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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

This One Goes Out to the Mormon Church

posted by on November 4 at 12:56 PM

Another distraction, this one courtesy of Slog tipper Drew: Tracey Ullman singing “They Don’t Know”…

That song—from the summer of 1983—got a lot of us through the darkest days of the AIDS epidemic; it was a particular comfort for guys like me who had just come out, as teenagers, right as “gay cancer” was morphing into GRID and then into AIDS. My young gay friends and I used to joke, darkly, that we’d missed the party but somehow got the hangover with everybody else. Then my young gay friends started dropping dead. And for a minute there in ‘84/’85 it looked like we were all going to die, or be rounded up and sent to internment camps—excuse me, “quarantined.”

I haven’t thought about this song in years, Drew, but these lyrics really spoke to us then:

They say we’re crazy but I just don’t care. And if they keep on talkin’, still they get nowhere. So I don’t mind if they don’t understand when I look at you and you hold my hand. Because they don’t know about us. And they’ve never heard of love.

Why should it matter to us if they don’t approve. We should just take our chances while we’ve got nothing to lose.

For a while it felt like we had everything to lose—our families, our freedom, our lives. And yet we came out anyway, we had sex anyway, we fell in love anyway. And the haters kept on talkin’ and our families thought we were crazy. Sometimes we thought we were crazy. But we had faith in a future that, at that dark time, seemed anything but assured. So whatever happens today in California—and Florida and Arizona and Arkansas, which also voting on anti-gay ballot measures (gay marriage ban, and gay foster/adoption ban, respectively)—remember this: We’re going to get through this and we’re going to win.

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Whoa, thanks for that fantastic trip down memory lane. I adore that song. A great diversion for a great day...

Posted by imaginary dana | November 4, 2008 1:08 PM

The battle for marriage equality might be lost in CA, but the War shall be won for marriage equality. WA state and other States can not have their constitution changed by a vote of the masses (to the injury of a minority). We here might be the 4th state to have marriage equality (after Iowa, maybe).

Posted by Sargon Bighorn | November 4, 2008 1:18 PM

Exactly right, Dan. We will never give up and we will win. And when we do, it will be in memory of all our brothers who died before they could join us.

Posted by crazycatguy | November 4, 2008 1:19 PM

T.U.'s version was tops, but better was the Kirsty MacColl original (and also her differently inspiring Fairytale of New York and Don't Come the Cowboy With Me, Sunny Jim). Kirsty, who proves that death can come out of nowhere anytime--

Posted by Tim Appelo | November 4, 2008 1:31 PM

And then 25 years later you're lamenting the loss of Pony.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | November 4, 2008 1:42 PM

What, are you tryna make me cry here? First the lady voting with her adopted son, now this. I will never hear that silly old song the same way again. sniff.

Posted by sara | November 4, 2008 1:49 PM

I was 8 when that song came out, so this is new to me. Thanks, Dan, for posting it for us young folks!

Posted by Balt-O-Matt | November 4, 2008 1:52 PM

I wondered how I would survive myself. One foot in front of the other, that's how. Religion is the enemy of freedom. But freedom is winning little by little. No matter what happens tomorrow there's always the day after.

Posted by Vince | November 4, 2008 1:58 PM

The bowling ball through the legs scene is hilarious! I'm so used to Tracey Ullman the comedian, I had forgotten she was a pop singer first.

Posted by naomi | November 4, 2008 2:40 PM

Great post, especially comforting to read on a day when I see ABC is apparently de-gaying all their shows and abruptly dropping gay characters, making me feel like I'd gone 20 yrs backwords.

Posted by Nicole | November 4, 2008 3:32 PM

I was 1 when this came out.

Thank you for this entry

Posted by Kat | November 4, 2008 3:35 PM

Thank you so much for this comforting post. I was just reading how ABC is dropping gay characters right and left and abruptly backtracking on gay storylines, I guess in reaction to prop 8 paranoia, and I thought, god, nothing's changed in 20 yrs, has it, and flashed upon those dark days. This post gives me hope.

And yes, R.I.P. Kirsty, who wrote the song. Both versions are ace, and I always really related to the lyrics as a queer, as well.

Posted by Nicole | November 4, 2008 3:37 PM

Oops, sorry for the double post. Also, this:
"I was 1 when this came out." makes me feel ancient.

Posted by Nicole | November 4, 2008 3:42 PM

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