A reminder of the power of kindness
Howdy, everybody. It recently occurred to me how different it must be to be a very young gay person now, compared to how it was when I was kid. The everyday normalcy of seeing gays and lesbians on TV shows, movies and books is so different from when I was young. In the ’70s and ’80s, there just weren’t a lot of gay role models. I remember Hollywood Montrose from the movie Mannequin, Billy Crystal from the TV show Soap and Steven Carrington from Dynasty. And none of them were portrayed as “normal.” The gay characters always seemed to be put there for shock value.
That’s why it is awesome to see shows like Empire, Modern Family, How To Get Away With Murder, Orange Is The New Black and Glee showing gay characters as regular people. To know Ellen DeGeneres is one of us and is still America’s sweetheart sometimes blows my mind. I hope the gay youths of today know how awesome and important that really is.
I know being young and gay can be the loneliest, confusing and frustrating time in your life. But having so many different gay people to look up to hopefully gives those kids a little hope. Hope that they are not alone. Hope that they are not so different. Hope that it does get better.
I remember when I was 15 or 16 years old and reading a short story by Clive Barker called In the Hills, The Cities and the lead characters were a gay couple. They were what I now know to be as just a regular couple, doing couple things like having a picnic, going for a drive in the country, having an argument and having sex. It is a Clive Barker story, so things don’t end well for the couple … but not because they were gay. Their sexual orientation was treated as a simple fact, like it was nothing. But to me, it was everything. It was the first time I had come across anything where a gay person was just a person. A lead character that just so happened to be gay. It wasn’t even all that great of a story but it was a turning point for me. It made me feel less alone and more optimistic about my future.
I find great comfort in seeing so many gays, lesbians and transgender folks in entertainment. I hope it is easier for the homo youths of today to feel normal but still feel special. Being gay is awesome. I just wish it didn’t take us so long to realize it. (And Indiana, it seems, still hasn’t figured it out.)
Now let’s get to some questions.
Dear Cassie, Do you think men hit on women the same way that men hit on men? I hear women (and men who dress as women) complain about the obnoxious and sometimes vulgar way men come on to them, but I’ve never heard the same complaints from my friends who are gay men. Thoughts? Thanks, G.
Dearest G, It is not as different as you would think. There are always guys with cheesy pickup lines — gay and straight. I’ve seen just as many gay guys use lines like “Hey you wanna play dentist? You have a cavity that needs filling.” Or “You want to sit on my lap and we will talk about the first thing that pops up.” (By the way these are both lines I have actually heard, and one of them worked … on me.) Anyway, the difference between using them on a guy compared to a girl is that I think they work more on guys. Not all, but some guys like a confident forward man even if it comes off as a little corny and borderline offensive. Men are pigs, gay or straight. Gay men don’t complain about it as much because we secretly love it. A transgender friend of mine who has dated gay guys and straight guys is always saying how vulgar and nasty straight guys get when hitting on her. Of course the womanly thing to do is to clutch your pearls and walk away in a huff, but the truth is sometimes pick-up lines work because there is a dirty little whore deep down inside all of us. Thanks, Cassie.
Dear Cassie, A few weeks ago in your column, you talked about how drag queens can be shady and catty. As shady as some queens can be, I think it’s also important to note that some of them indeed have big hearts and they make some major impacts on the people that they encounter. After years of trials and disdain the facades of harsh cattiness can be intimidating, I got to witness the true compassion of a few of them on occasion and some made lasting impressions.
I remember being invited to Christmas dinner by China Blue one year because it was known to her that I was estranged from my over-religious family and was and am a rather shy person on the whole. I remember being at the host table in the Rose Room one night when Donna Day was performing when she shoved her huge wad of cash into my chest to hold ’til the end of her performance and being told by the host that it was a high compliment, for she trusted so few with her possessions. I miss the way that she could make me laugh at myself and my own hang-ups by just flaunting her own flaws and being real. And I remember that if not for one of them, I may not be around today. I was so depressed and drunk when I approached her and broke down crying. It seemed I just couldn’t find where I belonged. I was too fat to be cool and too weird to be a bear. I was too shy to make anything other than acquaintances and there was no one that I could share my despondency with who would understand or care. This boy in a dress reached out to me and hugged me, said it would be ok, I was not alone, offered to pay for a cab so that I wouldn’t have to walk in the rain, then checked up with me for weeks afterward just to see if I was in a better frame of mind.
So this isn’t so much as a question as it is a thank you. Thank you to Cassie, China, Celeste, Valerie, Donna for helping me and others find our way. I love you all to infinity! Eric R.
Dearest Eric R, Thank you for reminding us that a small act of compassion can help in many ways. Drag queens do get a bad rap sometimes, but many of the girls I know are the most kind, generous souls I have ever met. They are, after all, the first people our community turns to anytime they need funds raised for a reason. They give selflessly to the community they love. They have big hearts under those big wigs. Thank you for sharing your story Eric. You made me feel … feelings. Ugh! Damn you.
Stay strong my babies and always, love more, bitch less and be fabulous. XOXO, Cassie Nova.
If you have a question and want to suggest for Ask a Drag Queen — or just have some juicy gossip to share — email it to AskCassieNova@gmail.com.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 3, 2015.