Art Attack – Our little secret
My mother knew I was different – different from my four brothers and from the neighborhood boys constantly outside playing road hockey. I was content at an early age to be shut in the house drawing “dancing flowers” and more comfortable hanging with the neighborhood girls playing Barbie. My mother reluctantly gave in and bought me a doll, not quite a Barbie, but a doll I could dress up and make “adorable little hats” for. This was something we needn’t tell dad. It would just be our little secret.
It was my protective, loving and well-meaning mother’s not-so-subtle way of instilling that sometimes we need to hide what’s different.
The Heartland Men’s Chorus returned to the AUD Saturday night performing its acclaimed musical documentary “When I Knew,” based on chorale members’ personal stories on when they first realized they were attracted to the same sex and the coming out process. The multi-media presentation, combining video, photomontage, spoken word and choral music, was both funny and touching.
A live narrated story of a member who discovers at age nine that he was attracted to the prince in Sleeping Beauty, rather than the title character, was followed by a tongue and cheek, but surprisingly moving and tender, rendition of Disney’s classic, “Someday My Prince Will Come” – sung in four part harmony by nearly a hundred gay men.
The title song, “When I Knew,” was a moving ballad written specifically for the show. Interspersed with pre-recorded voices of solidarity, it received the first of several standing ovations. And there was hardly a dry eye in the house after “All This Joy,” a memorial to the disproportionate number of gay teenage boys lost to suicide – their pictures projected on the large backdrop screen, then collectively added to make a patchwork photo-collage reminiscent of the AIDS quilt.
There was no mistaking this was a “gay” “men’s” chorus: “gay” with the flamboyant queen stereotypes adding much needed comic relief; and “men,“ that there was not a single reference to our lesbian sisters.
Maybe it was my mother’s childhood message that kept me closeted to my family long after I was out to everyone else. When I finally confessed the hidden truth to my mum, I had to assure her that buying that doll or letting me, at age nine, dress as Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra for Halloween did not make me gay; that like Lady Gaga’ s anthem, which ended the OARS benefit on a high note – I was “Born This Way.”