Gay Day

Friday, April 25, 2008

So, here's the skinny:

I write memoirs.

Which, of course, are about my life.

I was not raised by wolves, I was not a crack whore, or a drag queen, or a CIA agent. My father was not Aaron Spelling, and my parents did not stick probes up my nose.

I was a "normal" person.

Well, sort of.

I grew up gay in the Ozarks, not an easy place to grow up gay.

Or straight, for that matter.

It was incredibly difficult, wanting to wear Gloria Vanderbilt jeans and deck shoes instead of Wrangler's and dingo boots. What made matters worse was that my older brother -- the quintessential straight boy -- was killed when I was just entering high school. I ballooned to nearly 260 pounds because I couldn't handle the truth (YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!). My parents, God love them, are eccentric as hell, but they loved me, and they struggled with me, and, finally, accepted me.

And then I worked in a conservative environment for many years, where I experienced full-on and subtle discrimination from a number of elite individuals who had no clue what it was like to be different in this world, to struggle with anything except where to go on winter vacation. I had no protection at work, or in the state I lived, and so I put up with it for as long as I could.

I deal with my life with humor and honesty. I write about those issues, which effect us all, gay or straight, man or woman, rural or urban, married or single: Family, love, acceptance, death, struggling to find out who we are in this messy world. As I say, I think the best memoirs force both the writer and reader to hold mirrors up to their faces and take a good, long, hard look at their lives.

So what the hell is the point of all this?

Well, it often seems that since I was not raised by wolves, or was not a crack whore, that my memoirs lack that HOLY SHIT! shock factor that many drool over. Further, it seems that being gay -- especially if you don't live on either coast -- has sort of "jumped the shark," like Fonzie, or global warming.

But, folks, that just ain't so ... we are a very divided country, too often filled with talk of "family values" and "morality," which is just a disguise for ignorance and hate.

Take, for example, the recent story about a gay rights activist who came to speak at a local college in Grand Rapids, but was then "uninvited." It became a local media firestorm. You can read about it here:

And then, I urge, go ahead and read the comments that were posted. Shocking.

Let me say this again, clearly:

I was born gay. It was not a "choice." No one would make a choice to be hated, or to fear losing his family, or to feel ostracized much of his life.

I knew from this from very early on ... I mean, people, I had a crush on Robbie Benson. I wanted to marry Christopher Atkins. I would never have pulled a Brooke Shields and gotten my period and wanted off the island.

My parents did not abuse me. I was raised in a wonderful (albeit nutty) home.

I am well aware of the scriptures which seem to condemn me. I have read the Bible. I have studied the Bible. We all fall short, every day, in one or another, especially if you study the Bible. But I also know that being gay is simply who I am. I caused more destruction and chaos and horror by pretending to be straight than I ever have being gay. I have an unwaivering faith in God; I have been tested, time and again. When all is said and done, however, I believe our spiritual test will be akin to Who Wants To Be A Millionaire ... each of us, one-on-one, with God, trying to answer some hard-ass questions. And, all w/o a phone a friend.

My relationship with G. is now nearing its 12th anniversary. We pattern our relationship after those of our grandparents and parents, whose marriages endured incredible horror and beauty, but sustained to be forces that were truly magical.

And yet, discrimination continues. In full force. Even if people pretend that it's jumped the shark.

But, I believe, so does love, and faith, and friendship, and belly laughs.

And this is what I convey with my books. Few of us are crack whores, or offspring of wolves ... and that's a good thing. Most of us are just people ... struggling with similar issues. And there's nothing like a memoir to connect us all.

Diatribe over.



Blogger Lori said...

I hope you and Gary have a wonderful 12th anniversary.

It doesn't matter what all of those ignorant, deluded, intolerant people say. If the world was filled with more loving relationships like what you have with Gary, we'd all be better off.

I love your memoirs and the fact that you grew up in a relatively normal family is what I can connect with. I think you're fantastic.

April 30, 2008 at 9:06 AM  
Blogger hicktowndiva said...

Thank you, Wade. I've read, and loved your books. I'm raising a son who I strongly suspect is gay, and I want to be the best mother I can to him. I want to help him overcome the obstacles in his path...your humor, your messages of love and hope are so helpful to me. Thank you.

July 25, 2009 at 5:38 PM  
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