Last year I reached 65 years of age. I have been wondering for a while now what that means to me, how I truly feel inside and what lies ahead. I struggled in my youth with being gay and fought valiantly to act straight and fit in. But was I really kidding my family and friends? I did nothing overtly “straight” like play sports and date girls, but I also did not do the stereotypical “gay” things either. I was not in drama club or worked on artsy projects or sang in a school chorus. I was just kind of existing. I had friends who were school athletes, and we would do the usual high school shenanigans with alcohol and weed and sometimes stronger drugs. But all the time I would secretly pine away for the leader of the pack. After high school I did not go to college and drifted and wore a mask until I found a steady job, moved away from my hometown and began an ordinary existence. Work, weekends, friends, drinking, hiding my true self and then back to work on Monday. There is no doubt it wasn’t all bad and I had some fun times, but the drinking got out of hand, and I knew inside I was trying my darndest to appear straight and not fooling anyone, though no one asked me if I was gay. Along the way I had a tryst with an equally confused guy, and I turned on him with all my internalized homophobia.
Years turned into decades, jobs came and went. I gingerly came out of the closet in my late 30’s and met a man who I dearly love and have married. I no longer hide my gayness, but life is still ordinary, and I wonder where I fit in? Do not get me wrong, life is good, and my husband and I enjoy our jobs and our adventures and our orange dog, Cali. But I often wonder where in the gay community do I fit in, where do I find family?
I like to follow the festive gatherings of the radical faeries and dream of going to one myself. But, really, at 65, would I now don feathers and boas and dresses? Would I need to? But if I didn’t, would I be shunned? The bar scene is loud and probably filled with buff young men dancing shirtless. My husband and I would stick out like a couple of overweight old queens. I am self-conscious enough as it is. Well, what about the bears? I could probably pass in the bear scene. I wear a beard; I am heavy set and love Levi jeans and flannel shirts.
I think I like being ordinary and I like being at home with my husband and dog. I realize as I write that I am stereotyping the gay cultures I mentioned. I mean no disrespect and I love that they exist and watch from the outside wishing I belonged. When I go to pride events, I love the colors and diversity that dances and swirls all around me. Dykes on bikes, bears, faeries, trans folk, ordinary queers like me, all of us are one and absolutely no one will take that away from us. In the end though, I struggle with where do I fit in? Where is my adopted family? My biological one is distant to say the least. At the age of 65 I find that there is much that doesn’t matter to me anymore. I don’t follow fashion trends and I wear jeans or cargo shorts and t shirts most of the time. I love my tattoos and large gauged ear piercings. To me they are symbols of my personality. They represent a spirit, a celebration of who I am and what I enjoy. In cooler weather I like to wear a vest with a sparkling brooch pinned on it. I don’t care what other people think because this is what I like and compared to the rest of my biological family it is most certainly not ordinary! So maybe, in the entire spectrum of gay culture, I am making my own statement about who I am. I know my family is out there. I’m 65 years old and loving my life.