How Did I End Up Here?

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“How did I get to this point?” I kept asking myself nervously and guiltily, during the two-hour train ride. I’m a father, provider, protector, moral beacon, and compass. I thought I knew and owned my shit, but clearly, I didn’t!

On the one hand, it felt so wrong to be doing this, a betrayal of my family, my ex-partner—a woman, and our kids. And a betrayal of what I had always thought was right. Yet, something I couldn’t pinpoint was telling me I needed to take this step, that, shockingly, in doing so I might finally find some clarity and truth in my life.

What I Learned

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It was one of those days I will never forget. It was the Spring of 1999, probably in late March, just after my birthday. It was on a Saturday afternoon. I walked into the less than crowded gym, and there he stood — a somewhat muscular, attractive, Italian man with a greying buzzed haircut.

As he was dressing to leave, I was changing to work out and our eyes locked. Then, suddenly, he let out a “wolf whistle” while nodding in my direction, which embarrassed me, but also oddly gave me a nice ego boost.

The 1993 March on Washington

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I attended the March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay, and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation on April 25, 1993, with a group of friends, which turned out to be a powerful experience for me. It’s so hard to put that era and this historic event into a context that anyone not familiar with it will understand, but I can try.

The Lover

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When I first heard the Turkish word sevici, I had no idea what it meant. Though literally translated it means lover, it seems the patriarchal Turkish society adopted it to refer to lesbians, a kinder word for bullying its gay women than the one used against their male counterparts, ibne, which is more similar to the derogatory English term “fags.”

I was a university student when a young girl and her parents moved into our neighborhood in Istanbul. She had green eyes and reddish, short curly hair and was neither skinny nor fat. From the beginning, she stood out, when playing with other children, because she preferred to play with the boys, rather than other girls, and loathed wearing feminine clothes.

The Great March

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excerpted from the book Farm Story: Coming Out Of Indiana by Eddie Casson

In October 1987, at what has become known as “The Great March,” I held Mark’s face in my mind as I held Kenny’s hand—the first time I had held a man’s hand in public—as we walked together in the bright Washington sun. We were headed to the Mall, part of a long line of men—and women—marching, marching. I looked behind me and then in front. I had a brief thought for my military father. I was finally part of an army— not one he would have ever imagined, but an army filled with as much courage, as much resolve, and as much fierce determination as any army God or country had ever ordered into battle. And we were heading into battle.

Kissing Summer

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Me in Lisbon

I wanted to disappear.

“Hi, Paul! What are you doing these days? Where are you working?”

I stared blankly at this acquaintance, struggling to come up with a response that seemed like I wasn’t an ill-prepared fresh graduate. “Um, I have a few things I’m working on, but I’m just figuring things out.”

Bartending at Studio

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It was late evening, as just about everything was at Studio 54. I can’t remember who got me the interview, somebody I met in Cahoots, I think, the Upper West Side gay bar where they had little paper pads that said “Who were you in Cahoots with?” so you could write down your number for someone you wanted to meet up with some other time.

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Reflections on BOYS IN THE BAND

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Brian Hutchison, Charlie Carver, Zachary Quinto, Robin de Jesus, Jim Parsons and Tuc Watkins in Los Angeles, during the NETFLIX production of Boys in the Band in Fall, 2019.

BAMMER member Brian Hutchison can be seen in The Boys in the Band, on Netflix, starting Sept 30. We asked Brian to share a few words about being in the show. The Boys in the Band is an important part of LGBT history, and this latest production is truly stunning.

One of my career highlights was playing Alan, a man struggling with his sexual identity in the 2018 Broadway production of The Boys In the Band. The success of that theatrical production led to the new Netflix film, produced by Ryan Murphy and beautifully directed by Joe Mantello, with the same incredible cast—Matt Bomer, Charlie Carver, Robin de Jesus, Michael Benjamin Washington, Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Andrew Rannells, and Tuc Watkins.

Saloma

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I don’t like parties, but I had promised I’d attend this one birthday gathering at a ritzy pub in Istanbul, where I live. The upscale establishment allowed my friend to showcase his sense of eliteness. The closeted birthday boy had invited many women—his attempt to preserve his hetero image. The guests were mostly straight. I only knew one other person, his closest buddy, a short guy, well built with tattoos on his shoulder. He was closeted, or at least bisexual. Everyone seemed attracted to him. He was very seductive.

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BAMMER and Me: Joel Tucker, The Backstreet Cafe Shooting

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PODCAST: Interviews by baby-boomer LGBTQ historian Mike Balaban, with a diverse guest list, covering issues and themes from the global LGBTQ community.

EPISODE 15: Mike interviews Joel Tucker twenty years later: one of six survivors of the horrendous Backstreet Cafe shooting in Roanoke, Va. on September 20, 2000.