Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Headlines I Never Expected: "Congrats to Jim Nabors and His Husband!"

This is a headline I don't think I ever expected to live long enough to see:

Congrats to Jim Nabors and His Husband!

Brings back memories: specifically, of a conversation I had with my mother some time after I came out to her, in which we were talking about Hollywood celebrities who lived in glass closets. That conversation may have been provoked by Rock Hudson's decision to tell the world he was gay after it was disclosed that he had AIDS.

"Yes, I've long known about Jim Nabors," my mother said, and I was intrigued: how did she know this? What more did she know that I had never heard? How can a culture (in her case, that of central Arkansas) which claims not to know precisely who's gay, who's closeted, who's with whom, really know all of this--while claiming not to know that gay folks exist?

I think it may have been in this conversation that my mother told me she had also always known that one of her first cousins was gay. This was a man who lived for years with his "tennis coach" and gave, as my mother told me when she broached this subject with me, "parties with only men" at the house they shared in Little Rock. Parties about which people in her office talked freely, she said . . . .

Stories. Hidden in plain sight. On whose telling the lives and futures of many of us have hung, since it has been the public telling of stories like that of Rock Hudson that impelled some of us to find courage to begin telling our own stories, to open doors for others after us to walk through.

And now we hear more of Jim Nabors's story: Jim Nabors of Sylacauga, Alabama; Jim Nabors of his small-town church choir and of favorite-hymns albums.

Jim Nabors. Married. 

The world has changed tremendously in the past decade, hasn't it, and for the life of me, I cannot understand the belief of some people of faith that an 82-year-old man who has lived with his partner for 38 years is destroying the foundations of civilization when the two celebrate their love in a public commitment conferring on them the same rights accorded to other citizens.

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