Recently while surfing websites, I encountered, what I initially thought was a typo, but I soon discovered I was incorrect. Being an OUT gay male since, well, let’s just say, a very long time, I’ve been called a “sissy”, “fag”, “queer”, “homo” along with a long string of other derogatory and degrading names. Being a member (in-good-standing) of the gay community, what exactly do I call myself? Well, the initials GLBT came into play, an initialism for: Gay Lesbian Bi-sexual Transgender. So, for a number of years I was content being a GLBT person. Then, along came the addition of the letter “Q”. WTF?
Okay, so the gay community is embracing those individuals who consider themselves as either “Queer” or “Questioning”. That makes perfect sense, after all, the gay community is an all inclusive community of those who do not fit the traditional heterosexual profile. But when I encountered LGBTQ, I was more than a bit confused, was this a typo or had my community changed it’s initials? Had I missed the memo? I checked my junk email and found nothing there. Maybe my email address needed to be updated so I wouldn’t miss getting important gay community memos. I am sure my GAY CARD has not expired.
My quest began, to discover what is LGBT? Beginning in Google Search, I was bombarded with an entire page of links relating to LGBT. WOW! Studying each link, I found Wikipedia had the best explanation for the foreign letters in question:
LGBT (or GLBT) is an initialism used since the 1990′s as a self-designation by what was formerly known as the “gay community”. It refers collectively to “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender” people. In use since the 1990′s, the term “LGBT” is an adaptation of the initialism “LGB”, which itself started replacing the phrase “gay community” beginning in the mid-to-late 1980′s, which many within the community in question felt did not accurately represent all those to whom it referred.
The term LGBT is intended to emphasize a diversity of “sexuality and gender identity-based cultures” and is sometimes used to refer to anyone who is non-heterosexual instead of exclusively to people who are homosexual, bisexual, or transgender. To recognize this inclusion, a popular variant adds the letter Q for those who identify as queer and questioning their sexual identity (e.g., “LGBTQ” or “GLBTQ”, recorded since 1996). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT
From now on, I promise to be more diligent in monitoring my email, I don’t wish to miss those important memos. Note to the Gay Community Board of Directors: Please tag future email correspondence as IMPORTANT, so to get my attention and I will not be left in the dark. Thank you.
Let’s get behind the IT GETS BETTER Project, I did!
Friends encouraged me to write a short story. Okay, so I had never written before, but with such encouragement and support from those around me, I labored until a story was completed. A simple story of two men who fall in love and after surviving all kinds of trials and tribulations live happily ever after. Pleased with my monumental accomplishment, the story is posted on an online author website. To my surprise, the story is picked up by a publisher and now my story is in print. Wow! The publisher prods me into expanding the short story into a novel. That will take some work and I’m basically a lazy person. After some thought and to shut up pushy, meddling friends, I expand a tiny story into a novel. The publisher loves the story and it’s published. Never had any idea that anyone would find my story of any interest. The book sells and sells. It’s gone into a third printing. Foreign publishing rights are negotiated and my book is being published in almost every imaginable language. A movie producer proposes a movie deal based on my novel. My little story is soon being splashed across movie theater screens and played on DVD players and broadcast frequently on Premium cable channels. Who would have thought? Then, I woke up from my dream.
It’s Tuesday morning around 10 AM when I boarded the commuter bus, I’m on my way to do my weekly grocery shopping. I have ridden public transportation for more than 20 years. Yes, I can drive, but I prefer to not be behind the wheel of a car, especially in the crazy Austin traffic. The commute to the grocer takes less than ten minutes, so it’s no major ordeal.
Plunking my 8 quarters into the machine, I retrieved my Day Pass which allowed me to ride most public transit buses for 24 hours for no additional toll. I moved into the bus, when I am surprised by the passengers, they actually cleared a pathway for me so that I could move further into the bus and possibly claim a seat on the full bus. I couldn’t understand why the passengers were acting as if I were a leaper. I had showered, wearing clean clothes, had brushed my teeth and rinsed with mouth wash. Had I applied deodorant? I thought to myself, yes! And, I had even splashed on some cologne. Then it dawned on me. It was my heather gray t-shirt I was wearing that was causing the strange reaction and questionable stares.
Never had I seen discrimination or homophobia of that level on Austin public transportation like I was experiencing at that very moment. That particular bus was mixed with students, young Hispanic mothers and I would be safe to guess that at least one-fourth of the young men on that bus were either gay or bi-sexual. Mind you, Austin is a very “open” and accepting city, that’s one of it’s many excellent qualities. But, I was shocked to feel the tension that weighed on that particular bus ride. I live in the Southeastern part of the city, more commonly referred to as “Apartment City”, since the majority of this area of town is comprised of apartments and condos. A lot of college kids live in this part of town and I can safely say, by browsing Craig’s List Men-4-Men Personals that there are probably more gay’s living this part of town than anywhere else in Austin. So, why the homophobia???
I guess, from now on, I will be more selective where I wear my t-shirt, with a simple logo blazed across the chest: I KISS BOYS!