The president of these United States, Barack Obama, has, in his own straight-guy kinda way, just ‘come-out’ in favor of gay marriage equality. It’s a good and gratifying thing for a people like me. In my life I’ve experienced every imaginable attitude toward the gay lifestyle. Obviously, because I’m a gay man. (Who else would have a blog like this?) As a child I worked, often without much success to draw attention away from my effeminacy. So much so that to this day people frequently don’t pick-up on my being gay. Then again not everyone pays very close attention.
Gay people have come a long way since the days when we were bundled-up with twigs, having gun-powder packed into our orifices and our bodies used as kindling to burn a witch at the stake. We’ve come-up in the world. It’s been a slow, incremental series of painstaking social improvements that have taken centuries upon centuries… I venture to say that gay people are without challenge the single longest persecution of a minority in human history. Will young gay people ever really understand what went before them? I hope so.
The first gay bar I set foot-in, was in Rochester, New York. It was called ‘Dick’s 43 Lounge’ and it was depressing as hell. All there was to it was a dirt floor and a jukebox. The patrons wore eye-liner and were drunk as lady-lords by two in the afternoon. I came-out in college following a disastrous attempt at trying to be heterosexual, ending when my girlfriend took me aside and told me I was gay. She moved-on and she was right to do so.
My girlfriend, who we’ll call ‘Sally’ took me home to meet her family, who were very comfortably-set conservative people living in a spectacular 19th century Greek-revival mansion filled with period furniture and paintings. At the time it was the late 1960’s and the height of the sexual-revolution. I was entering her parents house wearing bell-bottomed jeans, a peasant-shirt and shoulder-length auburn hair looking for all the world like a hippie Jesus Christ. I was meeting the family over an Easter Sunday dinner — and nothing upsets conservatives more than anyone actually reminding them of Christ. Unbeknownst to me, I was also about to be tested. A test I could never have foreseen. I was down on one knee examining carving details on gilded Victorian furniture and making a fuss over how much the place looked like a set from ‘Gone With the Wind’ while I was also feeling curiously self-conscious as if everyone was judging me like I had two heads.
Her dad took me out on the family sailboat to get to know me. I swear he tried to knock me overboard with the ‘boom’ or whatever you call the bottom part of a steering sail. I could tell he wanted me dead at first sight. He knew I was banging his daughter and that immediately made me the enemy. Fathers can sense that sort of thing because they themselves were once banging someone’s daughter when they were young. During our brief time on the lake, Sally’s dad kept making references to sports metaphors and other space-alien ‘man-talk.’ As good a conversationalist as I am, I was at a loss to respond to the subjects he discussed. I wanted to know more about the Empire pier table in the entry way of their house. I loved the carved Egyptian heads.
Gay strike number one…
When we got back to the family manse, Sally’s fraternal twin brothers were drying themselves off after a quick dip in the pool. They were both scullers for an Ivy League university, home for Easter break. One was blond and the other a brunette. Both had lean, well-muscled physiques and handsome chiseled features. I must have been caught drinking-in the sight of them. I didn’t think I was staring. I thought I was being discreet acting like just another one of the guys in the presence of a pair of dream hunks — when my girlfriend cleared her throat, and said “I’m over HERE Beihl.” I must not have heard her at first. I was lost watching my own Tarzan movie starring not one, but two spectacular Tarzan’s.
Gay strike number two…
I pounded-out some Mozart on their antique piano after dinner, and shortly after Sally and I climbed back into her V.W. ‘bug’ for the long drive back to the dorms. On our way home we decided to stop, park and do the ‘wild thing.’ It was risky having to smuggle one or the other of us into our separate-by-gender dorm-rooms. We found a deserted country road alongside a pond and pulled off into what had once been a lane or deserted driveway. I was all charged-up, but I didn’t fully acknowledge to myself that it was the sight of her breathtaking twin brothers that was motivating my mojo…
…If I say-so myself, I turned-in a damned good performance with Sally that night navigating our carnal way around the steering wheel, the dashboard and the stick-shift. I was the ‘MAN’. I was magnificent. I was ‘ON’ making love with my lady, surrounded by nothing but the sounds of the night. I’d found her G-spot and I knew it… This was the girl who was going to save me from myself. She had the power to make me straight. She was beautiful with a great body and long, blond hair. All the guys on campus were hot for her, but she was dating ME. No one needed to ever know about those “other” thoughts I had from time to time (mostly around stunning male athletes…)
Sally was driving, because I never learned how to drive ‘stick-shift’ (no wisecracks…) We were all zipped-up, tucked-in and ready to go when she turned on the headlights to reveal the car to be completely COVERED with frogs. Not a frog or two. Not a dozen frogs. Not two dozen frogs. But hundreds to thousands of frogs. I squealed like a girl. No, I take that back. I screamed like a woman. As far as the eye could see in front and behind the car there were frogs hopping and writhing all over the place. After catching my breath and realizing we weren’t living a horror film — but rather experiencing some odd Biblical moment in nature, I asked her not to drive anywhere. I didn’t want the poor little buggers getting all squished. We could spend the night cooped-up in her bucket-seated Volkswagen ‘beetle.’ “Like hell we can” she replied.
Gay strike number three…
As we were driving down the lane squashing untold numbers of amphibians much to my further dismay, Sally said, “I saw the way you were eying my brothers.” All a closeted gay man can do at a moment like that, is look out the window like you don’t know what’s coming next. She continued, “I asked them to be in Speedo’s when you got back so I could watch your reaction.” I was squirming in my seat. “Beihl, I hate to break this to you, but you’re gay. You may not know it, no offense, but you’re a homo.” I sat there stunned while my face turned hotted-red. How could she say a thing like that to me? I’d just turned-in one damned-respectable fuck but fooled only myself into believing I’d successfully hidden all my sissy-traits. I’d believed no one knew my secret but me.
On our way back into town, she pulled-up in front of Dick’s 43 Lounge. Verily, verily she did sayth unto me “These are your people – go forth and become one with them.” Or something to that effect, she did have a great sense of humor. Yes, my girlfriend literally “drove” me to be gay – or at least dropped me off at a gay bar.
I walked in, not horny, but out of curiosity — had a panic attack and walked for miles in the dark back to the campus. Was it my my playing Mozart on the piano-forte in the parlor…? Or perhaps my keen interest in 19th century decorative accessories…? Had there been just a little bit of spittle visible on my lips when I watched her brothers toweling-off…? Could it have been my girlish screams when I realized we were sitting inside a car totally encased with live frogs…?
I’d been ‘outed’ by amphibians — both by her waterborne hunky brothers, her sailing dad and the slimy leapin’ lizards on the car. From that point forward I was ‘out’ and ‘gay.’ The Stonewall Riots were the following summer. I wasn’t there, I was busy moving into town so I didn’t have to be ‘gay’ and living on campus the following semester.
Over four decades later, Barack Obama, the president of our United States of America validated the existence of gay men and gay women by endorsing same-sex marriage. I’m not personally inclined to ever marry. I’m past the age of interest, but I’m happy for future generations. I hope young gay people appreciate and understand the years of struggle that came before they arrived. And I still feel awful about the frogs.