I was born in 1967 in a small town called New Britain Connecticut. Family was all one had, in whatever form they came in. And I was lucky that I HAD all the family I could use because we all lived fairly close, a short walk or a short car ride from point A to point B.
Back in the day gender roles were set in stone. The binary system was held in place and I never heard or saw any “other” gender role or met anyone who lived “outside” the norm.
But history tells us that Gay existed well before I was born, and it was a silent life of hiding in the shadows and living your lifestyle behind closed doors, or in places that you could be yourself, but in my reading of history, those stories are few and far between.
I didn’t know that “other” existed until I was in grade school and happened upon reading material my father had collected and was reading around us, as if to say, leaving mags around the bathroom was commonplace and not “wrong.”
I had a little transistor radio with one of those little ear pieces that I listened to at night. And I was so interested in a certain radio show that played during those years. You wouldn’t find them on any dial today, or maybe you would, on some internet channel. Times have changed.
There was a particular radio show hosted by a woman who invited guests on to her show in the hopes that she would hook those guests up with callers. One guest piqued my interest when he identified himself as a Master, and was looking for a sub. I didn’t know what that was, or maybe I did, after reading my father’s mags…
This was not a heterosexual match up show, it was a Gay match up show. This guy was a regular on the show.
What was this, and why did I find it so appealing ???
I could read by that point in my life. And I read well.
Along with Readers Digest, Playboy and Penthouse magazines another little booklet was meat and potatoes. I wasn’t interested in titty girls and naked women. Variations was written for the person who straddled the sexual fence.
After my rebellion at day care, I had a key to the house and that’s where we went after school. I was a nosy little shit and I had to know everything about family. And I was like that for many years after that. My father (in hindsight) was living a double life. I know that today.
The words he spoke, were very different than the actions he was displaying behind the scenes. His internalized homophobia was rampant. I think he read magazines and lived vicariously through them, while he abused me terribly, hoping to beat the “gay” out of me later on.
My father would not have a GAY in his house, but he was one himself, he wasn’t just bisexual, it was full on gay.
My mother was not exempt from this. She actually participated.
They say gay is a choice. Let me ask you this, can a child make a choice of that kind of proportion and know for sure that is what they are or want to be? Or as happened, I came across informative reading that 100% informed what side of the sexual orientation coin I would later land.
It wasn’t a choice. I knew. I knew right then and there. But I didn’t know what it meant.
Fast forward into our last move into the house we lived in the longest.
I did not know anyone who was gay, or better yet, I had never met anyone who was transgendered. My parents kept us out of the social discussion. I listened to them talk about the Queers and the Gays and those sick people with AIDS, who should just die already.
My parents met other families, some with means, and others not so much. All of these kids, us and those we came to know, grew up together. Family dinners, holiday banquets, birthday parties, and summer barbeque’s were the stuff of legends.
My introduction to Gay had begun.
One of my friends, who is still my friend to this day, I call her mom my step mom, because where my mother failed, she had stepped in and filled that role. She would have wedge wood china dinner parties, and invited people from across the spectrum.
That is where I met the gay men who would facilitate my walk across that proverbial bridge, when it came. I straddled the orientation line because my father would beat me after every dinner party we attended to make sure he would beat the Gay out of me. He abhorred Gay, but he loved reading about them, and having sex that was well outside the normal vanilla sexual slant.
My parents were not so vanilla they loved their chocolate side.
I dated girls throughout high school. I kissed girls, but I had never had sex with a woman, never have, and never will. I could never be who I wanted to be, as I was educated in what that meant by people who were.
When I learned to drive, and get around, I discovered Gay “in community.” Back in those days, pride flags were something I learned about, because they told me what I needed to know, as I drove through particular neighborhoods.
The “Gay community” moved from one section of the city to another, trying to find a footing for itself. And they went from sparse to the entirety of Coconut Grove proper. There were gay stores, gay shoppes, gay bars, and gay festivals.
Later when Gay grew, us gays moved from the mainland to the beach. Miami Beach, the mecca for retirees and snowbirds, now shared space and lives with the gays. It took a long time for that community to grow and then flourish. And it did.
I could not stay in Miami to be gay. My father would not have a gay child in his family.
I moved away to be gay. My alcoholism came along for the ride.
Over a decade saw me hit new highs and lows, and over time I not only became the gay in my family, I became that gay with AIDS in the family. Two strikes and I was out.
