Growing up I didn’t know anyone who was gay, but I knew someone who people thought was gay, and it was enough. His name was Glen Moore, and he was terrorized by kids our age. I built a closet, put a sturdy lock on it, and that was that.
Glen was a member of our Boy Scout troop, Troop 95, a particular group of abused country boys, misfits, ADHD-rattled teens and outcasts that had developed a reputation of, believe it or not, winning blue ribbons and ranking high on the metrics that measured success. And for good or ill, Glen was a part of our group. I don’t think that Glen did anything particularly gay– not at Boy Scouts anyway. He took the brunt of some teasing nevertheless, and I can remember the word “gay” being tossed around plenty. By this time in my life I had a pretty good clue that I was gay, and Glen was the barometer that taught me to keep it a secret. All the crazy horseplay and grab-assing that went around at Scout camps may have been the perfect place to explore feelings. Never happened with me; I was too antisocial and too guarded. The smattering of kids my age that I had crushes on weren’t Boy Scouts anyway.
Fun fact about how “gay” is just a marginalizing term for kids and mere bullying compared to actual homophobia: no one thought George Michael was gay. All the straight guys knew every word to just about every song from Faith. Ass-shaking, tight-jeaned, full homogay “Faith”, the song, in particular. It is certainly the gayest song in my catalog of memories that so many people openly pranced around to.
Wham! had come and gone; besides the video for “I’m Still Standin'”, extravagantly choreographed by and co-starring Dancing With The Stars’ Bruno Tonioli, the gayest thing on television was the “Wake Me Up Before You Go” video, with George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley doing the Jitterbug like giddy schoolgirls in tight Day-Glo Umbros.
The oft-covered “Last Christmas” is no better: the video is a bit more subdued, and there are *gasp* girls in it, the non-gendered pronouns and the “someone special”s that abound are enough. At 3:55, with Michael looking contemplative in his fur-lined ski parka, “Dick In A Box” scruff and Princess Diana eyes? Holy shit, I bet Glen loved this song. I did to.