I’m From Marble City, OK.

by greg buzzard

After dinner last week, I sat down to watch Wheel of Fortune with my dad. I try to catch the show when I can—it makes me feel smarter whenever I can figure out the puzzles while the contestants are just standing there looking dumb. Not that this was happening that night though. One of the contestants was dominating. He was amazing, figuring out almost every puzzle during the show. I don’t think he hit the bankrupt space once during the whole game. He was trendily dressed (think Kris Allen), ridiculously intelligent, and had just the slightest, most adorable lisp. I was captivated.

As the man kept racking up the money, my father had this knowing smirk on his face. When he (of course!) was the one to make it to the final round, Pat Sajak asked him to introduce the man standing on the observation deck, the spot usually reserved for family. This guy was equally trendily dressed, and a bit bulkier than the contestant. He was introduced as the “best friend.” At this point, my father burst out laughing, saying, “I knew it! The guy’s a queer!” I kind of chuckled to avoid suspicion, but didn’t say anything else. I was too busy watching.

Even though his chosen letters didn’t help him a whole lot, he aced the final puzzle. Even Vanna White took a few seconds off from modeling her wardrobe to look quizzically at his brilliance. I wanted to cheer for him, but my father was right there. He won $30,000, and his friend ran on stage and hugged him like a lover, lifting him right off the floor. He was my hero.

I know that they exist out there, the successful and happy gay and lesbian people; sometimes, like Dustin Lance Black or Rachel Maddow, they even grace my television screen with their presence. But watching this man on Wheel of Fortune brought home to me what a dear friend told me when I came out to her: “You’re not alone. This is only cliché because it’s hard to grasp.” It truly is hard to grasp, or at least it was for me. His run on WoF told me the truth though: we can be happy, we can be confident, we can dominate, and win, and love, and everything else that straight people do! I can do all those things; after all, he did it. One day I will do all those things. Maybe one day that will be me, kicking ass on a game show,  hugging my partner in joy and love in front of millions of people, maybe even in front of another scared, curious kid in homophobic rural Oklahoma, when I win the final round.

6 Comments:

  1. I remember hearing about this gay guy and his partner on WoF, on the gay blogs a little while ago. And it made me happy, too. Another example of how coming out helps so many people.

  2. Greg, my partner (of ten years, and who I will legally marry in September) watched the same episode of WoF, and were rooting for the young guy (in a light blue shirt and black slacks if my colorblind eyes read it right). He really was amazing, and on a roll. I was so hoping that he’d land on the $1 million and go on to win the big jackpot in the bonus round. When did he win the bonus round (not $1M, unfortunately) and his boyfriend ran onto the stage and lifted him in a huge hug, all I could think was that they seemed so cute together, and so right together. My partner and soon-to-be husband and I sat there smiling and feeling that the world had gotten just a little bit better that day.

    Yours will to, Greg. It won’t be without bumps, bruises and a hurdle or twelve, but if you want it to change and you stay true to who you are, your world will change for the better. You can definitely be the partner of the man you love and who will love you back. You can build a home together, and do all those things that straight people do. Seriously, you can.

    And maybe one day you and your husband will go on Wheel of Fortune and win the big prize, although, in reality you’ll have won before you set foot on stage.

    All the best,
    Jeffrey

  3. Jeffrey, Don’t count your Dad out yet. He may well be your biggest supporter the day you go on Wheel of Fortune and win that big prize.

  4. Greg,
    Let me start with this…I am from Sallisaw, Ok (at least originally), so I know exactly what you mean by “homophobic rural Oklahoma”. Stay strong and believe in yourself, and believe me when I say there is life outside of Sequoyah county Oklahoma! My path out went through the US Navy, which will probably end up being in my own story, but you will find your way and you can be happy. I have been in California for almost 20 years now and I am happy to say my partner and I celebrated our 15th anniversary in June!

    Stay Strong and Believe!
    Johnnie

  5. Greg speaking as someone who used to live in rural Oklahoma, before moving to Tulsa, you’re not alone. In a few years you’ll probably find out there are more LGBT people around you than you ever imagined. I have met a lot of rural gay men, several who live with their partners out in the country.

    Also I do the exact same WoF puzzle solving challenge with my family when I am home.

  6. Greg,

    I stumbled onto the “I’m from Driftwood” website while reading one of the many GLBT news articles I read daily via Facebook. I immediately searched for stories from Oklahoma since that’s where I’m from and where I’ve also been living again for the last few years. I read your story first because my partner and I live in Sallisaw. I enjoyed your story a great deal because I remember being that scared curious kid in rural Oklahoma. I promise you are not alone, there are lots of us out here. Some of us are a lot closer to you then you realize. Feel free to friend us on Facebook, just use my email and send me a message so I’ll know it’s you. We both liked what you had to say and wanted you to know we’re right here. Stay strong and hang on to your individuality, it’s worth it when you get your chance to be free and happy! Best wishes and I hope to hear back from you.

    Angela (everyone calls me Ang)

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