Sunday, March 29, 2009

When I was a kid, I was extremely gay.  My dearest friends were my middle-aged lady-teachers. I collected stationery supplies and loathed all-things-sporting.  I was that stereotypically homosexual boy prancing about the school yard making cakes and pies out of grass clippings with my girlfriends.  Looking back, I did it all despite fear of being beaten by Brian Burrows and his gang of emotionally-retarded thugs. While I may have attempted boyish manliness at times, I was mostly an unadulterated fag.

And I fear I've been terribly cavalier about all of that.

We watched Milk last night and I found the entire thing surprisingly emotional. I wanted to get up and cheer when he unabashedly kissed his boyfriend on the then-conservative Castro Street in San Fransisco. I was moved to tears when Harvey Milk (bravo, Sean Penn, bravo) climbed upon his literal soap box. And I made some kind of strange, guttural eruption of noises when the wheelchair-bound boy from Minnesota called him to say he was going to kill himself.  

A mere 40 years ago all of these things happened.  These people fought so hard for the rights I have, and I glibly refer to myself as a fagatron on a fairly regular basis. Because I can.

I'm not sure when we, as a gay people, went from being marching, demanding hoards of passionate people to the apathetic, expectant bunch we are now.  How is it possible that Proposition 6 passed all those years ago, yet Proposition 8 failed so miserably in 2008. Why didn't everyone, far and wide, stand up and shout. Demand. Care enough to make it happen.

And this isn't a condemnation of anyone's efforts, really. Watching the incredible story of Harvey Milk I felt so guilty. So selfish and young and ignorant. Like my grass-pies then, I prance about town now reaping the benefits of the hard work of many without giving it much thought at all. I rarely consider how lucky I am.

This isn't to say I'm becoming an activist: it's not in my nature. But I will stop to ponder, more often, how it is I can go anywhere with Jeff and not once worry I might be murdered.  We can put both our names on a mortgage, on health benefits.  We can exist.  And we can put our heads down at night without a heavy heart.

(Above: A beach-blonde me, 1985.  Note the palette I'm still obsessed with.)


  1. Not to dash over the meat of this fantastic post, but regarding boyhood fagatrons? I'm seeing yours and raising the bet.

  2. I relate a lot to your stories of childhood, and was a very similar kid :)

    I saw milk a few weeks ago with my husband, and I watched the film through misty eyes.

    After the film we headed into Chinatown here in Perth, Australia to get a bite to eat. This is a 20 minute walk form the cinema and. On the way, this guy a little older than us me stumbled out of a house of ill repute, and tried to have some benign slurred conversation with us. We decided to ignore him and march onwards to the delicious noodles that were waiting for us. Our staggering drunk mate did not like this, and yelled out 'faggots' at us as we walked away.

    I am almost 30, and have always been out, and not once in my whole life have I ever been called that, and how ironic that it was the night I saw Milk.

    We ignored him, and marched on. I hope he caught crabs at the whorehouse he stumbled out of and has to explain it to his wife.

  3. Taking a break to reacquaint myself with your back catalogue - this is another favourite. I laughed out LOUD at 'fagatron'. And, and Ross noted, this piece is sooooooo relatable for anyone who was ever a little queen in training.

  4. Thanks for the read, fagatron.

  5. Movies like MILK matter. Posts like this matter. It's as if you were inside my head when I watched that movie. I often try to convey these types of messages to students. It's terribly important to take pause every now and again to be aware of history and how and why it matters/should matter to you.

  6. "My dearest friends were my middle-aged lady-teachers." Dear god, I love this. ;)