Tramps Like Us by Joe Westmoreland

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TRAMPS LIKE US is a modern day Huckleberry Finn. It's an all-American story, albeit one that isn't told much, if at all. It's about the search for home, for a better life, feeling like a refugee in one's own country. It's about creating a family from a group of misfits. It tells what is was like to come of age in between Gay Liberation and the beginning of the AIDS crisis. In TRAMPS LIKE US we experience the narrator's life from the age of seventeen to twenty-nine, during the years 1974-1986. The book tracks his journey from leaving home in Kansas City, Missouri and hitch-hiking around the country from 1974-1977, then moving to New Orleans from 1978-1979, and finally to San Francisco from 1979-1986. The central theme of the narrator's odyssey follows his relationship with his father. It is a journey away from his dad who had "homicidal tendencies directed at me," toward a true sense of family and self.

The book is also the story of friendship. In high school the narrator, Joe, meets his friend Eddie, who changes his name to "Iqbal" after a brief stint in the Sufi Order of Meditation. They remain best friends, traveling together across the country, accumulating an extended family of friends, coming out, discovering themselves and the new gay world that was blossoming, till Iqbal's death in 1986. The book is a portrait of the times: Joe going to his first gay bar, The Ninth Circle (a famous hustler bar in New York); to being one of the originators of the Southern Decadence Parade in New Orleans in 1978; and finally to San Francisco of the late Seventies and early Eighties where gay liberation was in full force and where his friends started to die.

A lot of people who lived through that period have been embarrassed to admit that, yes, they were the ones indulging in all the practices that contributed to the spread of AIDS. With this novel, the author shows those times in a non-judgmental way. Throughout the book the author tries to balance adversity and humor and interject a little bit of hope. PUBLISHER: Painted Leaf Press


About Joe Westmoreland

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Published April 1, 2001 by Painted Leaf Press. 386 pages
Genres: Gay & Lesbian, Literature & Fiction, Political & Social Sciences. Fiction

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After escaping his abusive father in Kansas City, protagonist Joe drifts from city to city in search of love and an identity he can live with.

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