Mark and I were having a conversation and somehow the Jontue perfume commercials came up. "Oh, I used to love those old commercials," I said. "That should have been Clue Number One [that I was gay]."
"You say that about everything," said Mark. "You have several 'Clue Number One's'."
After a few more exchanges, we agreed: there should be a list. And then, after some editing (Mark says to take out the things that were just "goofy"), the list got pared down. So here it is: The Official List of Events That Should Have Clued Me In (But Didn't):
1968: Saturday morning I would turn on Johnny Quest. Sure, I liked Bandit the dog. And the over-dramatic danger music was a plus, too. Okay, and the mechanical spy spider that tried to steal the secret of the para-power ray! But I think what kept me coming back every weekend was Race Bannon. Maybe it was the sharp red shirt with the buttons up the side. Or maybe it was the fact that Mr. Bannon seemed to lose his shirt about as much as...
1970: Captain Kirk. Okay; it's true. Seeing William Shatner's sweaty bare chest made me all tingly inside -- which was very confusing because I really had no idea what I was feeling and also all that tingling was a little overwhelming. I guess I was losing my sanity.
1971: There was something both frightening and oddly compelling about Burt Ward and Adam West on the old Batman TV Series; especially when they were tied up in Yet Another Crazy Super-Villain Trap. And now that I'm thinking about it, The Riddler's (Frank Gorshin's) body suit was doing something for me, too.
c. 1972: You remember the commercial for Irish Spring that starts out with two brawny guys wrestling shirtless? Manly, yes; and I liked it, too (but I didn't know why).
c. 1974: One Easter, I must have tried to watch The Ten Commandments in its entirety. Hot sweaty guys building stone monuments, dancing girls, hot sweaty guys rowing boats, the sybaritic splendor of Hollywood's Egypt, hot sweaty guys in kilts, armbands, chest straps and jewelry. "Oh Moses, Moses, Moses!" it made an impression. The movie became a yearly guilty pleasure every Easter -- for reasons I wouldn't figure out for decades (I mean, come on; Charlston Heston?).
1977: Really not understanding what all the fuss about Cheryl Tiegs and Farrah Fawcett-Majors was all about. But kind of liking Kate Jackson.
c. 1981: When describing a high school girl, "Oh, she's got pretty hair." And meaning it.
c. 1983: Noticing that the kind of woman I was attracted to tended to be tall, thin, and not buxom.
c. 1984: During a Reed College Renn Faire, we were watching the old 1960's Batman Movie (Adam West and Burt Ward, again!) An auditorium of Reedies started hooting when Lee Meriwether appeared in her Catwoman suit. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out what everyone was carrying on about, and had to be informed just what upper-torso body parts Ms. Meriwether possessed which "looked sharp enough to slice bread with." -- In a slightly related issue, it took me something like two years before it dawned on me that I was supposed to be drooling over Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine (really?).
c. 1985: In one of those "Oh My God! It Burns My Eyes But I Can't Look Away" moments, I managed to catch The Beastmaster while channel surfing. I think it must have been during a PBS pledge drive and we wanted to watch Dr. Who instead. In any case, I found myself mesmerized by Marc Singer (The Beastmaster, Dar). Somewhere in the second half of the movie, viewers are treated to an overhead camera pan of our shirtless (of course) hero traveling upside-down along the underside of a kind of chain bridge. For what seems like a slo-mo eternity we watch Mr. Singer pull himself (one sweaty arm reaches out, a mighty hand grasps a length of chains, oiled pectorals contract, and... repeat!) farther along the chain links while a chorus of half-crazed animal-men (minions of the the evil wizard) grunt and try to pull him off of the bridge and into their cages. Oh, -- was there? -- I think there was hot lava or hot coals or something under the bridge. I was kind of too busy to notice.
c. 1991. I had traveled across the state with some friends to a Neo-Pagan Gathering in Madison, Wisconsin. It involved a lot of driving, and I had harped during the ritual. We (and other travelers) were offered crash-space in a barn, which we reached at midnight. As we were shuffling about in the barn's loft, a Sweet Young Neo-Pagan Lass looked at me, looked sideways, looked back and said, "Oohh! Do you need a place to sleep?" I think there might have been batting eyelashes and heaving bosoms here, but I honestly don't remember. "Oh. Oh," I said. "No, my sleeping bag is over here. Thanks. Goodnight." Only after the lights were out and I was drifting off did it occur to me that I was supposed to say "No", and then she was supposed to invite me to share her sleeping bag, and then....
There. Now it's official. I'm sure there's a few things that I've left off of this list. And I want to emphasize that during the seventies, at least, these little clues were feelings I couldn't verbalize or understand, and they didn't go much beyond feeling a little short of breath or vaguely thrilled. Looking back, I'm trying to tease out where naivety gives way to denial.... and that's another blog post.