[oasis][letters]

...we need each other, not just ourselves

Commentary by Mr. Damon

This piece is written for all my effeminate brothers and my masculine sisters, and those who never bother to get to know them.

I remember my dear friend Chris, telling me of how much fun it was being gay in the 70's. After Stonewall, he said everyone was like a big family. The lesbians loved their gay male friends, and vice versa. The drag queen was welcomed by the leatherman and all in between. I looked through his gay bar rags from back then and saw it for myself. I saw the lesbian, arm in arm with the "butch queen" who had the arm of the drag queen. They were all three different races and they were holding up a big banner that read "WE ARE FAM-I-LY!" I went to my first Gay Pride in 1990. Let me say... times had changed.

I went with a friend who was so humiliated that day that I will not even mention his name. He wore long black eye lashes and a huge top hat with a pair of over-alls. He was a brilliant creation that day. Most gay men are artistic and admire creativity, or so I thought. I was shocked to hear snide remarks, loud "whispers" and out and out rudeness. I had weird visions of high school. I had flashbacks of being whispered about, stared at, and spit on in the hallways at school. But ... that day ... GAY PRIDE. I was surrounded by my own kind: my gay brothers and sisters. My friend was silent and walked with pride, ignoring all of it.

Worse than this was at last years APLA Summer Party. Another friend of mine had a very pretty face (a boy) but had a shaved head. I couldn't believe the rude sons of bitches that sarcastically called him Sinead O'Connor and the nicer ones yelling out "Hey Annie Lennox!" Yes, these two women are pretty, but not the way these people were saying it. It was clearly derogatory and sarcastic.

At least as far as gay men go, I have witnessed a loathing for the effeminate. No, I'm not talking about Judy or Barbra or Marilyn. I'm talking about our fellow MAN: the one with the pretty face or the "swishy" behind; the one that DARES to go into West Hollywood in anything other than cut-off jeans and a vest with no shirt on under it; the ones who don't flash their gym cards as a form of ID; the ones that are automatically labeled a "bottom."

I do have a question. Who are we as gay people to judge that harshly and discriminate? We, who have been spat upon and called "faggot" in high school (and MOST of us WERE). We, who STILL have to fight bitterly for not rights, but general equality. We, who ask others not to judge us as a community. How could WE discriminate against each other? I'm sorry to say it, but I find that disgusting.

I remember once going to meet a boyfriend's parents and he said to me beforehand, "Try not to say any gay things or act so ... you know." Well, needless to say I never met his parents and he quickly became single. Coincidentally, he is still single today and that incident happened six years ago. Perhaps he shouldn't "act so..."

I don't really know what people think when they see me. I have certainly dated heavy for years now and have had some very sweet (and not so sweet) relationships in the past 10 years. I have always looked "different" too. I had big, bushy eyebrows for most of my childhood. Well ... not anymore. I have always felt a little short. Not anymore. I have my shoes re-soled, and "upped a few inches." I had curly hair. Not anymore ... I had it straightened. I don't wear jeans. I haven't worn tennis shoes in at least ten years. Am I a drag queen? No. Am I a finger-snapping, loud, obnoxious gender-bender? No. I have been called "Punk rocker" even "Death rocker," "Klub Kid," all of it. I've been called a lot of things actually. The word, is just "ME." Once you get to know me, you'll see I'm intelligent, and not any more "effeminate" than the next guy.

I have a lot of somewhat masculine female friends who, once I got to know them, I saw several sides of. They are great girls and not "bull dykes" as I've heard other gay people whisper behind them as we walked by.

I realize "to each his own." I happen to love "eyebrow queens" and effeminate guys. Sometimes I like rough trade. But I'm not talking about sex, or what turns us on. I'm talking about genuine love (at the very least, common respect) toward one another in the gay and lesbian community. 1996 really doesn't look so good for our future and we NEED each other. Not just ourselves. Whether we are "straight acting/straight appearing" (something we should never aspire to be, since we are NOT STRAIGHT) or effeminate or hard-core butch, we need to NOT JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER, BECAUSE IT MAY contain some fascinating text.

I think we will be amazed at how we all expand as gay and lesbian and bisexual people, if we put ourselves all in one boat. Let the gay men, the lesbians, the bisexuals, the transgender, the HIV positive and negative, the effeminate man, the drag queens, and everyone in between, join hands, and make sure this boat doesn't sink.


Mr. Damon is in his "early 20s" and lives in Los Angeles. This article originally appeared in the Jan. 24 issue of 4-Front, and is reprinted with the author's permission.
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