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My Years of Living Heterosexually; And Other Adventures In Hell

"Click on image to go to Ronald L. Donaghe site."

Book Description

Compared to the dangerous, rage-filled military of today, where even the hint of homosexuality will get one badly beaten or savagely murdered, mine were almost halcyon days as an openly gay Airman First Class, where my boyfriend and I could be together and everybody in my flight knew about us.

They could have been halcyon days, that is, if it hadn’t been for the madness of the war and the schizophrenia of the American public over that southeast Asian conflict; and if it hadn’t been for the wife I left back home and the child we had. What should have been idyllic days of my youth spent proudly serving my country as a gay soldier were misspent, instead, trying to make sense of what had gone so terribly wrong, so fast: one day I was a gay college student, the next a self-loathing homosexual trapped in a straight marriage, and the next a GI in the military machine during Vietnam.

Come to think of it, I wouldn't change a thing.


Reviewer:Duane Mac Simolke PhD (Lubbock, TX)

A true story that makes important points

After reading and loving three of Ronald L. Donaghe's novels, I thought it would be interesting to read this book about a year that changed his life. Donaghe's autobiography reads like those novels, complete with vivid descriptions and frequent dialogue. It also includes Donaghe's observations about homophobia, gays in the military, and the attempts of some gays to "go straight." Donaghe uses his experiences and those of the people around him to make those observations. However, he does so without turning this fast-paced narrative into an academic essay. I agree with the points that Donaghe makes, but even people who disagree can benefit from and enjoy this fascinating document about one man's experiences with marriage, family, the military, self-loathing, and self-acceptance.


Reviewer: Lori L. Lake (Twin Cities, Minnesota)

Back in the Days When No One Asked, But Soldiers Could Tell!

What's a lesbian doing reading a gay memoir? Enjoying the honesty and humor of a well-written life story.

Ronald L. Donaghe may be better known for his fiction (The Blind Season, Common Sons, Uncle Sean), but his own life story certainly lacks for no excitement. As an Airman First Class during the early 1970's, Donaghe writes about a slice of time in his life when he was nowhere near as comfortable with his sexual orientation as he must be now, given the fact that he has become a bestselling gay fiction writer since then.

The narrative is well-written and peppered with pithy observations. With honesty, he explains what it was like to be young, gay, and closeted from his family and friends--and even from himself. In denial, he married young and fathered a child before coming to grips with that folly. One would think that joining the military would have been yet another misstep, but instead, the military atmosphere actually assisted him with coming to grips with and accepting his sexual orientation as well as extricating himself from a bad marriage.

I found some of the boot camp description rather droll, and it was amusing to learn that so many soldiers during the Vietnam era were too high on drugs to care about Donaghe's sexual orientation. Nowadays, being "out" in the military often brings attacks and court martial. For Donaghe, it seems that the U.S. Military served as a safe place where he could come to terms with his sexuality.

Like Ricardo Brown's recent memoir, THE EVENING CROWD AT KIRMSER'S, about gay life in 1940's St. Paul, Ronald Donaghe tells another piece of the gay experience, this time from a soldier's point-of-view. I highly recommend his honest and forthright memoir and think it deserves a place in the canon.


Reviewer: C. Rosenberg (Plainview, NY)

Review of "My Year of Living Heterosexually..."

"My Year of Living Heterosexually and other Adventures in Hell" is the memoir of best-selling author Ronald L. Donaghe before and during his tour in the United States Air Force during the last years of the Vietnam War.

My Year offers a different perspective of what it was like to be in the military during a war which the American people were not particularly proud. On top of that, he tells what it meant to be gay in an extremely homophobic environment. Donaghe does an amazing job of enlightening the clueless public.

This is his own account of getting married to suppress his homosexuality only to realize the enormity of his mistake. Donaghe is seduced by an older, divorced mother of two who knew he was gay before she married him. She was convinced the right woman could "cure" his homosexual proclivity. Being disillusioned by the gay scene at the time, he acquiesced. He then joined the air force to get away from his wife and marital duties. Later, he used his sexual orientation to escape the service.

Donaghe provides us with an eye-opening, honest and graphic depiction of the potentially dangerous assignments enforced by the Pentagon on the men and women of the military. He was assigned a job after basic training working long, grueling, tedious hours in a lab. This lab's only purpose was to test tens of thousands of urine samples per day for the presence of drugs. These "important" tasks were being performed at the same time men were being killed and maimed in combat. The conditions of the lab were horrendous with noxious fumes and carcinogenic chemicals. A daily working environment such as this may not kill instantly like a bullet but who knows what the long term affects on health are?

his book deals not only with coming out to the military but of coming full circle towards accepting and loving oneself as an out and proud gay man. It is a story about finding love--the love that is meant to be--and not necessarily manufactured to fit in with societal mores.

Donaghe is often funny and makes this an enjoyable read, but most of all, he teaches us to be truthful to ourselves and not let others define our self worth. Only by being proud of who we are can we achieve our greatest contribution to society. It also offers hope that maybe someday GLBT people will be welcome in the military and receive the same rights and privileges as heterosexuals and not be persecuted for who they are and who they love. Ronald Donaghe was very fortunate he was granted an honorable discharge, although without distinction. He was not treated as poorly as many other homosexuals in the military at that time--men and women whose only crime was wanting to serve their country. By writing this book he hopes to educate people so that discrimination will finally cease to exist. Don't miss this honest and open account of a man who strives to make a difference. A man who has learned from his mistakes and has shared what he has learned with others. A man who has positively influenced the lives of those who are fortunate to know him and to the many others who read this well-written, heartfelt biography.


Reviewer:" jhtex" (Dallas, TX)

He bares his soul, shares his life.

For Ron's fans from his fiction books, this book is a must read. Actually, reading this before you read his fiction would let you see from where many of his characters and settings had been derived. You'll see the father from "Uncle Sean" in Ron's father, Joel's mother and father in Ron's mother and father, Tom's caring for the garden in Ron's life, and many others. It makes his fiction even more enjoyable. Many of us have been through some of the experiences Ron has, and sharing them with him as you read through the book will bring back many memories, some regrets, and a few laughs. His "'bad' years" in the laboratory, the friendships he formed, the search for living his life under the structure of the military, all of these will enrich your understanding of man striving to be himself. I'm glad Ron had the courage to share his story. Also check out his "Letters in Search of Love". That book elaborates more on his life and thoughts.


Reviewer: Kenneth Clark (Amarillo, TX)

Thank you Ron!

Thank you Ron for sharing your story with all of us. It is presented in a way that brings us all into your story. I hope there will one day be a sequal!

Keep writing my friend!!


Ronald L. Donaghe was raised on a farm in southern New Mexico. The setting for many of his novels involves the desert and the mountains of New Mexico. He is a master at evoking the stark beauty and sheer majesty of such settings--but also the unforgiving and harsh side.

He is a technical writer and novelist from New Mexico. He has been published by Dutton, Edward William Publishing Company, New Mexico Council for the Arts, Xlibris Corporation and by Writer’s Club Press (an imprint of iUniverse.com). His growing body of work includes essays in three anthologies, a book of essays, two novels, and a full-length autobiography. He has a cat without a tail, and he read comics when he was young... two things he'll rarely admit in polite company.

Ronald L. Donaghe is the author of several novels, including those in the series: Common Threads in the Life (which includes the best-selling COMMON SONS), the series: The Continuing Journals of Will Barnett, which includes UNCLE SEAN, LANCE, and this book. In addition, the first book in his fantasy trilogy was published in 2002.


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