Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Ghetto Gay Hillbilly
I know some of you are saying what the hell - a ghetto gay hillbilly?? How does that work? Well I've lived a very diverse life over my years thus far, and just like a good recipe, I've had lots of ingredients that went into making me who I am. Ghetto, gay, and hillbilly are not the only adjectives I could use - but I'd say they are the most prominent, most inclusive of how I live.
The gay part is probably the simplest part. I am a homosexual. Not much to that - it is what it is. My husband and I have been together for 12 years, and on some
points we fit right in with gay stereotypes, and in some others we don't. I tend to listen to jazz, r&b, hip-hop music - don't care for techno much - which is the overwhelming musical taste of the homo community. There was a time when I loved the clubs and especially the drag shows - still like to see those sometimes - but now I'm much happier at home out in the country with my 7 dogs and 3 cats...and if you know much about my background, I've come full circle in that aspect from my childhood. But I still love to get together with friends and be catty and judge all the weird people that walk by us :)
Ghetto and Hillbilly...now how does one put those two together. Well, first you have to start with the definitions of those two words. Most people associate ghetto with black folks...with living in run down tenant houses...scraping by and doing some odd stuff while scraping by like eating butter sammiches - that's what they would call ghetto. With hillbilly most people think of old country rednecks living out in the middle of nowhere, barely wearing any shoes, eating possum meat because they're too broke for the city grocery, and playing fiddles on the porch drinking moonshine.
My definitions are a little bit different. First, I don't think being ghetto or being hillbilly has anything to do with skin color. I've met ghetto white people and even a few hillbilly black folks. To me, ghetto and hillbilly are not that different. They both seem to focus on a simpler life. A simpler life where the focus is not on the things you can buy, but the people and things that are around you. Sitting outside, talking with friends or family all day long about nothing that means all that much - whether it be on the stoop in the projects in lawn chairs, or on the broke down porch of the old country house. Food is an important part but it never had to be ultra-fancy for people to chow down, and as a kid, you didn't complain about the food you got, you ate what your momma gave you. Kids played with what they had around them, not fancy toys that were store-bought.... dodgeball with an old deflated basketball in the projects, a stick and a rock in the country, or just making up some new game that was like tag - in the projects or in the country. Parents usually weren't much different - they would sit around with those that lived nearby playing cards, horseshoes, play music drinking cheap liquor, sit around and gossip and cut up.
So whether you lived in the projects or the country, life seemed simple to me because we used what was around us, and we socialized with those around us - we didn't travel to far off places to do things or to socialize.
I happened to live in all kinds of settings - the projects, the 'city', & the country. I can remember the women-folk sitting around the front of the buildings in lawn chairs that was bout to break down, all of them gossiping, and talking about what was going on with him, with her, and who was having the card game that night. I can remember parents' friends coming over to our double-wide trailor way out in the country, up on top of a knob by a lake, with about 15 dogs around, they would sit around listening
to all kinds of music - Lionel Richie, Bonnie Raitt, some country, some r&b, and they would even dance & sing. I can remember back in the projects, us kids making a club house in the property treeline - not a wall, roof one, but our imagination made this spot our club house. Back up on that knob in the country, me and those 15 dogs used to trail up old logging roads and have all kinds of imaginative adventures. I remember being on my big wheel, and running up to the
two bullies in the projects @ Maple Street...I cussed em both out, and flew back down to our apartment on my big wheel. Boy I was mad that day - I think they had said something bout my Momma - I couldn't been no more than 6 or 7 - hahaha.
I remember going on my first date when I was about 7 on my big wheel, driving down that great big hill on the knob's gravel road...
Had to stop and get some pretty flowers in the field (they were weeds) to take to the girl who lived across the road on the top of the other knob. lol
Oh those were the days - but it really wasn't much difference - projects, country - life was simple & fun.
To me really - ghetto and hillbilly are pretty much interchangeable...if you lived a simple, typically financially poor life, then you were ghetto if you lived this way in the projects, you were hillbilly if you lived this way in the country.
Today, I wouldn't have changed a thing about how I grew up. I had all kinds of people that I called family all around me. I think it really helped me to not have preconceived notions about people who live in the projects or those that live out in the country. I'm sure it was a lot for a kid to take in - all those different settings, and all the different types of people that came with those settings, but I sure am glad I got to take it all in, and I'm glad all of it is part of who I am today.
PS - and for the record, I ate butter sammiches in the ghetto, in the city, and in the country - don't knock it til you try it!