This is a hard one. I’ve blocked out most of my childhood, and I don’t really trust the memories that I do have.
I do remember staying for a week with my uncles in Providence when I was a girl. My sister and I were dropped off with little fanfare and my uncles spent the rest of the week trying, I think, to shock us. Through their house paraded the archetypes of the LGBT community; we had bull dykes (I recall with clarity that one of those ladies was a very successful plumber), flamboyantly gay men and, my particular favorite, a drag queen who took an instant liking to me and spent the two visits she made spoiling my 12-year-old self with attention and affection.
Needless to say, neither my sister nor I was especially shocked; we understood our uncles were gay and accepted it as a matter of course. I think they were a little disappointed by how well their nieces – all of 12 and 8 at the time – rolled with all the varied and colorful introductions they made for us, but I like to think they were a little proud of us, too.
That was the week before Charles and Diana were wed – I remember getting up early and having tea and cookies for breakfast while we crowded around the television to watch the wedding. If I didn’t have that as a marker, though, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you when that week happened.
One of those uncles died about 20 years ago of AIDS-related complications; the other is still living in Rhode Island, I think, but I have no contact with him.