My LGBTQ Agenda? It Started with Adam and Eve …
My husband is dead, but his laughter is very much alive
Recently, James Finn put out a request for people to declare their LGBTQ AGENDA, a response to all the vitriol being heaped upon the queer community over the past year, calling us groomers, child molesters, criminals and abusers. Some of it is political expediency, but some is the fear that we can make people queer. Another time, just for fun, I’m going to reflect on this ridiculous game of explaining what made me gay, but for now I’m just going to come out and say it:
My LGBTQ agenda is to change the world. And I have a good reason for it.
Several years ago, my husband died.
After he was diagnosed, he introduced a banner on his Facebook wall, “Until Further Notice, Celebrate Everything.” And that’s what we did. That phrase became the “Avengers Assemble!” of our community. After his death, one of my friends rallied us to do the northeast AIDS ride together. Team Dave. We raised a lot of money, and we’ve done many cool and worthwhile activities since then, but we also had a lot of fun. On the ride, a whole bunch of people asked “who’s Dave?” and we explained our story. They were a little confused, because Dave died from ALS, not AIDS.
Dave had a rough ending; ALS really sucks. But he embraced it with love and humor and generosity, and being by his side through all that changed us, his people. I’m really proud of him, and would say we were all in awe of him. So when people asked, we explained: we’re not riding in Dave’s memory, we’re riding with his spirit.
Have fun. Challenge yourself. Make a difference. Change the World.
That was him.
Maybe I was always on the playful side; I can’t clearly remember a time before ALS. But watching him manage his sad, scary, painful and complicated life, I got very clear to the awareness that we’re here for a short time and we can choose to have fun with whatever we’ve been given. The order of priorities became apparent.
Some people don’t like the idea of prioritizing fun.
When you think about the impact of the queer experience on the world, this is the major threat that we present to conservative communities; we’re too much fun, with our rainbow flags, dance music, colorful outfits, gender bending, liberal attitudes about sex and drag queen story hour. And as serious as our message may be sometimes, there’s always some playfulness in the background. The Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox church in Moscow spelled it out during a recent sermon where he explained that the war in Ukraine is justified and necessary to STOP GAY PARADES!
I believe in working hard, and I endeavor to teach my son this lesson often. Work hard for the things that matter to you. Embrace the hard work. Like me, my husband was deeply committed to progressive social causes, environmental preservation and good governance. But always with a twinkle in his eye and a smile in reserve. That’s what people loved about him and that’s the spirit I strive to create through my language and behavior.
But I think I should clarify something. My “change the world” agenda isn’t just because the world is so full of crap that needs repair, healing and alteration.
I went to a very religious school as a boy.
I remember surprisingly little from that period, but I do remember this famous story. Adam and Eve lived in paradise until a serpent convinced them to eat the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge. God sent them away and said, “you’re on your own now; figure it out.” Since then, we’ve been trying to do just that. Some people think we should try and make our way back by tracing our steps and begging for forgiveness. Others feel like we were given an opportunity to see what we can do. Maybe we’ll meet God somewhere along the road of our own making.
My front yard has a big tree of knowledge growing in it, and I try to eat from it regularly. I offer that fruit to all passersby. After I do, my mind starts working and my creativity becomes activated. Creativity, invention, change. Purely, that’s human nature. I don’t want to trace my steps back to the past, because humans didn’t live better 5000 years ago. We didn’t live better 2000 years ago, and we didn’t live better 50 years ago. And despite all the crazy shit we’re dealing with right now, this is still the golden age of humankind, and we created that golden age. I have no doubt that we can create many more golden ages in the future if we choose to. There’s nothing waiting for me in the past, and I have no interest in going back to a time where we’re all walking around naked in the garden and nobody cares, because right now I enjoy wearing clothes and I enjoy times where I’m naked (and frankly, I don’t mind the occasional fig leaf either…)
I want to change the world because humans are agents of change, that is the most human characteristic of all, a characteristic which is uniquely ours. I want to change the world because I am human, and I am embracing my essential nature. To deny it would be denying my spiritual imperative. Gay people, straight people, it’s true for all of us. Maybe my changes involve a little more color and flourish. I’m going to dance a little more, joke around and show my love to a lot of people. I’m human, and I’m gay, and this is my agenda. Have fun, challenge yourself, make a difference, change the world. In that order.
This story is a response to the Prism & Pen writing prompt, “My LGBTQ Agenda! (As the Rainbow Flies Over Berlin Mosque)”