It’s funny how you’ll click your heels together three times, say that there is no place like home and find that inner you that has been sitting there all along waiting for you to get sucked up into a tornado and thrown against a wall just so that you can wake up to the you you’ve always been. Man, I’d hate to diagram that sentence.
I have labeled, defined and introduced myself as many things, but gay was always at the bottom of my list. Deborah the Jew. Deborah the Gemini. Deborah the Chicagoan. Deborah the 40-Something-Year-Old. I presented Deborah the Gay only to those who knew me as those other things first.
My gay label was my hidden tramp stamp that sat under the layers of my clothes. I suppose you could call it internalized homophobia, though I wasn’t ashamed or embarrassed. You’ll have to take a ride in the Wayback Machine with me to understand the situation.
And if you don’t know what the Wayback Machine is, that is proof enough that I need to set you on my lap and tell you how things used to be in my day.
Wait. I got a little distracted imagining you on my lap. Where was I?
Ah yes, back when I was a young gay, we kept our sexuality to ourselves unless we worked in independent bookstores, coffee houses, theater or IT during the days of DOS. There were also those professional gays; those employed to support, protect and defend other gays. Those of us who were not professional gays were not always convinced that sharing that part of ourselves was wise or safe. We were a people of innuendos and nods reserving our out, loud and proud selves for rallies, marches and gay bars. I envied those gays who were out 24/7, but I preferred walking the Earth undetected, coming out on an ad hoc basis before anyone could make a judgment about me based on my penchant for the ladies.
The tornado of my life, however, had other plans and has ripped me out of hiding and thrust me against the big gay wall. Raising kids in a same-sex household blew the most powerful winds. You can’t hide your gayness unless you Anne Frank it in someone’s attic, and that just sounds much worse than a few stares when your kids call for Mom and Mommy in the supermarket.
Social media added supreme velocity to my public outing tornado. My personal blog was not necessarily a gay blog, but I posted a disproportionate number of entries about my lady partner and our kids. Before I could say “Big Gay Blogger” I had found my niche; my niche that would connect me with the gay blogosphere.
Once I embraced the Big Gay Online Me, it wasn’t long before I able to find work writing gay content on other websites and then gay gigs off-line. Before I could say Deborah the Professional Gay, I was a board member at North Jersey Pride
. I had crossed over and become a Professional Gay-In Real Life. And when I eventually looked up from under my Big Gay Baseball Cap across my station at the North Jersey Pride table to take in the success of that day; the tireless volunteers and outstanding entertainment and crowd-pleasing vendors, I had to admit that there was no place like home.
I finally knew I had arrived when I received my first Big Gay Gift. Until this year, I have enjoyed many a present on birthdays, anniversaries and Mother’s Days, but nothing I have ever received has been gay in theme. No one, friend or family, has ever thought to give me anything with a rainbow or interlocking women’s symbols or labryses. No one has gifted me the biography of Vita Sackville-West or a framed Georgia O’Keefe print, and that has suited me just fine.
For my birthday this year, I received a mug from our friends (and their dog). Hot beverages poured into this mug reveal the famous gays of history coming out from behind closed doors. These friends (and dog) scored big time providing me with something practical, quirky and educational, but I don’t know that they realized how well it connects me to my own coming out. Thank you, Ladies and Stretch for acknowledging my path on the Yellow Brick Road to Professional Gay. I was a Big Gay all along!