Pride.

For the past couple of years I have marched in Chicago’s Gay Pride parade (is it officially called LGBTQ+ Parade now?) with the NGPA, or National Gay Pilots Association. Even though I don’t fly for the airlines, the NGPA is welcoming of us pilots that like to fly “low and slow” and marching with this group has been very empowering for me.

Earlier today I remarked on Twitter that when I was a young gay lad I felt being gay was something that was not compatible with being a pilot. This was mostly due to my internal homophobia, as while I was out of the closet at a relatively young age for the time (the mid 1980s), I still saw being gay as a “less than”. I figured you couldn’t be a “less than” to become a pilot.

Clearly I was wrong.

I started seeking out the NGPA in the late 1990s and early 2000s when I first started thinking seriously of becoming an airline pilot, but I was still get a solid foothold on my career and finances and all that, so it wasn’t until the early 2010s that I was able to take to the skies. I became a member of the NGPA as soon as I passed my student pilot medical.

Since traditional Pride Celebrations have been cancelled all over the country, the NGPA decided to have a virtual Pride celebration on Zoom, and the festivities took place today. It was really well done; Ongina from RuPaul’s Drag Race is an honorary member of the NGPA Family and she performed, as well as a couple of other members doing the same, interspersed with videos made for the event, contributions from a few airlines, and commentary and information from the President and Vice-President of the organization. We also raised $20K during the event, furthering the coffers that fund the multitude of NGPA Scholarships that are awarded annually.

Aside from the pandemic, this year’s Pride festivities have focused on activism, with focus on and all of the other struggles our society faces today. I am proud to be a member of the National Gay Pilots Association. And with the timber and tone of this year’s Pride, I feel more compelled than ever to do my part in getting the country back on course and recognize the value ALL of us bring to the equation. Not since the AIDS crisis in the late 1980s and early 1990s have I felt the urge to contribute to the activism needed to make things better.

After the NGPA event wrapped up, Earl and I watched the Pride Celebration on Chicago’s ABC 7. The news media here in The Windy City usually gives live coverage of the Pride Parade and associated events; ABC 7 broadcasted a special today, and it was very well done.

I’m happy to see technology used in such a positive way.

Happy Pride, everyone! Let’s keep using this momentum to make the world a better place for all!

There Is Hope.

I totally didn’t see this coming: “The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that the 1964 Civil Rights Act barring sex discrimination in the workplace protects LGBTQ employees from being fired because of their sexual orientation”.

The vote was 6-3.

There is hope for 2020. Click the screen cap for the link to the NPR coverage.

Courtesy of NPR.

Groovy Distraction.

My husband and I are still working our way through “The Mothers In Law” on Amazon Prime. It’s a distraction from the 21st century and all its woes. We’re still making our way through the first season. The quality of the episodes is still quite uneven but it’s improving as we make our way through the trials and tribulations of the Buells and the Hubbards.

It’s interesting to see how hard Desi Arnaz, as Executive Producer and often Director, tried really hard to recreate the showmanship of “I Love Lucy” with this cast, albeit with a late 1960s twist. The writers were all from “I Love Lucy” and while one is working their way through an episode it’s easy to see that while the premise foundation is different, the shenanigans and antics of Eve and Kaye are very Lucy and Ethel. I think the only reason I’m watching the show is to watch Kaye Ballard do her thing in a very large way. There’s some improvisation going on and one of these days I’m going to start calling my husband “Cutes”.

Speaking of Kaye’s husband; while we’re still in the first season he’s being played by Roger C. Carmel.

I can’t help but notice that Roger is a very cute 1960s version of a gay bear, with his handlebar mustache and his hairy chest often showing itself under the collar of his shirt. As I understand it, Roger was part of the underground gays of Hollywood back in the day. He was released from the show before the second season, some say due to contract disputes, other say due to recreational drug use and related activities. He was replaced by Richard Deacon, who apparently was also part of the undergrounds gays of Hollywood. Oh, I do enjoy Roger’s accent as well. I’m so odd.

Much to the chagrin of my husband we’ll continue working our way through “The Mothers In Law”. Desi Arnaz and Desi Arnaz Jr. made an appearance in an episode or two for us earlier this week. I’m sure they’ll be back again before we’re done with this run.

And can I just say I love the fact that Amazon Prime is bringing back all of these old shows that can’t be found anywhere else. The prints these digital streams were mastered off of are a little rough around the edges but mostly cleaned up decently. I’m happy this little slice of nostalgia is able to live on.

Grandpa Gay.

So the young man in Boystown calling me “Grandpa” yesterday as I was waiting for a light to turn green while on a bike ride is still weighing on my mind a little bit. It’s not a detriment to my existence or anything; if anything it’s made me a bit more reflective on the current state of the world.

