Bob Jones. The U.S. Marine Corps. Gay pornography. All of these seemingly unrelated institutions find themselves tied together in the life of Greenville, S.C.-native, Rich Merritt.
“Secrets of a Gay Marine Porn Star” was his first book, a memoir, published in 2005. It delves into his life as a stereotypical Southern boy, who grew up to attend the infamously conservative Baptist Bob Jones University and later join the Marines. His memoir has been described as a “compelling, poignant story of how a boy who never listed to pop music, never cursed, and didn’t have his first drink until he was eighteen exploded into a life of drugs, alcohol, promiscuity, prostitution, and pornography.”
Merritt, who was later expelled from Bob Jones, found himself graduating from Clemson University. He’d go on to become a Marine officer and serve eight years on active duty. At 25, he’d come out of the closet, sparking a life journey that would make him a porn star, an author and an attorney — eventually leading him back to where it all began.
In late March, Merritt will make a “homecoming,” of sorts, while on tour for his second book, “Code of Conduct.” Stopping four times in the Carolinas, including the Charlotte and Raleigh locations of White Rabbit, Merritt will read excerpts from “Code,” meet with fans and sign copies of both his books.
A “thought-provoking fiction,” according to Publishers Weekly, “Code” follows the life of a 33-year-old Marine struggling to hide his sexual orientation while serving his nation. Set in the 1990s, as President Bill Clinton promises to lift the military ban on gays, “Code” is presents a powerful story of love, loss, duty, betrayal, and hope.
No doubt, “Code” offers a bold and provocative look at gay life and love in the United States military, the lengths to which people go to hide and the dangers that lurk around every corner for those men and women who serve and protect their nation.
Join Merritt and members of Clemson’s Gay-Straight Alliance for a luncheon at Moe’s
Southwest Grill. 391 College Ave. 11 a.m.
Reading, book signing. The Open Book. 110 South Pleasantburg Drive. 6 p.m. 864.235.9651.
Reading, book signing. White Rabbit. 309 W. Martin St. 3 p.m. 919-856-1429.
Reading, book signing. White Rabbit. 920 Central Ave. 3 p.m. 704-377-4067.