Everett Massachusetts. 1982
Walking. No, drudging to school. High School. A world of unknowns to me. A world of strangers. Chum for the shark infested waters. Forced to attend. Until….
(KEY MUSIC: I LOVE ROCK AND ROLL: Drum intro, guitars.)
(KEY MUSIC: I LOVE ROCK AND ROLL: Joan Jett begins to sing)
I HEARD that.
I felt my ears perk like a dog. My back straightened. I didn’t know it was so bent. Air filled my lungs. The world came buzzing back to me like it was when I was born. Resurrected from the cross. Fresh from the womb; this woman gave me birth.
And that’s when the trouble soon began.
My mother and father knew right away that I was gay but didn’t bother to let me in on the secret. They tried to beat it out of me. Call it a knee jerk reaction. A societal norm.
Of course, I should have known that I was a lesbian you might say. But I didn’t even have a word for what I felt. Just feelings.
Let’s start with Miss Kelly my fourth grade math teacher; an Irish beauty. Her eyes crinkled when she smiled. (cue music: When Irish Eyes Are Smilin’).
Miss Kelly had a friend. A fellow female teacher who was a pre-cursor to Rhoda. I delighted in their shenanigans. (Cue voice: Rhoda: My Name is Rhoda Morgenstern……I’m gay.)
Love at first sight.
From then on I sought out women like that. I liked them and the energy they had with one another.
I visualize a play.
Other classmates were a mystery to me. My parents didn’t understand. Children ought to be socialized. Just like puppies. 12 weeks is the cutoff. Attempting to socialize after that period becomes more difficult. So it is for dogs, so it is for people.
Uphill climbing makes you strong.
That’s the word I got from Joan.
Let’s examine this fact. She chose to cover Tommy James and the Shondells “Crimson and Clover.” There were no record producers to say to her: “No. You can’t sing that song from the male perspective. You have to change the lyrics; the gender from her to him” like they did with Aimee Mann when she wrote the song “Voices Carry.” Aimee wrote it from a male perspective but the record company wouldn’t let her sing it that way.
Joan had her own record label.
Every magazine with her name on it and every thing with her name on it, I had to have. Leather studded wrist cuffs, denim jacket bedeckled with pins, bandana around my neck.
Michael Clark. My first gay boyfriend. He and I would take the train into Boston and haunt the record stores and guitar stores. Boston Guitar. I entered it as though entering a shrine…all those shiny electric guitars! Everyone of them called out to me. Hold me. Feel me. Play me. Please sir, I know I am not worthy but…might this poor peasant girl hold this $65 guitar?
Joan Jett and her electric guitar.
Xena and her Chakram.
Now this guitar is mine to have and to hold ’til death us do part.