“You don’t know the meaning of true happiness until you hear 30,000 gay men recognise the opening bars of Dancing Queen,” so wrote a straight journalist, reporting on the Amsterdam GAY GAMES in 1998, for the London Evening Standard. You can imagine the rush, the heartbeat, the sense of belonging, the happiness bred within those brief riff seconds. Clubland, Boystown Disco and secret nightclubs have always been our haven. The chance to be ourselves, authentically mixing with our own kind. ABBA’s Dancing Queen certainly captured the unity of underground amyl sexuality, way before ‘hands in the air’ circuit party chems became the norm.
Some of us recall the re-emergence of the ‘queer’ word in mid-AIDS politics in the early 90s, the snatching back of a mid-twentieth century derogatory term of attack. Now post-millenium the word ‘queer’ has changed yet again into a term embracing all sexualities and genders, indicating alternative, creative and avant-garde. I was called ‘a queer’ at school, or an ‘omo, so I was queer before gay became commonplace. Ironically both words mean ‘happy.’ In later years queer history encouraged me to stand aside from ‘not belonging’ and embrace its genetic thread.
In the UK, ‘Queer As Folk’ a radical, tell it like it is, mid-nineties TV series woke up the nation, before it sailed to America. In Northern England they still say ‘there’s now’t as queer as folk’ as they did in the previous century, because the word queer then meant ‘odd, unconventional or eccentric.’ At the same time as this trailblazing show, I was knee-deep in reading a new book by Dr David Weeks and Jamie James, the first scientific study of eccentric behaviour called ECCENTRICS. The conclusion of this study was that odd ‘queer’ people were the happiest people on earth because they didn’t care what people thought. No shame, no fitting in and no people-pleasing. We have a lot to learn from them. At the last chapter I switched from seeing my queerness as an asset and not a cross to bear as an outcast from society. Thus ended my constant task to fit in. Being an outsider is perfect and deleting self-punishment, conscious or otherwise, breeds happiness.
I was particularly taken with the study of Ann Atlin from Devon, England, who not only had 7,500 gnomes in her garden, but dressed as one on a daily basis. She was as happy as Larry, in drag, supermarket shopping with red cheeks and a pointy hat. Good for her! Dr Weeks concluded that eccentrics were nonconforming, creative, idealistic, aware from childhood that they were different, intelligent and in possession of a mischievous sense of humour. Well, as I ticked all the boxes, I went from queer to eccentric and back again. I saw it as the same in the end. From that point I accepted my eccentricity as vital, my differentness from other gays as normal and my rebellious desire not to fit in as an asset.
As gay masculine images change, the streets of East London, in particular, are paved with the ‘new queers.’ Inked skinny bitches who refuse the mantle of porn masculinity preferring instead the odd, the punk, eccentric and the scruff. Happiness, and the experience of it, is relative, and as diverse as our global LGBTQ community. It holds no companion to shame or apology, for accepting who we are results in a happier disposition. Coming out as queer, eccentric, gay, bi or whatever word you use, also means being as brave as Ann Atkins in her pointy hat, in cultures, communities and churches. It’s an essential road to walk, but remember those liberating queers that walked before you, head held high: learn from them. The union of gay marriage, or even being in a relationship for that matter, is not everyone’s choice, but soul happiness is being content with what you HAVE got, rather than what you haven’t got YET. Truth, authenticity and loving yourself exactly as you are, is a great partner to hold onto. Do you walk this road of contentment?
Checking out queer history I came across a blog-list of queer films. At the time of ABBA, men cruised the streets, not-online, and when the concept of AIDS was sci-fi we used instinct not profiles. Maybe we need to get out more these days and smell the air?
The blogs opening line thrilled my heart: “I’m bored and depressed with today’s gay image of marriage, adopted babies and content bourgeoise living. Blandly masculine, domestic and inoffensive is the new gay stereotype and I can’t relate anymore. This film list is a tribute to tough queer thugs with switchblades, bisexual hustlers, sissy villains, killer drag queens and true outcasts, films that got me through my years as a sexually confused teen.” http://mubi.com/lists/faggots-switchblades
More of my blogs, pages and Skype coaching info is here: http://mygaytherapist.me