Let’s face it, being a gay man in the 21st century is a young man’s game. The gays like the youth and like much of the rest of American society, once you’re over a certain age you’re no longer relevant to the scene. This does not dishearten me in any way but I can’t help but reflect that it’s the opposite of how we treat, say, employees at work. Corporations want experience and relatively well-seasoned people to carry out the duties they require. The number of gay men that appreciate the handsome experience of an older man is on the low side of the percentage scale.

I don’t dye (what’s left of) my hair. If I grow my beard out I’m about 50/50 ginger and gray. If I grow out my mustache it’s white. I don’t really care about building muscle or running around shirtless to show off a worked out chest. I’ve never had a six pack. Ever. (Though I’ve polished a few in my time). I no longer have the desire to dress in an edgy manner or in anything that has a label. I consider myself put together when my shirt label isn’t hanging out the back of my neck. It usually says “Fruit of the Loom”.

The truth is, I’m happy with the way I look and the way I feel. My attempts at exercise are merely my way of enjoying life without having to go to the doctor every 10 days. Honestly, if it wasn’t for the FAA requirements around my health to retain my Pilot’s Certificate I probably would be a little more casual than I am today about my health.

When I look back at old television shows and whatnot I can’t help but notice that before the baby boomers and Gen-Xers started getting older people aged more gracefully or purposely. When “Maude” went on the air in 1972, Bea Arthur and Bill Macy were younger than I am today. They both had gray hair and pretty much looked their age; though Bea did get a facelift after the first season. Their attitudes were with the times and they didn’t try to use hip slang of the era to try to sound young. Maude and Arthur using “groovy” would be like me trying to use “rad” or “deets”. Gnarly, dude. Just gnarly.

As my husband and I grow old together I feel as young as I did back when we first met in 1995. He makes me as giddy as a school boy. I hope the young lad that called me “Grandpa” yesterday knows that same feeling if he doesn’t already. Giddy keeps you young.

There’s a lot of history in the gay community that occasionally seems unimportant to the younger generations. The freedom they take for granted: the ability to get married, the relative freedom of holding hands on the street, the presence of gay characters all over entertainment media, these are all things that haven’t really been around that long. Generations before us and we Gen-Xers have done a lot to give us the freedom to be who we are here in 2020.

I guess the cranky grandpa in me wishes these young whipper-snappers would recognize that.

Now get off my lawn.

Betty!

I did a search for “The Love Boat” on YouTube and these two screencaps came up together. Betty White! She’s everywhere!

Power.

This whole virus thing has given us all the opportunity to catch up on our television viewing. I’m not the voracious viewer of television that I used to be; I feel like the quality of shows has gone down quite a bit over the last decade or so and much of today’s offerings have not been worthy of my time. But we’ve been flipping through the various streaming services we belong to and tonight we watched the third and fourth episodes of Apple TV+’s “Visible: Out On Television”.

I’ve cried a couple of times while watching the documentary; a lot of what is depicted hits close to home: remembering the friends lost during the AIDS crisis, protesting with ACT-UP when I lived in Boston, recounting the amount of progress made with LGBTQ+ characters on television even since my husband and I first met 24 years ago.

We started watching the documentary when the lockdown first began. The word “queer” is used a lot. LGBTQ+. There’s a reason it has evolved from the GLB days of when I first came out in the mid 1980s. I don’t remember when the letters were rearranged and augmented; but I especially don’t remember a lot of folks calling themselves queer back when I was a young gay. There’s a lot power in that word: Queer. I remember one of my grandmothers saying the phrase “queer boy” when I was young. She was referring to a waiter at a restaurant who sounded like the love child of Paul Lynde and Charles Nelson Reilly. I was called queer too often in high school. And while I have tried to ‘take back’ the word queer over the past couple of years, I’ve always struggled with the concept.

My steel trap memory betrays my desire to reclaim the power of the word “queer”.

When we first started watching the documentary I started thinking about the word queer again. At the time I was going to write a blog entry about it and I even went as far as to take an impromptu photo with the word “queer” and an arrow pointing to me in a selfie. I posted it on Instagram for a few seconds before I reconsidered my thoughts processes and deleted it. Did it not fit? Do I not consider myself queer?

I have always identified as gay. When I came out in college I had a hard time saying it, and it was my high school friend Scott who insisted I say that I was gay actually out loud when I told him. (“I like guys” had been my go to phrase). That step made me more comfortable with the whole gay identity thing. It was a big hurdle. But queer? It’s a whole different thing.

