I’m delighted to welcome English writer, Michael Grimes to my blog. I first started reading Mike’s writing about six months ago and found him to be humorous and witty.
His observations on politics, sex, music, world issues, and a host of other subjects are delivered with flair and intelligence. At times, his words are biting, but there is always that underlying truth. His honest writing is something I greatly admire.
I am happy to kick off April with his post. It’s one that fits well with my own sensibilities about tolerance and acceptance, especially where sexuality is concerned.
Please welcome Michael Grimes.
* * * *
Pride And Prejudice – How Diana Ross Helped Me Become Comfortable With Everyone’s Sexuality
~ by Michael Grimes
It is a truth universally acknowledged that all gay men, regardless of race colour or creed, wish they were Diana Ross. Actually, I have no idea how universal that truth is nowadays, but back in 1977, it was pretty much gospel. And it was in 1977 that I was first introduced to homosexuality by my deeply gay babysitter, Gary.
I can hear a little bit of clenching and tensing going on out there, but don’t worry. This isn’t the earnest beginning of my misery memoir. If the cry-ography is your chosen reading genre, I shouldn’t bother reading any further. This bit is an unalloyed tale of unspoilt childhood innocence I’m afraid.
Gary was the second brother of three brothers. Their dad was a close childhood friend of my dad. Their mum was my mum’s best mate. The oldest brother was a career criminal, as was the youngest. Gary was the gay one in the middle, which made parts of my young life a little like a Martin Scorsese movie. Later in life, Gary became a Catholic priest, which made it really like a Martin Scorsese movie. But back in 1977, he was just my babysitter.
I absolutely adored Gary. Gary babysitting me on a Friday night was the highlight of my week. We sat and made fun of television programs. We indulged in experimental cookery. (Our greatest triumph was something that Gary christened “Pecule”, because of how peculiar it looked. Neither of us plucked up the courage to actually taste it.) But above all, we played games.
Admittedly, most of these games involved Gary being Diana Ross and me being The Supremes. Gary always brought along his record collection. He had a lot of Motown. In fact, I don’t think Gary owned a single record that wasn’t Motown. Many gay men have an affinity for tragic female figures. I was almost certainly the only little boy in my school who knew all the words to the classic 1972 movie soundtrack album Lady Sings The Blues.
After all the fun and games, Gary would plonk us both on the sofa and I’d be allowed to watch whatever horror film was on until Mum and Dad came back from the pub. Bear in mind this was the 70s. Kids weren’t handled like the hothouse flowers they are regarded as today. It was perfectly acceptable for an eight year old to stay up watching an old Dracula movie as long as there was no school the following day.
I knew there was something different about Gary, but I had no idea what it was. What I did know was that whatever that difference was, it made him more fun than anyone else I had ever met.
As I grew up, I began to realise what was different about Gary, or at least what ballpark that difference was in. Human sexuality is a very, very complicated thing after all. Facebook has recently introduced 50 different gender options for its members, rather than the traditional binary “male or female”. There are those who feel this is modernistic noodling of the worst kind, but it isn’t really anything new. There are many older and wiser cultures which have recognised multiple shades of gender for millennia.
All of this deeply upsets the deeply religious Christians of course. (Not all Christians by any means though. Some of them ring it off the hook and actually follow the teachings of Jesus.) “God hates homosexuality” they say. By which they mean that they hate homosexuality. By which they mean they don’t understand homosexuality and are fucking terrified of it.
There are many things I don’t understand. I don’t understand why gay men go “cottaging” or why heterosexual couples go “dogging”. Then again I don’t understand why people spend their chilly British weekends going camping. Just because I personally don’t get a thing doesn’t make it automatically wrong or invalid. My understanding of French is ropey at best, but I wouldn’t advocate the eradication of the works of Voltaire or Balzac just because I can’t read them in their original intended form.
The sad fact is that many deeply Christian folk are also deeply hypocritical. When it comes to homosexuality, they love to quote Leviticus. They don’t adhere to many of the other pronouncements in Leviticus of course. They do not eschew “eating blood” or “eating fat” (Lev. 3:17). That would be black pudding and most of the American diet prohibited. They have a bit of a lapse of conscience when it comes to “finding lost property and lying about it” (Lev. 6:3), presumably because “finders keepers” trumps the Bible on that particular point. And “thou shalt not touch the carcass of an animal which does not both chew the cud and have a divided hoof” does kind of make it impossible to play American football, the ball itself being made of pigskin.
Some Christians seem to think that even talking about homosexuality is a danger to their children. There are many things which actually are a danger to their children of course (cars, guns, lack of affordable healthcare) but, strangely, they seldom raise much of a fuss about these issues.
The only danger to their children as regards talking about sexuality is that these children might learn to embrace what they are and there is a chance that what they are is gay. In which case these parents would have to disown their children because their own upbringing has covered them with so many layers of bigotry that they can’t move themselves to do what any thinking, feeling human being should do. Give their child a big hug and tell them how proud their very existence has made them since the moment they were born.
The fact is that, whatever the Bible says, we are all unique individuals, and really there are as many different genders and sexualities as there are human beings on the planet. The thing that made my babysitter such fun was not that he was gay, but that he was Gary and he was true to himself
Whenever a girl dresses as a boy or vice versa, or someone erases all clues via androgeny, they are not doing it to be outrageous or annoying. They are doing it to feel like who they are inside. For some people, walking around looking as society expects them to look makes them feel uncomfortable. In fact, it makes them feel as uncomfortable as I would feel walking down my High Street dressed in a frock. It’s a big wide world and there is room in it for every expression of sexuality. The sooner that becomes a truth universally accepted, the better.
* * * *
Connect to Michael
Website | Twitter: @dailygrime
* * * *
Please show Michael some love. Read, comment, and share. If you’d like to be a guest blogger, connect with me and let’s talk. ~ eden
* * * *