“I’m living my life in the natural way in which I was born. Caitlyn Jenner represents everything that refutes the way that she was born. Why are we part of the same social movement?”
I knew it was coming. As a man who has been comfortably out & proud for three decades, I have long served as the gay poster child for many of my friends and allies. When I came out in 1985, there was no Barney Frank, no Neil Patrick Harris or Oscar Award winner shout-outs to loving partners… and certainly nothing close to what we now herald as marriage equality.
And now we have Caitlyn Jenner. Agreed: The one-time Olympic runner’s ribbon-cutting media-blinding blitz as the first “mainstream” transgender is a game-changing cultural event. I also hope that it’s a watershed moment for so many other individuals under the radar who have endured discrimination and misunderstanding throughout their lives.
But what the hell does that have to do with me?
It took all of three days, as I sat down to lunch with longtime pal Mary-Jade. Within 10 minutes, there it was. “So, Chuck… the Bruce Jenner thing. It’s so big. What do you think?” Chuck = gay. Bruce = transgender. It is my understanding that for some reason, we are kin. And I don’t know why.
Here’s what I said: “God bless Bruce and Caitlyn for bringing attention to a hushed issue that is more prevalent than the mainstream world knew. The Vanity Fair cover is radiant… but why, almost a week later, is this still ‘news’? You would think ISIS had taken over Los Angeles.” Fascinating yes, news… no, maam. (Perhaps I’m off point, as I sneak in a little rant about how CNN and Us Weekly are barely discernable anymore.)
Thirty years after I came out in a wickedly unaccepting world, the gay and lesbian “agenda” has become as hypersensitive and politically correct as Greenpeace.
Today’s “gay rights movement” is now deemed LGBTQIA. Do you have any earthly idea what that alphabetical mess stands for? Yeah, me neither. Thirty years after I came out in a wickedly unaccepting world, the gay and lesbian “agenda” has become as hypersensitive and politically correct as Greenpeace. Today, we gays are expected to embrace an acronym that is utterly eye-rolling.
LGBTQIA. Seriously? Here it goes: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual. Please allow me to add my own acronym: WTF?
As I told my friend Mary-Jade—It is my belief that I have little to nothing in common with Bruce or Caitlyn Jenner. As a man, I was born wholly accepting of my penis (and I continue to love and nurture it each and every day). By the third grade, I realized that my feelings about the other boys in my class were different from everybody else.
When I graduated from college in my home state of Virginia, I nailed my first job in the metropolis of Washington, D.C. in 1985. Within months, I walked into my first gay bar in Dupont Circle and I realized: I’m home. Gay. A man who is innately attracted to other men. I suffered no abuse. No abnormal childhood. No crazy shit. I was born the way I was meant to be. Just gay.
I empathize with Bruce Jenner for feeling trapped—as every minority throughout time has endured in their own way. But do I relate? No, I do not. As a gay man, I am living my life in the natural way in which I was put on this earth. Caitlyn, on the other hand, has (had the good fortune to) now become everything that refuted the way she was born.
Gay, Lesbian, Transgender. No thank you. We are not one and the same.
Chuck Taylor is an award-winning Arts & Entertainment journalist and Grammy voter, whose credentials over the past three decades include 14 years as a Senior Writer, Editor & Single Reviews Editor with Billboard magazine.