Queerious Eighties

by Lewis

The big hair, shoulder pads, Duran Duran; the tip of the iceberg of a decade of excess that helped me fully embrace of all things culturally ‘pop.’ When my fellow bloggers asked ‘what made me ‘queerious?’ I couldn’t help looking back at that time that I coveted the look of Simon Le Bon and twirled my nights away, sneaking into gay bars in the Castro (does anyone even remember the Phoenix Bar on Castro St.?) .

Gay? Queer? Which Story is Which?

I was lucky to share my story of when I first knew I was gay in Randy
Barbato’s and Fenton Bailey’s documentary When I Knew, based on the
book by Robert Trachtenberg. Although my story didn’t make the cut of
the final documentary — it’s actually an extra on the DVD – I wonder
what cultural influences helped me realize my ‘queer’ sensibility?
That first moment I realized that I was ‘queerious’ about the world around me?

San Francisco. Summer of 1983.

My mom worked evenings, so I was your typical ‘latchkey’ kid, which Wikipedia points out as a “child who returns from school to an empty home because his or her parent or parents are away at work, or a child who is often left at home with little or no parental supervision.”  I spent my evenings lip-syncing and dancing to the Disco Evita album by the aptly titled group Festival and trying to be Jennifer Beals,  complete with natty sweatshirt and legwarmers as the Flashdance LP was the hot album at the time. I didn’t think anything of it, as I had already declared to my mom that I was going to focus on theatre in high school and its just what kids in the Performing Arts did, like Coco in the movie Fame.


The Eurythmics were on tour and  had just performed at the Kabuki
Theatre, back in the day when it was a concert venue before becoming a multi-plex in 1987.  The review ran in the Chronicle the next day and I immediately gravitated to the image of Annie Lennox with a buzz cut, tearing up a microphone and drenched in sweat. I had fallen in love with the Eurythmics when “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” hit the airwaves AND MTV, but it was also the first time that a fresh perspective was presented to me; that I could take my gender, my sexual identity and play with it just like Ms.  Lennox. And although I was beginning to feel more comfortable about my attraction to men, being exposed to her gender fluidity and theatrics, inspired me to realize that my prancing around the living room, doing somersaults and my best Evita Peron impersonation, via Disco Dottie of course, was empowering. A definite a one-way ‘E’ ticket to lavender Disneyland where  gay, straight, ‘bi’, or even questioning didn’t matter.  I was just ‘queer’ boy being creative!

It Was Just the Beginning

As the cultural landscape changes and it seems like queer identity is becoming stronger in the world, I’ve become respectful  and fully embrace my “queerosity”.  And for all those naysayers who like to point out that “I’m too gay,” you ain’t going to get any brownie points for stating the obvious and it will only make me play  “Sisters Are Doin’ For Themselves,” loud and proud.

3 responses to “Queerious Eighties

  1. I too am a child of the 80s with Cyndi Lauper, Koizumi Kyoko, Indiana Jones and Goonies! It was my decade long of horror movie education, watching everything from 1980’s Dressed to Kill to 1989’s Pet Sematary.

    • I saw a 35mm print of Dressed to Kill at the Castro Theatre back in October ’10. Alas it was only the U.S. version without the extended shower and elevator scenes, but still effective with a dash of camp.

  2. It was rumored that Nancy Allen or Angie Dickenson requested the shower scene to be cut… as you recall… there was a shower scene both at the beginning and at the end of the movie. And Nancy Allen was De Palma’s wife at one point.

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