In The Parade - Our Very Own Ten Commandments
“What’s it like to be gay?”
I looked up at Barbara and said, “What’s it like to have blond curly hair?”
Without missing a beat, she responded: “The curl is natural, the blond isn’t.”
Now I’ve known Barbara for years and so I understood that this wasn’t a personal dig at me — just a legitimate question from a straight blond woman to a gay man about what it’s like to be gay.
What is it like to be gay? I can’t quite remember when I came out of the birth canal. But I have very distinct memories of being a child with a strange attraction to Barbie dolls and farmers. My first crush was a man who raised sheep and who got his hair cut at my grandfather’s house. So my only point of reference is what the straight world considers the rules of the road.
Gay men know there really are no rules when it comes to being gay — or at least when it comes to sex and dating. Straight couples more or less know that the man will pay for dinner. Straight couples know the consequence of adultery (see Tiger Woods as an example). Straight couples know who’s really responsible for wearing a condom. Being gay means that you either live by the norms of the straight dating scene or you create your own rules.
I collaborated with my friend Kevin Ligon, who used to live in Kansas City but now lives in Birmingham, Ala., to come up with what we’d like to call the Gay Ten Commandments. I’d like to thank him for helping me out.
To be fair, this is not an exhaustive list, and some of the old rules still apply even though they are not expressly stated.
1. You shall place no other woman above your mother. Mothers are our role models, our goddesses. We wore her shoes as little boys and her dresses as adolescents. Mothers can do no wrong and therefore remain untouchable and forever our models of behavior.
2. You shall strive to make yourself into an image of perfection, an image more beautiful than that which is in heaven above or in the earth below or in the water on the earth.
3. You shall not take the name of your favorite drag queen in vain. As women, each one strives for beauty unattainable by most straight women, and as men, well, some could be loggers and others mannequins.
4. Remember Gay Pride and keep it holy. For some, that means going to Vegas, where what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. For others, it’s the adventure of finally coming out and enjoying the fruits (sorry) of expression.
5. Honor your devotion to good taste and fashion sense. If you have the body to wear Banana Republic or the body for Carhartt, wear it in the style in which it was meant to be worn. There is no single fashion label, but only the one you create.
6. You shall not kill your ex, no matter how many times he cheated on you. OK, don’t kill him. Just post rumors and innuendo along with pictures on the Internet. That will show that bastard you weren’t kidding.
7. You shall not sleep with your friend’s lover. Unless, of course, you are totally unhappy with your current social group and want to start your own.
8. Never steal your best friend’s idea for a Halloween costume. It doesn’t matter if he’s been “Cowboy” for 10 years — only he can really carry it off.
9. You shall not lie about who you have slept with. Bearing false witness about your purity is quickly found out. Think about the number of naked pictures you post on websites and the many names you hid behind.
10. If you covet your neighbor’s house, car, male servant, ox, dog, etc., try to refrain from speaking about it to your friends. You only sound catty and bitchy, and that’s just not attractive.