryce Summers:

Well as far as ‘Queer Sense’ I did have a CrowdFunding but that already ended at this point. And I’m still in the stages of putting up something so that people can donate to ‘Queer Sense’ of making the book happen, because there’s all the editing- there’s more, there’s just a lot more it seems like as far as editing nonfiction than there is for fiction. And if people wanted to support that if you go on my Facebook, you could talk about it there or I don’t have really any good forums yet for people to follow up on that. As far as ‘Queer Sense.’ And I think just because I finished this- I just finished like the nit-picky details of my sci-fi thriller, that’s probably my most exciting thing because I’m submitting that to an editor and I think the story in itself, it speaks more than to just having a fun read, and it takes place in a prison, and it kind of looks at society as looking at the society in the next few years. And I remember like a couple years ago there was this city, I don’t remember- I think it was in maybe Michigan, there was a city where the mayor took control over the city, and he had kind of like authoritarian control, kind of like a small tutorial dictatorship in a US city. And all committees and all types of powers underneath him were kind of nullified and he was kind of the supreme person of the city. And they call it like emergency command, and when they brought up the reasons why he was- how he got that, and they said, ‘Why is this emergency? It doesn’t really sound like it was an emergency.’ And so I bring that aspect into the book as well, so I bring in kind of current events into the book, and I bring up the current events of the idea of us being fearful of terrorists and what that can do to society if we become real fearful of being- of terrorists all the time, we can kind of create more of authoritarian dictorial type of government, that would not be good for us. And so I find the book really kind of exciting because it looks at a lot of different aspects, and has two Special Forces; I’m a psychologist that works at the VA, so I work with all the veterans. But there’s two special ex-special force guys in this book that are gay and guys, and they’re a couple. And they don’t fit as far as- there’s no stereotype as far as they’re not like fashion designers or haircut people, they’re actually military people. So and then one of the main characters is a Latino guy and another main character, a young girl, she has descendency from Iran and so I bring different kind of ethnicities into the book as well.

Jenn T Grace:

Which is important for sure.

Bryce Summers:

Yeah.

Jenn T Grace:

And when do you think that that book will be released? What’s your timetable?

Bryce Summers:

End of July.

Jenn T Grace:

Nice. So when this airs, it could easily be- it’s possible it could be in August, so actually do you have where the book will be available? And do you have the title pointed out? Because for those people listening to this the day it comes out, which I do have a lot that listen to it the day it comes out, it will be right around that time that it’s being released which could be really helpful.

Bryce Summers:

Oh that would be on Amazon, and it’s called ‘Rotville.’

Jenn T Grace:

Nice, excellent. Well I am really happy that you took the time out of your day to chat with me, and for the benefit of my listeners. Do you want to just give yourself an extra plug and let everyone know where they can find you, what your website is, and all that kind of great stuff?

Bryce Summers:

Yeah, it’s www.BryceBentleySummers.com. And you can find me there, and from there you can connect with my Twitter and my Facebook.

Jenn T Grace:

Perfect, that is excellent. Thank you so much I appreciate your perspective and point of view, and I think this is going to be great.

Bryce Summers:

I really enjoyed it, thank you.

About Jenn T. Grace

Jenn T. Grace (she/her/hers) is an award-winning author and founder and CEO of Publish Your Purpose (PYP), the acclaimed hybrid publisher of non-fiction books. Jenn has published 100+ books written by thought leaders, visionaries, and entrepreneurs who are striving to make a difference. Jenn T. Grace’s work elevates and amplifies the voices of others—especially marginalized groups who are regularly excluded from traditional publishing.

Site Design Rebecca Pollock
Site Development North Star Sites