I'm a single gay male who currently resides in New York City, and I'm filled with gay rage. Not really; I just see a lot of the crap that goes on in the world, particularly where gay rights issues are concerned, and it's a little aggravating. It helps for me to write about it. It's a very cathartic process. I previously wrote for a different, smaller-scale blog, and I am thrilled to have the chance to express myself here, in such a vast forum. However, since this is just the second of what I hope will be many pieces for HuffPost Gay Voices, I'd like to make a good impression, so I'm going to keep it light. After all, being gay isn't always about being misunderstood and vilified. It's also a very empowering and wonderful experience. Plus, I feel certain there will be plenty of future opportunities for me to bitch.
Every summer, I vacation in Provincetown, Mass. It's a small town on the very tip of Cape Cod that is both jubilantly gay and endlessly charming (as if those two things could ever be mutually exclusive). I'm always there for Labor Day weekend with my ex-partner, Benjie, and whoever else wishes to tag along. While Benjie and I are no longer romantically involved, he remains one of my dearest friends, and I cherish our annual jaunts to P'town. It's a relaxing, sweet way to say goodbye to the summer, and something remarkable always happens that makes the trip more memorable than it most undoubtedly would have already been. For instance, over the years, I've had drunken chance encounters with everyone from Andrew Sullivan to Sally Jesse Raphael to acquaintances I haven't seen in years. However, one incident in particular always stands out in my mind.
One year, I was walking past MAP, a small clothing store on Provincetown's West End. There was a sign out front that proclaimed, "Today's Special Guest Cashier: Michael Cunningham." I wasn't sure who Michael Cunningham was, but the name sounded familiar, so I popped into the store to check things out. Sure enough, Mr. Cunningham was seated behind the front counter. He was a strikingly handsome, middle-aged, athletic gentleman. I browsed the merchandise in the store and ended up finding a ring that I wished to purchase. I made my way to the counter and was greeted by Mr. Cunningham. After I paid for the ring, he shook my hand and thanked me. As I turned to leave, the brilliant John Waters came walking into the store. Upon seeing Michael Cunningham behind the counter, Waters exclaimed, "Well, it looks like the register will be coming up short today!" Everyone in the shop, myself included, had a good laugh, and I made my way out of the store. It was one of those quirky, random occurrences when one is caught completely, gleefully off-guard, truly a classic Provincetown moment. Leaving MAP, I remember thinking that it was so cool that the guest cashier knew John Waters.
Upon returning to my hotel room, I whipped out my laptop and immediately Googled Michael Cunningham. I seriously wanted to kick my own ass when I discovered that he is the Pulitzer-Prize-winning author of, among other things, The Hours, one of the most brilliant pieces of literature on the planet. Once I had finished hyperventilating, I had to convince myself that it would just be way too shameless to dart back to the store and flirt. Plus, it was almost time for Tea Dance, and I needed to groom myself accordingly. Being gay is a huge responsibility, on so many levels.
I've never quite forgiven myself for not initially realizing exactly who rang up my purchase on that fateful day. Oh, who am I kidding? I've forgiven myself for far greater transgressions than that. However, I have brushed up on my gay pop culture trivia so that, next time, I'll be ready for anything. I would suggest that you all do the same. You just never know.