I’ve pulled this new blog together rather quickly. So maybe, I should take a moment to catch my breathe and think this through…
I think the fact that I don’t have to worry anymore about my Mother’s thoughts and opinions has somehow freed me. I also admit, I’m using this to deal with her current situation.
Now I feel I can tell my own story on my own terms.
I will fully admit that I waited almost 50 years to do this and am only being this open about all this now that I know that she longer knows or cares what I might say.
As I was raised to do, I have kept up appearances for almost 52 years.
But still, I’m feeling a little like Christina Crawford writing “Mommie Dearest”. Or Grace Metalious writing “Peyton Place.”
Neither was my intent.
I really am just feeling free to share my own story for the first time in my life. That’s a rather strange sensation when you are were raised to honor the past and the “family” above all else.
Truth was always a peripheral concern.
Some of you may consider this the Cowards way out since my Father is dead and my Mother can no longer defend herself.
My take: “He is gone. I’m still alive. She never fought fair, so why should I?”
I will say, I never, ever intentionally embarrassed her or caused a public scene while she was sane and living her public life. I was always the Gentleman. Sometimes to my personal detriment.
She has now, as they used to say about the great movie stars past their prime, “Shut the door.” Someone, in another era, once said: “The world loses a great Star every time a Southern Women decides not to take the stage.”
I may be a little premature, but I am now taking this time to claim my own story and tell it on my own terms based on my own memories.
Hopefully, with a little humor along the way…
I was raised in a house where “keeping up appearances” mattered above all else. That’s why so few people know these stories.
I’ve been surprised that some of my best friends either did not know these stories or were horrified that I was telling them. That really makes me feel badly, but also realize how much it means to tell them now.
In my generation and before, we were all very good actors. We were taught to have public and private faces. With as little difference as possible. Repression was strongly encouraged. Perception mattered more than truth.
I spent almost 40 years in the closet, admittedly with the door widely cracked, and have truly learned that the truth does set you free. It does matter.
I’m at the point in my life where I don’t play games anymore. With anyone. I tell it like it is, or at least how I see it, and let the chips fall where they may.
It has been a long journey to get to this point. I think you will see that as this blog continues…
This is my truth, as I remember it. Be it accurate or not. I also realize Truth is a relative concept when you are dealing with memories. Therefore, you have the right to disagree with me at any point.
I don’t mean to be fair, I mean to be honest.
And I’m not really thinking of the future or what this blog might mean. I’m living in it as my present journey as I sort through all this stuff from the past…
It’s a big step for me to say “I own these stories and I own my past.” And I’m willing to share…I’ve hid it all for too long just as my family has…
Now, I just want to tell a story…
As I remember it.
I hope you have some fun sharing my journey.
As I said in “Peach Chiffon Cocktail Dress”, I learned very early to hide who I was and it took me almost 30 year to work past that.
That was the family motto: Perception, Not Reality, is What Matters.
In closing this post…
When I was a little boy, I would lock myself in my bedroom in the basement of our house in Temple Terrace in Danville, Virginia and play Broadway Cast albums and movie soundtracks.
Like every other little Gay boy, before or since, I would dream of escaping to Hollywood or New York.
One of my favorite Albums was “Gypsy” with Ethel Merman.
I always loved “Some People” about escaping small town life.
But I also, even as a 1o year old, loved “Rose’s Turn” where she realizes the lies she’s told herself, the frustrations of her life and lets it all hang out in one big, show stopping moment.
She finally stops lying to herself. She tells herself the truth. She breaks free.
Maybe this is my “Rose’s Turn” where I finally tell the truth, if only to myself, so I can go on with my life.
I do love a Broadway analogy.
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Your story is yours. Hers might be different. But your life belongs to you, so it’s yours to tell, yours to find meaning in.
I think a lot of people will benefit from — and enjoy — your stories of life in Danville, growing up.
Everybody is fighting a battle within themselves (to draw on Plato’s quote), and I think it’s worth telling the individual story of that battle. I look forward to your entries here.