The Wise Snowy Owl

Brian McNaught has been an author and educator on LGBTQ issues since 1974. Former Congressman Barney Frank said of Brian, “No one has done a better job of chronicling what it’s like to grow up gay."

The picture we use to remind us of Harvey Milk is one of him smiling. The photo used to remind us of Matthew Shepherd is that of a beautiful, blond waif. We’re not asked to remember Harvey lying on the floor bleeding out, nor Matthew tied to a fence, beaten and left to die.

It’s much more fun to talk with older friends about an experience of flirtation than it is about one’s flatulence. Older people compare lists of meds, and tell what joints have been replaced, but we often keep to ourselves other experiences of aging, such as erectile dysfunction and diapers.

In a recent conversation with the co-host of our podcast, Hayley Evans blew me away by talking about the choices women must make every morning on the message they want their clothes and make-up to convey. I’m conscious today of what clothes camouflage my tummy, but my safety isn’t dependent on it.

From Thanksgiving to Christmas, Ray and I nightly watch sappy Christmas movies on Showtime or Hallmark about a straight man and woman who initially irritate one another but find love as they save the family farm, hardware store, or guesthouse in a snowy, picturesque town in Vermont.

We assume that a one-night stand is about “having sex,” and that sex in a long-term relationship is about “making love.” Is that always true, and what differentiates one from the other? Is it possible for a one-night stand to be “making love” for one of the participants, and with one’s beloved might the experience ever be described as “having sex?” Ray and I have had lots of genital contact in the past 47 years, but not all of it would be described as “making love.”

This morning, as I sat on our dock at high tide, I introduced Edna Mae Coons to the joy, beauty, and comfort of our home in Wilton Manors. I did so by speaking to the plastic bag in which she arrived and reading her obituary to the New River and to several beautiful places in our garden.

Gay brothers, I sometimes fantasize about a group of us meeting regularly as 16-year-olds, led by a respected gay elder, and that we’d be visited weekly by mentors who talked about all aspects of gay life, from celebrating the feminine strengths of our male brains to the various ways men make love with one another. And we’d learn our history of contributions to the cultures in which we lived.

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