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Aging.

I’m sitting on our balcony during a summertime rain storm. There’s no lightning or thunder involved, though the weather service said we’d be getting thunderstorms this evening; no, there’s just a lot of rain and it’s coming straight down. This affords me the opportunity to sit on our balcony, under the cover of the floor above, and remain dry. The effect is pleasing.

Earl and I and our family spent the weekend enjoying “Market Days” here in Chicago. It’s the largest street festival in the city of Chicago and it encompasses Boystown for the weekend. I enjoy Market Days more than Gay Pride here in the Windy City; people are just out having a good time. I know this sounds odd, but the crowd seems slightly more relaxed to me when compared to Pride. There’s still plenty of outrageous, but it’s a relaxed outrageous, if that makes any sense.

This weekend was the first time I’ve felt all of my 51 years of age at a gay event. I’m proud of who I am, where I am, and what my life is about these days, but watching the revelers do their thing I started to feel a little obsolete. The monotonous thump of what they call dance music today was a little on my nerves, I feel no need to drink a “Truly”, and even over a decade later I have no idea what a “kiki” is though I do believe several of them were occurring in my general vicinity.

As a private pilot who happens to be gay, I also really felt that I have little in common with some other members of the National Gay Pilots Association, other than the fact that we’re gay and we fly something that defies gravity. I mentioned this to Earl, and he said, “just because you’re pilots doesn’t make you instant friends”.

To me, aviation has always led to an instant friendship with another pilot, but then again, I grew up around old-school flying clubs. Many of these young pilots have learned to fly and made it career. I still fly for the fun of it.

I have no desire to be ‘young again’ because I still feel like the young man I was 20 years ago, just with some extra data in the memory banks and some aging on the outside. I look in the mirror and see lines from plenty of smiles around my eyes. When we were in Palm Springs a couple of weeks ago I saw plenty of faces pulled tighter than a bass drum. That’s not my jam, I’ve earned these lines and I’ve weathered some storms.

If I was a car in New York State I’d still pass inspection. I’d even pass the smog test.

It is interesting, however, to see society do a complete 180 on some things within my lifetime. Like, when I was in my teens, Nancy Reagan was telling us to “Just Say No”. We were shown ancient movies on a Bell and Howell projector about the dangers of smoking pot, and how it would apparently turn us into zombies, make us wear cardigan sweaters with the buttons misaligned while we rambled around the streets drooling, and turn our brains to frying eggs. Now in 2019, it’s legal in nearly half of the United States. I haven’t seen one person with egg for brains wearing a cardigan sweater.

I’m fascinated by yet feel separated from the gay culture of today. Do they know how many funerals I went to in the 80s and 90s? Do they know the meaning of the Silence = Death plaque on the wall? Do they know how to ACT-UP like we did?

Tastes.

One of the beautiful things about our marriage is I can say to my husband, “I think this trumpet player is so hot”. He agreed with me.

And then the geek in me realizes said trumpet player is playing either a C or a G in this screenshot.

Feelin’ It.

I walked with the National Gay Pilots Association in the Chicago Pride Parade again this year. It is a magnificent feeling, hearing all that cheering and celebration as one walks and waves their way down the parade route, simply being who they are.

Mother Nature came barreling in when we were making our way through the crowds and the parade came to an early end due to lightning being detected in the area. I joined my fellow pilots at a Pride House Party. I was the oldest guy in the room but I still had a great time. Talking airplanes and getting to know each other a little more was an awesome feeling. I remarked that I missed a little bit of the aviation energy I felt back when I was flying out of KRME; there are so many places I want to take my aviation career (even though I was the oldest guy in the room), and participating with the NGPA today gave me the energy boost I was seeking.

I was talking with one of the newer members who is working on her CFI or Certified Flight Instructor rating. One of the examiners she flew with remarked that he thought women didn’t make good pilots. Some of the best pilots I know are women. I wonder how many pilots don’t think gay men make good pilots. They’d be wrong about that too.

And this is why we march in Pride Parades.

