Every Color in the Rainbow
by Calvin Graves
I’d like to think that one day I will be famous. I hope that Caleb McLaughlin, who plays Lucas on Stranger Things, will portray me in themovie about my life. The climax of the film will be the night I came out to my parents.
My mom had just picked me up from a theater in Downtown Norfolk, where my teacher had directed a Shakespeareanballet. I anxiously sat in the passengerseat. I crave the validation of others and I was worried that I wouldn’t get that from my mother.
“You have an orthodontist appointment next Monday at eight,” Mom droned. “I’ll have to take you there, and then take you to school…”
I took a deep breath and just let the words fall out of my mouth, feeling as though my lips weren’t even moving to formthe consonants.
“You know that I’m gay, right.?”
My mom shot forward and turned down the radio. “What did you say?”
My heart fell out of my chest. “You know that I’m gay, right?”
My mom shot off question after question–“How do you know?Do you have gay friends? You know that’s a sin, right?”– I had trouble forming answers to her interrogation.
We arrived home and I hurried to my room, but the night wasn’t over yet.I still had to suffer through my dad’s speech.
“I’m disappointed,” he lectured. “I never wanted my son to be like that.”
This was peak heartbreak, reminiscent of Molly Ringwald when her parents forgot her birthday in Sixteen Candles.
However, time passes and trouble doesn’t last forever. In a movie, the character must endure turmoil before they can get to their happy ending. It must get worse before it can get better. For me, it definitely got better.
A little over a year after my coming out, I felt antsy. I was a new graduate with a car, unkissed lips, and a groove in my hips. I asked my friend, Capri, to sneak out with me to the LGBT Pride party. I wanted to experience complete liberation. I went to Dick’s Sporting Goods to buy some skimpy compression shorts, whichI paired witha revealing mesh shirt. Everything was coming together amazingly. I had a dance partnerand an outfit, but I was still missing an alibi. Even though my parents knew that I was gay, they wouldn’t let me spend the night at a girl’s house. They were hoping that I would magically turn straightas ifGod could give me Robitussin to heal my “sickness.”
I told my parents that Iwas spending the weekend at Jacob’s house, a Boy Scout who was a family friend. Jacob was a special Scout, he liked the gays!
Finally, Liberation Day was upon us.
I got dressed, doused myself in glitter, and hopped into Capri’s yellow Beetle. ABBA carried us down the highway as we giggled in anticipation. We were hellbent on being Dancing Queens that night.
“Tonight, is all about finding you a guy! I’m going to be your wingwoman.” Capri told me.
“What about you? You look so much better than me!”
Capri was the embodiment of a sexy country bumpkin—the perfect blend of Dolly Parton and Disney era Miley Cyrus.She was wearing a cute, yet sensible, button up shirtmatched with a pair of Daisy Dukes. I, on the other hand, looked like the gay cousin of Gollum from Lord of the Rings.
As we neared the Scope, the large coliseum in downtown Norfolk, I grew more self-conscious about my attire. Even Stormy Daniels must get nervous about prancing around in her underwear. Calvin Graves is no Stormy Daniels, so you can imagine my discomfort. As we parked and walked toward the line, I let out a sigh of relief. We were walking towards a throng of people strutting inunderwear, kinky bondage gear, and giant rainbow flags with virtually nothing underneath. I wasn’t the odd one out. I wasn’t a weirdo. Or at least, we were a gigantic group of weirdos who were going to be weird together. When you are accustomed to not fitting in, it’s earth-shattering when you find a space in whichyou do. I had discovered my oasis in the desert of masculinity.
We made our way through the maze to find the actual party, guided along the path by volunteers who cheered us along.
“Happy Pride!” They welcomed. “Have fun!Dance all night long!”
The volunteers made us so excited. I loved their multicolored hair, a fashion choice which always seems to brighten my spirits, as if the hair dye were mixed with sunshine. These cheery folks were the gatekeepers of the party.
Capri and I arrived at the giant double doors that blocked our destination. A volunteer handed us some foam glow-in-the-dark rods. He was a cute guy, probably in his twentiesand, not to stereotype, but he was probably gay. He was wearing a pair of black skinny jeans and a black crop top adorned with the word ‘Pride’ in rainbow, cursive letters. It made me stop and think: Is every volunteer here in the Queer family?
If that was the case, then how amazing. I wasn’t involved in any predominantly queer social circles, so I started to view that night as my baptism. I was being baptized in rainbows and glitter, and it was now time to become a dancing queen.
“Dance your hearts out,” the cute guy smiled ashe swung open the doors.
A wave of music and lights erupted from the open doors. We walked in slowly, mesmerized. We approached the ledge of a balcony and gawked down at the rave happening below us. Then, we descended the grand staircaseand weaved our way through the sweaty bodies to the dance floor. As we danced the night away, we saw a man dressed as a dog being led by his master, a stunningly tall woman that was armed with a gun that blew bubbles, and a gaggle of drag queens that were vogueing around the room. If my life were a movie, this would be the point where Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven Is a Place on Earth” blaresinto the audience’s ears.
I had never been in such a loving environment. The goal of the night was to dance our collective troubles away. Many of us had heartbreaking stories about growing up gay, but that night was only about twirling until the sun came upand getting jiggy with cute boys. There’s always time to get jiggy with a cute boy.
I may not have had my first kiss that night, but I did lose something else. I lost my inhibitions about being left out of the Gay Family. My life is not always this magical. Heartbreak and embarrassment are daily affairs. Therefore, my movie would be comedy. It’s necessary to laugh at your misfortunes. If you don’t, then your movie becomes a tragedy. Pride was the opening scene of my movie. It opened my eyes to the possibilities that I have at my fingertips. I am quaking with anticipation of how my story will end. Maybe you’ll see how in a movie theater near you.