Robert A. Karl, M.Ed., is a native son of Philadelphia, PA, a Queer author, an independent publisher, an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and a gay entrepreneur. He worked for the School District of Philadelphia as a teacher and technology specialist for 30 years. During that time, he also taught undergraduate and graduate courses in educational technology at Temple University.
Robert wrote his first novel, CLUBBED: A Story of Gay Love: Trials, Tribulations and Triumphs, while in quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic. His inspiration was the desire to keep Queer stories alive, so he fictionalized the experiences of himself and his friends, beginning with coming out in the 1970s. That first novel was dedicated to the victims of a different pandemic: HIV/AIDS, which devastated the gay community starting in the 1980s. The loss of many friends during that time inspired Robert to share the stories of those who could no longer tell their own.
Robert often used stories as a teaching method, while also encouraging his students to tell their own stories. At the School District of Philadelphia, he was a pioneer in the field of podcasting, teaching his students to record their stories and posting them on a district podcast server. He enthusiastically taught other educators about technology, encouraging them to have their students use modern methods to share stories they wanted to tell.
Finding a degree of success with his first book in 2021, Robert continued the story with CLUBBED TWO: Anxiety, Anger, Activism, published in 2022. Both books combined fictional and historical characters and events, creating entertaining, informative and emotional stories. The characters are described as funny, fabulous and flawed, as they live through the turbulent years of the AIDS pandemic, in the section of Philadelphia known as the Gayborhood.
CLUBBED THREE: Darkness and Light, published in 2023, completes the story as Joey and Henry, the main characters, must confront changes both in their community and in their relationship. In September of 2001, acts of violence change everything as their story reaches its emotional climax.
All three books in the trilogy were recognized as Distinguished Favorites in LGBTQ fiction by the Independent Press Awards and received positive reviews from Kirkus Reviews.
Throughout the entire series, the author confronts issues such as racism, internal and external homophobia, violence, relationship problems, ageism, loneliness, despair, and many other obstacles faced by the LGBTQ community. However, those problems are countered with stories of love, success, acceptance and courage as the characters struggle for equality and the ability to live normal lives despite sometimes daunting circumstances.
It was of prime importance to the author for the main characters, Joey and Henry, to have a positive, successful, interracial relationship as they built a business with Club Sanctuary and provided resources (and a place for fabulous parties) for the community to which they belonged.
In June of 2023, Robert was dismayed as anti-LGBTQ+ elements of American society were emboldened to attack symbols of PRIDE at various retail outlets. He was even more appalled at the lack of courage shown by certain corporate giants, who made the unfortunate decision to remove PRIDE merchandise from their shelves. That prompted Robert to decide to start a new business, called CLUB PRIDE, which is an online store featuring LGBTQ+ and PRIDE merchandise. This new venture, just started in 2023, provides a safe shopping experience and is attracting customers from throughout the United States.
Robert is now retired and living in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where he enjoys the natural beauty and culture of the tropical island. He is proud of his new career as an independent author and publisher of LGBTQ+ fiction, and he is actively promoting his new line of PRIDE merchandise. He is currently working on two new novels, to be published in 2024.
Follow Robert on Instagram: @robertkarl_inpr and on Twitter: @rkarl
Zuna with his favorite books.