A friend of mine, Drew, grew up in a very small town in the upper Midwest. There were only about 600 people in the entire town in those days counting men, women, children, the functionally insane, the just about comatose. My friend is gay and I think he knew that pretty early on but like a lot of gay kids, he low-key hoped he wasn’t and equally low-key hoped that he was.
He’s a big tall white guy, not the first guy you jump just for fun. Anyway, nobody tried. He had loads of friends in high school. He was a pretty good football player In a town where high school football is your surest and sometimes only entertainment venue. He was also an awesome deejay. He took his boombox out to the endless fields every afternoon and blasted his music as loud as he could. He danced, he sang, he screamed. He got stations out of Chicago and out of St. Louis and music was his lifeline, his promise, his dream.
He desperately wanted to be seen and he was terrified of being seen. He was like a writer who has only two fears: 1) That no one will ever read their work; and 2) That someone will.
In a population of 600, statistically at least 60 locals should be experiencing feelings of attraction to someone of their own gender. Of those, say 20 are women. Of the 40 or so left, some will much too young, others too old. The nearest gay nightclub was 80 miles away. A lot of people who might have been gay just couldn’t see themselves coming out so Drew was lonely growing up. He had lots of love around him, family and friends but he didn’t have a someone to love and kiss, fantasize about, write notes to, dream on.
Lots of people are lonely growing up for all kinds of reasons. It’s hard to find Mr. or Ms. Right when you are not quite yet yourself, but in a situation like Drew’s, the odds are even less in your favor.
He was talented and artsy so he went to the only place he knew about which was equally talented and artsy AND DID NOT HAVE SNOW SIX MONTHS a year and that turned out to be Hollywood.
There are lots of gay people in Hollywood. Being a gay man in the entertainment industry is about as rare as being someone with ten fingers. He met lots of Mr. Right. He got to lots of places to hear music and write and perform.
It virtually never snowed. It hardly ever rained. He made lots of friends on the beach and off.
Still, he found himself frequenting a group of former ‘Snow Bunnies”, other people in Show Biz who had all escaped from small Midwestern towns for reasons similar to his, who left behind and missed the small town virtues of being known and accepted because you knew what flapjacks and puppy chow were, had worked on farm-related chores and jobs and had the warm, patient acceptance that being fenced in by acres and acres of flat pastureland and shimmering grasses gives you. The vast unknownness and long, straight
roads where mostly nothing happens but where you know that if it did, it would probably be okay.