Eric Marcus

Dancing Queens… On the Slippery Slope

Filed By Eric Marcus | February 14, 2008 3:15 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: slippery slope bar mitzvah gay dancing queens

The two boys, probably no more than ten or eleven, stood at the edge of the dance floor giggling to each other and pointing at the two guys in ties who were smiling like idiots, grooving to a medley of ‘70s disco. We had no choice. Once the DJ started playing that old bar mitzvah standard, “YMCA” by the Village People, our feet took over and we were propelled out of our seats.

The anti-gay rights movement has long railed about the dangers of letting us out of the closet. We would destroy the American family. We would undermine the moral fiber of our great nation. And perhaps worst of all, we would corrupt young minds, leading children down that slippery slope into temptation and sin. (You know, try it once and you’re hooked for life!)

Maybe that would explain why I’ve been reluctant in the past to dance with my partner at bar mitzvahs. We have no problem with dancing at weddings, but bar mitzvahs are another story because of the kids. How would the kids respond? How would the parents respond to their children being “exposed” to such un-closeted behavior? And how would they feel about having to answer the inevitable questions, if not from the thirteen year olds, then from the younger children.

But this was New York City's ultra-liberal Upper West Side. And, besides, the bar mitzvah boy’s mother had already made a splash by climbing up on one of the giant speakers and dancing her way through The Weather Girls. Judging from the cheers and laughter, I’m guessing that for a lot of us the go-go mother was a bar mitzvah first. How big a deal could we be in comparison to that!

The giggling ten-year-old boys soon turned to one of their dad’s and asked him about us (the very obvious pointing gave them away). We don’t know what the father said, but a few seconds later we spotted the two boys on the dance floor, with each other, and having a great time.

I don’t think this is the slippery slope that any of us imagined, but it’s one I really like. Barney and I take pride in knowing that we’ve helped set an example, one that smoothed the way for a couple of kids who just wanted to have fun.

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That's a beautiful story, Eric. It really made me smile imagining the two of you dancing.

Brynn Craffey Brynn Craffey | February 14, 2008 7:54 PM

You know, Eric, that's the outcome many homophobic parents fear: the message to their lgbt kids that it's ok to come out.

Beautiful story!!!

Glad you guys felt comfortable enough to do that. I've often pondered about subjects like this, since it's hard for me to determine how much of my trepidation for being "open" in public is over legitimate concerns of not wanting to be truly shocking vs. my own internalized homophobia.

If I found myself in a situation like this, I'd be hard-pressed to overcome my uneasy feelings and actually dance with my partner. But would I just be using my legitimate desire to be "age-appropriate" for kids in the room (or showing some respect for the wishes of those around me, or whatever the case may be) to excuse what may be more at the root of those uneasy feelings: namely my own internalized homophobia?

Unfortunately, it's one of those situations where it's hard to see the forest for the trees. I'm just too close to it to see clearly and be able to truly sort-out my own spur-of-the-moment motives and where these "uneasy feelings" truly come from.

For example, my own parents had a hard time coming to terms with my sexuality and still are uncomfortable about it (and I'm sure, always will be). I try to make a point not to shy away from mentions of my life with my partner, plans we've made, day-to-day activities that may involve gay-oriented groups, etc., but still find it hard to break-through and show any affection towards my partner in front of them. I don't expect them to make a big scene or anything, but I do know that it would truly make them uncomfortable and part of me wants to respect that. Yet here it is making ME uncomfortable having to sit there and decide on a second-by-second basis, how much is too much, how upset would they get, would they be questioning MY motives for doing so, how much would make my partner also uncomfortable (guess he and I should have that discussion some day), would it make my relationship with my parents better in the long run or worse because I crossed a line with them and now they feel that I'm just going to be "pushing" the subject of my sexuality on them every time I'm around them from now on... and so on.

Guess life just ain't easy for any of us, huh?