It’s a tale of catering and rejection and redemption, all in one, along with a bit of the Harlem Renaissance thrown in for good measure, and the big circle that was created was officially closed last Saturday night.
So come along, Gentle Reader, and I’ll tell you the story of how I was officially notified that I’m a member of the gay community—by email.
“Did you know that dolphins were just gay sharks?”
--Heather Morris, as Brittany, from the television show “Glee”
So it all started with Groucho Marx.
I’m a huge fan of the Marx Brothers, and I had the chance to borrow the DVD set of his 1950s game show, “You Bet Your Life”. The very first episode of the series featured Gladys Bentley, who proceeded to pound out some of the best boogie-woogie piano I’ve ever heard; investigation revealed that the same person who was living as a woman in the 1950s was living, under the same name, as one of America’s best-known male celebrities in 1929.
A story emerged, a couple of thousand words later, of a person who had been a central part of the Harlem Renaissance, who had married a woman in a big public ceremony—again, in 1929—and who, by the time she made that “You Bet Your Life” appearance, had rejected it all in an effort of return to the “straight life” she had never really known in the first place.
So I posted the story, as I normally do, across a number of websites...and then I got the email.
The message was from the Bilerico Project website, who wondered if I might be interested in becoming a contributor. As they noted in the email, Bilerico is one of the premiere sites on the Web serving the LBGTQ community, and, as a member of that community, they knew I’d be glad to have the opportunity to associate myself with the site.
I immediately ran off to inform The Girlfriend of my new status—and I almost as immediately sent a message back, telling the folks there that I’d be thrilled...with one caveat.
I felt that they had to be informed that I’m a male who’s been with the same woman for 28 years...which, if you know anything about long-term relationships, pretty much makes me asexual.
We all had a good laugh over that, and despite the fact that I had “come out” to them, they were still willing to accept me as I am, and as a result I happily contribute to Bilerico to this very day.
Because I post to so many sites, I’m always trying to catch up with what’s going on everywhere, and just in time I happened to notice the story from one of the proprietors of the Bilerico Project, Bil Browning, who wanted us to know that he’d be in town over the weekend, and that a meetup was planned for Saturday night.
Off I went, and a great time was had by all, so far as I could tell, anyway, but we decided to go to a second bar...and that’s where the story gets good—at least for me.
So in a previous life I was a caterer, and if you’ve ever worked with a group of “food people”, you’re probably associated with the gay community on a daily basis. On our job it was not unusual to go into Seattle after work and hang out, and because one of our little group was gay, we would go to gay bars from time to time.
Now our gay friend was obviously there to hook up, and he would, but the two of us...well, not so much.
Nonetheless, my other friend (who we’ll call Dave, to protect the innocent), who was, to be honest, a better looking guy than me, would have men approach him, from time to time, to say hi.
It was never an issue, and we would explain...but you know, after a while I found myself wondering...”hey, what’s wrong with me?”
Even after Dave moved to the Portland, Oregon area we would still hang out, and one night we hit the downtown bars—including two gay bars that are immediately next door to one another.
Sure as day follows night, Dave gets hit on by all sorts of men...in fact, folks who were expressing a variety of gender presentations came by to say hello to Dave during the course of the evening—and me...nothing.
Even The Girlfriend, who had watched all this happen in Portland with her own two eyes, began to give me a bad time about it...and she’s still giving me a bad time about it, even after a decade or so has gone by.
OK, so it’s last Saturday night, and we’re standing around in the second bar, in our little group...and somebody walked past and randomly groped me!
Oh, I was dying.
I tried to explain to the group what had just happened, but as you might imagine, they were just looking at me all kind of confused (and probably thinking...”what a dweeb”).
I had to leave fairly early, as I had another event to attend the next day, so after I finished my beer I left, and almost as quickly as I could get out of the bar I had The Girlfriend on the phone to tell her the good news.
So there you go: after years of “what’s wrong with me”, I’ve finally achieved validation, in my own weird way, The Girlfriend can no longer give me a bad time...about this, anyway...and I got to meet up with online friends that, if I hadn’t of been paying attention at just the right time, I would have missed.
Not bad for a Saturday night, if I say so myself—and I have a Sunday story, too, starring the inimitable Red Green, but we’ll save that for another time.
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