It was definitely a time of color, and as a gay man, I can tell you you can’t wear anything with your heart on or your head down — I’m talking about black, white, brown — black, white, brown, blue. You got to look the part.”
The other thing is he said we should also throw off the shackles of the past — a common thing I hear in the gay community — and give up all the guilt that comes with being in the closet. I remember a lot from my first gay marriage when I was in my early 20s — I was the kid with the beard on the bench in the gay pride parade, or the boy who got home late from work dressed in a flannel, a leather jacket, and a bow tie-and-a-tippet, and then he came home in a suit and tie, a tie in a knot over his ear so the knots would show, a bow tie in a knot over his right shoulder, a bow tie in a knot over his right leg, a bow tie in a knot over his right wrist, and a bow tie all the way up his left arm. That was the first time I felt that it wasn’t too bad to look like I loved myself in some way.
“When you think about it in terms of the way that you used to be, those things are still there, but you have to let them go,” Gay said, “and to not make them, so to speak, a part of your identity means you have to look at them differently.”
Gay also told me about the time his parents were getting divorced, during a family emergency. “My mom was like, ‘Look, I’m having an emergency, and I need you to step in and be in this house all day,'” Gay said. So he dressed like the guy: He didn’t want to dress like a typical mom. “He was dressing, for the most part, in drag,” Gay said. “I mean, if he was having an argument, I think he felt a lot better with those two girls in the room — or two guys. Those guys were not comfortable on the first day, but they were comfortable every second afterward.” I couldn’t tell what was going on in the kitchen or what that first lady was doing.
At that time, gay men didn’t have many options for drag shows. There was a small theater in the back of the house, but it had no restrooms or a stage
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