Parting Glances: Skippy made me gay.

By |2018-01-16T06:16:37-05:00October 13th, 2005|Opinions|

I have a scrapbook my mother put together after I came out to her in ’73, a year after my father died. She wrote a note to go with it. Her supportive words are now sadly lost.
The “treasures” she neatly pasted include my birth announcement (7-1/2 pounds), early drawings, embarrassing report cards (Es in spelling), and first shorn lock of hair. [HRC asked me to donate same for Silent Auction 2005; but I choose to keep the snippet as a reminder that I was once a Jean Harlow blond — and actually had hair.]
When I told my mother I was gay, she paused. “I haven’t been around as long as I have or read as many novels as I have, not to know.” [Dang; Now she tells me. Why couldn’t we have talked about this 50 novels earlier?] Shortly thereafter she met my friends, attended Unlimited Seniors and Metropolitan Community Church of Detroit.
With her easy-going ways, she fit right in. (Interestingly enough: my parents never asked me as a teenager who I was dating, or when was I going to marry. It certainly removed a lot of the pressure to make up stories or date beards [female]. Two of my partners my folks met, and thought they were tops. Actually they were.)
October 11th marked Coming Out Day — accepting the honest fact that your biological, mental, and emotional self is gay, lesbian, bi, or transgendered — so, I’m devoting this column to celebrate the fact that I’ve been “in the life” for 50 self-actualizing years.
It’s important to underscore “emotional” because, for some reason of straight obtuseness, people think that being gay is all about sex — period. It’s not. (Well, maybe 82.7%.) While sex is (or should be) mind-blowing, closeness, intimacy, friendship, sharing, warmth, and caring for another are the real catalysts for all personal growth and fulfillment. [“Sex is just the icing on the angel food cake of life.” — Sister Scatterpin.]
My scrapbook also contains a kindergarten photo: my class, chaperoned by tiny Mrs. Williamson, our teacher. To my right is a towhead kid named Carl [last name withheld in case any of his possible 40 grandchildren are reading this]. Carl provide my first hands-on experience, an initiation at age 13 that lasted about six months of lower-bunk wrestling, hammer-locking, and knee jerking (for starters).
Carl’s mother, a waitress, worked days [hooray for single moms!] and his older brother, Ron, was usually out swatting baseballs. After our “matches,” Carl allowed me to help myself from the refrigerator — sort of a bribe for services rendered in the name of amateur sports. Then, one day — out of the black and blew — Carl sidelined our activity.
“We better stop doing this,” said Carl quietly, over a placating peanut butter/jelly sandwich. “Why?” said I, new to matters of an addictive — and deliciously crunchy — nature. “Because,” he continued, “we’ll grow up queer.” I can’t vouchsafe Carl’s current status, suffice it to say, my own still holds, if not queerly, than a little oddly, ripened with age.
Fresh out of high school I joined a thriving gay community in Downtown Detroit (four bars, two teen hangouts). One warm summer evening I stood — stunningly attractive, I thought — on the corner of Farmer & Bates and looked around. I saw no Affirmation Lesbian & Gay Community Center, counted no BTL newspaper outlets, heard no dyke hard rock bands, saw no Triangle Foundation volunteers. Nothing to write home about . . . .
But the streets were alive with promise; and at 19, perfect for making friends.

About the Author:

Charles Alexander