Let’s kick things off with a confession: my gaydar? Totally out of whack. I mean, I didn’t even realize I was gay until a bit later in the game. Talk about irony!
Now, let’s talk about my name. My mum, bless her heart, named me Gay because to her, it meant “happy.” So, naturally, my life’s motto became: “Hi, I’m Gay, I feel gay, and oh, by the way, I’m also gay!” A triple threat, if you will.
Growing up, my folks were all about the free-range parenting style. They believed in letting a kid be a kid. So, I was out there, living my best life, chatting up strangers, and pedaling my bike like there was no tomorrow. And if my dad was doing something, you bet I was right there, trying to mimic him. Whether it was mowing the lawn, wielding a chainsaw (safely, of course), or cheering for Hawthorn in the Australian Rules Football, I was all in.
This zest for life and my penchant for traditionally “boyish” activities earned me the title of “tomboy” from my mum and a few relatives. And you know what? I wore that title like a badge of honor. It felt right, and I believed it gave me the license to be even more authentically me.
The Gay-Bell Chronicles
Mum always had this cute way of calling me “Gay-Bell.” It was her pet name for me, and she always said it with such affection. Both my parents were champions of positivity, especially when it came to my name. Their mantra? “Gay equals happy.” And they made sure I lived every moment with that joy.
Now, when it came to discussing the LGBTQ+ community, my parents were always respectful. They never discriminated. But they did have their own lingo. Their go-to term was “queer.” I guess, in their era, it felt like a neutral term.
The Great School Roll Call Saga
Ah, the start of a new school year. A time of fresh notebooks, new teachers, and… the dreaded roll call. It was like a recurring nightmare, and it went something like this:
Teacher: *Calls out a student’s name with confidence.*
Teacher, squinting at the list: “Gary? Shouldn’t this be in the boys’ column?”
Me, turning a shade of tomato: “It’s Gay.”
Teacher, mortified: “Oh! My apologies.” *Frantically scribbles a correction.*
Now, my surname starts with a ‘W’, which meant I had the *pleasure* of waiting in suspense until the very end. Every. Single. Time. I’d sit there, palms sweaty, wondering, “Will this be the year they get it right?” Spoiler alert: they rarely did. High school? Oh, that was a whole new level of roll call roulette.
The Kids Were Alright
Surprisingly, my peers were pretty chill about my name. I mean, I went to school with most of them for over a decade, so they were seasoned pros. By the time we hit the later years, even the teachers had caught on, making roll call a tad less cringeworthy.
As for bullying, it was minimal in my younger days. Most kids didn’t even grasp the full context of the word ‘gay’. But as we grew older and wiser, things shifted a bit. But hey, that’s a story for another day!
The AIDS Era and My Name’s Unexpected Spotlight
The 1980s brought with it neon fashion, big hair, and… the AIDS epidemic. When Rock Hudson, the dashing actor, became the first high-profile celebrity to succumb to the disease, the media went into a frenzy. Suddenly, everyone was talking about AIDS, a disease most had never even heard of. And guess whose name was suddenly thrust back into the limelight? Yep, yours truly.
Did I Really Get My Name?
I’d love to say I had a deep understanding of my name’s significance, especially during the AIDS crisis. But in reality? Not so much. The topic was hush-hush, and most of what I knew came from overheard conversations and media snippets. It was like trying to piece together a jigsaw puzzle with half the pieces missing.
In Search of Gay Icons
Growing up, the term “gay icon” wasn’t exactly splashed across magazine covers. The media landscape was different, and whispers of celebrity orientations were mostly just that—whispers. Pride parades and “Wear It Purple” days weren’t the norm, and as a young girl passionate about sports and music, I was on the lookout for role models.
Enter Boy George and Martina Navratilova. These two were the talk of the town, though most of it was based on speculation and juicy gossip. But in a world where representation was scarce, even rumored gay icons held a special place in my heart.
Looking back, it’s fascinating to see how times have changed. Today, we celebrate diversity and inclusion more openly, and the list of LGBTQ+ icons has grown exponentially. But back in the day, even a hint of a gay icon was like finding a needle in a haystack. And while the rumors and speculations weren’t always accurate, they did pave the way for more open conversations in the years to come.
