Crush.

Random photo from an Internet search

I think it was 1984, just shortly before my 16th birthday. My family was camping at a popular campground and marina; we were situated near relatives and friends in our Steury pop up camper. The camper could sleep eight, but it was just the four of us for this trip. Nearby were campers with a permanent site; they were friends of my parents. Their youngest daughter was staying with them and we had fun being teenagers. Her older brother visited for the evening; he would have to head back into town in the morning.

It was late Friday night and we were enjoying a campfire on the shore of the “north pond”. Lake Ontario was a mile or so away, separated from this inlet of water by a thin sandbar. It was easy to get to the beach by boat; from there Lake Ontario looked like an ocean. In the still of the summer night you could hear the waves crashing on the sand in the distance. The small ripples on the pond barely lapped the shore. Once in a while you’d hear a boat rock a bit as it bumped up against its tie down.

The fire burned brightly; it’s familiar warmth was comforting. Slowly everyone retired for the evening; as time closed in on midnight, it was me and the older brother sitting around the fire. We just chatted. I didn’t know him very well; our paths had not crossed a lot, but he seemed down to earth. He had a stocky build, traces of a mustache and typical 80s hair that wasn’t too feathered but still had some wind blown look to it. He liked fishing and the water and doing things along the lakeshore.

I don’t remember what we talked about. I do remember that I felt that I didn’t have to be so guarded around him. The guys in the neighborhood back home were good friends but I didn’t have any ‘feelings’ toward them other than hanging out with the guys. This guy, we’ll call him Charlie, well, he was cute and my biology was telling me that I found him attractive and I was being flooded with feelings that were confusing. I’d known for a long time that I was “different” but what that meant. My parents and sister were asleep in the camper. Outside of the canvas walls I was sitting with a guy I didn’t know that well. I felt like I was burning up. The fire was hot. He might have been drinking a beer. I was not. My not quite 16 year old hormones were raging and he wasn’t any the wiser. He was just sitting there, we were just talking, and no moves were made. I knew that he wasn’t different like me and I was confused as to why I was feeling the way I was feeling. When it was time to call it a night, we shook hands and I felt a tingling just with the handshake. What did this mean for me? I went to bed, opting to sleep on the couch.

My dad was up fairly early the next morning for work; after he left I heard splashing around in the pond and saw Charlie swimming. He was wearing only swimming trunks and was taking a bath in the pond. I thought that was good idea and I did the same. We horsed around as we washed our hair in the cold water and then he got out of the pond, dried off, got dressed, and went back to town, just as he had planned.

Still confused by what I was feeling I was, at the time, inexplicably sad. Other friends would visit throughout the day and my Mom was concerned about how mopey I was. It was confusion, it was horniness, it was a crush on someone that had absolutely no idea as to how I was feeling, and now he was gone. After lunch I went for a walk and found an isolated spot in the woods overlooking the other side of the pond. I sat for a while, under a tree and instantly found myself crying. It was a few minutes before I started to realize what “being different” really meant. My hormones were confirming what I had known deep down all along: I was attracted to other guys. Not just hanging out with the guys, I really liked guys and I wanted to be close to them. I wanted our skin to touch, I wanted to be close to another guy. I wanted to do things that I was afraid to even fantasize about.

It would be several years before I saw Charlie again. We shook hands, we chatted a bit. He’s probably married with a litter of grown kids and probably even a few grandkids by now.

And he never knew how he had inadvertently impacted my life that night we spent just shooting the breeze around a campfire.

2 Comments

Stunning.

I love the song “Get Outta My Way” by Kylie Minogue to the point that it is in my personal Top 5 of best songs of the 21st Century (thus far).

A fellow tweeter mentioned this tribute video and I had to see it for myself. I don’t usually go for the super-pretty boys, but the guys in this video were just what I needed to get kick off my Monday morning.

From 2010, here’s Get Outta My Way (Boys) Tribute [HD].

ps. In case you’re wondering, my favorite is the one wearing glasses (but not sunglasses).

Gay.

The second episode of the TV sitcom “Alice” was called “Alice Gets A Pass”. It was broadcast on August 29, 1976. In this episode, a famous football player, Jack Newhouse (Denny Miller) that went to college with Mel is passing through Phoenix and wants to stop by and see his old college buddy. They plan a fishing trip together for the coming weekend. While at the diner, Flo and Mel get Jack to take Alice out on a date. They have a great time, go on a couple more dates and Alice hints that she would be interested in taking their relationship a little bit further. Jack comes out as gay, to which Alice responds, “Are you sure you’re not just jolly?”

Jack confirms that he is indeed gay and hopes that they can still be friends. Alice rethinks her decision to allow Tommy to go on the fishing trip with Mel and Jack, which prompts Jack to confront Alice at the diner on her reasoning. He makes a compelling argument: “if I was straight and Tommy was your daughter, would you allow her to be around me?”, which Alice says she would have no problem with that. This causes her to rethink her position and she allows Tommy to go on the fishing trip.

At the end of the episode, as Alice and Tommy are discussing the trip, she tells him that Jack is a homosexual. Tommy is a little surprised, because everyone at school talks about how you should be able to instantly tell if someone is gay but overall he doesn’t care. He likes Jack for who he is. Alice and Tommy hug and the credits roll.