Colors.

Do displays like this really give people fits? How it must suck to be cranky all the time.

Pride.

It’s Pride Month and Chicago’s official Pride Events are taking place this week. The celebration began last weekend with a street fair in Boystown and ends this coming week with the big Pride parade. I plan on walking in the parade again this year as part of the contingent for the National Gay Pilots’ Association. While the NGPA is more geared toward airline pilots, there are many of us General Aviation pilots who also represent and believe what the NGPA stands for.

I walked in my first Pride parade in 1989 in Boston. At that time I was part of a group called BGLAD, which I think stood for “Bisexual Gay Lesbian at Digital”, though it might have started out as “Being Gay or Lesbian At Digital”. BGLAD was part of another group called DECplus, or DEC People Like US. I found Digital (commonly known as DEC, though we always called it Digital when we worked there) to be a very supportive company in this regard.

One think that struck me about Boston Gay Pride in 1989 was that it felt like a “safe” space that at the time was usually confined to the likes of organizations like BGLAD or DECplus, or the interior of a gay bar. I was not quite 21 years old when I went to my first pride, and while the atmosphere was celebratory, there was a more militant feel to it. We were marching for so many reason: people dying of AIDS, acceptance or at the very least acknowledgement of our existence. We had to be loud and we had to be proud to get where we are today. I remember a religious contingent spitting on a few of us at the end of the parade in Boston in 1989. I remember spitting back. It wasn’t one of my proudest moments. It would be a few months before I decided to ACT UP.

Image from Harvard Magazine

Earl and I went for a walk through Boystown here in Chicago last Saturday night shortly before midnight. While the street fair had been over for the day for several hours, the streets were still hustling and bustling with partners and the like, all in celebration of Pride. So many sequins, and bright colors, and statements being made everywhere. Lines snaked down blocks waiting to get into the hottest clubs. The crowd was decidedly mixed; there were just as many bachelorette party types as there were seemingly gay people lining the streets. Honestly, I was a bit dismayed. Everywhere one looked there was people stumbling for the obvious effects of alcohol or other recreational drugs. As Earl and I made our way down the sidewalk, the atmosphere started to feel less like a safe space for gay people and more like a seedy dive bar. The smell of weed permeated the street. Young people were comparing their respective states of “rolling”. Some were coming down from it, others were at their high point, no one seemed particularly grounded. People that I sensed would have never showed any support to the gay community back in 1989 wanted to be part of the biggest party in the city in 2019.

Is this what we want Pride to become? Another excuse to get out of your mind drunk or stoned so one can stagger, scream, and puke all over Boystown?

I’m still such a country bumpkin’ living in the big city.

Back in late April I remarked to Earl that the department stores and the like were starting to put up Pride decorations like Christmas before Halloween. Pride has become a cash cow for so many outside of the “traditional” gay community. I’m old. I still interpret a gay flag on a business as a business owned by a member of the gay community. But it doesn’t really mean that anymore. The cynical side of me wonders if the pride flag really means, “hell yeah, we want your gay dollars”.

I wonder how many of partiers in the country’s first gayborhood would have been part of the rebellion back at the Stonewall in New York City in 1969. Would they have resisted police harassment? Or would they have fled the scene out the back door in search of a better party.

Perhaps we need a reminder as to why some of us Gen Xers and Baby Boomers had to spit back back in the day.

Céline.

I’ve been a Céline fan since hearing her since in French on a radio station out of Kingston, Ontario back in the mid-late 1980s. Here’s one of her latest interviews. She is a couple months older than me. I find her attitude to be very inspiring.

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Lust.

I’ve lusted after this dancer since I first spotted him in a music video in 1990. His name is Paul Surety and at the time he was a ballet dancer, though here he’s a pop music dance instructor. Today he’s remixing instrumental trance music in Europe.

Bonus points if you can name the (obscure in the US) dance track from 1990 in which appeared with the singer in the music video.

I always thought he looked like a fifth Baldwin brother.

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.

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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).