When I was a very young I wanted to be Louis Armstrong–Not just a musician, but actually Satchmo. If that was not possible, I also would have enjoyed being one of Gladys Knight’s Pips. Most often though, when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would say, quite sheepishly, “An actor. ” Unfortunately, I did not believe that anyone like me could be an actor. I was different.
Actors were strong and heroic and straight. It is hard for me now to imagine that I thought this about a performing arts profession. But I did. And if I thought that about acting what were little queer kids who wanted to be an astronaut or athlete or arctic explorer thinking?
Obviously there have been many LGBT actors–even though I didn’t know who they were. But there have been LGBT people in every profession. There have been many LGBT heros. And certainly we’ve had our share of villans, too.
But who are they? Our history, more than any other groups, is invisible. If thirty years ago there had been gay actors that I was aware of, I might have chosen a different path. For many years I have been a massage therapist. And now I’m a writer (or as I like to think of it, I’m an actor who gets to play every single part and make up the story, too). My first book, THE MARRYING KING, is being published by Bold Strokes Books in June. And maybe someday a young LGBT person will read my book and think, I guess I can be a writer, too. That would be lovely. As for all the other jobs we have done and places we have been: what if we had a museum to learn about our history?
Tim Gold the founder and CEO of the Velvet Foundation is working to create and build a National LGBT Museum in Washington DC and a fundraising campaign is underway. Imagine such a museum. I would love to see that happen. To stand in that building. To walk through its corridors. To learn about people I never knew and yet feel a profound connection to. To be able to say, “Here I am,” and “I belong.” Despite our many differences we are part of a unique and accomplished community.
It makes me think of the man I wanted to be when I was five and I find myself singing, What a Wonderful World.
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