Now, I remember watching this episode as a young kid (I was eight years old when this episode originally aired), probably in reruns on a weekday morning or something. For 1976 and especially for the second episode of a brand new sitcom, this seems like a very edgy subject to tackle but it is well handled from beginning to end. The episode feels honest and I find it to be a surprisingly positive episode of the gay community. The comedic bits are handled mostly well; there’s a few 1970s era digs in there but overall the episode flows well and the message is positive. Imagine, a positive gay episode in 1976, and again, it was the second episode ever of “Alice”.

Props to the writers, cast and crew for taking that change during the bicentennial.

The reason I remember this particular episode so well is because of Tommy’s reaction at the end. His fairly nonchalant attitude towards Jack’s sexuality struck a good chord with me. In the era of Anita Bryant and the pie in her face, hearing a kid around my age speak his truth about his attitude toward gay people actually made me realize that not everyone in school, despite the taunts I would endure from time to time, was evil. There were good people out there, people that didn’t really care who I fell in love with as long as I was a good person.

This is something we all need to remember from time to time.

Now, because you know you want to sing along with it, here’s my favorite version of Linda Lavin singing the theme song from “Alice”. I have gathered nine different vocal takes of the theme song from its nine seasons, and the “second season long version” theme is my favorite. I remember when this new version debuted, I had to explain my sister the different between “Early to rise” with the first season and “Early to rise” with this version. Having a VCR back then would have made the argument much easier.

National Coming Out Day.

Happy National Coming Out Day! 

I had figured out I was “different” by second grade, confirmed I was fooling no one by 11th grade Ethics Class and made a promise to myself on the first day at SUNY Fredonia that I would no longer try to suppress who I was. 

Despite every name, threat, punch, religious intervention and law that tried to convince me to be something I’m not, the biggest obstacle of being gay has been my own internalized homophobia and fear of disappointing those I care about. As I approach the second half of my life, I’m getting over that and just embracing who I am. I admire those that don’t have that internal struggle. My struggle has been relatively easy; I know others have had it much worse. I hope it gets better for them. 

So here’s a picture of me, “pretty in pink”, taken August ’90 on Jones Beach on Long Island.

#EqualLove

H/T to Dave at Blogography for sharing this Australian commercial. A good way to start the day.

To help with context, as Dave explained in his blog post:

I love advertising that really makes you think, and this ad from Australia is absolutely brilliant in getting its point across. Before watching, it may be helpful to know that Aussies use BBQ sauce the way Americans use ketchup. And Aussie tomato sauce is much like ketchup except not… For an equivalent American context, the guy telling his dad he likes tomato sauce is the equivalent to going to Chicago and telling the hotdog vendor that you want ketchup on your dog.

Marriage.

So today the Supreme Court of the United States announced their decision in regards to Same Sex Marriage. The 14th amendment of the constitution guarantees the right to marriage to ALL Americans and from this moment forward, Same Sex Marriage is legal in all 50 states of the United States.

Earl and I have been legally married since October 2011, shortly after Same Sex Marriage was legal in New York State. The legality of our marriage has weighed heavily on life decisions: where will we move, where will I work, etc. This is no longer a factor, we can live in any state in the union and be legally married.

What an incredible feeling.

I was on a conference call at work when the decision came down. I had to make sure the phone was muted as I cried tears of happiness. I didn’t expect to be emotional about the decision but I was. It was like a weight was lifted, even though we’ve had it pretty good here in Upstate New York.

We are married all of the USA now. Our friends in other states can now get married.

And it is an incredible feeling.

Equality.

Congratulations to Illinois on the passing of marriage equality! This is absolutely wonderful news.

Once signed, the new law will allow same sex couples to be married beginning in June 2014.

Yay!

Source: MSNBC.

Screen Shot 2013-11-05 at 8.52.37 PM

National Coming Out Day.

Today is National Coming Out Day. For your reading pleasure, here is a blog entry I wrote back in 2004 on this very subject. And here is another blog entry I wrote back in 2006.

As I said in one of these entries:

So if you’re gay, peeking around the closet door and wondering what to do today, just take a step out and tell someone, anyone, that you’re gay, even if it means admitting it to yourself by looking at your image in the mirror. You deserve the self-respect and those around deserve the respect of you telling them the truth.

1 Comment

Real.

I feel this everyday.


Today, with the Supreme Court decisions striking down DOMA and California’s Prop 8 as both being unconstitutional, my feelings have only magnified. I shouldn’t need validity of what I know to be true, but it’s good to now be afforded the same federal rights as other married couples. Should the need arise, my husband now has full access to my pension. As I mentioned on Facebook, with it he can buy a monthly nice, cold pop (that’s a whole different blog entry). Taxes will be less of a nightmare and social security will go where it is suppose to go.

Our future just got even brighter.

I didn’t think I would get really emotional about the ruling announcements today, but some tears were shed in my cube as I saw the news go across the ticker.

Congratulations to the United States for taking another big step toward equality across all of your 50 states. Welcome to the 21st century.