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Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Here's to you, Michael Shackelford

I grew up in downtown Tulsa which was, quite frankly, a pretty gay place. Even though I didn't even believe gay people existed until I was in my 20's (absolute truth), many of my best friends in middle and high school and beyond were gay. It was common knowledge as we all came of age that gay bars were the most fun places to go, gay parties the best --- it was never anything that any of us thought about because it just wasn't an issue. It wasn't an issue for us. It was simply a part of the way things are. I knew someone who had an Auntie Diesel, the name she and her entire family used in preference to her given name, a friend whose mother was gay, etc. Etc. Etc. Etc.

All things which just seemed to be a part of the landscape of normal life until the strange and perverted rilings of the fascists ...

But Sand Springs? It's a lovely little town --- but it's west of even the West Side. And the West Side has always been notorious for its bigots and perverts and slack-jawed crazies. Not to mention, it's a bit too close to Central Oklahoma, which is way too close to Western Oklahoma for even my tastes.

I've had to live in those parts before. You couldn't pay me enough to go back. And it's not that eastern Oklahoma is any kind of cultural or intellectual Mecca --- far from it! But there's a strongly libertarian spirit in these parts, not to mention that the Ozarks have always been populated by --- well, just all kinds of people.

It's a far cry from Sand Springs, that's for sure.

In any case, I have a sense what Michael Shackelford has confronted in recent months. I'm not gay but, even as a child, I was always much too arty. I come from a long line of Alternative Women :=D , and Sand Springs and the West Side just don't tolerate that.

Even I was fearful some big old redneck babe shit kicker would take me out in those parts.

I can't imagine what it would be like to be a gay teenage boy.

So let me tell you, it has taken some real courage and some real strength and some true machismo for Michael Shackelford to have done what he's done. I can't watch the Nightline show about him because I can't get television out here. But Washington Post did a pretty good little series. And word is, he's getting some pretty good support from his town --- thank goodness because that fruitcake Fred Phelps has gone after him.

So here's to you, Michael. Nicely done.

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