Singing the Praises of Gay Propaganda

steve-nyman-shirtless-skierAt the end of the summer of 2012, a story of mine was included in EM Lynley’s Olympic-themed anthology Going for Gold.  The collection of eight stories about gay Olympians (and their boyfriends, natch) was something of a Reader Favorite, and has seen renewed interest during the ramp-up to the Games of the Twenty-Second Winter Olympiad in Sochi, which arguably has a higher profile in the Queer community than Games past, due to the visibility and virulence of recent anti-gay laws passed in their host country.  Hell, I’m paying attention, and Michael Phelps doesn’t even ice skate.  Specifically, Russia has outlawed “gay propaganda,” which includes not only art and literature but any kind of public or private speech that seeks to legitimize gay people or equalize their families with any that hew to the more traditional model, in order to Protect the Children from being exposed to these notions.

Laff-a-lympicsAnd frankly, I kind of dig being a part of a project that links Gay and Olympics quite so explicitly at this moment in time.  The International Olympic Committee is not exactly famous for its explicit support of LGBTQ equality.  Yes, we’ve had the Laff-A-Lympics, and the Pig Olympics, and 2014 has already crowned the winner of the Selfie Olympics, but if you travel to Cleveland this summer, you will be invited to enjoy the ninth quadrennial Gay Games, so called because weeks before the First-Ever in 1982, the IOC (and the USOC) sued to block the use of the word “Olympics” in conjunction with this particular sporting event.  More recently, a member of the IOC from Italy called the United States’ inclusion of three gay athletes in its official delegation to Sochi “absurd.”  From where I’m sitting, it takes a certain amount of guts to roll up in a country that has recently chosen  not only to pass, but in some cases to harshly enforce, laws against being visibly gay — you know, lest it harm The Children to behold you — and then go on and be gay on what will, for two weeks, be the most visible stage in the world, but I don’t speak it — maybe that’s what “absurd” means in Italian. Continue reading

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Closets are for Clothes

Today is National Coming Out Day.  One of my favorite holidays on the Queer Calendar, although I traditionally celebrate it from the sidelines.  At 40, I’ve been out of the closet for more years than I was in it, and the door on my closet hung half-open all askew on its hinges at its most secure.  I was Raggedy Ann for Halloween when I was in Preschool, for heaven’s sake — I never got to surprise anybody!  Starting on the literal very first day of high school, I was bullied for being a big fag — physically never, verbally every single day, and mostly by guys who grew up to be big fags — until I had the sense to transfer to a public school.  I told almost no one there that I was “gay,” although I would wax like a drooling idiot with cartoon hearts for eyeballs about the boys I had crushes on to anybody who would listen (or to passersby, whether they listened or not).  When I was 19, out to dinner with my parents and my sister, my mom turned to me over chips and salsa and said, “So, you’re gay, right?”  I confirmed that I was.  My dad asked if I was safe — this was 1991, mind you, when we still kind of thought that gay sex was a short, slippery slope from a bed to a coffin — and I confirmed that I was that, too.  The food came, we ate it, and poof, I was Out. Continue reading

Eleven Years On

I don’t expect that I shall ever forget being jarred awake with the news that my workplace had been flown through the side of someone else’s, resulting, naturally, in the fiery destruction of both.  In the ensuing worldwide panic, fear, and sorrow, the airplanes (and, lest we forget, the people on them) were quickly reduced to little more than the visually arresting catalysts of a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, but to airline employees, and to air crews in particular, September 11th is an especially sacred day of remembrance and reflection.  In a way that the media rarely does, we remember our co-workers and the sacrifices they were called upon to make.  Pilots and flight attendants who lost their lives in the line of duty in ways that we had never previously been called upon to imagine (murdered point-blank with box cutters, used as components of flying Molotov cocktails, disintegrated in a Pennsylvania field helping to fight for positive control of an airplane-turned-missile in a world gone mad) and that since we are forced to confront every day.  We empty our pockets and take off our shoes and isolate our laptops and publicly submit to an elaborate security screening ritual, knowing that box cutters are permitted in passengers’ carry-on luggage, an unfathomably boneheaded First Step in allowing the entire horrifying process to one day repeat.

It is my intention each year on September 11th to remember the sacrifice and honor the lives of the 25 flight attendants who were killed.  I knew none of them, and if I’m completely honest, my professional respect for each of them and my sincere sympathy for their friends and families is tempered still by a profound gratitude that flooded me as I stood at a payphone in a Big Island laundromat eleven years ago, weak in the knee and weeping with relief that I recognized none of their names.  I honor them as colleagues and ache at the idea of a fear that I can’t fully conceptualize and hope never to glimpse, but true grief for them belongs to others, and is mine neither to appropriate nor to define. Continue reading

Cuz If Loving This is Wrong, I Don’t Wanna Go To North Carolina

An Open Letter to the people who voted for Amendment One in North Carolina, the lawmakers who didn’t have the guts to put civil unions up for a vote in Colorado, and Homophobes Everywhere (cuz so many of them read gay blogs, I know),

You don’t scare me; you have won nothing. I have never asked for permission to be who I am, and I have never asked for validation, legal or otherwise, for my feelings or for my relationships. Vote all you want, but you don’t get a say.  Justify yourselves however you want to; I live in love, you live in fear, and I wouldn’t trade places with you for all the legal legitimacy in the world. I thank your god every day for making me gay, and he puts Michael Phelps on television all-but-naked by way of saying “You’re Welcome.” You were afraid when you went to bed last night — of that same god; of me, who you’ll never meet; of yourself and your own body and mind — and afraid when you woke up this morning, and if that’s what “Victory” looks like to you, please enjoy it. History will one day laugh at you. As I do today.

Sincerely,

The Gayest Guy You’ll Never Know

P.S. This might have mostly been posted as an excuse to post this white-hot photo of Michael Phelps from menshairstyles.net.  You’re welcome…

These Are Days

I once knew a boy called Richard.  “Richard?” you say, “I must know more!”  Never let it be said that I don’t know how to scoot my reader to the edge of his seat.

After thirteen years in San Francisco, I am now back where I started, in Colorado.  Denver, to be quite precise.  Nineteen blocks from the house I grew up in, to be even more so.  When I visit the old neighborhood in San Francisco, a Big Gay Memory of some kind lurks around nearly every corner.  First dates, tearful good-byes; here is where I ignored the drunken heckling of a passing mendicant and slipped the ring on my husband’s finger, and there you see roughly where my pants hit my ankles while stumbling home from a particularly memorable Dyke March.  Yes, fond memories at every turn.  Who are you to judge me?!  Oddly, though, even though I grew up here, in Denver there is really only one such corner.  Probably due to its proximity to Cheesman Park, the one place in 1980s Denver that two men might not be harassed for holding hands, I had more than one Big Gay First (of most of which I’ll spare you the cowboy boot-related details) on the corner of 9th and Gaylord.  Richard’s mother worked with my aunt in Washington, D.C., on the staff of a Congressman from Oklahoma, and we had more than one Big Gay Adventure (last one, I promise) in the District, but when I think of him, I always remember him standing on the corner of 9th and Gaylord.  Where, in jean shorts and a cardigan sweater, he would secure his place in history as the First Boy Who Ever Kissed Me. Continue reading