Wednesday, August 25, 2004
Come Fly With Me
I make a crap Old Compton Street queen. Apart from the fact my hair is once again creeping over my collar, Madonna's currently my Mogadon, and I still haven't caught up with Queer As Folk, I spend far too many of my homo-hours outside the gay ghetto and in straight bars, certainly far more than any self-respecting scene-queen ever should.
On the whole, it’s fun being the only obvious bender in a bar packed with breeder-friends. You're an instant hit with the ladies, for starters, and you're often seen as that "rather interesting but somewhat flamboyant young man". (I lied about the "young" bit.)
Of course, it has its downsides too, and sooner or later someone - and it's usually a "bi-curious" bloke, whatever that means - will ask me when I first worked out I was gay. I ask right back when did he first know he was straight. It's a flip answer, but shuts him up, and sometimes also gets him thinking. In fact, if I work it just right, I can usually guilt-trip him into buying me another Stella as well.
But the fact remains that I can pinpoint the precise moment when I knew. It was an afternoon in late August the year England won the World Cup, and I'd been taken to a summer-holiday screening of Batman. This wasn't the Tim Burton take on the Dark Knight, but an omnibus edition of the very first Batman TV series from the forties, released that particular year to cash in on the then-current success of the movie version of the über-camp telly show starring Adam West.
In those far-off early days of the kinematograph, the main movie was always preceded by a short film or documentary. That afternoon, it was a brief travel-piece on the islands of Trinidad and Tobago, their vibrant colours a welcome contrast to the black-and-white awfulness of the Bat-B-movie that was to follow.
Slotted in between the two movies were the ads, and one I particularly remember. It was flogging some hair-styling product, probably the Harmony of its day, and the scenario involved a glamorous blonde slinking, as only glamorous blondes are ever allowed to slink, down the steps of a recently-landed BOAC plane.
And you know what? As a little boy, I so much wanted to be that glamorous blonde. Not, you understand, because I'm really a lipstick lesbian in drag (you really do not want to see me in a fright-wig and frock, and, if we all behave like sensible adults, you probably never will). I so much wanted to be that glamorous blonde because waiting for her on the tarmac with open arms was her airline-pilot hunk of a boyfriend, all tan, white teeth, coal-black hair and chiselled good looks.
And it was at the precise moment, my dears, when that glamorous blonde bitch and her adorable pilot boyfriend embraced, that the old-penny piece finally dropped for a jealous, green-eyed schoolboy, just the first of many things to be dropped in the coming years.
And thirty-eight queer years on, I realise I still haven't got around to visiting the Caribbean, my glory days as the masked Boy Wonder are long since gone, and the closest I've ever come to nabbing my suave and sophisticated sky-captain was a nineteen-year-old trolley dolly on a late-night Swiss Air flight to Zürich.
Ah well. At least there's always Old Compton Street, I suppose.