Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]
Two auspicious events take place as this, my 586th PG column, appears today. I turn 75 on May 12. Jesus returns May 21 to ‘rapture’ his flock (stopping off long enough to wish me “Happy Birthday, Mary!”).
If I were the only person to age – now five years beyond life’s biblically allotted three score and ten – I’d gripe. But, as aging happens to young and old, I’ll grin and bear it. (God knows the number of times I’ve done just that. No untoward email comments, please.)
As for Jesus making a CNN newsworthy appearance – as city billboards are trumpeting – I have doubts. Seventh Day Adventists said he’d get here in 1844. Jehovah’s Witnesses claimed 1914, 1925, 1950, 1975. All no shows.
Life would have been a damn sight better for a whole lot of us mere mortals if, say, in 1975 the Late JC dropped in to kidnap Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, George W, Anita Bryant, and, just for good measure, babies Teddy Haggard, and diaper wailing Sarah Palin.
75! Seems just yesterday I was 19, cruising Farmer & Bates in downtown Detroit, as a lanky, good-looking (better believe it!), gay newbie. No Stonewall Lib papers. No out movie stars. No welcoming churches. No LGBT centers. You’d ask folks, Are you gay? They’d say, Sure I’m happy, why? Why, why, indeed.
Just gay bars. With back doors to slip in unseen. Go by a clever nickname. Marshmallow. Estralita. ‘Hit-the-Tiles Rita.’ Switch pronouns to confuse “tourists” who dropped in to “look at the queers,” leer and giggle. This year’s trade, next year’s competition, we’d laugh among ourselves. Frequently right on the mark.
I recall, as though yesterday, sitting in Lou Walker’s Bar on Woodward Avenue, just off Wayne University’s campus – before it became WSU – age 23, telling a prof I was, well (long pause) gay. Said he, “Oh, (longer pause) I’m so sorry for you, Alexander. You’re going to have a rough go of it. There are, unfortunately, so many things you can’t do. Drink up.”
Well, let’s see. I’ve been an OR tech, a New York Central Railroad claims clerk, a Harbor Terminal stevedore, a reviewer for the Wayne Collegian, a WSU writer/editor, a substitute school teacher – later administrator – a PR rep for the DSO, a stringer for the Detroit Free Press, a prolific community artist. And! there’s BTL.
I grew up on rough Cass and Peterboro streets. (Tame by today’s standards.) Poor. Discovering at age 15 I was “a fairy.” Coming out my high school senior year. Choosing my gay self over Southern Baptist salvation. (No doubt not winding up as a rice-bloated China Inland Missionary.)
I was 20 when I met my first “lover” – the term we used back then. Ernie, a ballet dancer, classical pianist, was Jewish. We were together three years. He mentored my arts interests. Took me to concerts, plays, foreign films. Told me what to listen for in classical music. Because of him I started college. (Eight years going nights to get my English B.A.)
Being gay opened doors for me. I met, befriended college professors, doctors, musicians, artists, wonderful supportive friends – also many straight – who guided and encouraged me, were there for me when I came close to losing everything to booze thirty years ago. They’re gone. I remember voices. I recall faces . . .
I recall good times, shared laughter; and, despite society’s approbation, callousness, hostility – much changed today – I treasure feelings, sentiments, insights shared over five-plus gay decades. I’ve learned being gay, like anything else that’s extra special and worthwhile in life, is a gift with unique blessings of its own. I’m grateful. And proud.
PS: If Jesus doesn’t return, I won’t mind. My 75th birthday celebration’s his loss, not mine. Hugs, all!