Author’s Note: Originally posted September 12, 2014. Re-posted as a 2014 year-end highlight because I finally figured out my writing style in 2014 and this is the blog that cemented it. And now I am re-posting this blog once again on January 22, 2017, because I had some important additions to the blog that I finally was able to get out and process. Thank you George and Kelli and my wife for that! You guys keep me breathing despite everything I have been through. I love you.
Ahh, the 1980s. A time when women’s clothes had big shoulder pads. Women wore power suits with even bigger shoulder pads. Hair was BIG, BIG, BIG and we put holes in the ozone layer because of all that hairspray we used on our BIG hair. We slathered ourselves all over with Hawaiian Tropic tanning oil because even with those holes we were making in the ozone with all that hair spraying, it was still more important to be tan than to worry about skin cancer. Lots of make-up wearing in overdone and over-the-top fashions, especially blue eye shadow. Pastel colors everywhere and on everything and especially on Don Johnson’s suits. Wham! And then later, just George Michael. Princess Diana. AIDS. Ronald Regan ignoring AIDS. Princess Diana daring to touch patients with AIDS. The Cold War in every action movie plot. Then action movie plots at a loss about who to hate because The Cold War came to an end. Elton John married to a woman?! Dallas and Who Shot J.R. Ewing? Awful shows that we loved, like BJ and the Bear and TJ Hooker. Heather Locklear on every awful show that we loved and all at the same time. Joan Collins and Linda Evans having a love/hate lesbian relationship on Dynasty (now why do you think they were always finding ways of getting into wrestling matches, especially that one in the pool?!). Hair metal. Hair metal giving us the very gorgeous and very flexible Tawny Kitaen. Heather Locklear married to Tommy Lee?! Men with long hair. Men with long hair that had highlights. Men with long hair and highlights that sometimes even had perms. Men who wore make-up. Men who wore spandex. Men who looked and dressed just like Heather Locklear. So basically, a lot of men looked just like girls.
Oh yeah, did you know in the 1980s that most men looked more feminine than masculine. The “Me Decade” was indeed all about Me; and Me wanted to look like a girl whether you were a girl or not. It was the dawn of meterosexuality where men stopped being men and started being women. So basically, the 1980s were pretty fucking awesome!!! Well, when it came to that at least.
And then there was me in the 1980s. I was born in late 1972, so I did most of my growing in the 1980s and first crash-landed into puberty in 1984, so I did a lot of my sexual awakening there too. And since it was the 1980s when AIDS hit, it was also THE decade to HATE us gays, so it wasn’t exactly conducive to my coming out or even allowing myself to realize that I was a gay, or at least a lesbian. So, in the closet I spent my 1980s days and nights. And it also didn’t help that in the 1980s there were either no images of lesbians in the media, or the rare ones that did exist, we were not something to look up to or yearn to be. I never once thought in the 80s, “Oh I want to be a lesbian because movies and TV portray them as being so happy and healthy and fabulous!!!” We lesbians made it to the TV or movie screen very, very occasionally in the 1980s, and what images there were of us out there, we were usually scary, mean and very unhappy women who were predatory and lustful only of straight women and looking for revenge because the straight women just wouldn’t love us. Well, except for that one episode of The Golden Girls where we actually got to be a pretty lipstick lesbian. But, Blanche did mistake us for being Lebanese instead. So, me being scared of one day being scary and mean and vengeful and maybe possibly being mistaken for Lebanese, and being frightened beyond comprehension of the hatred that came out of people when gay men started dying from AIDS, I decided instead that I’d rather just stay deeply, deeply, deeply, deeply, deeply, deeply, deeply repressed about my true sexuality. So deeply, deeply, deeply, deeply, deeply repressed that I didn’t realize I was a lesbian until 1999 when I was 26 years old. Talk about late to the party?! Well, better late than never and I arrived when it was time for me to be there. Like always with me. 🙂
So in the meantime until that fateful day in 1999, what was a deeply repressed, teenage lesbian in the 1980s to do with all that puberty and sexual awakening that needed to stay asleep or at the very least, lie to itself? Well, that is where the 1980s was a blessing and a curse, because the men in the 80s looked like women, especially men in music. And since MTV came into being in the 1980s, there was a lot of music videos for us of the MTV generation to be consuming and a lot of these videos had VERY feminine men. So with all this MTV to be devoured, this lesbian figured if I was going to have to go with the crowd and be all heterosexual and stuff, then I was going to like men, but only men who looked like women.
Kip Winger from the hair metal band Winger.
