Same-Sex Marriage, Overcoming Homophobia and Playing The Floor Is Lava
If I'd met Joey Guerra 15 years or so ago I would have spit in his face... which would have been very detrimental to my music career in addition to keeping me from a good friend and worthy colleague. It wasn't anything personal, it's just that he's full of the gay, and back then that got you spit on by me. This is my story of getting past that lunacy.
Houston Chronicle's Joey Guerra and Family
When I was a kid, and I'll bet my fez when you were as well, there was a game we all played called The Floor is Lava. Maybe you called it something else, or maybe the floor was full of poisonous snakes or piranhas or quicksand or something, but the point was that it was as deadly as the pits Mario would leap in Bowser's Castle.
So the object was to jump from sofa to chair to table to whatever in order to traverse the deadly obstacle. Sometimes you had to get creative. In my house this required unfolding a sofa mattress while on it, or teamwork to create cushion bridges.
Thing is, you had to really believe it to make it work. Oh sure, it was just an excuse to go all spider monkey on the furniture, but that's not the fun bit. The fun bit was falling and calling out brave final declarations as the lava burned you alive. Dramatic death scenes and "Tell mom I love her." I was still pulling this game after T2 came out, so we would go out with the Arnold thumbs-up. Good times.
As the IRS declared last week that that they would now accept married tax returns from same-sex couple regardless of their residence provided they had been wed in a state that allows it I realized that for my entire 30 year span on this rock, we have been playing The Floor is Lava on this issue. And now it's over.
Growing up in the barrios of east Houston, nothing had the power of the word "faggot." That word was a talisman. There wasn't a word for homosexual in my lexicon, certainly not as it now applies to consenting, normal adult people. Even gay was more of an indication of a girly weak way of doing something than an accusation of same-sex attractions.
But to be called a faggot was to fear being one, and none of us had any idea what the hell that actually meant. What does a seven-year-old boy know about any kind of sex except that it feels good to touch your penis? Faggots got AIDS (Whatever the hell that was). Faggots put things in their butts. Faggots were forever and it couldn't be cured and everyone hates faggots.
In other words, the floor is lava. Touch it and you die, but you have to really believe for the whole thing to work.
As I grew up, I got weirder. I cross-dressed for fun and shock value. I was attracted to girls, but had no idea how to interact with them aside from a clownish façade. As a teenager I spent every weekend playing at The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I took a 25-year-old woman to prom (I was actually grounded while dating someone who owned her own freakin' house). In other words, I had a very atypical physical maturity that understandably confused me a lot.
It took me a long, long time to come to terms with the fact that I was a homophobe because I started out being scared of something that was nebulous and almost completely fictional. The things that that aren't really there are the hardest to fight. No one ever sat me down to explain the concept of homosexuality before. I never really knew a gay kid, or at least never knew an openly gay one. All I knew was that the word and associated concepts were all spoken of as dirty, wrong, deadly, and to be avoided at all cost. Don't step there, the floor is lava.