Family Portrait

Gay marriage is illegal in most states. Yet, for those not aware, my people (the gays) throw one lavish shindig. Decadent cakes, fashionable bridesmaid dresses and of course, a DJ spinning every possible Madonna song.

I’ll admit to having a more cynical view on getting married. However, the fantasy of marrying a guy has not been a foreign concept. I imagine our wedding on a spectacular rooftop in the Village. He has curly hair, glasses and puts an artsy twist to his suit. While, most couples opt for more traditional attire. Everyone in my wedding would wear cardigans.

Afterwards, the hubby and I would settle into a beautiful Park Slope, Brooklyn brownstone. We would throw lavish dinner parties and grab gelato while walking along the neighborhood’s main drag Fifth Avenue.

We would then adopt culturally diverse set of children. They would all wear Lacoste sweaters and enjoy the same cultural activities that my hubby and I adore. Then it hit me. Oh, I remember when I was a kid.

Then the trauma emerges boogers, poop, and unspecified germs from the sandbox, private school tuition, crying, running around, stuffed animals thrown everywhere and countless hours of cheesy cartoon theme songs. Maybe, I will stay single for a long time?

Luckily, if I wanted both the ideal and not so ideal family life, gay marriage is legal in New York. I didn’t grow up in a gay home. In fact, I had a very traditional American upbringing. I do have a bevy of gay relatives making the case for genetics.

I didn’t have exposure to gay nuclear families, till I was in high school. My friend Grace had two moms and attended a Catholic school. We bonded right away. One day, she invited me over to help with organizing her room. She goes “we can play with my easy bake oven afterwards.” I tried holding back my excitement and agreed.

Up to that point, religion said gay families were bad. However, I had already come out of the closet and wanted to experience what gay families were really like. At that time, we lived in Riverside, CA. The suburb has a lovely neighborhood called the “Wood Streets.” It’s a historic district, where styles from Spanish to Craftsman merge in a beautiful architectural marriage.

My mom dropped me off. I didn’t tell her about Grace’s two moms, but certain she had an idea. They lived in an old house. I entered to one of her moms greeting me warmly at the door then showing me Grace’s room.

As expected, Grace’s room made mine (already messy room) look like an organized/OCD person’s wet dream. We shifted through toys, books and clothes. Afterwards, we both looked incredibly fatigued. We then spent time with her mom’s.

Unlike most religious fanatics who claim a gay family’s household is evil and has fire-breathing dragons living in the basement, Grace’s household was the complete opposite. Her moms were warm and friendly. We watched TV together, talked and found that we both had a common fascination with all things British.

They also had a huge book collection. I loved it. They had travel, literary classics and art books. It was a simply peaceful environment. I heard a car horn and it was mom. After saying my goodbyes, I headed toward the car. My mom who was very conservative looked at me and said “I get a really good vibe from Grace’s house.”  “You’re right,” I said with a smile.

My mom came to accept my gayness more as I grew older. She even attended my aunts’ mostly lesbian dominated Christmas party and had a great time. Growing up gay is never easy, but knowing that I have the right to live my life freely is absolutely priceless.

The Other Small Town

Candy shops, football games, tumbleweeds rolling through an empty road, quaint homes with the porches swinging, and Main street U.S.A. This is the quintessential image of small town America. It’s a sleepy place, where everyone knows your name and entire family lineage.

Manhattan’s compact size gives it the feeling of a big small town. Unlike most small towns, New York’s most famous and revered borough is as homey as a fancy streak tar tar. New Yorkers adore fashion and dressing up is never just reserved for a special occasion.

Given the borough’s small size, you never know whom you’re going to run into at the corner of 6th and First Avenue. That’s one of the things I love about Manhattan, running into friends unexpectedly. Whether I am strolling along Gramercy Park, grabbing coffee in Hell’s Kitchen or taking the subway to Harlem, I would run into a friend. It was always lovely, hugging, catching up and enjoying one of the joys of living in the city.

There’s always guaranteed celebrity sightings in Manhattan. However, they are as exciting as watching molasses growing slowly. I saw famous people hanging out on the Lower East Side, frequenting my favorite West Village coffee shop and walking their dogs. However, I didn’t care.

One beautiful autumn morning, I took a walk through Central Park. The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir has an urbane soothing feel to it. I commenced my Central Park adventure there. In the middle of the nature trail, which is complimented by the high-rise apartment buildings of Fifth Avenue, my phone rang. Natalia, my dear friend wanted to grab lunch. Luckily, I was uptown.

I bolted through the park and took Madison Avenue up to the east 80’s. Madison Avenue from the east 60’s to 96th street screams money. The most affordable treat on the glittery sidewalk is a raisin pastry and coffee from Le Pain Quotidien. Somewhere between expensive and more expensive, I saw a very familiar blonde from a distance. She was petit and had muscular arms. As I walked closer, an epiphany hit me. That’s Madonna.

The queen of pop is my favorite gay icon. I loved watching her concert tours on TV from blonde ambition to the girly show. My first music video ever seen was like a prayer. It shocked me as a five year old to see all the burning crosses, but it beat watching Alvin and the Chipmunks after school. I especially love her music, ray of light, the immaculate collection and true blue.

