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An Introduction is in Order
Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Gay and Lesbian Times
June 5, 1999
I have been writing my "Observations" for the good part of a decade now. The focus throughout has been social commentary regarding environmental issues. This I am sure will always be the case. However, like the wardrobe of any self-respecting drag queen, there should always plenty of room for expansion. Limited to writing environmental opinion editorials, for mainstream newspapers in north San Diego County, I am left with the label, "environmental columnist," which is only part of the picture. Moving beyond this distinction is discouraged. No longer comfortable in such close quarters, I have decided it's time for me to come out of the journalistic closet. I am Homo hear me roar!
Over the years I have kept quiet over a myriad of issues confronting the Gay and Lesbian community, which is easy to do when one is a gay man living in the North County. Having been conceived and raised in the very unenlightened Vista, it was much safer for me to be perceived as an outspoken hippie freak, rather than a "gay" outspoken hippie freak. During my coming out process in the early eighties there was a headline on the front page of the Vista Press that I will never forget. In big bold type it read, "There are no Homosexuals in Vista"
The headline was a result of a rumor that a gay bar had sprung up in town, and Mayor Gloria McClellan wanted to assure the populace that the were still safe. In reality, a completely lame "meeting place" was established. What prompted the rumor was some young homophobes decided they needed to throw a few beer bottles around, and call the handful of men playing pool fags. The owner of the deli, who was more interested in gay money than gay rights, unloaded a rifle into the ceiling to scare the would-be bashers away. The police were called to investigate a report of gun fire, hence the rumor, and the subsequent closing of the "meeting place."
But I digress. Obviously that headline was completely false, considering that I was living in Vista at the time. The mayor knew full well that it was not true, having been a patron of the North County Community Theatre for many years, as well as a friend of the U`ber Queen ruling this small theatre troupe. His turban and caftan should have been her first clue. The deep kissing of other men should have been her second. But, as we all know, denial is a horrible thing to waste.
As if by instinct, the first album I ever bought was "Streisand Superman." Nobody needed to recruit me. I still remember the sex education film they showed in Jr. high, that said that homosexuals were pedophiles, and predators, with muscle magazines. Myths and miseducation were all the information allowed young homosexuals as we struggled to form our gay identity. Unable to seek out peers in which to share the struggle, I was forced to go it alone. Thankfully I had enough arrogance and common sense to realize that there was nothing wrong with me, the only thing lacking in my world, was acceptance and the freedom to be myself.
It is important to state that I was queer in high school. How do I know this? Let's see, I had the major hots for the goalie of the varsity soccer team, at least six teachers, including the football coach who ironically taught marriage and family, and half of my class mates. I had to give up wrestling because I was afraid of becoming aroused in the middle of a match. Knowing the consequences of being loud and proud in high school, I just lusted in silence. Even without me speaking it, I was labeled a drama fag. Can you imagine the damage that would have been done to my young psyche if that assessment had not been correct.
It's funny how little things have changed. North County is still extremely conservative and homosexuality, similar to your crazy aunt locked in the attic, is something best not talked about in "polite company." Recent events in Bonsall have shown that the mentioning of homosexuality and schools in the same breath brings the Fundies out of the woodwork like cock roaches, ready to do battle against the "Gay Agenda." Now I don't know about you, but my only agenda is to enjoy the same rights and privileges given to my straight brothers and sisters. Equality, and not being beaten and left to die on some fence post is not much to ask.