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A Funeral
A Wedding
A Kiss
A Parade

Its been quite a month!  First, I was invited to a funeral.  My presence was specifically requested at the proper sendoff of  a proud gay veteran who had served his nation in World War II.  I consider it my duty and honor to be there to salute the flag on the coffin of a gay veteran!  And so, knowing that, his gay friends asked me to come and do that.  The service was at a very big proper church in suburbia with a resounding organ and a soloist singing Ave Maria so soulfully that it brought tears to everyone's eyes.  So as to avoid disturbing the mourning relatives of the vet, we quietly arranged to do the salute outside, as the flag draped coffin was brought out of the hearse, before the flag was replaced with a religious covering in the narthex.  But, suddenly everyone was outside with us because they all felt that this honorary bit of military ceremony was an essential part of the funeral service.  An elderly man in a Korean War vets hat quietly walked over and stood next to me to render the flag salute side by side.  "Who was that?" I asked a gay friend of the vet.  "That," I was told in a thick Irish brogue, "was the deceased vet's twin brother!"  He didn't have to come over and stand next to 'the gay vet,' he could have stood right next to his wife and family.  But, it seems that he wanted to make it clear that we were welcome, respecting who his brother was, and he wanted to share honoring his brother with a proper salute.  After that, we shook hands and he went back to his family as we all filed into the church for the service.  Times are changing, progress is upon us.  It was all as normal as could be.

Photo courtesy of Brendan Fay

On the other hand, at the same time,  I was uninvited to a wedding!  Yes, that's right, a deeply religious person I know is having a grand wedding and I'm too deeply queer to be allowed to soil the genteel and pristine proceedings with my sordid presence.  And I'm also too unwashed of a grizzled grumpy old vet, perhaps, to be allowed to stink up such a fine gathering of proper folks.  Seriously, I do clean up nicely if I make the effort; I can show up looking like a tidy old man in a slightly tattered suit and tie.  But, they know I can't or wont keep my mouth shut and simply look devout or at least penitent.  Long ago, I served in silence for a decade; I'm done with all that!  The fact is, I'm Proud!  Proud to have served and proud to be gay.  And I like to pin my tin to whatever jacket or vets' hat I'm wearing, a few war ribbons, SFC insignia, a bit of regalia of badges and pins depicting a helicopter gunship, a rainbow triangle, and... Oh, right, the rainbow triangle, yes, that tends to stand out a bit amongst people who gasp easily.   In sudden horrified silence, those who just shook my hand when we were introduced suddenly want to rush to the restroom to wash their hands!  I can't stand it, and its a bit much for them too it seems.  Progress awaits.

A few months ago, I wrote about a young athlete college football hero who came out publicly and was expected to become the first openly gay man selected by an NFL team.  Well, that happened in mid May.  As I noted, there was an awful lot of hoopla and endless sports-commentary about it, despite the fact that gay people have been serving and sacrificing in our armed forces, in mortal combat, all along.  Sadly, it is still heroic for a simple athlete to come out.  And serving openly in our armed forces still takes courage.

So, in mid May, the Rams picked him to be on their team.  The moment of 'selection' was covered live on national television, every nightly news program covered it breathlessly, in detail, as if an alien from Mars was going to be allowed to play professional football, running across the gridirons on six hairy legs.

Network HD TV cameras were in his living room, with his family, friends, and lover, for the big moment.  Their TV showed the selection, and a confirming phone call came in.  Everyone in his living room jumped for joy, a wonderful moment to celebrate.  And our brave young athlete, naturally, embraced his lover and gave him a great big sloppy long kiss. Holy Shit! You'd think he'd dropped his pants and showed his butt to the President (as Tom Hanks did in the film Forrest Gump).  The national uproar went on for days, with egotistical Neanderthals strutting about in heterosexual indignation as if  American flags had spontaneously burst into flames! Talk radio had an ongoing orgasm of call-in raspy-voiced alcoholic outrage.  "It was a bit much," they all said, "forcing it down our throats!"  Excuse me?!  What a brief but apparently uncomfortable moment of progressive sobriety.  It was Not the homosexual interracial kiss that was disgusting, it was the media orgasm blatantly scandalizing something perfectly ordinary and normal.  Ahh, kisses!

And now June Pride month is upon us with over half a dozen parades and fairs in the tri-state New York Metropolitan region alone and dozens more in cities across the nation along with a new crop of DoD authorized Pride celebrations on our military bases around the world.  Below, on June 1st, AVER New York marched in the Queens Pride Parade in NYC, as the crowds cheered and shouted, "Thank your for serving!"  For those of us who 'served in silence' long ago, it means a lot to hear those words.  (Yours truly is pushing the walker on the left).

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