Hello and welcome, dear readers.
Today is my Blogoversary; for two years now, I have posted, more or less faithfully, to this collection of random thoughts, literary efforts, and perturbed ranting. Last year, I started a tradition when I created the Claire De Lunacy Blogoversary Week, in which I have six guests post their contributions and then wrap up the week with a piece of new fiction by yours truly.
The requirements for participation are few: just write something sincere about a topic you think other people would like to hear about. That’s it. Now, this blog does tend to touch on (for obvious reasons) LGBT issues, Hispanic issues, and “Oh, great, Claire thinks she’s funny” issues, but I like to use this week to bring not only new voices, but new perspectives to the Claire De Lunacy archives.
So, without further ado, let’s get started, shall we?
This year, we kick things off with a post from my excellent pal Chia. Chia is, among other things, a lawyer, an author, and, in the parlance of my misspent youth, a dynamite dame (I apparently spent my youth in a weird alternate universe where the 70s and the 30s were the same decade). If you’d like to read more of her stuff, check out her blog, Art of the Odd.
How Lady Gaga Made Me Cry
When I was fourteen, I fell in love with a blue-eyed bottle blond named Shawn. He was the first boy I ever tongue-kissed. I was there the night he lost his virginity to a rocker chick after a game of strip blackjack (a very fast game, if you’ve never played), and he was there through my strings of bad boyfriends and bouts of self-loathing. We weren’t always good for each other, but we were there for each other, and that didn’t change when he told me he was gay.
In retrospect, I probably should have realized that. The bullies at school certainly did. I’ll never forget them hissing “Faggot” as they passed us in the hallway, when Shawn’s hand was up my shirt and mine was halfway down his pants. They’d never seen him kiss another man, but it didn’t matter. When he was outed not long after that, he felt he had no choice but to quit school and move out of state. He never really got over that.
Shawn died in November 2007. I wrote about it when it happened. His liver shut down, after years of alcohol abuse. I was devastated, and I was furious, but I said at the time that I believed that it wasn’t the booze that killed him – it was depression. He had a dozen reasons to be depressed, but one of the worst was that he couldn’t be who he was without reprisal.
I think about Shawn a lot, but I’ve been thinking about him more because I’ve been researching estate planning techniques for married and unmarried couples. For all the rhetoric we’ve heard in the past few years about domestic partnerships as a viable substitute for marriage, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of legal privileges granted to married couples that simply aren’t available to unmarried ones – and thanks to the Defense of Marriage Act (which I may never forgive Bill Clinton for signing), many of them are not available to same-sex couples, even if their states of residence either allow them to marry or specify that domestic partnerships carry all the rights and responsibilities of marriage.
This, then, is the mindset I was in when I read What has Lady Gaga got to do with lawyers? by Daniel Perry. The article has to do with Lady Gaga’s use of social media to interact with her fans – her “little monsters,” as she calls them – and what attorneys might be able to learn from her techniques. The author makes some excellent points (any one of which would be applicable to any entrepreneur who relies on personal relationships to grow their business), but that’s not why it’s stuck with me.
While I was watching the fan-made parodies of Lady Gaga’s videos, I realized that most, if not all, of the boys featured in these affectionate, creative YouTube send-ups were not only gay – they weren’t trying to hide it. A little deeper into the article, there were quotes from some of these fans.
• “Thank you for being proud to be yourself and being proud to try new things because you’re standing up for the rest of us who aren’t afraid to do that either – and that means so much to me. I am proud to be called your ‘little monster.’”
• “Last year I watched one of your speeches on Gay Rights and the day after I came out to my parents and friends and I thank you for that because you really inspired me to be who I am.”
• “You make me feel so comfortable with myself. You made me feel like I can be me. I shouldn’t be what they want me to be. I should be myself. I love you.”
And then came Gaga’s response: “I’ve never cried so hard in 24 years, from pure joy and unconditional love. Tears still streaming”
“Oh, Shawn,” I thought. “Your life could have been so different.” And that’s when I started to cry.
Gaga wasn’t finished with me, though. Near the end of the article, Mr. Perry embedded this interview with Lady Gaga and Cyndi Lauper, talking about the spread of HIV and AIDS in the heterosexual female population. If you grew up in the ’80s, as I did, you’ll remember how the fear and ignorance surrounding HIV fed into, and was fueled by, the repressive homophobia of the age.
The tears that started when I read “You made me feel like I can be me” wouldn’t stop. I cried for my friend, and for everyone who’s ever had to hide their sexuality from the world or from themselves. And when the tears dried, I thought about how far we’ve come, and how much farther we have to go.
I love you, Shawn. This journey’s not the same without you.