The Name Game: To Say Gay or Not to Say
Over the years, I’ve noticed a peculiar trend: people get tongue-tied around my name. Some crafty folks have come up with nicknames, while others opt for the “I’ll just avoid saying her name altogether” approach. I’ve been called Gayle, Joy, and even Gary. And then there are those who just… pretend I don’t exist? Ouch.
But here’s a fun anecdote: I once ran a little experiment with my wife at a popular Aussie takeaway joint. We’d both order drinks, sometimes the same, sometimes different. But the outcome? Almost always hilariously predictable. They’d confidently call out “Carol” for her order. But for mine? “Large jungle juice!” or whatever I’d ordered. No “Gay” to be shouted.
My Two Cents – Why They Don’t Say Gay
I reckon these young baristas, mostly millennials, were just too embarrassed or unsure to call out “Gay.” Maybe they thought it was a prank? Like someone was trying to pull a fast one on them.
And let’s face it, some folks just can’t bring themselves to say the word “gay.” It’s like they think it’s a game of taboo, and they’ll lose points if they utter it. But hey, at least I always knew when my “large jungle juice” was ready!
The “Is it Short for Something?” Chronicles
You wouldn’t believe the number of times people asked if “Gay” was short for something. “Is it Gayle? Gabrielle? Gayatri?” Nope, just Gay. Simple, sweet, and to the point. But oh, the puzzled looks I’d get!
The “Gary” Chronicles in a Man’s World
Navigating a male-dominated industry is no walk in the park, especially when your name is Gay. Picture this: I send out professional emails, complete with a signature that clearly states my name. Heck, I even sign off with “Gay” for good measure. But what do I get in return? A whopping 80% of replies that start with “Hi Gary.”
I mean, come on! I’m pretty sure I know how to spell my own name. It’s right there, not once, but twice in every email. But alas, it seems reading comprehension isn’t everyone’s strong suit. Maybe they think “Gary” is just a fun nickname? Or perhaps they’re just skimming through? Either way, it’s given me a good chuckle (and a bit of an identity crisis) over the years.
BMX Adventures: The Gay Way
When faced with the ultimate childhood decision – BMX or cricket – I went with the wind-in-my-hair, adrenaline-pumping world of BMX. Because, let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want to zoom around on two wheels, leaving a trail of dust (and awe) behind? I was head over heels for BMX. The thrill of the race, the camaraderie, the sheer joy of being on that bike—it was pure magic.
This love for BMX wasn’t just about the sport; it opened up the world to me. I got to travel, explore new places, and meet incredible people. And as it turns out, zipping around on a BMX bike was the perfect precursor to my wanderlust adventures.
Of course, every story has its share of naysayers. While I was busy making tracks and memories, some folks in the community had their own “witty” remarks. Interestingly, these comments were less about my name and more about my gender.
“Put your seat back on!” shouted a random local, probably thinking he was the pinnacle of comedy. Oh, the joys of unsolicited advice!
Finding Love… Eventually
Fast forward a few years, and at the age of 28, I embarked on my first gay relationship. It was a journey of self-discovery, understanding, and embracing who I truly was. And while love is a beautiful maze, it took me another 11 years to find the one who truly completed me—my lovely wife, Carol.
Life has a funny way of unfolding, and every twist, turn, BMX race, and random comment has shaped the person I am today. And through it all, one thing remains constant: I’m Gay, in name and in spirit, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
The Power of Resilience
Growing up with a unique name taught me resilience. Sure, there were moments of embarrassment and frustration, but there were also moments of pride and empowerment. My name became a conversation starter, a story to tell, and a testament to my individuality.
The Silver Lining
One unexpected perk of having the name Gay? It’s a fantastic icebreaker! Whether I was at networking events, social gatherings, or even on dates, my name always sparked curiosity and led to memorable conversations.
A Legacy of Love and Acceptance
My parents, in their infinite wisdom, named me Gay—a name that means happy. And while the journey wasn’t always smooth, it was filled with lessons of love, acceptance, and the importance of being true to oneself. Today, I wear my name with pride, cherishing the stories, experiences, and memories it has given me.