The Journey

Flash Backward #7: Gathering the Rainbow Bits

Another dusty relic from the archives. I realize I should spend less time excavating and more time creating, but there’s a certain warmth in looking back and remembering when. 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 musical 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.

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.



Previously published in a variety of ways. (Many of the individual entries have appeared across several platforms for several years, with the first bits debuting on Facebook many moons ago.) I did add an Intro and Outro for this post, because the Rainbow People are all about presentation, at least the good ones. And now I’ll close out this session by cuing up the soundtrack for “Xanadu”, because in the dark hours of my closeted youth I had a lot of investment in the hope that spontaneous singing and dancing would somehow save us all…


33 replies »

  1. In my misspent youth, “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman” viewings were Occasions. They required large audiences made of like-minded people willing to join in excesses of popcornage, smokes, and libations. Always.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sadly, I grew up in the Wasteland Known as Oklahoma, so “Mary Hartman” was not an option on the local channels. (Hell, they shoved the less-subversive series “Soap” so deep in the night that you needed a diving road to find it, and most divining rods were already being used by the Conservatives seeking validation for their hatred. But we did know ABOUT the show, and we dreamed of someday living in a land where we could watch it… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting and educational. My step brother and his partner never used those terms that I can recall…at least not at family gatherings. Maybe among their community? I was simply unaware of them.

    They were together 35 years before partner Tom died of cancer. They were a great couple. Thanks for the post.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Most of these terms and references are a bit rusty. I would imagine most of the younger rainbows these days have never heard them.

      35 years is a remarkable and respectable amount of time for any relationship, even if there was some not-happy there at the end…


      • Wanted to add that I really like your style of writing – it’s a hoot, to say the least. I get great visuals when I read your posts that tell me the story in addition to just reading the words. May your quill never run dry. 😁

        Update to the previous post: my step-brother passed away a couple years ago of cancer himself. Both of them were very caring people, who loved each other and family beyond words. Kenney (step-brother) was made out to be the black sheep because of his orientation, but he was the only one who came to my mom’s (his step-mom) funeral when she passed. The others couldn’t be bothered.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Ain’t good English grate? Seriously, I see on Woefullpedia that ‘amongst’ is now becoming archaic? I’m lost for words over that devolution. It’s good to have a ramble ’round the hotch-potch of English though. The waxing and waning of words …

      Liked by 2 people

    • Peggy: Oh, that sounds right up my alley. I’ve put the title in my Kindle wish list, waiting for the price to go down a bit…

      obbverse: If I couldn’t ramble ’round and wax and wane, there would be little point in me having a blog… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, that took me back. Mary Hartman Mary Hartman! The only show that weaponized a bowl of chicken soup…. what’s not to love? I’m also proud to say I knew all but one of your tribe’s glossary contributions. Fan dancing. Sorry I missed that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Congrats on your score! To be fair, the “fan-dancing” was something only the older girls did on the dance floor. It was already a fading art when I was just a young wisp of a gayling, fresh on the scene…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I find this article as of present time, to be one of my favorites of yours. As always, I wouldn’t expect anything you write to be any less humorous, as it is relatable, informative, and just always an amazing read. Ps I had the pleasure of having a set of encyclopedias myself, so I appreciate that although to most they’re extinct like the dinosaurs, for some of us, we still know what they look like.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your kind words. The encyclopedias in the opening photo are actually in a wooden cabinet to the left of my little writing desk where I work on my stories. They give me a degree of comfort, taking me back to my student days, long ago, scribbling reports for school and falling in love with the art of writing…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This part: “…spontaneous singing and dancing would somehow save us all…” 😍💃🏼 I believe, and it’s my mission to spread the good moves! (or in my case, bad moves… think Elaine from Seinfeld 😲)

    I know most of these terms, but would enjoy learning new ones. New, old ones… I think the SJWs of today might find “Fruit Loop” offensive🙄 The slang is always changing, and while I love words, I would be thrilled if the Rainbow Folk didn’t need any special words, or Beards🌈😉🤗🥰

    Liked by 1 person

    • I really would like to sit down someday and compile an actual glossary. I’ve got random definitions and suggestions tucked all over the place, but I’ve never stuck with it long enough to get truly serious about it. One of these days…

      You’re right, “Fruit Loop” would send some folks into a tizzy these days and, in a sense, I can understand that. But it really was a term we used, and we did so with excitement. “Are you going to the Fruit Loop on Friday? Me too!” It was just like “dragging Main”, but with a different flair. We made our fun where we could, usually on the sly. Different days, then.

      And I really love your last line. Big hug.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. If you proffer more terms for the un(der) educated, they would be most welcome. I may not understand some of them, but the feeling is there and that’s important (too). I suspect a few ‘beards’ were merely ‘gaydar’ deficient women who thought a certain male was ultra special (he was too), and never understood why that mannish woman kept trying to ply them with pomegranate martinis… I was there twice (never went out with the misplaced object of my desire though, so the whole beard thing was moot). I lusted, and was eventually enlightened, went’ “OH!”, blushed redly and vowed to remain partnerless for eternity because clearly, I did not get what was going on. My gaydar has never worked properly. O_o and there’s a free term for your next glossary edition. It wasn’t until mid-life I understood (vaguely) why mannish women seemed to crawl out of the woodwork to offer me gin. No profiling intended.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, you’re exactly right about many “beards” having no clue about their official duties. I had a number of gal friends during my formative years that were often my “dates” at functions, and even though some of them understood the situation, there were a few who thought we were on the road to something more. It was a tricky time, one wherein you couldn’t tell people your secret unless you absolutely trusted them, so part of the disillusion was my own fault.

      And actually, my gaydar has hit some hiccups as well, to a degree. There were certain prospects I pursued, ending in embarrassing proclamations that they weren’t “that way”. Some of these pursuits were valid failures. Others? I suspect that I knew things before they were ready to be honest with themselves. Sometimes you just know…


    • I really think everyone should do what we can to preserve the experiences of our past. Everything seems so ephemeral and fleeting these days, and it would be a shame to lose our full history, even if things were messy and not ideal…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Quite clueless to the references. I thought “Xanadu” is a Mongol capital; I thought “beards” are those women who love to hang out with gay men–I mean knowingly. LOL. I like new terms, the more exotic the better. Every name, or every word for this matter, has its history of meaning something else. What we say can have unforeseeable connotations. LOL.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Trivia: “Xanadu” is also the name of the estate of the main character in “Citizen Kane”, a fascinating 1941 movie that broke all the rules about movie-making. It’s a little dated now, but it’s still a great film.

      Yes, some “beards” were fully in the know and happily posed as “dates” for their gay friends. Others were not so clear on the situation. Of course, the “beard” concept is not nearly prevalent these days as it was many decades ago when being identified as gay was much more dangerous. Luckily, some societies are much more accepting now. Some.

      I am a big fan of etymology. It’s fascinating to see how one word can have so many different meanings throughout history and across cultures. And that’s part of the reason why I really like the composition of the followers here at Bonnywood. Sure, the United States is the biggest SINGLE source of followers, but when you look at the big picture, most of the followers are from other countries. This gives me so many perspectives. We can all learn from one another, regardless of language or location…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for the explanation. I’ve always wanted to watch Orson Welles, but only got to watch “The Third Man” and half of “Falstaff”. Nothing more. So Xanadu has different meanings in Citizen Kane. LOL. I really need to watch.

        For those “beards”, even if “some societies are much more accepting now”, I wish the tradition can continue since girls need all the guys they can get.

        Liked by 2 people

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