In the early 1970s
I stood at the train station
on a summer afternoon,
a lone young woman
surrounded by a hundred men,
most of them tanned and handsome;
All of them gay.
I remember thinking 
it was such a waste
as I watched taxis dropping off more men
and heading back to the Fire Island ferry.
It was another time when 
closets were still mostly locked.
AIDS hadn't happened yet,
and nobody talked openly about homosexuality.

Local teens would take the ferry to Fire Island
in the summer to hit the beach;
I can remember a friend telling me with wide-eyed giggles
how she'd seen two men heading into the pines
holding hands and a jar of Vaseline. 
It was a bit shocking, 
even though I didn't understand 
the full implications at the time.
I had only the vaguest notion 
of what those men were actually doing.

Living where I was,
I was probably a bit more aware,
but the men were still very circumspect in public.
I know I wasn't shocked or disgusted by those men;
I definitely wasn't afraid or uncomfortable,
as I'm sure I would've been if
I'd been surrounded by a hundred straight men.
Would I have felt the same 
if I'd been surrounded by a hundred lesbians?
I don't know, but probably not.
I might have been uncomfortable, but not afraid.
Truthfully, I was still naive enough 
that I probably would've just thought 
they were “tomboys” without any sexual connotation.
It was a time when girls who would
rather play ball with the boys 
and didn't like wearing dresses or makeup
were thought of as late bloomers
who would eventually grow out of it.
Being a tomboy didn't have the same stigma.

We've come a long way in 50 years.
Even in the early days I never understood
the labeling and the hatred towards homosexuals.
Who cares what consenting adults do
in the privacy of their own home?
I will never understand parents 
who disown their children because
of their sexual orientation. 
I can understand initial feelings of loss
for the dreams you had for them,
but the LGBT community has fought 
hard to create a world where 
there are no dreams that are unattainable.
While there is still hate in the world,
things are getting better.
More and more people are realizing
they know and love people who are 
sexually different from themselves,
and it just doesn't matter. 

Love is love. 
Let me say it again.
Love is love.

I hope someday we can drop the labels,
that people can just be themselves
without judgment or fear.
We're all a part of the same rainbow,
and more beautiful for the variety.

~Elise Skidmore ©2022

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  1. Elise, you have me in tears. When our son came out, I worried about my husband’s reaction but he did himself proud, accepting and welcoming our son’s partner. They have been together for 18 years now. As you said, love is love.

    1. Thank you, Anita. I had similar feelings when our eldest daughter came out. It wasn’t totally unexpected, but while I grieved a little for the things I thought we’d miss and how difficult her life would be because the world would see her differently, it never occurred to me that she was anything other than my beloved child. My husband felt the same and it was such a relief to her when she realized that he too, loved her no matter what. She’s been married to a wonderful woman for going on 8 years now and we love her wife as if she’d been born to our family. There’s been progress in the world and I hope it continues. We can’t go backwards.