I spent my early 20s, aka my homo heyday, in Chicago. While I had no interest in participating in parades and gay pride, living mere steps away from Halsted Street, aka Boys Town, I also had no choice. Gay pride came to me. And while prancing boys, vomiting drunks, and annoying crowds promenading across my front steps is not my idea of a good time, I was intrigued enough to bear witness.
At an after party up the street – I'm not a total killjoy – I found myself sipping cocktails with a decidedly cute, high-pitched talking, limp wrist waving, Midwestern boy who only moments before had been strutting his semi-naked stuff on the Manhole float. (Manhole was a Halsted boy bar, by the way, not a euphemism for where some of us like to spend our spare time.)
When Midwestern boy's phone rings amidst our gay old time, his hand flutters to his chest and the first word out of his mouth is "Mom!" — in a voice fifteen octaves lower than anything I would have imagined him capable of.
After a brief tête-à-tête, he hangs up the phone and his second hand joins his first over his heart. He inhales deeply.
"That was close."
I notice his voice has returned to its previous tenor. He grabs my wrist and leans on my arm, the smell of cheap tequila wafting over me.
"You don't think she suspected anything?"
"No, definitely not," I answer agreeably, offhandedly, cluelessly. Was his Mom anti-parties?
"She was calling to wish me happy birthday."
"Your birthday's on Pride?"
"Ironic, isn't it?"
"She doesn't know I'm gay."
The CeCe Peniston rising up from the street combats the Crystal Waters emanating from his apartment. I look around at the throng of queers overflowing from his tiny Boys Town apartment.
Of course she doesn't.
I don't relate to the notion of gay pride any more than I relate to the notion of gay shame. For me, there's no shame or pride. It just is – like having curly hair, a tendency towards forgetfulness, a propensity for meat consumption. Maybe it's because my coming out, if one could say I had one, consisted of my mother saying to me, "You're dating Meg."
"You're not even worried we'll disown you or kick you out of the house or whatever it is that people do."
"No." I reached for the Lactaid milk to refresh my Frosted Mini Wheats, which had grown disturbingly dry.
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"I never tell you when I'm dating someone."
She didn't argue with that logic.
Truthfully, I do understand the idea of coming out, especially to oneself, but why should coming out be the purveyance of homos alone? We could call the man parading body parts that most of us never even show the light of day down Broadway on a float called Manhole closeted. But, if that's the case, isn't his mother too? If she came out as a person accepting of others, including her son – no matter who he is, what he does, or what octave he chooses to speak in – Midwestern boy wouldn't have had any coming out to do in the first place.
I've always thought being out about one's beliefs is a lot more important than being out about what one does with their body parts in their private time. If the goal of all this outing is social change, shouldn't coming out be the responsibility of all of us? Coming out as in letting people know we're not okay with that (hetero)sexist remark, racist joke, invasion to defend democracy.
I never understood people wishing their favorite rock star or pop icon were gay. When someone steps up to defend human rights, not necessarily their own rights, that's what resonates with me. Macklemore's "Same Love" hit me way deeper than the Vanity Fair cover of a scantily clad Cindy Crawford pretending to shave KD Lang. Then again, maybe that's a reflection of the times. So, perhaps I do believe in coming out, but it's coming out new millennium style. Coming out as a person who views the world beyond one's own borders – personal, socioeconomic, geographical – and takes action against all wrongs, not just individual ones.
Because at the end of the day, I don't think who or how I'm sexing is as important as what I stand for and who I'm willing to stand with. If more people want to get behind that idea of coming out, strike up the band. Maybe I'll join the parade after all.
See more of Kim's work at kimyaged.weebly.com.