Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Accidental Activist: A blast from the past

One afternoon back in September, 1992 I was sitting in my office in Herndon, Va. sorting through the daily mail at the non-profit I worked for at the time. As usual, I was listening to my favorite afternoon radio show, "The Don and Mike Show".

Having started out as a morning drive Morning Zoo type show, Don and Mike had moved to the 3pm to 7pm slot and were just starting out on their road to national syndication. Their brand of humor was the kind that either you got it or you didn't. Most of the time I got it. Some of their regular bits were "Low-budget Jeopardy" and "Who Would You Do?", where callers were given a choice between two celebrities like Bea Arthur and Aunt Bea from "The Andy Griffith Show".

They had one game where they directed listeners to be at a certain pay phone to answer their call, then give them ten minutes to be at another phone, then another and another until they won a prize. You get the idea.

This particular day they were talking about how September was National Gay Rodeo Month and were making the typical sophomoric jokes about what a gay rodeo might be like. They decided it would be fun to hold a Gay Square Dance and Rodeo in the parking lot of their Fairfax radio station and asked listeners to call in if they or someone they knew was a gay square dancer.

After about 30 minutes with no calls, I remembered a gay square dance group I had heard of called the Lambda Squares. I called the station and told the producer, Diana, about the group and suggested she contact them through their ad in the Washington Blade. She asked me if I wouldn't mind talking to the guys on air. "Sure", I said, thinking my boss preferred Rush Limbaugh and wouldn't be listening in.

After telling the shock jocks about Lambda Squares, Don said that they didn't get many gay callers and admitted that he really didn't know a lot about gay people. He asked if I wouldn't mind if he asked me a few questions. Once again, I replied, "Sure."

What started out as a simple call-in tip turned into a 20-minute interview. The locker room humor fell by the wayside as they asked me things like how I knew I was gay and had I ever been with a women.

I responded that I had been with a woman, once. I compared it to putting your left shoe on your right foot. It just didn't feel right until I put the proper shoe on.

They asked me, "Are you the man or the woman in the relationship?"

I paused for a moment as I tried to wrap my head around the question. Were they asking if I dressed as a woman? Did they want to know if I was a top or a bottom?

My response was, "It's two men, there is no woman."

Then they asked me, "Which question do straight people ask you that you hate the most?"

My answer: "Whether I'm the man or the woman in my relationships."

I thought I held my own during the interview and when it was over, co-workers flocked to my office, totally awestruck and congratulated me on how well I had done.

Over the next two weeks I worked with Diana, the producer, putting together the Square Dance and Rodeo. I even got my friend Howard, aka, DC drag sensation, Gladys Kravits, to appear at the event. It turned out to be a lot of fun. Dozens of people, gay and straight turned out for the event which included live music, barnyard animals and, of course, square dancing.

The image you see here is the original Washington Blade article from September 19, 1992, that I found while cleaning out the garage a few weeks ago. Click to embiggen.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please keep comments relevant and civil. Comments attacking other people will be deleted.

Subscribe in a reader