A prime example of what men in the 1980s looked like. Way more like a girl than a guy with that long, loosely permed hair and those dreamy eyes and smile. Although, I remember wishing he would button that damn shirt of his already that was ALWAYS unbuttoned and showing off his chest. He had chest hair and I was so NOT a fan of chest hair. Then or now. No thank you!
So with the invention of MTV, and then finally in 1985, cable TV coming to my neighborhood, I got a grandiose view of all this femininity of men. First George Michael of Wham! caught my lesbian eye. Now here was a man I could be in love with. Or at least in like with. He had long, dyed blonde hair, dreamy eyes that sparkled, zero displays of facial hair and he wore an earring in both ears long, long, long before that became the acceptable fashion for men, which at the time for men was ONLY ONE earring in ONE ear and that ear better be the left because the right ear meant you were GAY!!!!! AHHHH!!!!! But George dared to wear earrings only like ladies did. Let’s face it George, back in 1984, you pretty much looked like a girl. But then 1985 hit and he started growing the various versions of facial hair that he has kept on that gorgeous face of his ever since, and my pseudo lusting started to slide away a bit. And then the most tragic thing ever happened, he showed me his naked chest in the 1985 “Everything She Wants” music video and he had, GASP!, chest hair!!!!! Run! Run for your repressed lesbian life!!!! So my lusting of his female hotness died, and instead I stayed a lifelong fan of his music. I would still continue to use George as an excuse for why I couldn’t possibly be gay for the next 14 years. “I can’t be gay,” I would say to myself whenever this thought of me possibly maybe being gay would so rudely leave my deep subconscious and rise to the surface, “because I think George Michael is cute.” Then the thought that I might possibly maybe be gay would sink back down again with my declaration of like for George. Blub, blub, blub, it would go into the deep, deep, deep, deep pool of my denial.
But soon this tragedy would be overshadowed by the great glorious invention of hair metal. What was hair metal? Well, basically pop bands with all men that pretended to be all badass by growing their hair long with luxurious thickness and loose perms and wearing eyeliner and other various forms of makeup and leather and spandex and always pursing their lips and I’m not sure why they thought this made them badass, but we sure did buy it. Bands like Winger, Skid Row, Poison, Motely Crüe, Lita Ford. Oh wait, she was a woman. And one hot woman at that!! Hubba! Hubba! 😉 Anyway, these hair metal bands held a very special place in my lesbian heart, especially one in particular, Whitesnake. Now here was a hair metal band to end all hair metal bands. At least when it came to looking like beautiful women. (Sorry Motley Crüe and Poison, you might have won because you wore WAY more make up, but none of you were as pretty as Whitesnake.) And most importantly, this hair metal, looking more like beautiful women than men band had something in every single one of their 80s music videos that the others did not have, Tawny Kitaen. So, I couldn’t openly love Tawny Kitaen, but I could obsessively watch every Whitesnake music video that played repeatedly on the MTV and pretend to love the men in this band while my poor, repressed lesbian heart secretly yearned for Tawny. The amazing and talented and flexible and negligee wearing Tawny, who could cartwheel across cars while flashing us her matching panties. (The panties matching both the negligee and the cars.) The daredevil Tawny who would ride at top speeds in one of these luxury cars with half her body sticking out of the window just so we could get even more hotness from her with her long, glorious hair blowing in the wind and a perfect view of her long, naked legs that were now exposed to us. And I had the perfect ruse with the men in this band, who looked more like Tawny than Tawny herself, to be my crushes instead of her, just without the cleavage. And she had such fantastic cleavage too, so maybe it was a little harder doing all this pretending than I remember?
Poison (1st picture), Lita Ford (2nd picture) and Motley Crüe (3rd picture).
Besides the leather bra and skirt on the very sexy Ms. Ford, can you tell the difference? See, now are you getting why the 80s helped to keep me in the closet from myself. Damn you 80s!!! Damn you all to hell!!!!!!!!!! I don’t normally quote Charlton Heston because he was a homophobic booty head, but it works really well here, so I decided why not. And it’s poetic justice because the stolen Charlton Heston quote is about me being a lesbian and he would hate being quoted about that.
