Monday, July 24, 2017

We've come a long, gay way, but the road still has some of the same old rocks in it. Yep.

Back in the 1980's, coming out of the proverbial closet and identifying as gay was a challenge indeed. Some of us decided to stay in the closet; some blasted through the closet door without even opening it first; some peeked through a slight crack in the door first and then ventured out - ever so cautiously. Some of us didn't know we were in a closet. I didn't.

You know, older homes (I mean truly old homes.) had few to no closets. My Grandmother's home had one closet in the whole house. It might have been added later though. At one time, closets were considered a room, and the more rooms you had, the more tax you had to pay. So, let's not have closets. Instead, the wardrobe was the harbinger of clothing at the time. So, is it possible that a gay person was in the wardrobe? That brings so many possible themes to mind, but I shall resist the temptation, for now, to engage those themes, yummy as they may be.

So, what is my point? Ah, yes! Having come out of the closet in the mid-1980's or should I say, having been pulled out of the closet, I knew little of what may be ahead of me. Quite innocent at the time, well - naive, or just ignorant (maybe stupid?), I determined that assuming this element of my identity was just fine. Fortunately, I had parents who refused to be judgmental of the differences among people, regardless. As a kid, when I asked for a doll as a Christmas present, Mom and Dad got me one. She had pretty blonde hair, kind of curly. So, I gave the doll a most striking butch hair cut. I suppose this being during the 1960's, it smacked of a flat top. Don't know.

As a result of my parents' neutrality about my "quirks," I saw no problem with integrating some stereotypical gay characteristics. I wasn't particularly successful with these traits, qualities, eccentricities. Trying to "flame on" came across more like a Bic lighter lacking enough fluid or a flint (some of you get that image :). This was the time  - back to the 80's - when wearing your collar up was a style statement. Being gay wasn't necessary to practice this fashionable trend, but it seemed to help. Well, my collar just wouldn't stay up.

I made it through those days with no tremendous trauma. Eventually, by virtue of sporting a gay emblem on my car, I would have the occasional word on my car's window - written in the morning dew (how poetic) such as "gay" or "fag." Okay, someone has their spelling down quite well. On one occasion, some guys in a car hurled insults and prejudicial names at me as I sat in my car behind them. It must have been the pink triangle emblem where a front license plate would go.

That was almost thirty years ago. Within the last year, after I finished teaching a class, several of my students stayed around as I packed my books and materials. Discussing age, I reminded them that I was indeed their age at one time; I had raven black hair, and was admittedly a guy who could turn a few heads. One of my students, a bright, fun loving bit of a rebel suggested that I must have had good luck with the ladies. I responded, "No, I don't play for that team." The students in the class responded to my statement, but the responses were positive and intriguing: "I wondered"; "I thought so"  - and that was about it. How cool! Neat! Dope! Dank! Lit! ...... nice?  I'm learning the lingo.

Up to this point is primarily back story to bring you to my point. Yes, we have come a long way on our path to be accepted and integrated into society at large, but some of the rocks (real and metaphorical) from forty years ago when I was yanked from the closet do litter the road. This came to mind within the last week. Some workers came to my home to remove some debris due to the storms back in late June. Upon meeting the first guy at the front door, we had a fun banter with each other as they were about to begin their work. I enjoy such engagement with others; some refer to it as just male BS, an unnecessary exchange of nonsense and useless information that is really more like a spitting contest or alpha male test. Maybe so. I must admit that in my experience such exchanges provide bonding that has unique qualities. So, all was going well. Then, my partner came to the door to see what the workers were about. He didn't say much; he was as pleased as I was to have this debris removed, and made that known.

My alpha male opponent, within one glance, seemed to have made an observation and a judgment. His entire demeanor changed. He became quiet, reserved and withdrawn. He remained so for the entire job. The two guys working were superb workers; they were efficient, thorough and professional. The yard looked great. Upon completion, I went out to thank them with the same approach as when we met at the door. The one gentleman's expression had not changed: guarded, stoic, reserved. I could be wrong. Maybe he was tired. Maybe he had received some bad news. I don't know. However, my senses know this dynamic. My heart and mind know this dynamic. It's hard to describe, but it did indeed cut me to the core; I hurt; I felt like the air of my soul had been punched out of me, leaving a scarred faggot at the center. No cheer here, queer.

Those rock remnants and even emerging rocks will likely litter my path until I eventually start my soul lift from this dusty plain. You all know the old saying about sticks and stones. Well, stones do hurt and words do hurt. With thanks to God, after one has walked such a rocky path for a number of years, feet do toughen up; rocks are more easily recognized; engaging the rocks is easier so they don't have quite the power they did; there are choices about just which rocks are worth stepping on or which ones should be stepped around. Maybe, just maybe, we might gather some rocks and create a different path could happen. I'm sure of it.

Out of the closet, yes.
On the rocky road, yes.
Around the bend, yes.
Up the hill, yes.
Meet the rock, yes.
Suffer the rock, yes.
Bless the rock, yes.
Soul lifts from the rocks, yes.
Yes, yes, yes.


  1. Thanks for sharing, Tim. It is important for all of us to at least have a glimpse of one another's path. Otherwise we could carry on without knowing what stones we may be tossing with our careless words and actions.

    1. Good sir,
      Thanks for your response. Yes, indeed - awareness is a major key.

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    1. Thanks so much, Glynna. Indeed, grace provides the stepping "stones" for us all.