Over at Infomaniac, MJ asked the question: What is the Gayest Thing in your house. Having been out of the closet since the time before Mondale challenged Reagan for the White House I am way past decorating our house with things that the Pupate Homosexual is drawn to.
Truth be told I think we have a pride flag that we fly in June during Pride, and we have a deck of cards with the pride rainbow on it. Oh, I forget with DVD's of every Doris Day-Rock Hudson flick made, and we have a copy of The Ritz. But other than that, we lead a tasteful life. But if you are even thinking of coming to our house in hopes of seeing a collage of handcuffs, or either of us lilting about in an evening gown, you are going to be disappointed.
But back to MJ, who by the way was inspired by my mother's glitter sunglasses, she asked us to dig even deeper to find the the gayest thing on our homes.
So I went deep, deep into a closet in our guest room and pulled out this:
Doesn't get more gay that this in our house, folks. So how did Ken come to live in a closet in our house?
You know, when I was eight or nine - 1970/1 or so, it wasn't OK for boys to play with dolls but God I loved Barbie. You could dress her up and she could do things. I was obsessed with Barbie, and I wanted my own.
But that was in 1968-69 and boys didn't dolls back then. You got action figures: cowboys, soldiers and spacemen. The problem is, I didn't want any of them. I wanted BARBIE.
My mother begrudingly finally gave in and bought me a Ken Doll provided that I hid it from everyone. Since I was mostly alone because I had no interest in being around football or baseball or anything else like that, playing with "Ken" was no issue. But then one of our family friends gave me their son's entire G.I. Joe (the old kind) and it had a mechanical Jeep and all the military clothes. I also ended up with a BIG JIM Sports Camper, which was exactly like Barbie's camper but made for Mattel's "Big Jim" doll.
So for years I would play with Ken and G.I. Joe, as they were the same scale. G.I. Joe would go out in the jeep and kill dinner and Ken would stay back at the camper and make the beds and get the fire going, etc. G.I. Joe and Ken would kiss and sleep in the same bedding, which I made myself from old dress handkerchiefs. Ken and G.I. Joe had it pretty good, but like all happy endings, this was not to be.
No one showed me this in the media, no one influenced me by taking advatage of me, The mind that dreamt this up at age nine in 1971 was a mind that was who I was at my essence. And that mind couldn't comprehend that I was the one with a problem, and that they felt that problem reflected badly on them.
One day I came home and found that my father had had enough and threw it all away.
It's was so hard being a kid whose parents were ashamed of you. It's even harder to hear people who say that this is how you choose to be, when it is so impossible to be anything but who you are.
There is the part of me that still twinges with real pain because we came just a bit too late to be young enough to imagine that we could be parents. I mean back in the late seventies and early 1980s that was a remarkable thing for gay person to want enough to climb those barriers. I would have loved having a child that I could embrace and provided the type of parenting that would have allowed them to grow up to become what their essence directed them towards. It would have been nice to be able to pass on a sense of perspective, and hope that when they became parents they too would do the right thing.
So instead of buying my son or daughter a Ken doll, or giving them this one - mint in the box, I just keep this one tucked away.
Maybe one day he'll be worth something. The irony is that is what my parents probably thought of me - something better left behind by itself, away from thought.
But on another level, it's a reminder that the older we get, the more we start morphing into the parents who we promised we'd never become.