GAY PRIDE MONTH; Day Twenty-Seven, What Fifty Years of Gay Pride Means to Me


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It Was Fifty Years Ago Today!

by BG “Ben” Thomas

“I got in an argument just recently with a young man in a club who just flat out denied that it had ever been illegal to be gay. He simply did not know that when I was his age, when I was just coming out, it was a felony. Every police department in every major city in this country had special sections whose sole purpose was to hunt down and imprison homosexuals—for consenting behavior between adults. That’s the reality I came out in.”

~~  Cleve Jones

Early in the morning on June 28th, 1969, in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, the police raided a bar called the Stonewall Inn. It happened all the time. Judy Garland, a gay diva, had just died on the 22nd. On top of that, the Stonewall had just been raided, and so everyone knew it was safe, at least for a while. Plus, they had made their payoffs to the police as well.

The Stonewall Inn was a bar that gay people could go to and dance, together, close. Touch. Maybe find love. Imagine, a world where it was illegal to be GLBTQ. Imagine a world where it was illegal to serve alcohol to gay people. A world where it was considered a mental illness. A world where there was no Will & Grace, or Ellen, or Love, Simon or Gay Straight Alliance clubs in high school or acceptance in any way. If you were queer, you either hid it even to yourself, or hid it from your opposite sex spouse and got sex secretly in parks or bathrooms (where you could be arrested and your life ruined) or you ran away to gay ghettos in San Francisco or New York’s Village.

And imagine in that dreaded world, imagine finding community, and finding a bar where you could touch a member of the same sex, where you could dance…. It must have been exhilarating! Liberating! Unifying! And that night, fifty years ago, the Stonewall Inn should have been safe.

I always knew I was different. I was just so sheltered; I didn’t know what the difference was. We didn’t talk about sex in my home. And sex was only talked about in school as in, “Doesn’t she have a great set of tits?!” I was well read and intelligent and yet I had no idea I was gay. It shocks me when men tell me they knew when they were gay that they were in first or second grade. I was so totally sexually unaware, that I didn’t know what I was feeling for guys was sexual. In retrospect, it’s pretty ridiculous that I didn’t know, but I was that sheltered.  Continue reading

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GAY PRIDE MONTH, Day Six: The Effect That AIDS Has Had On My Life

In 2008, I wrote the following post in my Live Journal (does anyone remember Live Journal?). A lot of people reacted to it and so I updated it and reposted it in 2017, and then, knowing full well that I can’t spend the month focusing on Gay Pride and not talk about AIDS. So I’ve looked at that essay again, and sharing it with you once once more….

When I was barely twenty-one, I dated this beautiful high-school boy. Oh, my! He was so pretty, you wanted to cry. Lovely eyes, and golden-brown hair and a beautiful heart to match. Don’t worry, he told me he was legal, although just barely. I fell head-over-heels in…limerence. I knew even then that I wasn’t in-love yet, but with a little time…it was easily heading that direction and it could have turned into love with ease.

His name was David (Greeknameopolis). We met in the Walden Bookstore I was working in. I was at the register and it looked to me like some kid was sneaking a look at a Playboy or something, which we weren’t supposed to let kids do. And he looked like a kid, believe me!

I sorta snuck up behind him to my surprise, it was Playgirl he was looking at! Not Playboy! Before I could say a word, I got a look at him and well, he took my breath away… Young, but not a kid. A true vital young man. So instead of kicking him out of the store, I whispered, “If you give me the money, I’ll buy that for you…”

He looked up at me (yes, up!) with those big doe eyes and with a trembling voice said Continue reading

BOY ERASED – My Thoughts After Seeing It

Noah got this movie for us to watch, but I had to watch it on my own first. He was not raised extremely conservative Christian as I was. I need to absorb this movie. And let me say right now it is a rough one.

I was never sent to an ex-gay camp or school or anything like that. But this movie drug me down a gravel road. It brought back so many scary awful memories. The horror and shame I felt for being gay. The questioning. The crying myself to sleep begging God to fix me…to make me straight. I just kept asking… God? Why would you give me these feelings and then tell me I’m going to hell for having them?

And I would be told by “helpful” Christians, who pointed out all the verses in the Bible, that God didn’t give me those feelings. It was Satan, using every tool at his disposal to get me away from God. Another “helpful” suggestion was that Continue reading

GRATEFUL! THANKFUL! BLESSED!

A few years ago did a blog called “365 Days of Silver,” where I managed, every single day for a year, to post something that I was grateful for. And here it is November, a beginning of a season where we traditionally do just think of all the things we are grateful for.

NUMBER ONE

I am thankful, so thankful, for a God that *I* can believe in. Not a mean Old Man Up There in the Sky who has set me up for failure and says that I am born into sin because of two people who are supposed to have done something terrible in a Garden thousands of years ago. A god that sets up a minefield and expects me to navigate through it to prove…well I’m not sure what. No. I believe in a God Who Created me just as I am, that way I am supposed to be, with everything that comes up with it (which I of course I will list in the days to come). A God Who is Agape—pure and unconditional love. Not that “unconditional love” I learned about growing up Baptist that sure had a heck of a lot of conditions. That unconditional love *except* for….that gay business or that poly thing or all those other etc etc etc reasons. Unconditional Love. I think that is Number One!

NUMBER TWO

I am thankful—so thankful—for Continue reading

HELP!! I SERIOUSLY NEED SOME ADVICE!

HELP!! I SERIOUSLY NEED SOME ADVICE!

*“Girl, are you blind?”
The unmistakable feminine voice came from Randal, one of the waiters and….*

A week ago I did something I often do. I give readers a chance to add a phrase or joke or something to my story. Sometimes it’s name the cat or give me a rock group kids listen to nowadays. Then if I use the suggestion, I list them in my “Thanks” section at the end of the book!

This time I asked for people to switch men’s names—Louis to Louise, etc—for a story in which a group of bitchy A Gays are camping it up over cocktails. Immediately I got some good ones! Very funny.

But something else happened as well! I got hit with a small avalanche of accusations that I was a sexist and a misogynist. *Me!* Who has basically had Continue reading

My First Solo Speaking Engagement

Image may contain: 7 people, people smiling, people standing

Last night I spoke to the Kansas City Gay Men’s Book Club. It was my first speaking engagement before a book club and it was really exciting. Really moving. It was a terrific group of seven men who had read my book The Boy Who Came in from the Cold. They asked intelligent questions. None of those, “Where do you get your ideas?”

One of the two men, Ric, who co-founded the group asked why I set my stories in Kansas City and the local area instead of what readers might consider a more exciting cities: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles…. And if I based my characters on real people or did I make them up whole. I let them know that I got my idea to use KC the same reason Stephen King uses Maine. Because he knows Maine. Because I know Kansas City. And because I can show people just what a wonderful, classy, cultural, fun city Kansas City can be. And all my characters? Main ones are total creations. Secondary ones are sometimes based on real people…. Tributes.

I think I talked the legs off of their chairs but they didn’t seem to mind.

As the evening ended, all the members put the names of books they would like to read in a hat. The idea was to draw one and that be next month’s book. They had me reach into the hat as a person with no vested interest in which book would be picked. To my astonishment it was….

Do You Trust Me? I picked my own book! I was stupefied. I thought, Wait a minute. That’s my book. How could it be my book? But my book it was. And that’s what they’re reading.

All in all it was a very rewarding and much different than being on a panel with three or four other authors or doing a fifteen minute reading from one of my books. Yet another experience I never really expected or thought of when I wrote that first book.

I look forward to what ever else is waiting for me down this wonderful road…!