The Culture Couture of Queer
There’s a huge mirror across the table in our 300-square-foot living room slash pattern-making studio. It has a rotting deer head carcass nailed to the top of it that I sometimes hang things on to add a bit of color and life to the place. Before I came along, Antony’s life was ascetic and planned. Rolling steadily upward, this water sign dreamed of the day in which he’d own his own business and rise to the heights of a successful career in fashion. Now, there’s a pile of washed dishes piled precariously on top of the nonworking stove slash make-shift table, and a closet full of no-name brand t-shirts; the likes of which he’s been authorized to accept as penance for proudly displaying a dead doe in our home. A home we’ve unwittingly ripped to shreds to learn how to sew back together again together.
The fridge is no longer full of stale air and now boasts fresh produce that Antony dunks into a porcelain ramekin of catsup to remind him of the days when health meant being able to photograph well. Now, healing stones are positioned around the room in just the feng shui to catch the morning sun through our gigantic, spotless windows. Dust gathers on handmade frames preserving insects pined to the open mouths of dotted tigers. Naked lady mannequins that once terrorized Charlie by rolling across the uneven floorboards at odd hours of the day are now half-clothed in pleated chiffon and newly pressed muslin. His life is a work of art and a lesson for me in the joys and hardships of becoming a responsible adult. Seven years my senior, he reminds me of a twelve-year-old boy at times and I, an eighty-year old man whose grounds had to quake in an effort to avoid an early and unnecessary demise.
There was a panel discussion at school on Thursday. The topic was on faith and homosexuality. I was asked to join the frontline in an effort to speak candidly about my experiences growing up gay, as if I was marked with a scarlet letter at birth. I was to encapsulate my 28+ years of struggles and conquests to better demonstrate the possibility that someone can be gay and have faith. Perplexing as it may seem to some, I had to find my old activist hat that I’d buried somewhere in the Midwest and reflectively brush up on Biblical scripture. I was to defend my spiritual humanity once again, speaking to the outlandish notion that the two can harmoniously coexist simultaneously regardless of centuries of contrary thought.
I came ready for battle and dressed for a dinner party. With a lint roller positioned in the lining pocket of my trench coat, I was prepared for any fuzz ball that would dare attack my one-of-a-kind, sample-sale, lightweight, navy blazer. We were seated in order of our spiritual beliefs. The Christians, Jews and Muslims seated stage right and I, off to the far left corner closest to the exit sign. Poised for war, I quietly found peace amidst the tension. I no longer had anything undealt with to prove, which was deliciously different from just a year prior.
I listened intently to each speaker provide rich, texture-full, personal testimony with bitten hands in my lap and legs politely crossed. A man of the Koran spoke of the wrath homosexuals would face when confronted with their sins at the hands of a vengeful, yet forgiving, God. I gracefully wrote my rebuttals on loose papers with an orange highlighter. After the man concluded, he received targeted applause. Then a young, gay man spoke, who had noticeably grown up in a different time than his counterparts, providing a pivotal mood change after the delicately worded fire and brimstone laid before him. After the silence, I slowly took the microphone off the table stand and pulled the cord down the inside of my right thumb and index finger.
“I think it’s interesting that the only person who was applauded on this stage was the man to my right. I feel all of the panelists deserve a round of applause.” With that those in the audience who were waiting on the edge of their seats for a glimmer of hope respectfully cheered for longer than I had anticipated.
“I also find it interesting that those who are not gay have the most to say about the issue.” A gay, Christian panelist nodded his head then deeply fixed his gaze forward towards the back of the house.
“Shalom, Asalamalakum, Namaste, Hello. My name is Daniel. I live with my boyfriend of almost two years. We hardly have sex, so I guess I’m not sinning that much these days.” The crowd bubbled in pops of laughter as I encouraged them to enjoy a moment in the sun.
“Sad, but true,” I confessed.
“You know, I think it’s important to point out that just because someone does not adhere to a religious faith does not mean that they are faithless. On the contrary. I am gay and I have great faith.” I went on to speak my truth.
“I’ve never thought of God as a man. If we are all made in Her…His loving image as the scripture tells us, then God must be one fierce, black lesbian!” An eruption of chuckles ensued.
“You know guys, it’s a book. A holy book. But so are you. Never let anyone ever tell you how to think or what to feel. Find the answers for yourself. I don’t believe God lies solely in the intellect as I’ve heard mentioned on this stage. I believe God lies in the ‘heartmind.’ It’s not a word I’ve coined myself. It’s the place where the heart and mind connect. I believe you have to have an open heart and an open mind for the word of God to be heard and to be made manifest. Everything else is just noise. It is only in the stillness and in the silence of meditation and prayer that we are truly whole. But it’s not about me. It’s not about the people on this stage. People are dying. It’s about you.”
There appears to be a perception of the supposed gay lifestyle that still persists today, even within the gay culture regardless of one’s culture. It’s as if we’ve just begun to reap the rewards and consequences of our ancestors’ actions who lived and worked for freedom in times much less forgiving than it is today. There is a culture couture of queer that is becoming and perhaps has always been incomprehensibly undefinitive, because of the natural evolution of the human spirit.
It’s no longer up to us to try to change anyone anymore for any reason. We have nothing more to prove and nothing left to hide. Let’s take the time and attention deserved to pick up the pieces of our own couture lives and learn to sew again with the help of those you’ve learned to trust. Those of us who seek peace are watching the systems of the past from afar fall away and knowing the world is full of endless opportunities for rebirth. The only ones left to stand in our way are those we allow to take our peace from us. “Shalom, Asalamalakum, Namaste, Amen!”