a chapter, “sic gloria transit [jason]”, from my memoir, “evelyn & son, ltd.” has been published in today’s chelsea station magazine. click through to read. as a bonus, the art illustrating the piece was created by yours truly in 1980 — contemporary to the story.
Posts Tagged ‘gay life
let’s pretend that i’m the manifesto type. a zealot. someone convinced that they are right, guided by god, if you choose, or at the least guided by a morality, a rigid doctrine, a pope you could say or it could be karl marx and lenin, the unabomber, a disgruntled ex-cop with a gun, fidel or che, jefferson, franklin & adams, et. al. i may be reaching here, but you’ll understand how i might have arrived at this list in a few more paragraphs, grant me your patience.
if not them, then someone with a grudge (grudge isn’t really the right word and it may take someone less happy than i to deliver it, to conjure the right word for what i’m feeling); perhaps it’s an unresolved social issue—and that may be closer to the truth of the matter, the truth of my declaration. social issues being the hot buttons of the current political landscape (sen. portman and his ilk, for instance; the broader good just out-of-reach of their comprehension or political expediency.) let’s say it’s that, shall we? an unresolved social issue.
i shall not rail against the wrongs i know have been directed at me and my life choices by specific people such as my cousin and his mother (oops! too late); what would be the point of such condemnation, how would it resolve anything, they being so far removed from my life that they no longer exist. (it does still rankle and i find it hard to forgive them for sequestering—such a current word—my uncle from me. it isn’t that so much as the fact that they are doing this because i am gay and the unfounded fear that i am after “their” money, money they may or may not inherit if and when my uncle dies.) okay, i did inveigh against them, but i promise you that is only a minor diversion from my larger complaint and the purpose of my manifesto.
i want to kiss my lover in public and hold his hand, not just in a metropolis where our act would be lost in the swirl of humanity, but in the town square of small town america. i don’t want my kissing him or holding his hand to be an act of war. a declaration of independence, a mein kampf. i want it to go unnoticed, to be unremarkable, to fold itself into the fabric of our lives, all of our lives, in such a manner that you would not see the warp or weft, a finely woven piece of silk.
i don’t want my wedding announcement* to be news or held up as a sign of the progressive politics of this newspaper or that community. instead, i want the farmer in south dakota to show his wife of 40 years our wedding picture and say, “don’t they look happy?”
I want to look into the eyes of a stranger and not see suspicion or revulsion because i gesture a lot, use complex language, elongate my vowels, drop a curler, or call my best friend “mary” even though he looks like a lumberjack.
i want to be able to assume my world is right instead of fighting for my rights. i want to be as steadfast in my knowledge that the world works in my favor as the last white, heterosexual male in the farthest corner of the state of maine thinks it works for him.
i am not color blind in my desire to be free of the shackles of hate. please note that this manifesto would hold true whether i lived in nigeria, sri lanka, china, indonesia, or bolivia.
and so concludes my manifesto. i am not a ticking time bomb just waiting to go off, i own no guns, i am not manic-depressive, or suffer from schizophrenia. i do not hear voices directing me to act out against my fellow man. i am just a man who wants to kiss his lover in public without a thought.
*should we ever decide to marry and have the right to do so wherever we may be living at the time.
whatever happened to the p***s?
from classical greek times through the renaissance the small, thin, delicately foreskinned penis reigned supreme in the visual arts (when it was depicted at all or hadn’t been covered up with hastily configured fig leaves and draping.) the big, the exceptional, or for that matter, the ordinary penis was considered vulgar. go figure.
“weekend”, however, was more of a phallus–BTW, did you know that the word “phallus” refers to a large erect penis and not just an ordinary flaccid penis? i didn’t until today, but now that i do i plan on using it more often, like a spice you grow fond of and find uses for even though it’s not suited for fowl or cauliflower.
