From the age of 4 through age 7 I remember feeling safe, loved, nurtured and adored. I had two dad’s who were madly in love with each other and were able to celebrate this love through having a family. We were the Gay version of Annie and I had a lot of Daddy Warbucks’ around me. I was the center of all parties and there were a lot of parties. Easter, Birthdays, Oscar’s, Super Bowls (yes, my extended family loved the 49ers), Thanksgiving and Christmas. All over the top and all a ton of fun for me. I was used to being around adults with no playmates in sight having spent so much time at my grandmother’s house and these fiesta’s were no exception. Many of my uncles craved a family and I was the closest outlet. I was carried around the homes, I was spoken to as an adult, I was played with, read to and I was LOVED! I am still convinced one of our closest family friends bought a dog so that I would have something extra to entertain me while at his home. They recorded movies for me to watch when it was time to wind down for bed. I had a bed always made up for me when I arrived. And, I always had separate snacks since I was a picky eater.
One thing that has always stood out at these parties is the lack of stereotypes exhibited. Granted they protected me from all things crass and treated me as a porcelain doll, but never did I hear a dirty joke, see anyone fondling each other, no affection was being staged or see any grandiose feminine gestures. These men were all professionals, travelled and educated. I am not sure what happened when I went to bed, but I can tell you that while the alcohol may have flowed with abundance I was always protected from anything that could be interpreted as vulgar. I was after all everyone’s child and favorite niece.
I recall observing on more than one occasion Oliver’s best friend Burt providing a severe tongue lashing to a new clique member. I would never see them back at any function after these scoldings. I always felt bad for them, but I was happy that I was never being told I had done something wrong. What I discovered later in life was the scolding was because of me. These newbies had been schooled prior to their invitation to the Gayest Gala in town that I was to be considered at all times. This meant a certain amount of control was expected and if any of my uncle’s felt this line was crossed the newbie would be told as such. Never one to take chances with my well being, Burt would promptly ban these younglings from ever returning to these parties because they had violated the sanctity of my innocence. Mind you that I never over heard what was being scolded, but the protection was so strong over me that whether I was in ear shot or not did not matter.
A little girl could not have been happier. Only a year prior I had come from a life where I felt scared all of the time. I was scared that I would never see my parents again or that I would be forgotten at one of the many homes I was left for care with. With this new family I started to come out of my shell of shyness and I was able to be a little girl (well, a little Princess really). These parties were some of the happiest times I can remember and while there were very rarely any women around, these men taught me how a woman should be treated.
To be continued………..