As a gay kid in high school, when I
wasn’t in the Village trying to fake my way into bars with my
girlfriend, I used to hole up in my tiny room, reading Kerouac and
Camus and listening to WBAI, an alternative radio station in New
York. I refused to own an A.M. radio or watch anything on T.V. other
than late night movies. The consequence of that and later similar
behaviors was isolation. It was bad enough that I was gay in the
1960s, I hated the pre-Sgt. Pepper Beatles, James Bond flics and
women’s clothing. I had nothing in common with most of my peers and
couldn’t sustain conversation even with queers.
I was a big bad rebel dyke who wanted
nothing to do with pop culture. Well, not really. I was just a nice
gay kid from Queens, but that’s what I felt like inside so I
rejected much of what the dominant culture embraces.
Forty-odd years later, I wonder what
happened. Actually, I know what happened. In my thirties, I tried to
write dialogue and realized I hadn’t a clue how people talked or
what they talked about. It was time to climb out of my isolation pod
and plunge into popular culture.
From a person who had no interest in
current events, other than to protest them, I became a news junkie.
Between buses on my way to work, I would pick up a New York Times. I
wrote short stories inspired by news articles and photos. An
addiction to National Public Radio news inevitably followed. When
the political attacks on gays went ballistic, I was in Oregon and
thoroughly scared myself by reading the local rags. Now, with the
internet, I bombard myself with breaking news alerts I have chosen to
receive from a host of news emergency, traffic and weather web sites.
I’ve become as vulnerable to the excitement of disaster as anyone,
instead of being defiantly impervious.
In e-mail discussions with the Pianist,
we complain about the discouraging political scene and how we want to
ignore it. She said her partner, the Handydyke, when exposed to the
news, now goes around saying, “I don’t care. I don’t care.”
But all three of us do care, deeply, and follow every word.
Eventually, I discovered arts reviews
and magazine journalism. How I got from there to Lady Gaga, I’m not
sure, but as I approach senior citizenry, I am more in tune with pop
culture than I was when I was supposed to be. Ironically, a rebel
icon of yore, Bob Dylan, has become popular. My sweetheart e-mailed
me a You Tube video of his appearance at the White House, where he
sang about civil rights. I’m still listening, but in 2010, so are
millions of others.
Twitter is one of the great temptations
of my days. What did Ellen tweet? Maddow? Is there any gay news from
the Courage Campaign, glbtworldnews, goodasyou, EqualityAmerica? I’m
even devouring tech excitement: Gizmodo, TechCrunch, CNET and
engadget. I was one of the hypnotized, watching the play by play up
to and through the iPad unveiling. And worst of all, I can get
obsessive about what’s trending this minute.
Outer space I always found a bit
boring. Now that I live within sighting distance of blast offs from
Cape Canaveral, I’m outside for almost every launch. My sweetheart
and I were standing by the pond, where we get the best view, at 4:30
in the goddess-forsaken morning for the last shuttle launch at night.
It was scratched because of bad weather, and we missed it the next
morning, but the NASA web pages kept us up to date.
After the Superbowl, my sweetheart and
I sat at her laptop and not only perused the infamous ads, but voted
on our favorites. Mine was the Google ad. I hated seeing Betty White
get tackled by a big bruiser.
Now that I can marry my sweetheart,
I’ve taken to calling her my fiancé just like some mainstream het.
It’s even getting common for celebrities to come out and of course
I’m watching them all. My sweetheart happens to be a world
authority on movies, T.V. and pop music, but that’s not the only
reason I want to tie the knot. Honest, Sweetheart.
I used to be dazzled by talk of dykes I
knew spending time in Palm Springs. Surely, I’d never join that
crowd. Bold Strokes Books, my publisher, does a Book Festival in Palm
Springs every year (March 4 to 7 this year), so there I am, in the
thick of things.
Of course I don’t enjoy any of this.
It’s all research for my stories. My fiction must reflect pop
culture, right? I’m a big bad rebel dyke!
[Editor's Note: Lee Lynch is the author
of over 12 books. Her latest, Beggar
of Love, was called “Lee
Lynch's richest and most candid portrayals of lesbian life” by
Katherine V. Forrest. You can reach Lynch at
Copyright 2010 Lee Lynch