Note: In honor of National Coming Out Day, I dragged this one out of the archives. I was torn between taking a serious or more light-hearted route, but I finally decided that things have been far too serious lately, and we need some levity. Besides, Coming Out, once all is said and done, should be a celebration. Enjoy.
In yet another example of having too much time on my hands, I once embarked on a project to amass a collection of terms, euphemisms and reference points used by my tribe, the Rainbow People, back in the prehistoric times of my youth. I anointed this budding compendium with the glowingly-original title of “Ye Olde Gaye Glossarye”, a choice that I thought was rather fetching but wreaked annoying havoc on the spell-checker capabilities of my composition software. (“This program has encountered a fatal error. Click here to close. And don’t come back.”)
In any case, I won’t bother you with the entire deluge of my pointless entries in this failed masterwork, because even my most faithful readers won’t be able to get through the entire collection without their medication waning, resulting in a reevaluation of why the hell they are following me. But I will toss out a few random snippets just to see if anyone thinks I should pick up the tawdry torch again…
Ye Olde Gaye Glossarye – The Reader’s Digest Version
“Beards” – Women who posed as the dates of gay men in social situations, thus giving off a diluted musk of heterosexuality that would hopefully appease the fundamentalists in the crowd who were waiting for their Ku Klux Klan robes to be returned from the dry-cleaners. Sadly, many of these “beards” did not fully understand their role, and they were stunned when marriage proposals did not ensue. (Honey, if I can dress you better than you can dress yourself, you might need to rethink the hopeful thoughts you are scribbling in your diary at night.)
“Diana Ross” – An iconic musical figure who shoved better singers aside in her fierce determination to rule the planet, thus earning the initial adoration of budding gays who wished to do the same, but perhaps with a bit more finesse. Diana eventually released “I’m Coming Out”, a song which meant nothing to her personally but whipped the gay boys and girls into a frenzy of misplaced validation. Then Diana got bored with it all and married into royalty. She and her world-dominating hair basically haven’t done anything since. Except collect the royalty checks.
“Fan-Dancing” – Not something Josephine Baker did with suggestive bananas, but rather a 1970s limited craze wherein tipsy but determined gay men would invade the dance floor at nightclubs bearing Carmen Miranda flip fans and then proceed to clear the stage with wind-milling and dramatic poses. It was a rather festive experience, as long as you stayed clear of the weed-whacker on crack who was whirling with the intensity of Hurricane Gloria coming ashore.
“Friends of Dorothy” – A down-low term used to describe people who enjoy fraternizing with folks who checked the same gender box on job applications. The origin of this phrase is somewhat unclear, something to do with Judy Garland and/or flying monkeys, but the reference eventually lost favor, probably because Dorothy Hamill came along with her wedge haircut and made things confusing.
“Fruit Loop, The” – This was a navigational term used back in the primitive days before Google Maps and GPS devices were the new normal, and it referred to those clandestine parts of town wherein one could drive about in their cars and hope to chance upon others of the lavender persuasion. The circuitous route was intended to be traveled repeatedly, thus the “loop” designation, a procedure which allowed the drivers and the non-drivers to review all possibilities before proceeding to the checkout lane.
“Mary” – An affectionate term that gay men used to use when referring to another gay man, as in “Mary, that blouse is FABULOUS!” But times change, and bitter queens began using the term in a derogatory manner, and the love was gone. In current times, if you call someone Mary who isn’t actually named Mary, you are likely to get a Pomegranate Martini thrown in your face.
“Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman” – A twisted soap opera parody that aired briefly in the mid-70s. This thing was all the rage with my people, but the show could only be seen in certain markets, due to the controversy surrounding Louise Lasser appearing stoned all the time and sporting pigtails. In other markets, the show was considered worthy of prayer circles leading to cancellation, because nothing says “love your fellow man” like fevered hypocrites who try to destroy other points of view because their own lives are so rigidly devoid of meaning.
“Rainbow” – The pride symbol adopted by people who enjoy loving someone who has the same accessories as they do. The colorful image symbolizes the wide range of love available in the world, with the added flair of a potential pot of gold over yonder. The existence of the pot has never been proven, however, because that’s just too damn far to walk when you’re wearing Birkenstocks.
“Stonewall Inn” – A cute little nightclub in NYC where, circa 1969, several drag queens and their not-as-flamboyant friends grew dissatisfied with what life was serving them, and decided to change the menu. For good. Oh, and there was a bit of rioting and rock-throwing and running in heels. Because you should try to get your cardio in every day.
“Xanadu” – This was an abysmally bad movie about Greek goddesses/sisters who descended to Earth in order to perform roller-skating choreography in the hopes of… who the hell knows what they were trying to do. The celestial message is unimportant. The allure for the rainbow people was the heady combination of Olivia Newton-John (worshipped eternally for “Grease”), Gene Kelly (worshipped eternally for his precision as a dancer and the hope that he played for our team, even though he didn’t) and a cavalcade of scriptwriters, choreographers and producers who clearly had ingested enough pharmaceuticals to power the planet for the next century.
To be continued?
Okay, I can’t help but do a serious bit: Coming out is an extremely personal journey, and no two paths are the same. If you are contemplating such a move, I have absolutely no right to tell you what to do. But I will say two things. One, anyone who turns away from you once you make the Big Announcement was never really there for you in the first place. And two, the absolute freedom of finally being yourself is a remarkable, delicious, soul-lifting experience that will wash you clean in a way you cannot explain until you’ve done it.
Originally published, at least in this form, in “Bonnywood Manor” on 03/11/16. (Many of the individual bits have appeared across several platforms for several years.) I did add an Intro and Outro for this post, because the Rainbow People are all about presentation, at least the good ones. By the way, have you hugged a gay today? Thought so.
Categories: The Journey