Scrooge and Fan
Hey Bloggers! So as I keep reminding you/whoring out to you all over my Twitter, Facebook, and Blog- I am gonna be on The Joy Behar Show tonight talking with a few other gay writer/performers about coming out. So I’ve been thinking a lot about that sort of thing. So I wanted to share a little story from a book I’m working on. The story is about the first time I ever told somebody ‘I’m gay.’
I’ve blogged about this experience a couple times before so pardon if this story is old news to you….. but what with the HLN interview today, and the general need for more people to stand up and be honest to the world….. I wanted to share this story, I hope a lot of boys and girls out there have a friend like I had.
‘Scrooge and Fan’
Nathan Adler was a pretty good Ebenezer Scrooge but whenever he spoke he spit so much that you could literally watch it fly across the stage. By the end of the first act the stage looked like a kiddy pool of old man salvia.
“A Christmas Carol” at the Rome Little Theater was a fog machined fueled holiday extravaganza. I played Young Scrooge in the flashbacks to when he was a boy being left at school for the holidays. It was a large cast made up of many local regulars, all of whom delivered their Dickensian dialogue with the kind of southern drawls associated with characters on ‘Mama’s Family’.
“They sound like they’re from SOUTH London!” the director would constantly quip. No they don’t. They sound like they’re from Alabama, my rolling eyes would say.
Young Scrooge’s pivotal scene is when his sister, Fan, arrives at his boarding school…. the only family member who hasn’t forgotten about him. Playing the role of Fan was Jamie Barton. Jamie was a few years older than me, in high school, and she had a car. On top of that she was truly the most “fabulous” person I’d ever met. I don’t like the stereotype associated with that word but Jamie really iminated it. We’d done a few plays together over the years. Often times, after late night rehearsals…. Jamie would give me a ride home. We’d drive across town in her Honda Civic blaring cast recordings of “The Life” and “Rent”. Musicals I’d never heard of, about things I’d never thought about, cranked up at full volume, whizzing through the streets of Rome. Rebels with a cause. And that cause was contemporary musical theater.
Jamie was completely un-self concious. She had a sparkly bumper sticker emblazened on the back of her car that read: DIVA. She had to explain to me what the word meant but once she did, I couldn’t imagine anyone in the whole wide world being more of a diva than her.
Completely unrelated (I think) to my understanding the word diva is that around this time, I began to consider the possibility that I might be a homosexual… and by consider it, I mean…. I had begun fantascizing about boys 24/7, going into Chatrooms, and feeling a weird discomfort while watching ‘Will and Grace’ with my Mom on Thursday nights.
The year was 1999, and only two years prior Ellen Degeneres had come out and shook the world upside down, so I was…. pretty terrified. I wasn’t really scared of being a homosexual but I knew there was no possible way I’d ever tell my family, most of my friends, or the world around me. I couldn’t fathom that kind of honesty and conforntation…. but one night as Jamie was driving me home from play practice, “The Life” was blaring through the car speakers, and Jamie and I were singing along at the top of our lungs “I’m getting too old for the oldest profession!” and it hit me…. Jamie Barton and I had come from the same world…. we were somehow or other cut from the same cloth, the same tribe…. and dropped down in Rome, Georgia amidst a town of people not like us…. those people that made me unsure whether or not I’d ever embrace who I really was, but with Jamie, in that car, there was no need for embracing it…. I simply was myself, and I knew I wanted Jamie to be Oprah to my Ellen.
The next day at play practice was a dress rehearsal….. Jamie and I were standing upstage behind a large scrim, Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Past (played by this thirty something sassy woman with a gold tooth that worked at the KFC across the street and who had played Rizzo a month before, giving a performance that was both off putting and heart wrenchingly real. You saw in her eyes that there really were worse things she could do) were on their journey to the past….. the lights would come up behind the scrim on his old school yard, and the fog would clear and there we’d be, Scrooge’s younger self and Fan.
I was standing next to Jamie in the pitch dark, I could smell the chemicals of the fog machine beginning to fill the stage with haze, my heart was beating so fast, and I knew I wanted to tell her. Now. I grabbed her hand in the dark, I squeezed it tightly, and I whispered….. “I’m gay.” Without even a passing of a beat, she squeezed back and said “I know.”
Right then, the lights came up, the scrim lifted, and Nathan Adler stepped into the scene. He moved upstage delivering his lines, spitting all the way. I looked at Jamie, we laughed…. about the spit, about Nathan Adler, about being gay, about my feeling like I ever had to tell her at all, looking each other in the eye and knowing…. somehow… we were special. Scrooge and Fan.