And then there were the actors of the 1980s. A lot of them fell into the not very masculine and skirting on being awfully feminine category. Patrick Swayze, Patrick Duffy and Tom Cruise were the men I dreamed of lusting after, but as close as I ever got was, they’re kind of cute, so since I’m supposed to like men, they’ll do. Droves and droves of women lusted after Tom Cruise in Top Gun in 1986. (Oh, is she gonna talk about the gay Tom Cruise rumors?! Nope. Don’t know. Don’t care. Well, I kind of know some info, but I still don’t care and I’m not getting sued by him and Scientology by revealing what little I do know that technically doesn’t prove anything anyway, other than maybe it involves a big boat and a charcoal grill, but besides that, I’m SO pleading the 5th.) The 1980s teenage me decided that Tom was ok looking in Top Gun, but it was his other 1986 film, Legend, that had me lusting for him. Well, kind of. Close to lusting at least. Because really, if you look at this film, with his long, flowing hair and tiny frame and high-pitched voice that he hadn’t mastered into a more masculine sound yet, Tommy Boy looked like a member of the chapstick lesbian club. Go look at the film again and tell me he doesn’t look more like a woman than a man, and a lesbian woman at that. So my poor repressed lesbian brain decided that Tom from Legend would do, and so I became like Rosie O’Donnell and used him for a while as a ruse. But what I didn’t understand until years later was that it was his co-star Mia Sara that kept me coming back for more and more of Legend. Why do you think I watched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off 75,000 times in 1986? That pool scene where she’s walking around in a wet negligee is why. Oh. My. God. Negligees are definitely my weakness. And wet negligees on Mia Sara should just be illegal.
Oh, Tom. I’m sorry it wasn’t really you I was lusting after in 1986. Hey, at least I didn’t tell them what I really know about you. Not that it’s very exciting. It’s rather boring actually and really only required a little more common sense on your part. And the decades long game of your sexuality and what it really is bores me even more than that boring and technically non-conclusive info I have about you. But still, lips sealed. 😉
The TV in the 1980s played a lot of Dallas. It wasn’t just on TV, but also on t-shirts that declared their love and hatred of J.R. or that they were the guilty party who shot him. Everyone watched the show and I even got a first-hand account of what it was like to work on the series back in 1983 thanks to my uncle who worked with the actors on the show. I had inside gossip about the actors on that series that even Entertainment Tonight and Mary Hart’s sexy legs didn’t have or wouldn’t have until years later, so the show was very exciting for me indeed. So, I thought to myself, well, a lot of women seem to long to touch this Patrick Duffy’s sexy bod and kiss his pretty face. Even my older sister decided that she would find a way to nab a man like him, or even better, the man himself. She had high goals with men and the ones she was going to sleep with. And no, she never got closer to bedding Patrick Duffy than the dreams in her head. Anyway, I decided, yes me too on that Patrick Duffy sexy thing. He was kind of cute and more pretty than cute and most important he was very unthreatening as a man, so ok, I’ll like him too. But what I didn’t understand was that my Dallas watching that became an obsession during a year in the late 1980s had only to do with a huge crush that was being caused by another cast member that was definitely not Patrick Duffy. It was Linda Gray who was the guilty party of my crush. Oh, Linda Gray…Sigh…my uncle got to hug you many times and he said it was wonderful each and every time. Why couldn’t it have been me that you were hugging many times instead? Sigh…
And then there was Patrick Swayze. He was just the maximum of feminine in every way, shape and form. He had NO chest hair! He cried in all his movies, even that damned awful but gotta love it anyway where he was supposed to be playing the ultimate tough guy, Roadhouse. “Don’t cry! Don’t anybody cry!” He screamed to the teenagers in Red Dawn. Right before he sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. So much so he had spit flowing out of his mouth and everything. He always had spit coming out of his mouth when he cried in movies and he cried in everything he was in. At least it seemed that way when it came to Patrick Swayze and his movies. And what was more important than anything about Patrick Swayze and his feminine qualities was that he was sensitive. So very sensitive. Like a lady. I would think, “He understands me because he is a sensitive type. Maybe I can like him. Maybe.” So I decided to be right there lusting after him along with all the other ladies of the 80s. Or as close to lusting as I could get. My older sister lusted after Patrick Swayze after dumping Patrick Duffy and decided that her goal in life was to one day marry a man just like Patrick Swayze in Roadhouse. This could explain why she’s been married 6 times and counting, Patrick Swayze in Roadhouse does NOT exist in real life. Anyway, during this bogus lusting, it dawned on me one day that Patrick Swayze might not have chest hair and he might be sensitive, but he does have a penis, so, so long to my artificial lusting. And along with realizing that he had a penis, there was also this problem of these two women who kept popping up in the frame with him that got me looking at them way, way, way more than him. The two ladies helping to ruin my Patrick Swayze lusting ruse were Jennifer Grey and Lesley Anne Down. (And yes, I thought Jennifer Grey was absolutely gorgeous in the 80s before she got that damn nose surgery in the 90s. There was nothing wrong with your beautiful face, Jennifer Grey! And I curse the bastards who made you think so! I understand though, way more than I want to. I listened to those nose hating bastards too and did the same damned, stupid thing. Bastards!) Jennifer Grey appeared in not one, but two 80s films with Mr. Swayze, Red Dawn and the 80s movie to end all 80s movies, Dirty Dancing. And I found myself eyeing her up and down and always glued to her whenever she entered the frame. “But NOPE!” I said to myself, “It is Patrick Swayze I am drooling after, not you Jennifer Grey. Certainly NOT you!” And then with the Civil War 200 week miniseries event in 1985 and 1986 that was North and South and North and South Book II, I thought I could fool myself into thinking that it was Patrick Swayze I was loving on, even though I was more excited about who he was spending the whole miniseries lusting after, Ms. Lesley Anne Down. “It’s NOT her I love, it’s him! Yes, definitely him!” Or so I told myself. But as you’ve guessed by now, it was her. It was definitely her.