It was the gay community who stepped in when I really needed it. When my parents tossed me to the curb, it was the gays, who took me in and I am still alive because of just how good they took care of me. Over a hundred of my friends died, but I survived.
Because I did what I was told.
I listened to real people, gay people, show me how to survive. And if you think gays are not compassionate or loving, you are dead wrong. You say we are sick and perverted, well, some are, and I love them for it. What is life without a little “spice.”
Where Heterosexuals failed to take care of their children, where very sick homosexual adults were tossed into the streets, kicked out of their homes, tossed out by lovers, the good gays stepped in and did what they had to do for the least of these.
I fell away and walked out the door on four years of sobriety and it was the worst mistake I have ever made. When I returned from my disastrous gay odyssey to hell, I moved to the Beach.
Rental assistance afforded me an apartment two blocks off the beach, in a gay friendly building with gay friendly people who had my best interest in mind. But I was still drinking.
I prayed for an alcoholic to bring me back, and he appeared.
I was thirty four. I wasn’t a beach boy. I didn’t have the looks nor the money.
So on my first sober day, I returned to a gay meeting. Nobody noticed me.
What I did find was a group of straight men and women who did welcome me and provided everything I would need to live soberly.
I moved to Montreal. By this time, by my family’s standards and resentment list, I had four solid strikes against me.
If you want to be gay and live a life of your dreams, move out of the United States.
Every day I read articles and watch videos of just how sick heterosexual people are. I read articles about heterosexual people doing the worst indignities to the least of these.
Every day we are bombarded with all kinds of actions that are abhorrent to me abhorrent to all of us.
I am ashamed to call myself an American. There is only one reason I retain my citizenship.
But for all intents and purposes, I am a Canadian.
Gay is all over. From city to city, from province to province and from neighborhood to neighborhood. Here we have marriage equality. We can walk down the street holding hands and not fear some asshole making a scene. Cities have dedicated Gay Villages.
Here is where my gay education took another step in its evolution. At a particular meeting I was introduced to a trans woman, who we all love and respect. I actually heard her speak a few weeks ago.
Who knew from trans boys and girls, men and women?
In the last ten years or so, gender rules and assignments have expanded. It the most wonderful time in our lives. No longer in the shadows, kids, young people and adults are making their stands to proclaim who they are.
But in the United States, sadly, beatings, killings and suicides are the norm.
Around the world we know that LGBT people are being killed, ostracized and imprisoned for who they are. Sadly the world is not moving ahead with acceptance and love.
I’ve known a handful of young kids battling with who they were born as, coming to see who they really are. Some have been in transition for a while now. There are pockets of locations where kids are being allowed to explore who they are, with support and love, but that is far from the norm.
Kids killing themselves because of internet trolls and hatred by family and friends is terribly disturbing. We have to step up and be their voice in a world that wants to only shut them up.
Over the last few years I have become friends with a family that is remarkable. One son is gay, One daughter is in transition at age six, and the third son is in the mix.
I’ve witnessed what it takes to parent a transgendered child. Parenting any child is hard work, it is a lifetime calling for parents. And we know, by what we are hearing and seeing, children are being born into families that really, should never have had children to begin with.
That is another stark reminder of just how sick some parents really are.
We’ve witnessed celebrities born into celebrity lives. Growing up one gender, and today a handful of them are who they really want to be. The transgendered community is growing in leaps and bounds after a handful of celebrity transitions.
Last night was a watershed moment for Bruce Jenner. It was a watershed for all those boys and girls still in the mix, making lifetime decisions about who they would like to be and who they really are.
We Must speak for them. We must stand up for them. We must accept them.
WE MUST LOVE THEM.
We must love each other, even if we do not understand why they are doing what they are doing.
Phil said this last night, “I may not understand but as long as they aren’t hurting anyone else, respect!!!”
Kanye said it best …”I am nothing, if I can’t be who I am!” Being true to ones self is the key to a life flourishing.
To Thine Own Self Be True.
Kids are killing themselves because of bullying and indignity.
We must stop this trend any way we are able.
It takes a village to raise a child, and an even bigger one to raise a trans kid.
Who do you know today? Do you know a gay person, Do you know someone with AIDS, I am sure all of you know someone who has faced or is facing a terrible fight for life because of illness.
How many of us know families with trans children in them?
You shall love the Lord with all your heart, all your soul and all your spirit, AND you should love your neighbor as yourself.
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.