“His first solo album, 1987’s “Faith,” sold more 20 million copies, and he enjoyed several hit singles including the raunchy “I Want Your Sex,” which was helped immeasurably by a provocative video that received wide air play on MTV.
The song was controversial not only because of its explicit nature, but also because it was seen as encouraging casual sex and promiscuity at a time when the AIDS epidemic was deepening. Michael and his management tried to tamp down this point of view by having the singer write “Explore Monogamy” on the leg and back of a model in the video.”
“”I wanted to be loved,” said Michael of his start in the music field. “It was an ego satisfaction thing.”
Have you noticed that when someone dies, the reality of their life can’t be buried with them?
Reading the above article about the life and recent death of singer George Michael brought back a distinct memory…
In 2003 I went with a friend to an LGBT community support group meeting. My friend Sherry asked me to come along. Sherry was transitioning from male to female. We had known each other for a long time before her transition.
The support group meeting was held on a Sunday afternoon in a community center of a northwestern suburb of Chicago. Sherry had heard about it from another friend. When Sherry mentioned the meeting to me I became curious about a side of life I hadn’t known about, a side of life that was constantly promoted as “gay and proud” in Chicago. In mentioning concern of my uneasiness about attending, Sherry was quick to point out Atticus’ advice to Scout:
You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”– Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird”
As a friend, I said “yes” to her request.
After attending church that Sunday morning and then eating lunch at home I went outside to wait for Sherry. The beautiful September day prompted second thoughts about going with her to a meeting. But soon Sherry came by and I decided to do my due diligence as a friend. Without saying so, I believe she was looking for another reference point.
Sherry drove us north where, after several times of stopping to ask for directions, we made it to the community center. We were the first ones there and still not sure if we were in the right place. There were no signs posted about the meeting.
After a short while someone came in the front door. I could tell that this was someone attending the meeting, so I asked about the room. Tracy led us to a meeting room and turned on the lights. We introduced ourselves to Tracy.
Tracy introduced herself as the president of the local chapter (not to be named). Tracy wore a thin floral dress over a boney masculine frame. Tracy’s legs were not shaved. We noticed this as she went around the room putting chairs in order around a long wide table. Soon others appeared and they took a seat at the table.
Tracy sat at the head of the table and to her right, as we learned, was Katherine, the group’s secretary. Surrounding Sherry and I were fifteen people, all “female” in appearance – the majority being cross dressers based on a quick look at the number of beards. Actually, I wasn’t sure who was transitioning and who was cross dressing and who was gay. I would find out who was doing what after we were introduced to the group and the meeting got under way.
After Katherine read the minutes from the last meeting there was motion to approve them and it was seconded. New business was next.
New business included the day and time of the next meeting and the day and time and whereabouts of the next social. The members were all a twitter. After several minutes their conversations turned from making out in cars at the local forest preserve to “making sure to use condoms” – a community service message, said president Tracy.
Next up: the topic of today’s meeting.
Because we were using a community building paid for with tax dollars, so Tracy told us, the support group must provide topics on informational health and welfare subjects and report back to the government on a regular basis. (That recollection is a paraphrase from memory of what Tracy said that day.) In other words, as I understood it, the government allowed them to meet there but they must be reminded to be good citizens.
Tracy introduced the speaker for the day’s topic – Randall M. (not his real name). How open-ended the topic and the speaker of this day were was something I would soon find out. As he stood before us the topic was generally described by Randall as “AIDS and protection.” At this point I thought this topic might be of value to everyone in the room. Me being present with this group and hearing about this topic with them, in a vicarious way I felt that I had “climbed into their skin” as HIV AIDS is no respecter of persons.
Randall talked about his quasi-subject – “AIDS and protection” – autobiographically: His father left his mother at the age of two; His mother raised him alone; as a young man he worked as a pipefitter; he left work behind and traveled to San Francisco; he became involved sexually with other men; he became addicted to alcohol, pain killers, amphetamines and cocaine; he returned to his mother’s house in Chicago and entered a clinic for his drug addiction; he spent a lot of time in the “Boy’s Town” area of Chicago; he frequented spas and bath houses; he returned to drugs and to multiple sex partners; at one point he was diagnosed with HIV AIDS; he began to take expensive medications to slow the effects of AIDS; he took more illegal drugs and stole to maintain his AIDS medication and his drug habit; he continued to have sex with other men in Chicago’s bath houses. After a hour of relating these things Randall reached the end of his talk.
I looked around me and saw blank faces at the table. Maybe the beards hid their expressions from view. None of us at the table had heard a word of caution or of protection or about taking care of oneself or of redemption. Someone then asked Randall if he knew that he was transmitting AIDS to someone else by having oral and anal sex with them. His reply was criminal and meant to absolve him of any personal responsibility:
“They know what they are doing. They know why they are there.” The breathing in the room stopped with a gasp.
I leaned over to the Tracy and said “Someone in this group needs to report this guy.” Tracy nodded and then asked for more questions. But the room remained dead silent. Looking back, I should have spoken up more. But I remember being in such shock and feeling unclean and feeling like a reptile had crawled up inside my skin. I wanted to run to a baptismal fount to have all of the vileness purged from me.
With no further question or comments from the members of the LGBT support group, Tracy called the meeting to a close. Tracy invited everyone to stay and chat with cheese and crackers and lemonade offered on the buffet table. I ended the meeting by leaving with Sherry and not looking back. I had climbed into their skin and they had climbed under mine and it felt inhuman.
This is a true story and one aspect of the LGBT community that you will never see depicted on Ellen or All That Jazz or “reality TV.” Instead, related to homosexuality, you will see and hear the words “equal rights” and “love” and sometimes, “I Want Your Sex.”
Now, there’s no telling what one will find scrawled on bathroom stalls. And, there’s no telling what one will find sprawled in bathroom stalls. But did you really think that you would find love here among the fetid? Amazing.
“I said celebrate the love of the one you’re with
As this life gets colder
And the devil inside
Tells you to give up.”
“Amazing” Songwriters: GEORGE MICHAEL, JONATHAN SIMON DOUGLAS