I don’t wear this shirt to mess with people’s heads but sometimes it does. A lady real estate assessor once eyeballed me nervously throughout a visit to my house, and I only realized afterward that I was wearing the 1995 Gay And Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation T-Shirt, a pleasant memento of a past life of two-bit journalism.
Back in the nineties I committed the weekly atrocity of writing an opinion column for a local paper. My journalistic skills were about as well honed as Molly Brown’s piano playing, I had no idea what I was doing, but I fought the good fight on everything from leash-law scofflaws to voter apathy. My best broadsides, however, were reserved for the local wowzers who were then on a particularly frenzied warpath against gay people. The gay paper is in the library! They’re trying to recruit our chlidren! Lesbians are raising a child together! Get the courts to take him away!
I had a ball potting at these people — they were easy targets, who could argue poker-faced that uncensored Internet access in the library could lead to porn viewing by teenage males and thence directly to “rug damage.” Eventually, the DC chapter of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation invited me to a meeting and then to their annual dinner. I came away with this shirt, the flattering memory of having Newt Gingrich’s petite sister Candace check out my chest, and the sobriquet “Ms. Firecracker.” Not only that, I got asked back a couple years later because they were honoring Neil Gaiman and someone remembered I was a comics junkie and, having no one to seat at the table with him, applied to me hurriedly to recruit (see, you knew they wanted to recruit!) some intelligent gender-bending comics fans and dealers from my favorite haunts. And that is how I ended up, late in the evening at the National Press Club after a savory supper of rubber artichoke, kneeling after a server mishap to wipe a huge glurt of cream off of Neil Gaiman’s black jeans.
It was a Kodak moment but nobody took one. I treasure this photo more anyway, taken at the big-ass gay march on Washington in 1993 when scads of couples staged a marriage ceremony on the steps of the Supreme Court and I ran into I swear EVERYONE I had ever figured was in the closet because of their job. My late-and-ex took turns with me carrying this sign.
The L&X, though of an older generation than most of the wowzers hereabouts, had been in theater and knew if didn’t matter a fuck who a person slept with or wanted to marry, just as long as they didn’t fluff their cue.