A Night with ‘Harriet Craig’
This past weekend, we took the opportunity to motor to Mount Dora, Florida. Funny how the last two weekends have developed for us; two weekends ago we were on the verge of heading to the hospital, this past weekend, we are traveling to Mount Dora. It is difficult to know just what to expect when you are dealing with cancer.
Why Mount Dora, Florida you ask? Going back to their days in Manhattan, ‘The Little One’ has a friend of 60+ years living in Mount Dora. Mount Dora is a little town just north of Orlando, known for its quaint antique shops. It is a beautiful town and surprisingly, has plenty of things to do. But this was not a weekend for tourism, this was a weekend of storytelling and laughter!
With over 60 years of friendship behind them, the conversation was unrestrained. Names from the past (celebrities to boot!), stories that never ended. To them, yesterday was today and tomorrow will come: it was a beautiful experience. Finally the name…’Harriet Craig’ was blurted out and the laughter got more pronounced. Harriet Craig was a nickname given to ‘The Little Ones’ friend years ago because of his constant need to clean the apartment he shared in Manhattan with his partner of over 40 years. Apparently, ‘Harriet’ just could not stand a dirty ashtray, one flick of the ash and up Harriet would go to clean the tray; always in constant motion, always on top of the conversation. Once I learned why Harriet Craig, I understood the connection to the character in the movie as the villa was in impeccable condition! As we moved on to dinner, it was easy to see who was in charge…Harriet Craig!
Harriet Craig is a 1950 movie played by the legendary Joan Crawford. The movie credits go like this… ‘Domineering Harriet Craig holds more regard for her home and its possessions than she does for any person in her life. Neurotic perfectionist Harriet Craig (Crawford) makes life miserable for everyone around her.’ While the description of the character in the movie does not accurately depict ‘The Little One’s’ friend, the metaphor is there in order to create the ‘sting.’
I was told that I was not old enough and privileged enough to call him ‘Harriet Craig!’
Their stories sounded quite familiar to that what you would hear today. If you are a ‘Sister’ you know what I mean. Long standing friends reminiscing about their past, grateful for their partners, their friendship and their freedom to be who they are. Gay Marriage, Equal Rights and the sorts, all talked about in their day, just not in the volume that we hear today.
Yet…Who Are They?
They are two close friends, in separate (gay) relationships, lasting over 40 years each, which is quite the accomplishment, no matter what side of the fence you are on! Yet these accomplishments often go unnoticed in our society as we here more about what’s wrong with gay relationships than what’s right about gay relationships. They are your uncles, cousins, they are your friends…
Who Are They?
They are your neighbor right next door. We have all heard the phrase…’home is where the heart is.’ That phrase applies to everyone’s home, not just a selected few.
Our friend in Mount Dora is just a few years older than ‘The Little One’, leads an active life, accepted by his cohorts, active in his neighborhood, has dinner with his neighbors and volunteers at hospice. He is your neighbor.
Who Are They?
They are two men who lived not only during the time of the Stonewall Riots, they lived in the mist of the Stonewall Riots where friends of them were killed just for being who they are. The riots inspired LGBT people throughout the country to organize in support of gay rights, and within two years after the riots, gay rights groups had been started in nearly every major city in the United States. They are your pioneers.
This weekend, when you see all the stores on the news about Gay Pride weekend, remember those Gay Seniors who live alone and cannot get to the parade. Remember those Gay Seniors who still live in fear; Remember those gay seniors who lived and worked in the trenches in order to bring LGBT equality issues of today to the forefront.
And finally, remember the thousand upon thousand of Gay Seniors who have lived their life in committed and long lasting relationships only to be denied their equal rights.
Who Are They?
They are your American Seniors, who just happen to be Gay.
You See…’We might have Cancer; but Cancer does not have us!’
- Politics & Pride: Learning from Our History (bilerico.com)
- New York Pride Week 2012 (travelwyse.wordpress.com)
- AIDS Walk Benefit: Stonewall Riots Anniversary (kfor.com)
- Film fest kicks off gay pride month (thehindu.com)
- History in a small town (queerlandia.com)
- Communities of One? (thepurplejacket.com)