October 1998

Metamorphosis And Change

Wow, it's that time again! Where did the month go? I looked at my calendar the other day and couldn't believe it: time for another Oasis article! School has me really wrapped up. The last two weeks have been among the most depressing in my life, so for this article we'll zoom back in time and cover some happier events. I'll hit you with the depressing shit next month. In the mean time, feel free to email me at flyboy313@yahoo.com. Keep those good ideas coming. I'd also like to say thanks to E.J. and Craig, plus a special "hi" to Matt.

OK, I know the title this month is redundant (and stolen) but I don't care. I needed a title and that was as good as I could get. Last month I promised a review of the Hanson concert in Pittsburgh and you're going to get that, as well as a few other things, all of which roughly tie together, the events since my last article.

Have you ever had a tiny little thing annoy you so bad you could hardly see straight? The other person has no idea they are practically running their fingers down the chalkboard of your brain. And you can't say anything because, DUH!, you're gay and not trying to give yourself away? OK, I'll bet you have. So let me tell you a little story you may relate to. I was watching the movie <I>The Apostle</I> with my mother and her flighty boyfriend. If you haven't seen it, you'll probably miss the point of my little story. (I would highly recommend renting it if you haven't seen it). It stars Robert Duvall (also director) who plays the minister of a Southern evangelical ministry. His wife, Farrah Fawcett, is sleeping around and Duvall finds out about it. When she takes his church away from him and tries to prevent him from seeing his children at a Little League game, he loses his temper and whacks the boyfriend upside the head with a nearby Louisville Slugger, killing the man instantly. Anyway, to make a long story short, he goes on the lam to Louisiana to start a new church and escape the Texas law enforcement after him. The whole movie centers around his preachings to his growing flock, the real "JE-SUS!!" kind, over the top screaming and yelling, "Feel that Holy Ghost power" and stomping and singing and so forth. All the stereotypes about southern religion.

Through the whole movie, my mother bristled at his impassioned preachings. No friend to organized religion is my mother; in fact she hates anything to do with it. For her, those with religious fervor are the great evil in the world. Some odd byproduct of the '60s and her fundamentally perverse upbringing, maybe, but it is an opinion I adamantly do not share. I consider myself a Christian and go to Mass with my aunt fairly regularly, much to the quiet disapproval of my mother (who usually doesn't find out about it).

Now it takes dedication to be Christian and gay at the same time. But, through much deep soul-searching on my part and a hearty study of scripture, I've managed it. So I became instantly pissed-off when my mother, who has no practical reason to hate religion, launched into a massive diatribe on the evils of the Church. I felt my temperature rising and I wanted to explode, "What <I>is</I> your problem? How <I>have</I> they ever wronged you? They don't preach that they hate you, that you are the damned, condemned to hell because of your nature! They don't read the tale of Sodom and Gomorrah and berate you and that which is your deepest nature! They aren't systematically launching a smear campaign against you in major newspapers, trying their damnest to criminalize your life and condone violence towards you. You haven't the <I>faintest fucking problem</I> with the Church. You wouldn't know persecution if it bit you in the ass. So get down off your free-love, '60s anti-establishment, pro-choice pedestal for a brief moment and look at the world from <I>my</I> perspective! If I can forgive these people their errors and join them in the house of the Lord on earth, you could certainly figure something out!" But, since she doesn't know I'm gay, I couldn't say that. I just had to go to my room and pout and punch the wall.

Now don't get me wrong, I love my mother a lot. She is a great support in my life. Whatever political and theological differences I have with her, I managed to put aside long ago. And that is why I've decided to come out to her. Yes, unless I suddenly lose my balls in the next month, by the next column, I'll be out of the closet to one parent. I took my first step in that direction last month when I had to ask her to take me to see Hanson.

