It was twenty years ago (not quite today, but on April 25) when I marched on Washington, D.C. for Gay Rights wearing my “READ MY LIPS” t-shirt. Gay rights weren’t yet called LGBT. We had a long way to go. Me, and the more than one million others with whom I marched. But, this isn’t about those million, it’s about just one. All this week as my news feed has been filled with remembrances and discussions about how far we’ve come and how far we have to go, all I can think about is Steve.
I met him when I was twelve, aptly enough while doing my first show, “Dark of the Moon.” He was older, driving already. We got in trouble again and again at rehearsals because we could not stop laughing whenever we looked at one another on stage. Many years and many, many shows later, we appeared together again on stage in “The Rocky Horror Show” and again got in trouble because we could not look at one another without laughing.
He made me laugh like no one else. He laughed like no one else. His howling, whoop of a guffaw enveloped his entire body and echoed for miles, penetrating to the heart and soul of whoever heard it, infecting them with its irresistible joie de vivre.
Steve and I spent years giving one another advice that was blithely ignored, even when – especially when – we knew the other was right. I could use him right now. I could use a laugh. And I could use some advice to ignore. And I would like to celebrate with him this dream that
seemed impossible 20 years ago; that we can marry our non-existent boyfriends in our home state.
I am more than certain that should either of us have decided on such an action, the other would have explained exactly why we were choosing the absolute wrong person with whom to plight our troth – and the advice receiver would have – maybe, secretly, somewhere, just a little – as was often the case, agreed and still, gone on and done the foolish thing against which he’d just been warned. Some things never change.
But some do. Logos, for one. The new t-shirt logos are mostly rainbows and equality signs. And we can get married now, we LGBT people, here in Maryland and nine other states at least, and that’s a beautiful thing and in many, many ways this a much kinder, more welcoming world. And, I’d like to believe that the twelve-year-old gay boys NOW would not have to be as secretive as we were then. The summer of the year I met Stevie, I went away to theatre camp and fell in love for the first time. I’ll call him A. He was – he said – straight, and though we were roommates and carried on an intense relationship all summer, he insisted we keep it secret, and he developed what he swore was an intense love for a girl in the camp – a girl who happened to be part of the cabal of drug doing, authority challenging, nasty mean-girl type, insufferable pains in the ass of which I was a member. She knew all about A and me, and she felt about him as have so many of my dear friends about my relationships – she thought him something of a joke. Long story short, he finally ended up one night carving her name into his leg to prove to us all how serious he was about her – or – more importantly – how NOT serious he was about me. Oh the extremes to which people have gone and the things they’ve cut away to prove how little I meant to them. I don’t know what ever happened to A. Needless to say, we didn’t keep in touch.
But, this week, my news-feed is filled with all these articles about the 20th anniversary of that march we made on Washington and Rhode Island approving marriage equality and, dammit, I’m a little stuck on the fact that I can’t talk about all of this with Steve and so I’ve spent hours searching through boxes of photos looking for the pictures of us on the march. I never found them. I did, however, find A.
Jesus, the pictures we manage to keep and the ones we manage to lose.What the fuck, right?
Which is why I could use Stevie right now. Because he knew all my pictures and had a gift for making me keep the ones that ought to have been kept. Because he would make me laugh about how the ridiculous pattern I started with A when I was thirteen was something I never really learned my way out of. And he would tell me why – his version of why – which I would discount and mock and then I would change the subject to what he had never grown out of and we would dredge up all the penetralia that we knew of one another and despite the flaws and the farce and the foolishness – we would, finally, laugh. And laugh. And laugh some more.
I miss that laugh. And even more, I miss the love that was its foundation; the certainty that no matter how huge an idiot I was when it came to “in love” and life and everything else, Stevie didn’t care. He just loved me. We marched together. And, I miss that parade. And I’m feeling a sad sort of alone…here…where I am…going.