Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Tracy Baim's Cry for Gay Self Esteem and Why I Ain't Really Hearing It

I have known many great people who happened to be homosexuals, in much the same manner as I happen to be attracted and committed to the opposite sex; love is precious and private. They were and continue to be wonderful and caring people with rich and fulfilling lives and they have self-esteem in warehouse proportions.

Then they are Gay Activists, who are very much like their heterosexual counterparts - pains in the collective ass.

Activists are about as happy as a mob of Islamist fundamentalist at a Danish Cartoon Festival.

Gay or Straight, Activists go from zero to 10 on the loud and obnoxious and are constantly in crisis or attack mode - about or against exactly what God only knows.

This morning I visually thumbed through the electronic pages of the always angry Huffington Post - tweedy Northwestern Prof. Unemployed Fagin, Dave Protess, is railing about Injustice while he awaits his next subpoena; the man is screwing one and all and Tracy Baim offers a plea for historical Gay Self-Esteem.

To reboot my passion for LGBT issues and people, I launched the Chicago Gay History Project, interviewing some 200 people, mostly on video, and online now. As a result of that, I also helped advise WTTW TV on their Out & Proud in Chicago film project, and they recommended me for the companion book, published by Surrey Books in 2008, Out and Proud in Chicago: An Overview of the City's Gay Community. I also started to scan hundreds of thousands of editorial and photo files from the pre-digital era, to eventually post those online, too.

While keeping my full-time gig as publisher of Windy City Times, I realized there are different and important ways to make sure our LGBT legacy is not lost. The website is one way, and books (print and e-books) are another. So I have worked on three other books: Obama and the Gays: A Political Marriage, Leatherman: The Legend of Chuck Renslow, and Jim Flint: The Boy From Peoria.

The last two, co-written with Owen Keehnen, came out this year. They document the lives of two very important gay Chicagoans. Both are controversial -- but who isn't after a few decades of activism? Their stories were not well documented until these books, and there are hundreds of other Chicago LGBTs worthy of such documentation.

Fair enough. Self-esteem comes from books about a boy from Peoria who put on shows for a very limited audience? Noel Coward I understand, but Mr. Flint? A leather bar owner? Chaps and Whips and Brando Jackets might not be to everyone's taste, but . . .I don't honestly get it.

I don't get the definition of self-esteem in this, Ms. Baim's, context. My self-esteem objects to any and all cataloging of my sexual inclinations, assignations, or self-touting manifestations of worth. Self-esteem, as far as I know, refuses public proclamation.

Real Combat Veterans never talk about their war experiences.

True philanthropists are tough to find - this I know, as a professional fund-raiser - they are deep in the weeds.

Saints don't know they are.

Self-esteem requires no fanfare. Role-playing folks are pretty sad creatures. A real magician never really needs to wear a cape and most of the really great chefs rarely wear their big white hats out to a movie.

If you want to see Tracy Baim's conception of self esteem, go to any Starbucks, get a coffee and grab a chair. The show is a riot.

Go to a trendy tavern in mid-afternoon and meet a score of unpublished poets, playwrights and novelists - no end of that measure of self-esteem. Like Notre Dame Alums, faux writers will let you know.

Watch a reality TV show - self esteem aplenty.

I met my late wife and mother of my three children, while bartending for a gentleman who happened to be as Gay as Christmas, as well as a canny businessman. For that gentleman, I owe a magnifiucent and precious hunk of my life. He did not care a jot that I was a breeder, nor I that my Vietnam Bronze Star awarded veteran bosss, who never ever talked about 'Nam, though his breeder brother and nephews did aplenty, was in love with a man.

No on, and that means NO one, cares a whit about my sexual lifestyle, which is about as wild as George Gobel reruns; likewise, only sad and needy people need to raise their self-esteem via some artifical means - they need to wear their medals and halos in public. I know that being happy in your skin is tough work for breeder and gay alike. We are all sinners, God help us.

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