It is a lot harder being different than it is being like everyone else and I am sure most gay men have gone through a period of feeling that being different meant that we don’t belong. We were like lost sheep eating in a pasture with other who were all the same.
In “Purple Grass”, we have a little lamb and in his flock everyone eats green grass. No one is to like, must less eat, purple grass. In fact, it was considered a sin to like purple grass. Our little lamb is an outcast and when he gets lost, he finds himself in darkness. Hamann shows we are all like that little lamb. However the lamb and gay men share something—they both know who they are and even though neither of us is accepted, we find a way to come to terms. We must both agree, though, that being different is very hard. We have to fight for what should be ours and have a hard time understanding why it is not.
The world seems to be at odds with us and we question if we fit somewhere and we fight the same battle over and over again. Acceptance (and I do not mean tolerance) is something that is a prized possession and we know we have to fight to gain it. There are times when it does not seem worth it but like that little lamb sees, the world can be a very lonely place.
Denny Hamann has taken a very simple idea and made it very relevant and by using the lamb to represent us, he gives us a story for all ages and all people. I could only wonder why no one has come up with this idea before. Then again, even if someone had, I doubt they could have given us the story that Hamann has and it is obvious that he wrote this from his heart. Every word is just right and every situation hits home.
When I first read this, I thought to myself that this is an “Animal Farm” for gay people and by using animals to tell his story; it is that much more effective.
Yes, I am praising this book—not just for what it says but also for how it says it. When an author writes from the heart, he pulls us in and we share his pain and his joys. Looking back at the book now, I realize that the idea could have been summed up very tersely but Hamann went a step further and created situations for the lamb that parallel our own lives.
If you read nothing else this year, make sure you do read “Purple Grass”. You won’t be reading about a little lost lamb—in most cases, you will be reading about yourself. I had never read Denny Hamann before and in fact had never heard of him. Get ready because I think we will be hearing a great deal more from him. He is headed for a top spot in the genre of gay literature.