“Georgia.” “What?” “Come over here, I have some-Woman, would you quit prancing and come over here?!” I rolled my eyes. “Gawd, you’re not my mom.” “Florida, don’t make me get mad or I will flare my nostrils and suck up all the air.” The mild needling of my state-based name along with Leonard’s impression of James Evans from Good Times was a long-running bit between Leonard and I, much to the bemusement of our friends. Of course I adored him; pianist, quick-witted, casually elegant, loved good music, writer in the earnest tradition of pathetically intellectual neo-adult adolescents who are still VERY DRAMATIC and best friend to my friend, Anthony. Black hair and full lips didn’t hurt either. The way their dynamic duo expanded and accepted me as a welcome special guest sidekick made my first year at college less bizarre. I stepped over to my oddly high strung friend for his important announcement. “Georgia”, he said, earnestly peering into my eyes, my hands clasped in his. “Georgia, I wanted you to know something. Because I consider you a friend and it’s important that you know.” “OK.” “I’m gay.” “Yes.” “What?” “Yes, yes, you are. What’s the big news?”
It took awhile for him to get his feet back under him, since I ruined the potential drama of the moment, but I didn’t understand why this was important. Why it took courage in 1989 to stand up before person you valued and be prepared for rejection. I’m black and female. I can’t slip into a situation where people don’t notice that right off the bat. Some would say being gay is easier, you can pass. I say it’s harder. A bigot can just be a bigot, I get to just deal and move on. Passing, hiding really, you get involved, you open up. Your heart is a little more at risk. The need for love and acceptance versus the need to be safe-it’s a constant war. Things became more clear when our coterie wandered drunk through the streets of NYC, consoling Leonard as his parents sat shiva for their now out son. I hurt for him and wondered about my own issues with sexuality.
People wonder why there is a National Coming Out Day or a Black History Month and I get it, I do. It makes no sense. Pride Month? What for? For who you fall for? For a shade of human? How trivial. Until you realize how deep the shame goes. How often it’s the people you love most who can push you away for being gay, being trans. There is no fault in LGBT, there is only a fault in being a bigot. To fight that, we need to celebrate, we deserve to celebrate being LGBT. We create a community, a safe haven, with every story. We learned to be strong to survive the rejections, here, we learn to be strong and live. Someday, sometime soon, I hope, no one will understand the why. They won’t get it. It will seem strange, even bizarre, to conceive that who you love is an issue. Like it’s anyone’s business but yours. The grandkids will think it’s odd, and that it’s so OLD, just ancient history. We’ll have to fight them a bit on keeping the facts and history hallowed, but I won’t mind. One day, being out will be transformed into just being, and that’s perfectly fine with me.