Tough Enough

My coworker Heidi asked if she could catch a ride home from work with me yesterday. Well, considering that a particularly obnoxious detour near my house has me driving right by her house, this was no problem.

We walked out of work and into a raging thunderstorm. Needless to say, this slowed the Friday evening traffic down quite a bit, so we had plenty of time to talk. She asked what I had planned for the weekend, and I told her I would be working on the last details for the release of my new book, THE HANDYMAN’S SUMMER. (Heidi, by the way, was looking forward to a quiet weekend with just the cats since her husband was off to Speedway, IN, for a Homecoming. Atta girl!) She asked some questions about the new book. I don’t recall how we got to this point, but I found myself fretting over my portrayal of Ed and Rick. Were they too good? Did these ordinary guys come across as being a little too saintly and heroic? I reminded Heidi this book takes place in the summer of 1987 when AIDS was a fact of every gay man’s life. Heidi shrugged. “Sounds to me as though you have them coping and doing what they had to do.” That reassured me, and the conversation moved on.

It wasn’t until later last evening that I thought back to that conversation. This past week has been a bit historical in the U.S. Yes, I am one of those people who are devoutly hoping the administration of the Orange Outhouse is going down, taking its many crooks and sociopaths with it. In addition to every crime and act of meanness committed, and every slap in the face of decent society, I am particularly peeved over the fact that protections for LGBTQ people have been rolled back ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-FOUR times in the last two and a half years. I also was riled up yesterday about an article I read about a Bi teenager in Tennessee who was pushed to suicide by his thoughtless “friends.” (Boy, wait til you see what similar “friends” do a character in my new book! But I digress.) I thought back to the worst of the AIDS years, and all the heartbreak that went into every single thing regarding it. I also was taken back to my early years, and how the struggle to keep my head up and survive was often a daily chore. I realized I’m a tough old bird — still here, still cutting through the crap, and living a simple yet nice life despite everything that did happen, or could have happened. I am, I think, a lot tougher than I give myself credit for.

And you know what? So is every gay man of any age who survived the turmoil of the late twentieth century and the current insanity. That includes my fictional guys, Ed and Rick. They aren’t gay superheroes, they really are just ordinary guys doing what they had to do. They were tough, and they were determined to survive and have a nice life together.

Every time I hear white straight guys, evangelical Christians, or that mistake of a president play the victim card I feel a sneer coming on. I mean, really? If these whiners had to endure just a tiny bit of what they have thrown at LGBT people over the years, they’d be sobbing in the dirt, begging for mercy. No wonder they all cuddle their guns. They couldn’t handle real victim-hood unarmed.

So for any LGBT person reading this, just remember: You are tough enough. Don’t give in to them. You can survive. And if you need help, it’s out there, and it’s right here with me, ’cause I want you to survive as long as I have if only to spite the haters and be able to thumb your nose at them. Everything I write — this blog, emails, Facebook comments, my books — is my way of thumbing my nose at them. Find your way to do it, and you’ll be fine. Because you’re tough enough.

Listen here!

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