Oh Patrick. Now why did you have to have a penis. You were perfect until I realized this.
And Jennifer Grey, see how pretty you were. Youth and inexperience made us both believe those nose hating bastards.
And this is why it is all the 1980s fault it took me until I was 26 years old to figure out that I was a lesbian. If feminine looking men weren’t everywhere I looked in the 1980s during my sexual awakening, it might not have taken me until that fateful day in February 1999 when my brain busted out of it’s deep, deep, deep, deep, deep closet and said after yet another failed relationship with a man, but a real life man, not one on my TV, “Maybe the next time I date someone, it should be a woman. OH SHIT! I think I am gay,” and then I never looked back. And then I came out to everyone like 2 days later. No really, I started telling people about 2 days after I had finally figured it out. Weird, but true. Once I took the lid off and let my gay flag fly, there was no going back, whether people hated me for it or not. And mostly they hated me for it and then I realized, “No wonder I kept this gayness of mine a secret from me and everybody else. It pisses people off when you’re gay. And it’s much worse when you’re open about it. Even the gay people hate you for it.” People are weird and worry about stuff that isn’t worth worrying about. But that’s another blog for another day.
So, 1980s and George Michael, I’m putting all the blame on you. Somebody’s gotta take it.
Correction: I have been informed by my big sis, Kelli, that in fact she was in love with Ray and NOT Bobby (aka, Patrick Duffy) on Dallas, which makes sense, because she always marries and dates the Rays of the world and admires the Bobby’s of the world from afar. Hint: She LURVES herself some Trump loving from afar. Ever since the 1980s, she has been a Trump lady lover. Yeah, that’s right, some ladies love THE DONALD! Don’t ask me why?!! Just because she’s my big sis, doesn’t mean I get her LURVE of the Trump either. But she’s my big sis and I love her no matter what. Trump love, Ray love, George Strait love, my big sis loves her men and I love her for that. So, Kelli, you keep on loving on THE DONALD even while the rest of the straight female population is going cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs about feminism like they did in those damn 1970s. Oh God! Is it the 1970s again??!! Is that a good or bad thing? Oh well. Guess I will just sit back and watch history happen as the straight ladies once again freak out that men like to sleep with other women besides their wives. Oh my! And DUH!!!
Sad note: On December 25, 2016 the world lost a beautiful and amazing, but sad soul who just couldn’t keep on breathing, even though he even wrote a song about it. That song kept me breathing, George, even though you couldn’t. I keep breathing for you now, George, I keep breathing for you and my wife. I love you George. I miss you so much. I will never forget Sunday, July 27, 2008 when my wife took me to see George at The Garden in Boston. I was in the middle of a horrible misdiagnosis of bipolar, which I found out later I never had, and so I was on so many doctor prescribed pills that I could feel nothing but my loneliness, sadness and pain. I didn’t think I was “worthy” enough to fulfill my lifelong dream of seeing George in concert. But my wonderful wife said, “Bullshit!” to that and literally dragged me (and when I say “literal” I do actually mean the literal meaning of “literal”) to the concert to see George. And when he hit that stage, God, he was ALIVE and I was ALIVE and that whole God damned place was ALIVE!!!! That is what George did, despite all the pain, loneliness and sadness he faced every day, he made us and himself feel ALIVE with his passion, his love, his life, his music. And I can’t help thinking that even though his music couldn’t save him, it saved me and probably many other sad, repressed, lost little budding lesbian and gay boys like me, who saw George come out of the closet with bravery and honesty, despite the homophobic circumstances involved to trap him into that admission, at least he fucking admitted it when he got caught, unlike many, many, many other celebrities that hide and lie and deflect and come up with new closets as old ones crumble. George was brave and strong! I love you George. I miss you George. I will miss you every day until the day I die and even then I will still miss you, but until then, I keep on breathing…