In the late ‘90s, Whitman-Walker Health used to get donated remainder books from a wholesaler in New York. Because there were multiple copies of many titles, Bill Malone decided to start a gay men’s book club.
Bookmen — originally the Potomac Gay Men’s Book Group — started in May 1999. Current facilitator Steve Honley started attending in October 2000 and took the reins in May 2009.
Bookmen meets the first Wednesday of the month at Cleveland Park Library for book-length discussions and the third Wednesday of the month at the D.C. Center for discussions of shorter works (short stories, sections of anthologies, etc.). Members often have dinner after.
Membership is not required. About six-10 men attend each meeting. Full details at bookmendc.blogspot.com.
“Simply show up whenever your interests and schedule allow,” Honley says.
Honley, a 58-year-old Shreveport, La., native, is semi-retired as a musician/editor/writer. He directs the music program at Beverley Hills Community United Methodist Church in Alexandria and was a U.S. diplomat from 1985-1997. He was also a founding member of GLIFAA (Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies).
Honley came to Washington in 1981 for grad school. He’s in a relationship and lives in Waterfront in Southwest Washington.
Honley enjoys singing, playing piano and organ, composing and reading in his free time.
How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I’ve always known I was gay, but didn’t start coming out until I was 21 and arrived in D.C. The hardest person to tell was my mother, though she handled it better than I’d expected.
Who’s your LGBT hero?
What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present?
Describe your dream wedding.
I’d love to be married, but I’ve never spent much time or energy planning the ceremony.
What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
What historical outcome would you change?
The 2000 presidential election. It’s impossible to know, of course, but I am convinced that we would have averted 9/11, the Great Recession and — above all — Donald Trump’s regime had Al Gore been inaugurated instead of George W. Bush.
What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
The display of the AIDS Quilt on the Mall.
On what do you insist?
No tolerance for bullying.
What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
None. I’m not on any social media.
If your life were a book, what would the title be?
“A Fugue in a Minor Key”
If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
I wouldn’t be interested, but I feel all adults should be able to make that choice for themselves — just not for their kids.
What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I’m a pretty conventional Christian except I believe we all get to some version of heaven eventually.
What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Leave no one behind.
What would you walk across hot coals for?
Honestly, nothing. I’m a wimp!
What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
The idea that gay men are superficial and hedonistic.
What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
What’s the most overrated social custom?
Treating married people as mere appendages of their spouse rather than equal partners.
What trophy or prize do you most covet?
A MacArthur Genius grant.
What do you wish you’d known at 18?
That I would meet a wonderful guy and build a healthy relationship.
So many reasons! It’s an international city, where most people are comfortable with diversity, including interracial relationships. And it’s small enough to be livable, but has an incredible amount going on culturally.