As she approached closer, I grew excited. My jadedness seeing celebrities went out the window. I walked past her. We made eye contact and she smiled at me. It completely made my day. She can spot a gay fan from as far as Paris. I saw Madonna and it was quite riveting.

I called my friend Rebecca in California. She’s also a fan. I told her about my celebrity encounter with Madge. She asked “are you sure it was Madonna or some buffed out blonde?” I suddenly realized, oh it might have been a false alarm. Whether it was Madonna or not, the lady probably thought to herself ” gee, these gay guys are just so friendly.”

In Manhattan, you are more likely to see a hipster rolling around Union Square than tumbleweed. The town gossip is page six, porches are replaced by stoops and the city gathers in excitement over fashion week as opposed to the high school football play offs.

This is why I love New York, the unexpected encounters with people and feeling a part of a community. I don’t like feeling disconnected, which is the vibe I get from a car centric culture. I need people and noise to keep me inspired.

Prim & Proper: Catholic School Boy Memoirs (Abridged)

I love nothing more than wearing a proper tie with a cardigan. Where did I develop this style? Subconsciously it came from my Catholic school years. Every liturgy mass, we were required to get dolled up.  I don’t consider myself a religious guy. There was a lack of stimulation growing up. I spent my teen years in a jungle of track homes, attending Catholic school & daydreaming of a more interesting life.

As a teenager, I listened to too much Madonna, watched French films (behind my parents’ back), daydreamed of traveling the world & was very very very gay (still am). Of course, nothing makes better satire than a gay lad attending Catholic school. Laugh all you want, but it’s completely legit. Black gates surrounded our school. It didn’t feel like prison at all.

I went through all the cliches one would go through being queer at school. A defaced locker, the word fag constantly being uttered (they seriously weren’t savvy enough to come up with something more cleaver) & the marvelous you’re going to hell speech (also, can they come up with something more cleaver? such as congrats you’re going to Wyoming).

Coming out at 15 was daring for the time. Ellen DeGeneres had come out of the closet years prior paving the way for gay acceptance in society. The effect did not trickle down to California’s more right winged suburbs at the time. So, I was the lone gay. Yeah, the teasing sucked & the constant religious damnation equally stunk. Fuck it, I did not want to conform. Instead, I floated away into imagination land.

I loved 80s music, Pet Shop Boys, Duran Duran, Missing Persons & the list goes on. Everything from new wave to punk became the soundtrack of my youth. I mapped out my life during this time. Lack of dating & no driver’s license meant I had plenty of time to do this. My very exciting bucket list included traveling the world, living in New York City, going to film school & becoming a professional writer.

Graduating from Catholic school marked an end to teenage angst. My modest boat made it through the most treacherous currents. The experience did allow me to develop myself as a goal oriented guy. Did I accomplish my goals? Here is the run down.

graduate from film school-check

live in New York City-check

travel the world-check

become professional writer-going to advertising school now for that one.

Please excuse me as I tie my tie & learn how not to give a damn about what society thinks.

Perpetual Insomnia & the Wall of Sleep

Here in the not so royal kingdom of California lives a boy who hates sleep. Not to be captain obvious, but that boy is yours truly. There are nights I just can’t sleep. If I do attempt sleep, there needs to be noise in the background. I love having the TV on. Only problem are the dreams that arise from falling asleep to CNN. Hello to joining protests in Egypt & being stuck in Syria. Not usually the splendid dreams one would fancy having.

However, my beloved TV was down last night. Therefore, I spent the night tossing & turning. I tried counting sheep then sweaters. Alas, no sleep. Insomnia is a funny thing, its rough going to bed & sometimes I feel like I could run a whole marathon with the amount of energy I have (in the middle of the night). The wall of sleep that follows the next day is brutal. My whole day is a battle against the evil forces of drowsiness, heavy eye lids & restful thinking.

It’s like I am running parallel to this brick wall that keeps following me everywhere I go. Behind the wall is something wonderful, but the wall is perpetual & won’t leave my presence.

Last night, I tried a new approach to falling asleep. I set my Pandora radio to the Maria Callas station & tried listening to some opera. I closed my eyes & imagined myself frolicking through majestic French gardens & admiring the serene English country side.

Ok, that’s what most people would commonly say. What did I really want? I wanted to listen to Madonna & do a magical rendition of Vogue in my head, while breakdancing to Grand Master Flash (also mentally) & imagining myself lost in a Space Oddity via Ziggy Stardust via David Bowie. But no, I opted for the more peaceful & cliche way to fall asleep. Did it work? only for 45 minutes. I didn’t have any significant dreams or serenity. Once the alarm went off on my iPHONE. The operatic voice faded into the screeching rhythms of an early morning alarm.

The not so royal kingdom of California needs more noise. However, listening to opera while attempting sleep makes me a more cultured insomniac ( I really don’t listen to opera outside bedtime). Fear the wall of sleep. It’s not your friend. If you really wanna give it a big “fuck you” draw some graffiti on it & show the wall who’s boss.