50 Tunes For 50 Years: Fire Island

Stick me in a room with a conversion therapist and I’d fight tooth and queer nail to kick that repressed hypocrite to kingdom come. Because every day, regardless of the bigotry I read of, occasionally experience and forever campaign against, I am so proud to be who I am. One butch dyke. With rainbows for blood. (As contradictory as my love for Streisand’s My Man but there you go). Because if there is one thing I will never regret it is coming out and living the life I was always meant to live. Me without my queer family? There But For The Grace Of God go I.

That first moment I realised I was gay it felt like the queer heavens had opened. I knew the booted and suited butterflies I felt in my stomach as I noticed the fine behind of a young lass called Paula as we made our way across the school allotment after another freezing cold hockey lesson meant something they all said was against the norm but to me, it felt like anything but. There were no buts as I witnessed the butt before me and said to myself, that’s what I want, that’s who I fancy and I don’t care that it belongs to a lass. From that moment I finally felt truly me. And although that fine lass was never to be mine (cue many years of unrequited love with far too many young lasses) there was something exhilarating about the thought of the life that lay ahead for me. To know deep inside that when the heartache and the fear of these coming out days is over it does get better. The books I sought out in the school library filled with Brideshead, Maurice and a lonely woman in a well of horse admiration may not have had reflected my life quite as I thought they might but I was determined that this was who I was. Kate the baby dyke, the queer, heck the even lezzer, the lass who loved lasses, the lass destined to proud when so many around me said I should be ashamed.

It would take a while to find my tribe. The books I hunted out eventually began to reflect me (even if the sex scenes were filled with polyester garms certain to ensure there was little action in my desert of the heart), but when I got there the journey of dodgy discoveries and schoolgirl crushes was worth it. From the moments of maybes and heartbreak in Guildford, (apparently my love didn’t have time to be a lesbian, too many gay soc meetings to attend don’t you know), to my shaven head adventures in 90s Brighton town (big brown eyes always help apparently) to connecting with lovers who remained friends for life and of course the queen who became my wife, I’ve always been proud of the queer wiring that made me who I am.

So when this butch dyke hears an anthem for our gay family like Fire Island’s There But For The Grace on Junior Boy’s Own, I will always feel the rainbows surge through my veins. It is so much more than four-to-the-floor. For this queer, it represents our history, our bigotry-defying history that has enriched this world, created so much, campaigned so hard and helped deliver the freedom I felt that day back in 1985 to so many across the globe. And as I grew to learn too soon, it represents those we have lost, those struggling against oppression and all those still living with their rainbows hidden.

And because of that I thank my lucky rainbow stars that I can live without fear or (much) prejudice every day. For I am one lucky bugger. A lucky faggot, dyke, queer, butch, gay, lezzer bugger happy to take all the names you can call me. Because that is me. Here because of the grace of my sexuality. My fabulously queer sexuality.

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