Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Closet Doesn't Fit Anymore!

Back before Stonewall, and even after for many years, "gay" was barely visible. People worked hard, some very hard at hiding their true selves from the world. Why? Discrimination. A known homosexual could be fired, denied housing, bashed, beaten, or raped and no one would bat an eye. Often gays would be identified by other gays hoping to throw suspicion off of themselves. The old pot calling the kettle black thing.

Anti-discrimination laws don't exactly protect us, but it was a step in the right direction. I grew up in a time when being gay was still considered deviant, sick behavior by most. We didn't have gay characters on TV, with the possible exception of the spineless traitor Dr. Smith on Lost in Space, but we never really knew for sure. We didn't have pride parades, or community centers, or websites, or movies, or dating sites. We did have unmarked doors down dark alleys that opened to the secret world of lesbians or gays, or sometimes both. They were usually located in undesirable parts of town, and were subject to raids and other forms of harassment.

Many gay men and women married, to throw others off the scent. Then had their secret lovers discretely on the side. Today, this is certainly no longer necessary. Gay folks are more visible than ever, and while we are still fighting for equal rights in every state in this country but Massachusetts and California, we have made great strides against the fear and ignorance we faced just thirty years ago.

When I was in the military, I had a marriage of convenience myself. This was the only way I could live off post. I had a girlfriend, and sneaking her into the barracks was more than a little risky. I married a gay guy and was allowed to live off post. Breaking this ridiculous rule seemed justified to me. I wasn't even supposed to be in the military, and could have been dishonorably discharged if anyone could prove I was gay. It would have been easy to prove, but no one was really trying.

This weekend while in New York, some friends and I had dinner at a nice restaurant on the Hudson river. There were six of us total, three guys and three girls and I would say it was not a secret to anyone nearby that we were all gay! I saw a woman at the end of the bar giving me the once over more than once. I met her eyes, and smiled politely. She was quite attractive, and did a little check to make sure her pockets causing any unsightly bulges in her tight fitting black jeans, then looked back to see if I was still watching her.

Friend: She's straight!

Me: No she isn't.

Friend: Yes she is. She's married. She and her husband own this place, and you should see him. What a flamer!

Me: She might be married, but she's not straight! We just had a conversation with our eyes, and this is not my first time on this ride.

Friend: Ha! No, you could blog about that!

Me: Shut the fuck up!

The woman came over to our group and introduced herself, standing right by me, and shaking my hand firmly. I think I was the only one out all six, she hadn't already met. She asked if we'd like to sit outside, if we did there would be a wait, or inside. If we wanted to stay in the bar she could seat us now, and she'd prefer to be able to "keep an eye on us" she said looking directly at me when she said it.

We did sit in the bar, but I gave the woman no encouragement. I would not want to be the discrete lover a married, in the closet woman, no matter how attractive she might be. I'm sure there must be a reason for the arrangement, but I would not want to live in her world. I am out and plan to stay out. I'm here, I'm queer, and I don't care who knows it!


Baino said...

Things seem to have moved in the right direction over there. Same here gays are permitted in the armed forces now but marriage is still an issue for the Government (what they have to do with it I'll never know). I think the gay lobby will be out and about next week . . .the Pope's popping into town!

roro said...

Good call! As you say, these days, there's no reason to get mixed up in that kind of action. A friend of mine recently dated an in-the-closet actor and totally had to give it up - he said it was too stressful being told to "butch up" all the time, even though we all KNEW this guy is gay as the songs the fairies sing. Sigh.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

My first husband was gay and married me for a beard. I was never told and was so naive that I just assumed that I was not attractive or smart enough to interest him. It was devastating.

When I finally left after six years of neglect and invisibility, we had the only conversation we had ever had about his personal life in which he mentioned some gay experiences he had had in college. I believed that he was telling me why he had never treated me like a wife or even like a person.

I know gay couples who are married and have children (and separate love lives) and think it's fine if both parties conspire in that decision. But I was used most unfairly, and that is terribly wrong. It is ALWAYS wrong to use another for any reason, and nobody deserves to be damaged in that way.

I am very glad that alternative life styles are coming into general acceptance so that someday, people won't have to hide parts of themselves in shame because that is terribly wrong, too.

Thank you for sharing that part of your story. You are someone I would love to have as a real life friend.

RED MOJO said...

baino, the gays are always around when the pope visits. Mostly they want to check out his shoes. LOL

roro, Yeah, what's the point. I don't get it. i like "as gay as the songs the fairies sing"! I may adopt that. :)

heartinsanfrancisco, That's terrible. I have to say, it speaks volumes about your mind and heart, that you support gay equality after having lived through that!

I do already think of you as a "real life" friend, even though we haven't met in real life yet.

citizen of the world said...

I think you're right. And you know, in addition to the other reasons, you also deserve far more than someone who needs to have you as a secret or as some sort of side dish.

TheWeyrd1 said...

I don't know...but if her husband is a FLAMER, doesn't that mean it's a marriage of convenience. Or maybe they SAY they're married and they're I'm just sayin'... Might be worth further investigation.

Baino said...

Shoes! And his hats!
@Heart ... thank you . . .very brave to share.

RED MOJO said...

cit, thank you, I may not deserve more, but I certainly want more!

theweyrd1, she's pretending to be straight, although not very well. That's really all I need to know.

baino, you're welcome! Very sweet of you to say!

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Of course I support gay equality. If everyone is not included in the equation, there is no equality at all.

But I do prefer my gay people to be openly gay. After all, if someone feels compelled to hide such an important part of him/herself, how can anything about that person be believed?

To be very fair, it should be noted that 30-odd years ago, it was much harder to be openly gay. Still, I believe that it's always wrong to use someone without revealing the true facts.

I married my second husband mainly because he was wildly attracted to me and not knowing why the first was not, I assumed the fault was with me. It was also an unhappy marriage. My point is, there were undeserved ongoing consequences for me.

And I'm glad you said that we haven't met YET. I look forward to it.

citizen of the world said...

I'm sticking with "deserve" more.

RED MOJO said...

heart, Thanks for that, I look forward to it as well, and I think it may happen this year!

cit, You made me smile on a day smiles are hard to find.

trinity2 said...

The married ones are always the big flirts - watch out! Sounds like you used restraint - good call!