Drama Club: HE WORE A DRESS!

Inside my new memoirDrama Club  
 
In 1982, a 50s theme school dance was embraced whole heartedly by our crew of high school drama kids. Always looking for ways to push the envelope, we did a couple of things off script.  
 
First, Michael Marriott wore a dress. HE WORE A DRESS! I was shocked and confused that his offering was received with sustained enthusiasm. It was triumph over Idaho masculine ideals that taught me a lesson about confronting societal norms 
 
Second, our group didn’t pair off into couples for the standard school dance photo. We were a unit. We expressed our crew camaraderie by crowding every one of us into the little photo op vignette. It was a bit of performance art to celebrate our common otherness 
 
Michael is bottom left, my high school prom date Angela is perched in the top right hand corner, Kelly Sanders is top center in the red sweater and I’m bottom center in the white t-shirt. Geeta, our class valedictorian and only person of color that I can remember at either Pocatello High or Highland High (a sum total of all schools in our town) is on Kelly’s left. 
 
Somehow Bart is missing from this photo, but I’m certain he was on my mind.  
 
 

Gay Political Empathy

TRIBE Thoughts

Once the room is organized and a sign is posted on the sliding glass entry door inviting men to “come in”, the room we meet in for the monthly TRIBE Gay Men’s Discussion Group always feels to me like sacred space. We come in from the common world, a culture that generally is not focused on our interests and come into an uncommon space, one where most of the people in the room mirror our identity back to us.
It’s like a ship at sea ferrying us from point A to point B where, for an ephemeral span of time we enjoy being the dominant culture, speaking in our own idioms of shared humor, hopes, and fears.
Fifteen men started watching the live debate at 6pm and by the time the discussion started ninety minutes later we had nearly thirty men in the room.  
This group was decidedly pro Hillary. No surprise. And everyone was fairly happy with their favorite’s performance in the debate. The tenor of the TRIBE discussion regarding Trump was not simply against his policies, it was seriously fearful of the country’s ability to survive his presidency and their own personal safety as gay men should he be elected president.
While no one in the room admitted to being a republican or pro-Trump, one man did share his dilemma of meeting a sexy guy with a great ass that he’d like to see again even though Sexy Ass was voting for Trump. He asked for advice on reaching this guy. Not only did he think this guy was hot, but he also thought we should find a way to reach people on the other side rather than mark them as unredeemable and cut them out of our lives.
Sex, or even just the promise of it, obviously has the capacity to open people minds. I think this is one of the reasons why gay men are generally more empathetic than our heterosexual counterparts. Since gay men are born into every demographic conceivable, and we eventually look for connection in a relatively small pool of options, we need to become amenable to men of different class, race, religion, and maybe even political background. Or go without sex. What do you think most men do in that situation?
We also talked about the political “gay agenda”. To some it seems to have evaporated. “I went to a big fundraiser and all of the focus is was on transgender rights, which I support, but no one seems to have a vision for gay Americans after we’ve achieved legal equality.” Our institutions that once championed “gay rights” now maintain a self-conscious silence regarding the future of gay men’s culture.
I was just happy to be in a room full with men who get me. Even the ones I’d just met that night understand me in a way my non-gay friends and non-gay family ever can. We laughed, we listened, and we took each other’s fears seriously. Much was discussed. Many hugs were shared. And when we departed our sacred space, we went back into the larger world a little bit stronger and a little more at peace than when we’d arrived. 

Coffee Douchebags!

Finding the break room coffee pot simmering on empty sets off a tirade of self-righteous anger my head. Every time. On a regular basis. What kind of butt wipes am I working with?

If I’d tried to get away with this kind of behavior during my extended tour as a Denny’s waiter, my up-do, aqua net plastered, polyester skirted, co-workers would have snubbed out one of their constantly burning cigarettes in my left eye. That “training” became a “value” I’ve taken to heart. So now I’m outraged that my present day office co-workers don’t perceive the empty pot with the same sacrilege as myself.

Douchebags!

Of course, as I’m making a new pot of coffee in my silent rage, it is quite possible that chatter-all-day Bill from “Good-Neighbor-Southern-Twang, USA” who has just walked into the room is equally incensed at my continued reluctance to make small talk about the unrelenting repetitive weather patterns of Los Angeles. How could I repeatedly sidestep his attempts at small talk? How could I be so rude as to answer his daily inquiry of, “How are you this fine day?” with “Good, thanks.” Didn’t my parents teach me better than that?

And then there is the tough young lesbian who gets pissed when I hold the door for her, somehow diminishing her dignity as a fully capable person. Where is my cultural sensitivity?

And the princess on the 3rd floor who sees me walking into the building as she’s parking her car (in customer parking) who has long ago written me off as the Neanderthal who doesn’t know how to behave around women because I won’t wait for her next to the door prepared to open it upon her approach.

I suppose the cycle of impropriety is never ending.
 

Pity is not a form of empowerment

Expect greatness.

The man in a wheelchair does not want your silent condolences, he wants you to look him in the eye and engage. The HIV positive man does not want your mournful laments of his condition, he wants a clear assessment of his abilities.

To project deficiency on our fellow human brings him down. Do not yield to the temptation to placate the challenged. Instead, respect the diverse gift of their experience and expect great things from them.