Saturday, September 29, 2012

Back to School: Then & Now

This month the Queer Etsy Team is presenting our personal tales from school to offer hope for LGBT students returning to school with trepidation. May they learn from us that there is always someone out there who understands and supports them... Today's musings come to us from Maryjo Bramble of Steam Shady Art & Design.

1978 Gay Freedom Day

Photo by "Me in SanFran" on

I’m 50 years old. I came out my Junior year at an all girls Catholic high school in Baltimore City in 1978. That year I managed to keep things to a rather quiet roar. Only my closest friends knew and I fell in love for the first time as well as had my heart truly broken for the first time. All in all, I thought then that it was the most miserable year of my life.

I’m not sure how many of you were even born in the 70’s. It was very different then. Now we live in a time when everything is “right now.” Everything is very instant. We want it and we get it. I’m talking about a time when the answering machine had not even been invented yet. If someone called while you were out, you had no idea until you got home and they called you back.

That being said, my senior year was a disaster. I had been a popular kid my entire high school career. I was vice president of my class three years running. Everyone liked me. Then a tiny little rumor grew into a very giant scandal and suddenly I had no friends at all. Your senior year is supposed to be the the best one. If I fared well through my junior year, I figured I could do the same during the last one. But to no avail. Fortunately, my gym teacher was also gay (surprise, surprise). Now I’d also like to mention that back then you only had to be 18 years old to get into bars and I turned 18 on March 1st of 1980. That very day, my gym teacher called me to her office and introduced me to all the other gay kids in my class (thought I was the only one). They were all jocks, of course, and none had really been friends of mine as they had their own clique, but she said they were going downtown to THE lesbian bar and would I like to come. I said sure. Now there were actually TWO bars at that time. One was The Hippo (still there, mostly a men’s bar). The other was Mitchell’s (not there and that’s probably a good thing, albeit sad). We drove to a section of the city I didn’t know existed and was warned by my teacher to not to ever try to go there alone. We walked several blocks down a glass strewn sidewalk across the street from the very dark deserted old projects from where we kept hearing weird noises. Finally we got to an unmarked door and rang a bell. There was a one way mirror. We were inspected before we were allowed in. The place was about the size of our small house and packed. The first thing I noticed was there were no “youngsters” like me (except my school mates that didn’t really talk to me very much). And the place was filled with what was then referred to as Bull Dykes. Oh God I was so scared. I did not want to be like these women. My ex from the year before had been very femme and beautiful (obviously this was a long time before the invention of the Lipstick Lesbian). This world was the exact opposite. And they were on me like flies on shit. I thought the night would never be over.

The next time I went was about 10 years later. By then it had been remodeled to look more like a dance club and was pretty much deserted. In just 10 years, there were way more places for us to go besides Mitchell’s. Not long after that she closed her doors. I feel bad about that. She was a Baltimore institution that gave us a place in a city where we had no place. But progress is progress.

Since then I’ve lived in a ton of towns and cities, three states, and one country besides my own. Each year it’s gotten better. I decided after that horrible outted senior year in high school to just be out from then on. And I have been. Now, it’s 2012 and I’ve been married 3 years (two of them legally in Washington, DC) to a wonderful, beautiful woman you all know as Lauren Bramble. My life could not be better because of her. Back in that last horrible year of high school, the world looked SO BLEAK for us. I would have NEVER imagined that I’d be able to marry the WOMAN I loved. But here I am, living the dream.

So for those of you younger folks who feel like we need all of our rights NOW, let me assure you that they ARE coming. Nothing happens in this country overnight. NOTHING. It just seems that way when we have our smart phones in our hands. When Obama signed away DADT, he was sending a very clear message. I personally think that if (when!) he is reelected, he will have a surprise for us early on in that second term. I say this because it will give everyone who is against us 4 years to realize we aren’t a threat and tone down the haters before the next election. Now, this is my own personal feeling. Let me be clear, I am not “in” with anyone at the White House.

However, if Mittens wins, we are SCREWED for what could be a long time before we can get our footing again. So if you are not registered to vote DO THAT TODAY. No Excuses. And make damn sure you show up, no matter how inconvenient it is, on Election Day to vote for our man. Take a sick day or a vacation day or a personal day if you have to but GET TO THE POLLS.

And if any of you live in MD… don’t forget to vote yes on #6. If Gay Marriage passes on the ballot in MD, Lauren said she’ll marry me… again.

2011 Capital Pride Parade

Photo by "ep_jhu" on

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