Originally published in The Metropolitan. October 2007.
We all knew Marv was gay.
He never told us, and we never asked, but the proof was in the pasta.
I worked at an Italian restaurant in Pueblo during my high school years. Marv was one of our best customers. He came in almost every night.
He mostly ordered the filet mignon, sometimes the casserole. Every once in a while, he’d mix it up with a simple bowl of spaghetti. Wine was always present, and coffee and dessert were necessities. Well, they were until his doctor advised him to pass on the bread pudding.
He called dinner “vacation.” You see, Marv was a local businessman. He started working for the company he would come to own right out of high school. He told us he had never taken a real vacation in all of those years.
Marv usually dined alone. On occasion he’d bring along an old friend from high school. It turned out they graduated the same year as my grandma. And then he had his younger gentlemen friends. They were all straight. And they, too, knew Marv was gay. But that didn’t bother.
Marv liked the company. After all, he grew up in a time when there was no way he could have come out of the closet. A chance for any sort of relationship, especially for a public figure such as himself, was impossible. And if you ask me, had he come out of the closet then in 2004 — or even today — I’m sure his business would have been negatively affected.
Some of us called him “Uncle Marv.” Talk was usually kept light. After all, he was on vacation. But we all knew if we ever needed anything he’d be there for us.
I always wanted to ask Marv about being gay. But I never did. I was in the closet, and it just seemed rude. And even if I ran into him today I wouldn’t dare ask. It’s not my place. But God, could I have used some advice back then.
God, could I use some advice today.
One of the biggest problems about growing up gay is the lack of role models, older men and women for the young queer community to look up to and learn from.
I wish there was someone to blame. But until recently and perhaps still, there isn’t a culprit to pin this serious dilemma on. And that’s a good thing.
Because someone, sooner or later, will realize and be able to capitalize on our success and pass that down to baby fags.
Most recently, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling announced her character Albus Dumbledore is gay. Now, I’ve never read a Harry Potter book. So I’m not really sure about Dumbledore’s character, but friends have explained that Dumbledore was the headmaster of the school Harry attended, and he was the most powerful wizard.
One of my friends said Dumbledore was a like a grandfather to Harry and Co.
What better way to piss off the Religious Right than to have an older, loving figure be outed as a gay?
Robert Knight, director of the Culture and Media Institute, recently spoke out on the issue on Dan Abrams’s MSNBC show The Abrams Report.
“It’s not good for kids because it forces the subject of homosexuality into an area where a lot of parents aren’t comfortable with it,” he said. “A lot of parents don’t want this.”
In typical fashion Knight went on to scream about the homosexual agenda, “Homosexuality is being injected into everything. There is this incredible campaign to say you’re prejudiced and a bigot (if you reject homosexuals).”
Moreover, Knight, who I can safely assume is more or less of the opinion gays have chosen their lifestyle, believes if any sort of an authority figure is gay it will only lead to more and more children applying for gay cards.
“To have sexually confused boys look at this (they’ll think), ‘Maybe I should try it? After all, this authority figure is into it.’”
The truth of the matter is, no authority figure can make a man gay or straight. Yes, an older man can seduce and even molest a young boy, but that’s not what this is about. There is a very big difference between a creep and a life coach.
Marv could have been the latter. There was nothing sexual about dinner, just good food, good drinks and good people. Marv knew his place as an older gay man. He’d never violate the trust we all — gay and straight employees and friends — had in him.
You have to hand it to Knight, he’s just worried about the kids. “You’re not going to be around when they come down with STDs and all sorts of emotional problems,” he told Abrams. “This is not a happy lifestyle.”
He’s right. Being gay is difficult. Sometimes, there is nothing “gay” about being gay. But life will only be more difficult if the gays of tomorrow don’t have an older, authoritative figure — imaginary or not — to look up to.