So yesterday I was watching a very interesting documentary on the life and times of Moms Mabley and I was surprised to find out that she was a lesbian. For anyone who doesn't know who she is, she's extremely worth researching because you've no idea how many doors this woman opened in American culture. Though I knew that her funny costumes of mismatched Salvation Army attire was clearly part of her stage persona, I didn't know that for her, that look, that dress, was her "drag" persona. Her real-life presence and presentation was this:
And then I read this ridiculous article today concerning an imbecilic Mississippi group that is vocally pissed off that a number of businesses in the state of Mississippi are rallying to display store-front stickers indicating that tho the new law taking effect on July 1st in that state gives businesses the right to discriminate against LGBTQ people based on religious objection, they are businesses that choose not to exercise that right because they feel it's wrong to do this. So... People who say "We won't discriminate; we want your business" are being accused of discriminating against people who do want to discriminate.
And I think back to Moms Mabley and how she cleverly altered first black society as a black woman on the vaudevillian stage and then all of society all the way up and through the 70's where she continued to cheekily and oh-so-cleverly comment on the truth of race relations in the U.S.
People of every kind have built and shaped this country I live in. Why was I sold such a huge lie through my childhood and formative years that only one kind of person was responsible? And then add to this the Big Blue Marble lie that was sold in the 60's and 70's of "globalism", that we're all the same under the skin. Total misdirection. A smoke and mirrors move to distract me from my realization that I was being discounted by telling me, "No, man, you're not discounted because I am you and you are me and we are all in this together, so the fact that you don't see your face anywhere or see two men holding hands anywhere doesn't matter because I represent you even though I don't."
What a fucking gigantic lie.
Why are we denied our place in history? Why is a pretense made that gays and lesbians haven't been a huge part of the creation of our culture, as huge a part as any other kind of person?
America the Beautiful was written by Katherine Lee Bates. One of our most cherished songs describing our nation, a song that wells pride in the bosom of all patriots was written by a lesbian. Why was I allowed to know of this only in the last few years? Why? Why couldn't I know that someone who was this important in American culture was like me? Why was I not allowed to build a sense of self respect and self acceptance on this knowledge when I was young? How many other Americans of importance, people who truly had a hand in shaping our culture, were LGBT people, and when will I be allowed to know about it? When will it be safe to know that we're here and we matter and we have mattered since the first boat touched land from the Old World to the New World? When will the masters of this knowledge give it to us, plainly and fully?
I watched that documentary about Moms Mabley last night and though I was so intrigued and fascinated to learn about such an interesting and ground-breaking person, there was a small, juvenile, jealous part of my soul that felt - and continues to feel - ripped off that I come to know these things only now in my 44th year of life, not when I was a child when it might have shaped me differently and made me feel more assured and complete in the grand play about to unfold before me.
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