Florence is a magical city, alluring in all of its charms. It will seduce you with glittering shops, museums bursting with breathtaking art, restaurants overflowing with the most sumptuous cuisine, and striking pizzas reverberating with the sound of music. In my travels, I’ve found no place in the world quite as beguiling and romantic as Florence. That’s why I made it the setting for my short story, “Bello”. It’s the perfect place for a sort of fantasy story to take shape, more specifically, the fantasy of a one-night stand with some marvelous surprises. Alex, the main character, is an American tourist and a trans man who sets his sights on an attractive Italian and decides that when in Florence, well … why not seize a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity?
I wrote “Bello” in 2016 and it was published in Foglifter in 2020. In that time span, queer rights gained some comfortable victories in the U.S., enough so that the story felt sweet, quaint even. Certainly not remarkable, nor radical or revolutionary. But in the short time since then, especially in the past year or so, we’ve seen a huge conservative backlash in terms of queer rights, particularly trans rights. Anti-trans rhetoric and legislation is very en vogue right now, specifically legislation which targets vulnerable trans youth by actively blocking their access to life-saving trans medical care. I don’t believe legislation will stop there, either. I think the next step will be preventing adult trans people from gaining access to trans medical care, forcing them to detransition. It’s cruel beyond measure and terrifying. I fear very much that the situation regarding trans rights in the U. S. is going to get much worse before it gets better.
So, this Pride month seems like the perfect time to republish “Bello”. In context of the current social and political climate, this quaint little one-night stand fantasy is, in fact, a radical, revolutionary tale about healing and self-acceptance. It’s a nice, gentle “fuck you” to anyone who would dare tell a trans man he’s undesirable. It’s a tender love letter to my queer brothers, sisters and bristers (brother-sisters), reminding us that yes, we are beautiful, beloved, and deserve to celebrate our desire without shame or censor.
Because the story is technically out of print, I’m offering it for FREE (ah, the magic word!) through my website. You can check it out here: Bello. I would love to hear what you think! Chat with me any time by commenting here, through email or on Twitter (@jskuiken) and Facebook.
Happy reading and blessed Pride my friends!
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