I'm mostly a fan of Classical music. I know more about it than any music teacher I've ever had in school and have a gargantuan collection of CDs. But I also like a lot of pop stuff, including Hanson, my favorite of all. Anyway, aside from my grandmother, no one in my family knew that I like Hanson and, because of my other tastes, would ever guess that I would like them. So when I arranged to get a ticket to their August 27th show in Pittsburgh, I had somewhat of a dilemma: Pittsburgh is three hours away from where I live, so how the hell was I gonna get there? I can drive but I'd never be allowed to drive to Pittsburgh and stay the night (I do have some friends there) for a concert. No way. So I had to ask my mother.

I was quite nervous going into it. I had the mistaken impression that she was aware of the great stigma against male Hanson fans: admitting you like Hanson is like admitting you are gay. And I'd say that nine times out of ten, that assumption on society's part is correct. It is with me. I even prepared a little contingency coming out speech and hoped fervently I wouldn't need it. I handed her the ticket with utmost shyness. But it turned out OK. She told me I should never feel like I had to hide my musical taste from her. She agreed to take me. I felt like I had to play her something (she'd never heard any of their music and claimed to know nothing about them). Anyway, I picked the "safest" thing I could find, a live acoustic version of "Weird." She said she kinda liked them (I'll bet).

Anyway, God only knows what she was thinking when she saw the crowd of sweaty, excited pubescent females lined up at the Civic Arena. Not another guy in sight for miles. But I didn't care. I leapt from the car and got in line. "See you at 11," I yelled.

I'm a veteran concertgoer, if I don't mind saying so myself. I've been to plenty of concerts, most with a rougher crowd that this. So I was constantly amused by the amateur trepidations of the rookie fans (most of which had bemused parents in tow). As I facetiously (if accurately) reported to my mother later: "Boy there was a lot less pot smoke than at Page and Plant!"

Just as I stepped into the arena from the halls outside, the lights instantly blacked and the noise shot up to frightening decibel levels kinda like the THX noise at the beginning of movies (except MUCH louder). I was about thrown backwards but managed to stagger to my seat in the first tier (best seat there off floor level). After the warm-up band (another Tulsa group called Admiral Twin, who was very good), there was the brief tension-building set change, which totally freaked out the rookies in the sold-out crowd. (The most amusing moment during this interval was one of the musical selections coming over the sound system: Aerosmith's classic "Dude Looks Like a Lady," an ironic choice if ever I've heard one.)

But the wait was worth it: when Isaac, Taylor (yummy!), and Zac stepped out on the stage, I was instantly on my feet, and for the entire next two hours as well. I was constantly amused by the girls next to me, who remained seating the whole time and clapped politely at the end of each song. I was more typical of the audience: clapping, singing, dancing, and hollering the whole way through. I have no idea what the people in my section made of me, but most of the girls were probably too näive to guess what the impeccably groomed 16 year old boy next to them was doing dancing and shaking his ass to Hanson. The high point was definitely at the end when they did "I Will Come to You," my very favorite of their songs. Always prepared, I whipped out my Bic and held it high above my head. I was almost the only one there with a lighter, but it didn't matter; I was in la-la land and loving it.

The amateurish of the crowd turned into big time advantage when half the arena emptied out after Hanson left the stage (in fact several parents looking to beat the rush bailed during the last moments of "MMMBop"). But my experience paid off, and the three hotties returned for a bitchin' ten minute encore, ending with an a capella "Weird." The girls next to me were all gone so I had the entire row to dance around for the songs of the encore (I was so high I don't even remember what they were). It was totally awesome. The only downside was the excessive hollering of the audience. My goodness, I'm here for them, not for you! I couldn't even pick up "Where's the Love" and "Speechless" until a few bars in and I could hardly make out the chorus to "Minute Without You" over the astonishing din. It didn't help that they all, especially Zac, were not turned up near enough. Louder! LOUDER!

OK, that was my adventure as a gay boy at the Hanson concert. Although their tour is winding down, if by chance they do come to your city, I would urge any of their fans to go and see them. And if you don't, they have both a video and a CD from their tour coming out around November. That was my last fling before back to school. And boy I needed it.

So long for this month. I'll continue the story of things with Mom, as well as school developments NEXT MONTH. In the mean time, I'd love to hear from you. Email me at flyboy313@yahoo.com. Until November, good luck and God bless. ---

Evan (9/14/98)

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