When Danny discovers his lover, Cuban exile Calyx, was once an internationally renowned dancer, he thinks he's found the key to reviving Calyx's lust for life. Calyx resists, tormented by his memories of persecution and torture.  Danny discovers that Calyx has lost more than his homeland and his vocation – he's also lost his connection to the Santerķa tradition that sustained him in his youth. They struggle to bridge their cultural divide and with the help of friends and their city's upcoming Pride celebration, they both realize that their connection to each other is the real key to choosing to live, rather than merely to exist. 

The story appears in Volume 1 of the latest in the critically acclaimed and award winning Coming Together anthology series edited by Alessia Brio. All proceeds from sales of Coming Together: At Last, which celebrates all the colors of love, benefit Amnesty International.

(Note to readers: While my story features a gay pair, not all of the stories in Coming Together: At Last feature GLBT characters. All of the stories do feature interracial or interethnic pairings.) 
Fun fact: 
This magnificent pastel entitled "Pride" by the
amazing Michael Breyette inspired this story.
Artwork & copyright Michael Breyette.
Used with permission.
Either way, your purchase benefits Amnesty International.
Ruth Sims, author of THE PHOENIX, called "Proud Is the Dancer, Pride Is the Dance" a "little gem of a story" and said, "You will like this story. Promise."
Read Ruth's entire review.
"A very well-written short in which you get so much story in a very few pages."
Cholla, Whipped Cream Erotic Romance Reviews
Here is how the story begins:
Feathers were not on Danny's list.  Without consciously deciding to, Danny parked his overflowing shopping cart next to the mountain on the clearance table.  Marabou, peacock, ostrich, you name it, they were there in a hopeless jumble, dyed every color of the rainbow.
Danny didn't examine his motives, just gathered up as many plastic bags of feathers as he could and jammed them into his cart along with the rolls of foam, gauze, fabric remnants, hot glue sticks, and fabric paint.  He paid for everything with the GLBT Community Center's check.  Everything except the feathers.  Those he paid for with crumpled bills from his pocket and headed for the bus stop.
His teen group at the Center was thrilled with all the supplies, and Danny was feeling like a hero as he grappled the puffy bags of feathers up the narrow stairs to his tiny apartment.
"Calyx!  Calyx!  Open up!" Danny banged on the door with his knee.  "I have something for you!"
Oh, crap, it's Thursday,  Danny remembered.  Calyx would be sleeping from his late shift the night before.  Waking Calyx with loud noises was not something on Danny's list, either.
Calyx flies out of bed before they can break down the door.  Those Defensa gossips ratted him out.  Again.  His parents' friends, neighbors since before the Revolution.  He'd thought he'd be safe, that no one would care he was back, but they must remember who he is and where he's been -- they think calling the uniforms will get them something, extra rations or a soft touch when the uniforms next darken their doors.  If his heart weren't clawing its way up his throat, Calyx might laugh at their naivety.
I can't go through this again, he screams inside.  He stumbles and swears, making for the door in spite of his fear, hoping maybe they'll leave his family out of it if he goes quietly.  Fully awake by the time he reaches to door, he yanks it open, placatory words vying for space in his mouth with pleas and curses.
"Calyx, sorry!" Danny started to say as the door flew open to reveal a wild-eyed, half asleep, fully naked Calyx.  "I forgot you'd be sleeping off your shift."  He cursed himself; his lover had the same wild look he had when he woke sweating and shuddering in the middle of the night.  He hated being the one to put that look on Cal's face.  Act normal, he reminded himself.  "Give me a hand with these?"
Without a word, Calyx took the bags from Danny and turned back into the apartment.  Danny could see the sheen of sweat along his spine and knew it wasn't from the weight of the bags.  They were full of feathers, after all, and weighed almost nothing for all their volume.  It was fear-sweat, and Danny had put it there.
"I'm sorry, Cal, I know you hate waking up suddenly."
Calyx waved away his concern with that soft, sad smile of his.  "No worries, mi amor.  Old memories."
Danny bit back his response, which would have been something along the lines of, "You're almost exactly my age, how old could your memories be?"  Instead he said, as brightly as he could, "Come see what I bought!"
"Coffee first, Daniel."
Danny loved to watch Calyx make coffee.  It was a ritual, like Japanese tea, or so he liked to think.  Calyx had bought a modest aluminum cafetera in a venerable Italian grocery up on Federal Hill, and spent a portion of his tiny income each week on good beans from the gourmet roaster down the block, with whom he had developed a relationship like a drunk's to his favorite barkeep.
Calyx ground the beans and measured cold water and sugar syrup into the base of the little machine before setting it on the gas burner.  Droplets of water on the body of the cafetera hissed as they were vaporized by the flame.  Calyx watched the little sizzles for a long moment, then turned to Danny.
"Show me what treasures you have found, mi amor."
© Lee Benoit