The Golden Child

A 2-1/2 minute story sharing what it feels like to grow up gay. Truly delightful, a must watch.

Uncle Poodle, Our Redneck Spokesmodel

You may not be following the reality TV show Here Comes Honey Boo Boo on TLC, a humorous look at a charismatic self-described redneck family in Georgia, but suddenly we have a gay redneck spokesman.

Honey Boo Boo is a precocious seven year old who has opinions on everything, including on her Uncle Poodle, Honey Boo Boo’s name for her gay uncle Lee Thompson. (It turns out poodle is her name for all gay men… and she perceptively referred to Anderson Cooper as a poodle on his show, a month before he came out.)

As Uncle Poodle told the Georgia Voice:

Things are changing. My husband and I live in Milledgeville because we want to be out in the country. I’m gay, but I’m as redneck as I can get, and we want to be somewhere we can fish and jump on a four-wheeler, go hog wallowing. There’s probably 40 or 50 of us — gays, lesbians, bisexual, transgender people — around here, they’re all open about it, everybody knows it.

And here’s Uncle Poodle’s declaration in support of Spirit Day 2012.

I love that our voices come in from so many parts of our culture. It is one of the grand things about the gay community, we pop up everywhere!

When Your Befuddled Mom Thinks You Are Gay, And You Are Not

From a commenter on Gawker comes a cute story:

My mother was in a nursing home in Utah towards the end of her life and I was in Florida. I’m not gay, but my best friend since kindergarten is gay and we have lived together several different times over the years and we were doing so at the time of this story.

My sister called me out of the blue to tell me mom was telling everyone I was gay. My sister told her, “No, Mark and Doug aren’t boyfriends. Doug has a boyfriend.”

My mom teared-up and said, “Oh, no! Does Mark know?”

I’ve always loved my mom, but loved her just a bit more when I learned that she wasn’t really concerned about me being gay, but she was terribly upset that my supposed boyfriend was cheating on me.


The Profound Integrity Of The Gay Community

We have a saying in the gay community:

It is better to be hated for who you are,
than loved for who you are not.

This is the dilemma of the closet. If we pretend we are straight, we can get the approval of those around us. If we are honest about who we are, we risk rejection and worse. This difference between lying to make others comfortable, and living honestly, was powerfully demonstrated in the Pentagon’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” which turned this societal value of preferring lies into law. As the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, testified before Congress, he has served with gay and lesbian service members since 1968:

No matter how I look at this issue, I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens. For me, personally, it comes down to integrity, theirs as individuals and ours as an institution.

"Circles will be Circles, and Squares will be Squares" (by Kamran Akhavan)

I was excommunicated from my church for being gay. That’s the morality of people who prefer conformity over truth. When I went off to graduate school and told my parents I was living an out gay life, Mormon leaders told them to cut me off for my defiance. I was willing to risk it all. No amount of quoting God’s wrath or “eternal damnation” or disinheritance was worth the lies to me. I prefer the values described in the Bhagavad Gita:

It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly
than to live an imitation of somebody else’s life with perfection.

While there are at least as many squirrelly and dishonest gay people as there are straight people, my overall community represents a deep and profound commitment to life’s deepest truths. Many of us suffer and die for our unwillingness to be who we are not. As the song from La Cage aux Folles puts it:

I am what I am,
I don’t want praise, I don’t want pity.

I bang my own drum,
Some think it’s noise, I think it’s pretty!

And so what, if I love each feather and each spangle,
Why not try to see things from a different angle?

Your life is a sham ’til you can shout out loud
I am what I am!

The Simple Story Of A Soldier Coming Out

On the eve of the removal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, a tender young soldier calls his dad to tell him he’s gay. The video, now seen by millions, is stunning in its simplicity.

How I Came To Be Gay. Hint: I Didn’t Choose It.

And those who were seen dancing
were thought to be insane
by those who could not hear the music.

»      Friedrich Nietzsche

I did not choose to be gay. In my experience, it felt like homosexuality chose me.

It found me on the playground of Rosslyn Heights Elementary School during afternoon recess on a spring afternoon. I was in 5th grade, and during a game during recess a 6th grader took his shirt off. With an odd awareness I found myself staring at his athletic torso and—woosh—something happened inside me. With unnerving clarity I realized I was attracted to this kid, and more specifically, to his body. This must be the same disruptive moment straight boys feel when a woman’s breasts shift from the warmly maternal to the unnervingly erotic. Puberty’s first thunderings arrived as attraction to a boy I don’t even remember, outside of that one searing image.

I always knew I was different. I felt out of synch with the other kids, and by the third grade they were mirroring my differentness by calling me a “fem” and mocking how I talked, sat, and walked. I knew I found men to be “the other” in a way I never experienced women, but it wasn’t until that moment on the playground that I began to realize why. From that day, I began to look at men differently. I started to scrutinize them for the interest I had in their bodies, and tried to sort out these new feelings that kept shifting as adolescence progressed.

I did not choose to be gay. I was not giving in to an indulgent experience of decadent pleasure, as religious conservatives would have it. I was only 11. I did not understand the concept of sexuality for anyone, especially myself. I was the oldest of five, so I had no older siblings to learn from. I was so ignorant that a mean girl in class that same year teased me for not knowing what “gay” meant. I was sure it meant happy, which confirmed her low opinion of me. (Her other word was “whore,” which I asserted was like a scary movie, to more snearing.) I was still a bit mystified how the sex act worked a year later when we saw the highly abstracted diagrams in the filmstrips of parent-child sex education night. For me, at least, the concept of “attraction,” as a full-bodied emotional reaction to a particular gender, arrived well before my conceptualization of “sex.”

Although the details vary widely, most gay men have a similar story. We have a sense that we are different from a young age, crystallizing somewhere around the age of eight. Some of us know that our difference centers around our attraction to men, while others are drawn to the feminine and the world of women. Women often have the same kind of clarity about their sexual attraction, or may experience a fluidity over time, and they face the same kind of questions of how closely they identify with their masculinity.

Clarity around sexual stuff does not fully arrive for most of us, straight or gay, until after adolescence and we grow into adults. For me, the arrival of sexual attraction was like “Aha, that explains a lot of things,” along with a sinking sense that the surety of my childhood view of a simple world was slipping away. My culture offered no support, no role models, and no positive messages about being gay. It took another decade for me to figure out how to live my life as me, rather than as the person society said I should be.

On my way to 50 I have made ten thousand choices of how to live my life, but I never got to choose who I was attracted to. How some of us came to believe homosexuality is a choice remains a mystery to me.