One man's rollercoaster journey through dysfunctional relationships to authenticity and self-acceptance.

Taming the Dragon is a remarkable story of resilience and return to authenticity. It is the memoir of a creative young soul, oppressed by society and told he was unacceptable. Gary denied his essential self in an attempt to conform. On the surface, he survived the desperate search for approval from family, friends, and community. He even thrived professionally. But he struggled and suffered personally as time and again his true nature cried out.

Gary's rocky path took him through a heart-wrenching divorce and overt discrimination into a series of dysfunctional relationships carrying years of unhealthy emotional baggage. Then, as a new millennium dawned, it also ushered in a spiritual awakening. Insight, creativity, and integrity returned through fits and starts, bright successes, and dark failures. Taming the Dragon is an emotional rollercoaster of laughter and tears, madness and miracles. It shows us all that self-love and healthy relationships are possible, regardless of age or past mistakes.


Excerpt from Taming the Dragon © Copyright 2022 Gary Tubbs

I had just crawled into Jim’s bed and leaned my head onto his chest when he asked, “What’s this about you buying a house in Richland with your brother?” The annoyance in his voice caught me off guard.

I looked up to see his lip twitching, that feral look beginning to appear. “It’s just an idea. I’m sure it won’t happen. I need to explore all options to make sure my sons are taken care of.”

Jim bristled severely and pushed me away, “Well, then take your sons and get the fuck out of here!”

It was after midnight on a chilly, rainy October night. “Are you serious?” I asked.

To demonstrate his seriousness, he gave me a sharp push out of the bed, folded my suitcase with clothes hanging out, and carried it to the door of the apartment. As I followed him in disbelief, I glanced at Eric and Ben who lay motionless in their sleeping bags. Jim opened the door and tossed my suitcase into the hall then slammed the door with a thunderous bang. He stomped his muscular frame back into the bedroom, with me trailing and attempting to appease him in a calm voice. He spun around and grabbed my arms, then forced me out of the bedroom and slammed that door, too.

Trembling with fear, I tried to breathe and think clearly. My first thought was to get my sons someplace safe. I called the Seattle number my brother, Dave, had given me earlier that evening, “Please come get us as soon as you can. We’ll meet you outside.”

I thought surely Eric and Ben had been awakened by all the noise but they appeared to be sleeping.

“Eric, Ben, wake up,” I said, shaking them gently. “We need to leave. Get dressed and roll up the sleeping bags. Get your coats. It’s cold outside.”

They didn’t ask any questions.

“What happened?” Dave asked as we climbed in the van. “Jim got upset. I’ll tell you about it later.”

The next morning, I felt drained yet clear. My one year relationship with Jim was over. Although sad, I also experienced a sense of solace. I could focus exclusively on my family and not concern myself with maintaining such a volatile relationship.

Then one morning, a month after the incident at Jim’s apartment, I heard Dave shout, “Gary, telephone.”

I came to the phone to see him grinning at me with his eyebrows raised. “Hello?”

“Hi,” Jim said.


“Can I come see you?” he asked in a soft voice. “My sister said I could borrow her car.”

“Why?” I knew I should say no, but for some reason I couldn’t. “Gary, I love you. I’m sorry and I want to make things right.”

I was powerless. My miracle man wanted me in his life. And doesn’t everyone deserve a second chance?

“Okay, Jim,” I said. “I’ll see you Saturday.”

When Jim visited, we talked things through. He apologized again for his aggressive over-reaction. I apologized for my insensitivity and assured him I would not be house hunting with Dave. We then agreed to take turns traveling to see each other. To support that happening, I purchased a reliable used car for him.

Jim kept the car but not the agreement. So each Friday, desperate to save my relationship, I drove the four hours to Seattle after my teaching job. I arrived at Jim’s apartment around 7 p.m. to be greeted with a hug, a kiss, and a soft bed in which to rest. It was a tiring routine but pleasant enough.

One weekend Jim had made plans for us to join two lesbian friends of his at a women’s bar in the Eastlake area near downtown Seattle. It was a new experience for me and I enjoyed the club’s energy and music. Very few men were there, but as Jim and I walked around searching for his friends, I noticed a tall Black man, smiling at me from the other side of the dance floor. He looked rather sexy in his tight, white Levi’s, but I was already with my miracle man, so I just smiled and looked away.

Nevertheless, I was flattered by the attention. No handsome man had ever flirted with me from across a room before. The evening turned out to be a lot of fun and shortly before 1 a.m., we called it a night. All was quiet as Jim drove toward the freeway entrance, but he seemed tense. His hands clenched the wheel with his shoulders hunched forward, his face tight.

Once we entered I-5 heading south, he blurted, “Why’d you flirt with that man?” “What man?”

“You know what man . . . when we first got to the bar. Black guy, white Levi’s.” “Oh, him. I wasn’t flirting. He smiled and I smiled back.”

“Gary, you were flirting. I saw you!” Jim insisted, getting louder. “It’s okay, Jim,” I said. “I was just being friendly.”

“Stop lying!” he yelled.

“I’m not lying and stop yelling at me!” I yelled back.

By then we were on the high-level West Seattle bridge. Jim, rigid with rage, hit the brakes and brought the car to an abrupt halt on the shoulder of the road.

“Get Out!” he screamed, glaring at me with contempt. “What?” I gasped, “Are you crazy?”

“Get Out!” he screamed again and reached across me to push open my door. When I didn’t move, he unlatched my seatbelt and gave me a powerful shove. I hit the cold pavement as Jim stepped on the gas and drove away.

Featured on Joelbooks