Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Happy Queer Boy in 1950's America

I was a happy, well-adjusted gay boy in the 1950's.  I knew I was different.  My parents knew I was different.  But my personality was so outrageous that disapproval—direct or implied—rolled off me like rain water off a beautiful pansy.

Being a sissy in 1950's America wan not easy, let me tell you.  American straight (or str8) men believed that they had defeated the evils of Hitler and Tojo and they were starting to be the models for men—str8 and gay—everywhere.  John Wayne and Humphrey Bogart were screen models for this emerging dominance.  Women were safely back in the kitchens and bedrooms of America and newly–married WWII veterans were reproducing like rabbits.  Testosterone of the str8 variety ruled the purple waves of grain and everything else in this country.

Into this hypermasculine environment  came a proportionate number of little gay boys, myself included.  My idols were celebrities like Judy Garland and Marilyn Monroe.  John Wayne didn’t do a whole lot for me.  Neither did toy soldiers or football or baseball.

This str8 culture flourished in my house.  I remember my mother being visibly embarrassed as I expressed my little gay self by dancing at the slightest provocation.  I have a vivid memory of watching some early TV show around 1951, when I would have been four years old, and being moved to dance my ass off.  We had guests and I was dancing for them.  My mother covered her eyes, and my father glared at me with a clear non–verbal message, “Sit the fuck down!”  I was irrepressible at that point in my life, however, and nothing—absolutely nothing—could force the gay out of me.  I enjoyed playing with the girls on my block, with their dolls, and in their make–believe pretend games.  I remember one girl’s mother commenting directly to me on how strange I was; God knows what she said to my mother behind my back.  Such comments did nothing to force me into a little gay closet.  Without even knowing it, I was out and I was proud!

Similarly, my school years through the fifth grade were lived as an out gay boy.  I had lots of girls to play with at school, and play with them I did.  I can’t even begin to count the number of times I was made to sit in the punishment chair in the corner of the room.  My infraction: non–stop talking to my many female buddies.  As a 2nd–or 3rd–grader, I tried to befriend the older girl who sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” in the school’s talent show.  It was then, and still is, just about my favorite song.  There was, it seemed, nothing my parents, teachers, or peers could do to stifle my little gay spirit.

I learned some interesting words from my mother at this stage of my life: effeminate, sissy, and homosexual being the big three.  My mother, when I finally came out to her as an adult when I was forty, claimed that she never had an inkling that I was gay.  What the fuck?  Denial is not just a river in Egypt!!!

My closet swallowed me up when I hit the age of 11 and started to have sexual feelings for Bobby Lester.  I made as comfortable a home in there as I could, and lived the next 30 years of my life in its tight, dark, and deadly confines.

But until then, I was an out, happy, maybe even flaming queer boy, and I had overall a very good time being me.  Sorta like I feel right now!

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