Today is National Coming Out Day. This day has be set aside for those of us of the homosexual persuasion to announce to all and sundry that we are in fact gay (or lesbian, or bisexual, or transgendered).
My name is Mortimer and I am gay.
My coming out story is rather funny. I was outed by the Philadelphia Inquirer. Yes, the venerable big city newspaper is in the business of outing young homosexuals. Each year in September, we had what had been known as the gay high holidays. Miss America week was always fun and exciting for us down here. I had been out to the world for most of my life but, my family didn't have a clue. Except for my sister, Danielle. She and I went to the clubs all the time together when we were both underage, and when I told her I was gay, she replied, "I know" in the most what-do-you-think-that-I'm-that-bloody-stupid inflection you could possibly muster. My cousin Dawn knew as well. She came out with me to the clubs in Philadelphia when I lived there. It's nice to know they can keep a secret. Well, one year the Miss America organization changed all the rules. This is when they decided to downgrade the pageant and make the contestants more "natural" and "regular" to the viewing public. Big ass mistake but, I digress. I had been doing five shows a week at the clubs in Atlantic City and in various places in the tri-state area. By now, I was very well established in the community throughout the area and very well known as a performer. I had been with my then boyfriend for a number of years, living with his family (in the sin of non-marriage) and things were great. I was working at the The Rendezvous Lounge (which is now Babes, the strip club I work at) and the Inquirer Press was there wanting to interview me about the changes in the pageant. I agreed, I mean, it's the press dahling, we must always agree to meet with the press. Publicity is a wonderful thing, even if it's by association. Since the article wasn't about me, necessarily, I would still get the recognition. They came up to the dressing room, interviewed myself and my guest performers, took some pictures of us in various states of make-up and gowns and were off. Honestly, I didn't give it a thought after that. We were so caught up in the upcoming Miss'd America Pageant that I totally forgot about it.
I was sitting at my home in Margate sewing one of my costumes. I was living with my ex mother-in-sin (since I can't get married, it's not -law), Helene, lovely woman. The phone rang and she came to get me and told me it was my Aunt Janet (she has always been my Auntie Mame) I just knew she would be the first to call.
I get on the phone and she says, "I love you".
I knew just what she was talking about. I replied, "So...you saw the paper."
"Yes," she told me, "and your Mother will be calling you any minute, I just wanted you to know that I love you no matter what."
I had to laugh to myself, I was gay, Aunt Jan, not on death row. We chatted for a few minutes, I told her thank you and she told me how my Uncle found the article at work, brought the paper home and made her read it, without telling her why. She said she was halfway through the Lifestyle section's front page when it hit her. There, on the page in full colour is me, in high drag with accompanying article. The inter-family phone calls started and here we were.
As soon as I hung up, the phone rang and it was my Mother. Yes, there were tears, and "why didn't you tell me" and "what will the neighbor's say" kind of things but, I will hand it to her, she took it better than I expected. I must say, my Grandmother, god rest her, was the most accepting of the whole affair. She told my Mom, "You always wanted him to be happy in his life? Do you think he's happy now? Then get over it. You got what you want." I am paraphrasing but, that was the gist.
Now, when I go to my Mother's home, there are pictures of me and my ex in her livingroom. I told her, I don't want to see them. She replied, "We all have our ex's in this family. You'll just have to deal with it. Join the club!"
Join the club.
Now, I know she was referring the the familial ex-wives club but, I take it as joining the club of humanity. Yes, my life is just as valid and just as accepted. My feelings about my BOYfriend are just as normal about her feelings about her ex-husband, my Father. We are a family and my being gay is accepted and (in the twisted putting-my-ex-and-I-pictures-on-display) celebrated as just as normal and just as valid. We had a Mother's day celebration one year at the club where I had been interviewed for the now infamous article. All of the performers brought their moms and families to the show. It was so wonderful to look out in the audience and see my Mom, my Aunt Janet, and my Nan sitting there, smiling and enjoying themselves.
I love you, Mom. Thanks for not only wanting me to be happy but, making me the happiest person on earth!