In honor of my friend Brad’s birthday today, I’m going to proclaim loud and proud that I love the gays. These reasons are particular to my friends; your results with your gay friends may vary.
- They have saved me from home decor disaster. Left to my own devices, my home wouldn’t look that much different from the apartment I had post-college. I’m definitely past milk crates and canvas director chair seating, but not much. Any nice furniture I own has come from the cast-offs of gay men, including a beautiful four-poster canopy bed that wouldn’t fit in a Back Bay condo and stately matching china cabinet and buffet from the early 1900s. I take full responsibility for any other furniture in my home, which my friends are nice enough not to judge in my presence.
- They were an important part of how I survived high school. My current friends joke that there must be something in the water where I grew up. Of my high school friends, I know of at least five who came out later. I don’t know if it was water as much as much as me gravitating toward people who felt as different as I did, even if their difference wasn’t explicit at the time. Having a great core group of friends in high school, as any of us who survived it well know, is probably the single most essential ingredient to successfully navigating that fresh hell.
- They make bitingly funny satirical commentary on society an art form. I had very little use for convention as I was coming of age, and after the punk movement faded, I was looking for another group to poke holes in the accepted wisdom of the corporate job, marriage, and 2.4 kids. I was rescued by my friend Mike and all the folks he introduced me to. It’s still a joke in our circle the time we were watching the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer special and we all snorted at the comment from Santa to “get the women back to Christmas Town.” Then when Santa asks Rudolph to guide the sleigh after dissing him for the most of the show, my friend Stephen infamously quipped, “On your knees, Kringle.”
- The guys who like drag are better at bargain, elegant dress shopping than I am. True friendship is holding back my envy when one friend found a gorgeous sleeveless glamorous pale blue dress. Combined with white bejeweled gloves, he looked better than I would, but that’s OK. Gay friendship is about being just obviously envious enough to make her fake eyelashes flutter.
- Whenever I have a gardening or home improvement project, I can count on my friends Becky, Susan, Gloria and Colleen to steer me right. They know everything and they never inquire about whether I have a man around to help me. And there is only the barest hint of safety-related judgment in their voice when they gently suggest I put down my wine glass before picking up the drill.
- They invited me to the gay pride parade. You get to go to a parade that’s fun for adults. It used to be a lot of pretty floats and half-naked people enjoying themselves and catching pride beads. Now there are tons of school groups and churches, which is cool in its own way, and they still throw us the beads.
- They can dance, and I’m not just talking about shaking hips and moving fluidly. When I am out dancing with Mike, I have been randomly grabbed to disco dance by other dancers more in the last year than my whole life. The only other place I could possible get more partners is a nursing home or maybe a wedding. Most straight men my age and younger never learned how to partner dance, and that is a damn shame.
- My gay friends have had to work at accepting who they are and have come out sometimes at great personal risk. They have taught me so much about embracing the negativity the world wants to throw at anyone who is not conventional and turn it into a strength. They taught me that we create our own families and communities.
- They have never questioned my choice of being partnered or not or who I choose to love and how. My choice of accessories on the other hand is open season. And I’m cool with that.
So like an Oscar award winner, I’d like to thank the Gay Academy of my friends for making me the person I am today. I couldn’t have done it without you.