“weekend” is about two young gay men who meet on a friday evening and by sunday morning have, well, i won’t spoil it for you, but regardless of the outcome of their meeting, the film director, andrew haigh, has devised a bergman-like film (those close-ups of the actors talking to each other face to face in bed after sex reminded me of liv ullman and joseph erlandson in bergman’s “scenes from a marriage”) that explores the relationship of gay men operating in a straight world.
it was one of the first gay-themed movies that i’ve seen recently that felt true. true about character, relationships, gay life, the anxieties of gay men caused by navigating their emotional lives in a world that does not acknowledge their feelings as valid and worthy of public display.
it got me to thinking about gay marriage — a topic that i think about a lot, partly because the hopeless romantic in me thinks it’s an awesome commitment and partly because i abhor the thought of the loss of our gay culture as we slowly sink into that bubbling pool of assimilation.
what i don’t think will be drug behind the acceptance of gay marriage is the acceptance of gays and lesbians expressing their love in public. i expect it will be quite a while before that becomes mainstream–if it ever does. this was a topic in the film and it really made me realize how uptight i am about public displays of affection between my partner and myself, even after 30 years together. although i will confess that at this age i care less about what other people think about our holding hands or kissing each other, a peck on the cheek, and with age a certain amount of freedom from convention is not unexpected in the he’s-a-crazy-old-coot kind-of-way. you know.
anyway, all of this blather about p***ses and the movie is an endorsement of the film…rent it, watch it, and discuss it. you can thank me later.
in gardening news: the olive trees have had their yearly pruning.
in gay news: if you haven’t read alex ross’s recent history of the gay-rights movement, “love on the march” you should. (because, as your parent, i said so.) what has struck me the most about what he had to say (sort of like the proverbial 2 x 4 to the head–my new way of using a trite metaphor is by adding “like the proverbial…”) is the loss of gay cultural identity as a result of the sudden, quick assimilation of gays into the mainstream. “we’re just like you!” (only not.)
ross is quick to point out that gay men who came of age in the 1950s-1970s are probably the ones who notice the cultural shift the most. “what happened to our lives?” “i don’t remember wanting to be married or having anything remotely like the life of my heterosexual friends,” as they shake their heads at this sudden (equal rights movements are traditionally a slow-moving train) and unlikely turn-of-events.
over the years i have lamented the passing of so much knowledge, passing as in death, how AIDS decimated an entire culture. you don’t come across a 20 year-old opera queen that often anymore, now do you? (well, i’m sure there’s still one out there, in some remote corner of montana or kansas.) today’s young gay man doesn’t know who or what a ‘gypsy’ is any longer (a chorus boy or girl) let alone who gypsy rose lee is. they’ve grown up in the digital age, playing video games without the same cultural leaders i had as a young gay man, and even then my peers were moving away from the pansies and the nancys and the limp-wristed (light in one’s loafers comes to mind) stereotype that gay men of the fifties were depicted as and used as a defense mechanism (effectively or not.)
in the 1970s we weren’t being pigeon-holed by traditional ‘gay’ jobs any longer: waiter, florist, decorator, hair-burner; our lives were taking on new meaning with that battle won at stonewall, even the drag queens were more butch and ready to do battle at a moment’s notice. there was power in speaking out and not being afraid of retribution if you said, “i’m gay, queer, a faggot.” what do they say it now? oh yes, “i owned it.”
but we sneered at the conventions of the heterosexuals: marriage, children, and yes there were subsets of misogynists; the balls and chains of straight life seemed unnecessary and were certainly ill-fitting. it was nirvana and it was ours. now though, it seems we’ve lost that battle to be like ourselves in order that we may have the same rights our straight brothers and sisters enjoy. like i said, “look! i’m just like you,” only not. it seems to me that losing your cultural identity may be too steep a price to pay for assimilation. and yet, i demand that i have the same freedom to live as i please as you enjoy in this land. i would like it on my own terms though. is that too much to ask?
“he is so-o-o gay,” claimed the verbena.
“there was never a moment where you would have been able to discern that,” riposted the nameless juniper-like plant to the verbena’s right.
“oh, puh-lease! he was one dropped curler from having helium legs and you’ll never convince me otherwise,” noted the verbena, crossing its arms across its chest and turning its back to the nameless juniper-like plant to its right.
*mea culpa. for this post i have borrowed a ‘device’ from this blog’s author: matthewgallaway. i encourage my readers to sign up for his posts; you won’t be sorry that you did.