The thing is, if we want to use labels, I see ‘queer’ as a label for individuals of a younger generation. I just don’t see me as an over 50 years old queer man. I’m not gender fluid in any way. I’m quite comfortable with myself both inside and out. I’m well seasoned and I’m solid in my identity. Let’s face it, I would say I’m a Kinsey 5.99 when it comes to sexual attraction. (Hey, I’m a bargain!). I’m actually just a guy that has always liked guys and my pilot light burns a little brighter than most and once in a while it shoots off like a big ol’ fabulous flare.

Wow, no sexual connotation there!

The perceived negative energy around the word “queer” is slowly dissipating from my mind. I’ve come to realize that what queer means today is a lot different than what queer meant 30 years ago. But as part of my self-identity? Hmmm, it doesn’t quite fit. It’s not how I see myself. And that’s fine.

There’s power in just being me.

The Main Event.

I’ve had this song going through my head this morning, so I thought I would share. From 1979, here’s Barbra Streisand with “The Main Event”.

This is a special VJ dance edit that gives the beginning a little more punch.

Anyone want to tell me why I waited 41 years to realize how hot Ryan O’Neal is?

Queer.

I’m not a fan of the word queer. I never have been, mostly because it was hurled my way too often back in my school days and even though the young gays insist they’re “taking back the word for empowerment”, I still cringe when I hear the word ‘queer’.

I tried embracing the word and taking it back for my personal empowerment a couple of years ago, but old ways die hard for this old gay and the word doesn’t really describe me. I’m gay. I’m eccentric. I can be erratic. I can be flamey from time to time and I’m content just being myself.

Some folks may feel as snug as a bug in a rug and happily embrace the word ‘queer’, it’s just not my thing and I don’t feel part of any queer community. I don’t even feel part of the gay community. I’m just me.

I guess I’m more obsolete than queer.

Let It Whip.

In 1983 my Dad decided to get a little bit ahead of the technology curve and purchased a VHS VCR for our 19-inch television. The TV was a vintage 1976 Zenith set that sat on the bookshelf in the Family Room and was our main television. It would be a few years before cable television snaked its way out our road from town, so we relied on a rooftop antenna with a motorized rotor that allowed us to tune in various stations. We generally stayed with the “basic four” of the era, NBC, CBS, ABC, and PBS. However, living close to Lake Ontario I could get that antenna on the roof swinging around and we also received CKWS from Kingston (CBC) and CJOH from Ottawa (CTV) clear as a bell. Once in a while I could tune in more distant Rochester and for some reason during one particular thunderstorm I flung the antenna around enough and I could grab the NBC station out of Orlando, Florida for a few moments.

The VHS VCR was made by General Electric, could handle both VHF and UHF channels, and looked a lot like this guy, albeit with a cover that flipped down over the channel selector on the right.

It was just this evening that I discovered Panasonic actually made this VCR for General Electric. I never knew that while growing up, but I can tell you the very first show I successfully recorded on it was the premiere of “Jennifer Slept Here” starring Ann Jillian.

There were no video rental places in town yet, but our local Rite Aid offered video rentals for $0.49 (49 cents) a night. I discovered a video featuring “Stars On 45”, the studio musicians that made medleys of older songs to a relentless four-on-the-floor beat-clap-beat-clap rhythm track, occasionally interrupted by Stars On 45 Jingles and interludes.

The Stars On 45
Keeps on turnin’
In your mind
But we can work it out
Remember ‘Twist and Shout’
You still don’t tell me why
With no reply..y…y…y

The video had none of the singers that were on the tracks so popular on the radio at the time, but was rather a one-off stage performance that featured the famous medleys and a whole bunch of other songs.

I remember my sister moaning and groaning when I decided to monopolize the only television in the house to watch the video, so I decided to wait until the next day, while Mom and Dad were at work and she was off doing whatever she did after school.

Towards the end of the performance the singers did a mash-up of Devo’s “Whip It” and The Dazz Band’s “Let It Whip” with a bunch of dancers moving along in very 1980s choreography. Chains and batons were flung around, people moved seductively, feathered hair waved.

When the three (at the time) scantily dressed guys came out I discovered a wonderful feature of the new General Electric VHS VCR made by Panasonic.

It had a PAUSE button.

My sophomore year had just kicked off, I had all these wild thoughts going on in my head, whereas I just knew I was suppose to be pausing on the (at the time) scantily dressed girls but I was really grooving on pausing on the (at the time) scantily dress guys.

Worried someone would come home while the VCR was on PAUSE, I quickly finished the video. I then decided to Be Kind and Rewind and then went up to my green painted bedroom with blue, green, and black plaid carpet and decided to think about what I just PAUSEd about.

I’ll let your imagination fill in the details that could evoke a blush.

While I was working today I found myself singing “Let It Whip / Whip It, Whip It Good” and realized it was from this video I hadn’t seen in 37 years. I was happy to find it on YouTube.

No need to PAUSE, I’m not a sophomore in high school.