2nd Annual Prague Pride and my Gay Life
First of all: No to my school mates and neighborhood friends who can’t comprehend why I didn’t get married and spawn soon after high school graduation; No to my parents and relatives who may still be trying to comprehend my Bohemian lifestyle; And no even to my gay friends who may occasionally question my tendencies and behaviour. No, I am not gay.
Against the Carol. A board member for A Broad’s Way Productions, I was part of the writing and acting team that created the show to be performed as part of Prague’s First Annual Gay Pride celebration almost exactly one year ago. The show, comprised of original personal monologues about the past, present, and future of gay life and interspersed with video interviews of people on the street discussing those same topics, was a success and we presented an encore performance the following October.
However, I never met a gay person until my early 20’s. I grew up sheltered from any gay lifestyle awareness first growing up in a small town, then attending a rural state university. My family didn’t have a lot of expendable income, so we didn’t travel much farther than one could reach by car within a few days and all within the continental US. Upon college graduation I moved to Seattle and shared an apartment with 2 fellow female alumni. V in particular was my bff from uni – we bonded in sophmore year and shared crazy adventures, sorrowful times, and even a couple boyfriends (not simultaneously). V got a job working in a hotel restaurant (the beginning of her career path to becoming a hotel GM a few years later).
One day she brought home a fellow worker, the adorable and beautiful Jesus. Though he’d lived in New York a few years, his hispanic accent was still strong enough to be intriguing and sexy. Etched in my brain forever is the vision of V sitting at the kitchen table while Jesus wove ribbons in her hair as they prepared to go out for the evening. I was going out with them, but didn’t get the special hair treatment as she did. At that moment I felt a new and unfamiliar longing, “I wish I had a gay friend.” Dorothy, be careful what you wish for. Happily ever after, my wish came true.
I eventually became better friends with Jesus than with V. She moved out of town on her hotel promotions. But before she left town V fell in love with a woman for the first time and they lived together for a couple years. They met at traffic court, and at first V said her new girlfriend Sam reminded her of me. I was mildly flattered, then somewhat uneasy when V would take to staring at me when I changed clothes before we went out for an evening. Evetually we both got over it. Funny how new gays can just come at you like a toddler just discovering to walk. I was happy to witness her adjustment to her first steps in gay life.
So we became a party of 5 – Jesus and David, V and Sam, and me. I never minded the 5th status – we were a crazy fun group whether out on the town or at someone’s house party. Sam was the drummer in a blues band that would sometimes play at her house parties. We called V and Sam’s house “Lesbian Beach” because it was near a lake and became known for their house parties. I became friends with many of the lesbians who were in their social circle. I think they enjoyed teasing the usually only straight girl. I didn’t mind their jokes because they were funny. And who doesn’t like a little complimentary attention?
If we were out at the gay clubs, I enjoyed throwing myself into the dance floor, dancing myself sweaty without the thought of impressing straight boys. Though actually – straight boys take notice – a straight girl can get lucky in a gay bar. It just takes a comfortable straight to follow the lead of his gay brethern, find the only girl in a group of gays, and know that she’s straight and fun (though I still can’t quite embrace the unflattering term ‘fag hag’). Plus gay dance clubs play the best music, and the dance floors are flush with, oh dare I say it, gay abandon. A girl can get swung around or grinded against by any number of fit and handsome men with no reprocussions. And a girl could get used to that. (Though that girl should also remember cab fare because she may likely be going home alone when the boys all hook up just due to the sheer odds of it.)
V and Sam had a tempestous relationship and eventually brokeup. V took up with Lou, a female metro bus driver originally from the US south with a wicked wit. Jesus and David had moved to Florida. R was part of our social circle during these days too. R graduated college alongside myself and V. We 3 moved to Seattle the same time. R had been my first serious boyfriend in college our sophmore year, though it only lasted a few months. After breaking up we remained friends. After arriving in Seattle he realized he was gay. And this actually surprised none of us. These days R is happily married to his husband T for the past many years.
I landed a PR job at the biggest musical theatre company in the NW. Thus began my true immersion into gay life. Not only was I entranced by the live theatre community, I fell in love – a love which endures to this day. I was priviledged to work with talented (and admittedly some not-so-talented but adorable) gay dancers and actors from New York to LA. I joined the volunteer board for the largest local AIDS awareness organization in the area and helped promote and produce a number of successful fund-raising events. Like a cloud, a supportive loving group of gay friends became my family. We remain family though we’re now scattered around various parts of the world.
Here in Prague I serendipitously found my first and current flatmate who is gay. Somehow I knew moving to Prague on my own, living with a gay everything was going to be fine. And it is. I’ve met more family here – gay and straight and international. I love the gay Prague scene. I like to say I speak gay fluently in every language. Put me in a room with 500 people and one gay, and we will immediately find each other and commence animated discussion (it’s happened more than once).
I’m now off to accept a spontaneous invitation to the Opening Events of the 2nd Annual Prague Pride! As this is Pride Week, and I obviously have a Lot to say on the topic, I’ll be keeping updates on the events, adventures and crazy lovely people I meet this week. And I haven’t even told you about LaLaLand yet.