One of my most vivid memories around the idea of “gay” came when I was 11 or so.
A friend of mine and I were walking outside, back towards my home for dinner from another friend’s place, and I told her, “John and Sam are eating over, too.”
And she said, “John and Sam. Are they…funny?”
“Funny?” I asked. “You mean gay?”
“Yeah. I don’t think I know any gay people.”
“How could you not know any gay people?” I asked, incredulous. “They’re EVERYWHERE.”
And for me, they were.
My mother’s bestie at the time was gay. John, and his partner Sam lived near us in Ohio (which was pretty strange, since we were all from Iowa), and they threw amazing dinner parties, Sam being a chef, and the two of them being part of the upwardly mobile gay cadre in the area.
I remember meals with 20+ people, my parents and I the only “straights” in the place.
And parties that moved from fabulous home to fabulous home, with people who were always smiling at me, talking with me about boys, and happy to lend a hug or dandle me on their knees, like so many fond uncles.
Gay, to me, at the time was a very specific idea. Happy men who smelled good, and loved each other and loved the world, and were more than willing to share some of that with me.
I didn’t know what LGBT meant, or that I was already one of them, having kissed FAR more girls than boys by that point, and liking girls MUCH more, even though boys had their mystique.
I didn’t know that the woman I knew who had a boyfriend and a girlfriend was also LGBT. Or the man who mother and I spent time with as he prepared himself in makeup and feminine costume for his part in Rocky Horror was also a part of that group. I didn’t know my mother was.
And I didn’t care.
At that time, I was still pretty naive, and didn’t think it mattered.
Who wouldn’t love these people I loved?
They were FAB-U-LOUS.
35 years later, I am very aware that they are not universally loved. Despite that it makes no sense to me.
I’ve also grown to know and love so many more LGBT folk myself. And to count myself as an ally, now, even though I am one, because I’m living a heterosexual-normative life now, having found men, and a spark of romance that I never had with women has consumed me.
I still have amazing women in my life and tribe (and sometimes my bed), but since I don’t live the culture or have to deal with the stigma, I feel a bit of an outsider—even when I’m assured that I am not.
The years of marching in parades for me have probably passed me by.
I want to leave that for those who WANT to be loud and proud. I’ll be loud and proud for them in other ways.
In defense online. In the voting booth. In creating spaces that are inclusive and welcoming.
And in boosting visibility.
Yes, I know, I’m not surprising anyone these days with the news that it’s Pride Month.
And I’m OK with that.
I am, though, adding my voice.
I am the B in LGBT+. And I am an ally. I am proud. Not only of myself and the journey I’ve taken through a fluid sexuality (that may again morph into something different, who knows?), but of how far public understanding and awareness has come.
And I am also here to remind everyone how far there is yet to go. And how much there is to do.
And to please, take this month, if you can, just a few minutes each day, to seek out LGBT+ voices and to read and to listen.
And have a happy and loving and accepting Pride Month, whatever your letter.