I am pleased there is a pride month, that is wonderful and amazing. Yesterday I watched the Queen Adam Lambert Story. It really hit home as they talked about Freddie and thought it was not the main point it reminded me of the struggles the LGBT community has and, in many places, still goes through. The things we have endured to be able to publicly come together have been bittersweet victories. The lives lost and destroyed along the way were crushing soul felt blows. Safety was in our hands as we wore whistles or sound making devices just in case some group of “gay bashers” showed up and targeted us. We had to always be on our guard, careful who we told and knew we were bi or gay. It’s the 90’s in the land of BBQ, rock-in-roll and river side fun. The hand full of openly gay clubs were shut down by either police raids for acts of lude behavior or acts of violence that drove patrons away. Firebombs burned a few to the ground and parking lot beatings were not uncommon, after all we were “asking for it” by expressing our desire to openly be who we were.
Most everyone in the community was scared back then, the few that were out and open were always in danger. It was the early days of don’t ask, don’t tell for the military, a huge victory since before that anyone caught engaging in any form of homosexual behavior was kicked out of the service. Back then we did not have the LGBT movement, no laws remotely protecting us against discrimination. For those who reported being assaulted it often meant being branded or targeted. What we now call hate crimes were joked about, the victim often the “punch line” to be made fun of. That what they deserve for being deviants. Gays, bisexuals and Transgender people were grouped in with rapists and pedophiles, all equally sexually deviant according to the general public view at the time.
Back then, I was one of the loud and proud, with my multi-colored rat tail and bright colored underwear under white scrubs. I did not care what people thought and said about me behind my back, I dared them to say it too my face. Flamboyant and ostentatious were often used to describe me, I had an amazing primary male lover in my life and a couple female lovers too. It was a rolling party and the world was my oyster. I was bisexual and proud, open minded and in an open relationship; I was living the dream. Things changed and the dream turned to a nightmare, the jarring cold reality of life slapped me in the face as that relationship ended abruptly. Still loud and proud I looked for places to meet more like myself. Straight bars were good if I was looking for a woman, scoping guys was dangerous there. Gay bars, well that goes without saying except I was still too naive or stupid to hide the fact I was bi, but that is a different story for a different time.
The days of the internet had just started. Chat rooms were coming around and we had a place for anonymity and freedom. Finally, the freedom to talk about what we felt and our personal experiences. Ultimately, a place we could meet and talk about things that we wanted, there was an energy to it, a beginning of a movement. I don’t really remember when I first heard the term LGBT but it had arrived. It was still a turbulent time for anyone in the LGBT community. There were some people trying to find out who the gay or bi people were in the chat rooms. There were a few who would pose as gay or bi, “befriending” people and offering to get together for drinks. It was the new age and style of “gay bashing” as several were people were meeting up hoping to connect with an online “friend” only to be beaten or killed just for being who they were.
I had gone underground, or back in the closet, whatever you wish to call it. I had got married and had a couple kids and played the good American strait male. Not bashing but just a family man in a deep backwards southern town. I felt shame, not for being bi but for running away, I felt I had too much to lose to be engaged in the LGBT movement. It was not till two decades and two failed marriages later that I had another relationship that rekindled my bi side. I had met another like me, coy comments and double meaning phrases were passed between us before on night we found ourselves in a position we were able to take a chance and talk about the tension between us. I could say it was like coming up for air, but really it was like waking up again. Things I held back were finally able to be revisited and openly talked about. I rediscovered the LGBT community in my local area, it took a while for me to make any real connection and I do not fault them. There still are some people that want to hurt us for being open about our sexuality.
Looking back, I have great respect for those who stayed the course and kept in the fight. From Freddie who was center stage, my best friend who was able to be married in Washington DC several years ago to his wonderful partner, to the ones that attend the Pride Parades in whatever city they go to. I still stand by the thinking you do life your way and I will do it my way. I stand with pride alongside my LGBT family as we fight for our rights to be free to live without fear. I have found my voice again and am a loud and proud bi male who will never back down or surrender.
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