I am a hairdresser, I love working with and talking to people, otherwise this would be a pretty poor career choice. I work with all types of people all the time, and I enjoy people as they are. The world has enough ugliness without adding to it by becoming ugly as well. And I truly believe we can always learn something from other people. All people are useful, even the ones that are good for a bad example. I make friends with the people I work with and the people in my neighborhood and people who’s kids hang out with my kids. I don’t typically care what their sexuality is or their color is, just if they are a good person or not. Turns out, many years ago, one of my closest friends was runner-up to Ms. Gay Texas. He was a beautiful woman and a delightful friend. I loved him dearly and we did lots of fun things together, and he could always find the best shoes. But in the 80’s, there was no cure for Aids. I lost my beautiful friend to this ugly disease. It is because of him that I am even approaching this subject.
Living in Texas has its perks, it doesn’t rain much, and we get tons of sunshine, but when it does rain, it gushes. And I decided it was time for a new umbrella. Something large enough to cover me and 2 large kids at one time without the infamous “he’s touching me” routine. Yep I needed a golf umbrella. I made a special trip to the store to find my umbrella, and it stood out among the football teams and solid black (boring) umbrellas. Yep, I bought a beautiful rainbow-colored umbrella. The colors are vivid and bold and I love this big beautiful vibrant umbrella. Yep, it’s just an umbrella, but it’s grand, and I was happy with my purchase. I in no way though of gay pride or making a statement with this stupid umbrella or anything other than the bright happy colors and the sheer size of the thing keeping me and at least some of my brood dry.
One of my boys had just finished US Army boot camp and we and a stack of relatives went to watch his graduation ceremony. If you have never seen a military graduation, it is very impressive. If you are ever invited, go. The proud families, the incredible transformation of boys that slouch and grumble standing at attention and doing things so properly and dressed so handsomely. It’s hard to explain the incredible pride you feel during one of these ceremonies. Pride in your child, in your country, in your family for supporting your child. It is a day of enormous emotions and when one of your idiot relatives open’s their mouth, it’s really hard to know what to do.
It was sprinkling that day, so of course I had my beautiful rainbow colored umbrella. At the coolest event that that child had come up with so far. Beaming with pride, and as typical for a mom, my hands were full of stuff that no one really knows why you are holding, so I handed one of the other boys my beautiful umbrella. That’s when one of the dumbest things I have ever heard fell out of that morons mouth. Really. He looked at my innocent and said, “Boy, don’t touch that. It’s a gay umbrella. It will turn you gay.” I was dumbfounded. I’m a hairdresser! I’m not normally at a loss for words. I just stood there with my mouth hanging open. How can anyone say something so stupid?
My partner (a straight man), pipes up and says “Yep, that’s my umbrella, hand it over.” He tucked it under his arm and sashayed all over the place, flipping his wrist and acting like a fool. It was so funny people were staring. Then he handed it back to me with a flourish and a kiss and said, “Yep, I feel gay already.” I honestly, never loved him more.
My umbrella has been dubbed “the gay umbrella” ever since.