This June 2022 being Gay Pride Month, I’m inspired to think about myself, to coin a new, easily deciphered adjective, as an “elgibaitique” writer. (And an antique one at that.) Apart from a few legitimately nonfiction books, my writing has been in a decidedly gay vein, an old queen reminiscing about his scandalous youth before we gays became an accepted part of society, if we have indeed done so yet.
Now that I’ve memorialized the dramatic first half of my life, I’m not inclined to belabor the mundane second half, no matter its fascinating mature experiences. Instead, I’ve been feeling the urge to write fiction and have been chewing on some grandiose historical ideas that I may not be able to accomplish. Nevertheless, I’ll probably give them a try someday.
To stretch my imaginative, creative muscles, I’ve taken a shot at a short story—my first short fiction since “Traveling Men” over 30 years ago. Obeying the old maxim to “write what you know about,” I set it amongst real details of my ageing queen’s current monastic life and invented events that could easily but most certainly won’t happen. That’s a wide-open field for taletelling. This story called “Whatever Works” springs from one of my few remaining social activities, ecstatic dance.
For many decades, gay bars were the best and often only venue for socializing and cutting rugs. Now that we’ve supposedly been absorbed into broader society, those gay institutions don’t exist anymore. Like everyone else, gay folks must rely on distanced electronic media for socializing. Now my only outlet for the ecstasy of dance is in world music and modern rhythms, shoeless, wordless, unchoreographed, and uninhibited. The crowds are wild mixes of ages, genders, inclinations, attitudes, and dance styles, paying no attention to the idiosyncratic moves of others. I wish I’d discovered ecstatic dance sixty years ago, but in fact, that’s what I was doing as a solitary teenager—dancing all by myself in our living room to American Bandstand on the TV.
Remember my motto:
THERE’S DANCE IN THE OLD DAME YET!