July 21, 2012


Josiah is an old friend from the Pyramid Club days, where he would occasionally don drag as Coffy. He's written a biography on Donna Summer and has one coming out soon on Cher. In the meantime, here's a very well-written story about his relationship with his mom in tomorrow Sunday Times Magazine. It's very moving, so like Ashford and Simpson once said in one of their prettiest slow songs: "Get out your handkerchief, you're gonna cry."

My mom’s name was Gail Ann Blackmer. She was an unwed mother. I am her only child. The challenges we faced together, first in New York City and then in New Jersey, were, as it turned out, largely a result of the difference in our skin colors, a fact that meant little to me. My mother told me that once when I was very young, she asked if I noticed that she and I were different colors. My response was delivered with flat, round-eyed authority: “Mothers don’t come in colors.”
But they do. And my mother’s being white and my being black presented many challenges. She didn’t often speak about our early years together (or her experience of them), but whatever she revealed was indelibly stamped in my mind. The indignities stand out: once while entering a bus, a white man spied us and snarled, “What’s the matter, couldn’t you get a white one?” On another occasion she rented an apartment and then, when she showed up with a black child, was turned away. I often wonder about my mom’s unconventional (pre-Civil Rights) life choices, and I wonder how she came to make them. It was a topic that she never discussed.