Sunday, July 11, 2010

A Legend in His Own Mind-23

April, 1983

Dear Lázaro,

I don't know if they give medals for this but I am officially out to the parental units. You know I had to do it. I was never good about lying. And I certainly wasn't going to start inserting feminine pronouns into my conversation.

They were both dumbfounded. Finally Mother says, "You don't look gay!"

"Well, Mami, I figured the push up bra and the purple passion lipstick on the first day might be a bit much."

Father stormed out screaming that I'm never serious about anything. Maybe I shouldn't have tried to be flip. But it seemed like such an ignorant thing to say-- akin to Megan's comments about my not acting Hispanic.

Then I realized that they were ignorant. It was my job to educate them. They believe all the stories of child molestation, maladjusted people and butterflies in heat. I mean look at Dad. He's spent the last twenty years of his life in the jungles with armed men planning a revolution to overthrow a government that nobody seems to give a damn about.

And Mami, switching between Catholicism and Santería. Whichever gave her the quickest results. It was like the religion food court at a shopping mall. I'll have a Bible and fries with a Changó shake.

As usual, Abuela was the voice of reason.

"What's the big deal? That's probably why the boy moved so far away to California. So that he could do whatever he wanted to. And if you keep asking stupid questions he's going to move to the moon."

When I spoke to her in private she told me, "We left a country that persecuted anyone who didn't fit into their mold. We came to a country where everyone is free to be whoever they want. Just because you want to be something I don't want you to be, doesn't mean you can't be it. Your mother lived her life like she wanted to. I put her in the best boarding schools in Havana and she managed to run away from all of them. I introduced her to the cream of the crop of Camagüey society and she still ended up marrying your father. That's not the life I planned for her but she lived it anyway. So you're not going to give her grandchildren. You'll give her other pleasures."

Dad didn't speak to me for three days. I guess he was digesting the information. When he finally spoke he asked me if I wanted to go to a psychiatrist or go for hormone shots.

"Dad it is neither a physical nor a psychological problem."

"Fine! If you want to stay sick, then stay sick."

I tried another tactic. I told him of the thriving gay life that existed in Havana in pre- Castro days. It was the Castro regime that invented concentration camps to put all the gays in. Is he in agreement with Castro?

That one seemed to do the trick.

"If that man is against it, then I'm for it."

And typical of a Catholic household, not another word was said.

I had gotten all my information about gay Cuba in the fifties from Miasma. She was this Cuban-Chinese female impersonator who sang with his own voice. She worked the entire circuit back in Cuba. Even the Tropicana. Now she owned this dinky little bar in Miami Beach called The Harlequin. Now Miami Beach has always been known as God's waiting room because of all the retirees. Now the wait has been shortened. It seems that after the Mariel boatlift all the unclaimed refugees have been put up in the same fleabag hotels. Needless to say, this place is like a Western ghost town. You either get killed by one of the junkies or get beaten with a cane by an irate senior citizen. Most people avoid Miami Beach like a plague. I guess it was the perfect place for this clandestine, little gay bar.

It catered mainly to a Latin crowd. Mostly gays that had been kicked out of Cuba in the boatlift. See when President Carter said that all who wanted to come could, Castro decided to get rid of all the undesirables. A lot of people faked being gay just to get out. These guys didn't feel comfortable with the open gay liberation of Ft. Lauderdale.

I was his opening act…dancing in little Lycra shorts and suspenders to Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" or "Beat It." One guest came up to me and stuffed a bill into my shorts. He tried to rummage about a bit to see what he could feel. I took the bill and threw it back at him. It was a hundred. I don't care. I'm an artist not a stripper!

Romero and I were pretty much over. He was steadily seeing Rumba now. Once in a while, after the show, he'd get in the car with me, but basically it was over.

Now for something mind-blowing. Did I mention Lily to you before? How I paint her nipples white every night 'cause she doesn't want them to be seen through the white Lycra top that she wears in the ballet sequence? Well she tells me the other day that she knows that I'm gay but she would still want to date me. And I actually thought about it.

She's gorgeous. Almond shaped brown eyes and this toned, dancer's body. That's probably what attracted me the most. See I've always had a problem with breasts. They just move around too much. I like the firmness of a man's chest. But Lily's breasts were firm. They didn't jiggle like gelatin.

I really thought about it. And I thought about Abuela's comment about Mami wanting grandchildren. I mean she already had Juanchi. But I did like her. I really considered it. Then Eric came to mind. What happens if?...if I'm in a relationship, I'm faithful. So what happens when that part of me that needs to be with a man decides to work its way to the forefront of my libido? Then what? Go to mini-movies with a bag full of quarters? Or join a bathhouse in another town?

The cast party decided all of that for me. I was slow dancing with Lily and actually enjoying the feel of her body. Then all of a sudden they started playing "La Bamba." It was a fifties party. I miscalculated a step and twisted my ankle. But I couldn't allow Lily to see me in pain. I wanted to finish the dance with her. So I did. When the song was over, so was my ankle. I had to be carried away. I figured if this is what a testosterone rush does to me, God knew what She was doing when She made me gay.

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