Leigh’s View: They were JUST… Gay

Let us journey back to 1976, where I sat parked in my modest blue Ford Mustang on Main Street in downtown Louisville, Kentucky, at the striking hour of 10 p.m., brimming with anticipation. Whispers had circulated that Main Street was the epicenter of gay culture, and as I lingered there, the neon brilliance of the Downtowner Nightclub cast an irresistible allure.

At the tender age of 17, I had been forcibly ejected from my family home due to my sexual orientation, rendering me homeless for weeks on end. However, on that fateful night, as I witnessed a green Volkswagen bus glide to a halt and three beautiful women sashay into the nightclub, an overwhelming sense of belonging enveloped me.

I walked in, dressed in a cream-colored, zip-up jumpsuit adorned with Puka Beads, sporting feathered hair and a tight, built body. Of course, I was a blonde newbie to this bar. Guys kept hitting on me because I was “fresh” meat and only 17. One guy mentioned there was a show in the back, so I ventured there, and to my surprise, there was Diana Ross, Patti LaBelle and many more. The older man who followed me closely said, “Those are dudes, man!” I was so taken aback by that.

Then, I met a few drag queens who were eager to sleep with me as well. Peaches LaPitt said, “let me show you how to do drag!” I accepted the offer, being a choir singer and a church person, as I loved to perform. The next week, I had shaved my face, arrived and was hired for $5 a night.

The memory of what would happen over the next 10 years stayed with me, and it’s the point of this article. I worked with many types of drag queens in Louisville. We all lived in terrible times where we were trying so hard to be accepted. We had demons inside ourselves as we were persecuted and deemed evil. I, along with other drag queens, started talking about becoming women so we could have an easier life. Our thoughts were that we could be “normal” and loved. Many started with injections of silicone by non-doctors and took many steps to feminize. I did not go through with it. Thank goodness for me personally, as that was not my journey to walk.

So many years flew by, and while many fellow drag queens have not yet made the transition, they’ve taken many steps to change to a more feminine appearance. The very thought of being “normal” was the main focus. But a couple had made the full change and seemed very happy. Some who had changed their appearance realized that being female was actually worse than they thought. They were so demonized and many realized they were just gay and a drag queen. Sadly, many are living today in later years of age, and I have talked to them personally, stating they would have never started the transition, making a rash decision based on being treated like an evil person by the church and the straight world of that time.

And at that time, even bisexual people were considered evil and should not even exist. The people I speak of have told me… “I Was Just Gay.”

I feel compelled to emphasize that while recounting this deeply personal experience, I am in no way an authority on trans or other gender identities. My intent is simply to share a glimpse into my own life journey, navigating moments of discovery and revelation.

My point in this article is to highlight that the latest attacks on the LGBTQ+ community are reminiscent of the time I talked about. Though it may require different actions, it’s similar in some regard. No matter what you may face in life, never change yourself to be accepted, loved or seen as “normal” in the eyes of others. You may just be… gay. And I would like to add, please take the time to understand who you are. Take baby steps to determine what makes you happy not only in your teens but also in the decades to follow. The world is a challenging place for all of us who are deemed “different.”

AND a reminder, it is so important to vote this year, not only for democracy but also because some are trying to “erase” history, non-white people and the LGBTQ+ community. I predict the protections we have may very well be gone soon. Did you ever think that in this country, we would be “force breeding” women?

So, to anyone facing similar struggles, I offer this advice: embrace who you are, unapologetically and without compromise. The road may be difficult but authenticity is worth the journey.

As we stand on the precipice of uncertainty, facing threats to our rights and freedoms, I urge you to make your voice heard. Vote not only for democracy but for the preservation of our history, our diversity and our humanity. For in a world that seeks to erase us, our voices are our most potent weapons.

And so, let us rise, united in our diversity and let our collective roar echo through the corridors of power. For we are not just gay; we are resilient, we are proud and we are here to stay. VOTE!!!!

Source: https://watermarkonline.com/2024/03/21/leighs-view-they-were-just-gay/

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