Sunday, June 10, 2012
shifting, part one
the photos included in this blog posting were taken at the los angeles gay pride parade on june 10, 2012. i decided to go this year because i think it will be the last year i attend a los angeles pride parade, and also because this year has been a pretty fantastic year for gay rights advancement, and i was curious to see how that was expressed in both the parade and the attending crowd. i have to report it was pretty much business as usual, with the occasional reference to marriage equality and president obama.
i also decided to include these pictures because i have always seen the attendees of gay pride as being "shapeshifters" of their own. it is endlessly interesting to me to wonder how long one has been attached to a particular identity: drag diva, leatherman, biker, bear, rainbow twink.
a bitchin' biker chick
for myself, i will report that i presented the identity that pretty much follows me most places these days: "classic hipster tony".
me on the left, with my work buddy "coco"
by classic, that means that my pants actually reach to my shoes, that i wear socks, and that my sunglasses are the aviator variety, NOT neon-rimmed wayfarers. i know how to dress, i can say that about myself! and yet that dress code in itself is a shift from my previous pride outfits, which, like most gay men's pride outfits, was most noticeable for how little outfit there actually was. yes, i admit to being a bit of a shapeshifter myself. enjoy the pictures. now on to the post.
there is a theory about psychotherapy that goes something like this: the therapy process actually begins before the client begins therapy. it begins as soon as he or she takes the first step toward starting therapy--calling a clinic, scheduling an intake, etc. the reason for this is scientific: once we decide to do something, that decision jump-starts a process of change within our brains. in other words, we begin to realize effects from our decisions even before we actualize them with behavior or action. you might notice this in yourself in the way that decisions alter the way you think/feel about yourself.
a gay swing band--they were pretty good!
for me, i have had several dramatic instances of this process occur over the span of my adult life. if i think back far enough, the earliest, and certainly one of the most memorable of these has to be the moment when i first thought of myself as a gay person, rather than a straight person. actually, i don't think i ever thought of myself as a straight person, so perhaps the shift was from a pre-sexual experience of myself to a homosexual experience of myself. let me tell you, it was pretty damn big, this shift! but even before i made the conclusive shift from non-decided to decided, a process had begun. i had noticed myself noticing boys--mind you, i was in my early teens. this awareness in itself started a "shift" in how i experienced myself, even though, at the time, a consideration of homosexuality was the absolute worst possibility i could think about.
a young man i "noticed" along the route
well, it is happening all over again. not the realization of my sexuality--that is pretty firmly decided at this point--but the shifting process. i started this blog over two years ago. recently, at a casual dinner, one of my good friends made fun of my talk of san francisco, saying, "when the fuck are you going to make this move? you have been talking about it forEVER!" i laughed, because he is right, and yet what he doesn't realize is that the move has already started. referring to the first paragraph, i can honestly say that the process of moving began as soon as i decided that i wanted to move. the "shift" had begun.
i am a sucker for a pretty green and blue themed float
i have noticed this in both small and large ways. years ago, when i was but a budding teen, i had an idea of what kind of man i wanted to be as i grew up. my emerging sexuality intruded on that idea quite insistently--subtly at first, and much more forcefully as time went on. but unlike that time, i am the one initiating this current shift, rather than it being initiated by change.
i used to get most of my clothes from "out of the closet". now they are mostly from "banana republic". you can decide what that means.
i have written a lot on the subject of who i am as a longtime resident of los angeles. not all of it is bad, mind you. the bad stuff is like a wart on my personality: mostly benign and dormant, but with the potential to become problematic and painful. but when i think of the areas where i consider my development to be positive, i must admit that it is an extensive consideration. i am not the same person i was when i arrived in los angeles in 1991, but then the world has changed dramatically since then as well. i used to tolerate such abuse from people--not physical, but it often felt like it, such was the psychological damage. i don't think i am unlike most gay men in that regard--growing up feeling as if i were somehow a "mistake" that slipped into the world, and not really deserving of "space". if there is one thing that los angeles forces one to do, it is to make space for oneself. if you don't do that, then you don't belong here--you will most likely fade into the background and spend your time supporting those who do make space for themselves--much like an extra on a film.
pride attendees covering the "space" that wingnut fundamentalists have for themselves along the parade route. i think that after a couple of hours, the protesters were mostly trying to convince themselves of their own argument.
as a gay man, i was challenged to make space for myself both personally and professionally, but it was the personal challenge that presented the most difficulty. fortunately, as i have struggled with my personal presence in this city, i have been bolstered by the parallel path of the gay rights movement here. it has been heartening to observe and participate in. but the difference, as i see it, between the gay presence in los angeles and the same in san francisco is that in los angeles, gays will always be of the city, whereas in san fransisco, gays are the city. not that gays haven't had to struggle in the north, but to me the struggle up there has been about who is getting the best bedroom in the house, as opposed to whether or not we will ever get to stop sleeping on the couch at all!
this kid was having a blast. he was hitting a ball that was tossed his way--i am sure it had something to do with the float he was on!
my current shift is part of a continuum. now that i have pushed my way into having space in this city, i realize that this is no longer the house i want to live in. i guess i don't like the other housemates so much!
perhaps the course of development is this: once we decide that we should have space in the world, we then move on to deciding where we want to make space.
i do like the sound of that...
(next time...what has shifted)
the b of a group--they needed a LOT of space.