The Journey

Flash Backward #7: Gathering the Rainbow Bits

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.

Cheers.

 

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.

 

20 replies »

  1. VERY funny, especially since I knew these terms from wonderful parties with my theatre friends – in NYC during the height of the disco movement. LOVED the clever sarcasm and, especially, your last heartfelt paragraph (the one before the name of that bar, obviously).

    Sadly, some people do forever lose connections with people they care about when they come out. Sadder still is the realization that those people never really cared about them at all or they’d effing BE there!

    btw- I was a great beard, more than a time or two, with zero illusions — mandatory office parties mostly, for friends who lived as “roommates” even though they were paid enough to afford their own NY apartments. Since they worked for different companies, I could be the girlfriend or fiance of either. I LOVED dressing to the nines and playing the part every bit as well as Bess Myerson.
    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to transform a world!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Two pieces of brilliant advice in that last paragraph. Oh, and I’ve been the ‘beard’ for several friends, especially back in the 1970s and a job was at stake. I was fully aware and very happy to play the role.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I don’t know if I hugged a gay today – I don’t care really – I just hug people who I like without worrying about who they like, so I probably have and didn’t know it. We used to live opposite a friend of ours, who eventually came out to us (my hubby said he knew, but I never noticed – he was just our friend). I did hug my transgender child, but, hey, I do that every day, and have done for the last 20 years.
    Have a Hug Brian, you deserve one for all the happiness you bring into my life.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Apart from rainbow. I haven’t even heard the terms you list. The boringness of monochromatic life, I suppose.
    My 13 year old wonders if she has shades of the rainbow in her. I don’t even know how to process that just yet! I merely asked her to wait a little longer to know for sure.
    Let’s see.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Boringness? You have, to me, a richly satisfying life, and I greatly enjoy the cultural bits you toss my way. (This is why we must be friends forever, for the cross-cultural sharing and so much more.) As for Thirteen, well, that’s a time when there are so many shades and so many decisions, none of which have to be resolved in a rush. I’m quite confident that someone raised by you will eventually find the shades that mean the most to her, and you will be right there with her…

      Like

  5. Your last bit brought a tear to my eye, I want you to know that. You can apologize to me later.
    Seriously though, this was wonderfully entertaining and illuminating. I always wondered what the deal was with Xanadu. Now I know. Sorry you lost Gene to my team, but you got Neil Patrick Harris. We’ll call it even.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tears are good, Christ Cathi Wellhart. Well, at least the good tears. The world would be a better place if we had more of them. As for the team losses, Neil Patrick is quite fine, but I’m not sure he competes with the way Gene made me move in mysterious ways…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I would say share more. I’ve been a ‘beard’ and yes I was devastated when my brother (a rabid homophobe I’m sorry to say) told me the fellow of my affection was gay. My gay-dar has never worked right. I knew some more of the terminology of the Rainbow people too due to working with several gay men and going to college with at least one fully out lesbian. I’ve been hit on by several lesbians too, which has nothing to do with anything except to underscore the fact that my reverse gay-dar is apparently dinged too. But then for both deceased hubby and I things were never exactly monochromatic. And up here to admit things like that will get one a visit at midnight from a lot of folks with camo makeup and torches. It’s a sad world in certain corners and not very broad minded. Here’s another hug to add to your collection…I think you’re wonderful, but you knew, didn’t you? ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • Personally, I think we are all fluid and messy and stumbling. Some of us figure out what we want after a while, and some of us never do. It’s just unfortunate that so many never really find their true selves because they worry too much about what others think.

      Now, this beard thing: Someday I will tell the tale of a “girlfriend” in high school who never quite figured it out, despite obvious signs. Through a series of convolutions, we went to the senior prom together, with her expectations quite different from mine. She said something that night that broke my heart, for her, and I did my best not to break hers.

      And by the way, I’m no more wonderful than you are…

      Like

    • Yep, the term is still around, but back in my wild days it meant a straight woman who just enjoyed being around gay men, but I’m sure there were a few attempted seductions here and there… from both sides. People can be very complicated…

      Like

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