You're Being Ridiculous is super excited to celebrate PRIDE at Steppenwolf as part of their LookOut Series -- a performance series that presents the work of artists and companies across genre and form. We're delighted to welcome Robert McDonald to YBR to share a story with us ... learn a little about Robert here and get your tickets!
Robert McDonald writes poetry and nonfiction. He has read this work at a bunch of venues around Chicago, including Homolatte and Reading Under the Influence, and his writings have appeared widely in journals and zines both online and in print. Gay in Chicago? He really did write the book on it--he’s the co-author, with Kathie Bergquist, of “A Field Guide to Gay and Lesbian Chicago.” He works at an independent bookstore as the events coordinator. As part of this job, he had to hold Patti Smith’s hand so she would not trip as they as they walked up a dark Chicago alley, so really, his work here for this incarnation is done.
Who is your favorite Queer icon?
My favorite ever queer icon is Miss Judy Garland, and she was my icon before I knew I was queer, or what queer meant, or “friend of Dorothy,” or that gay men of a certain age were all supposed to love Judy Garland. In grade school I framed pictures of her and hung them on my wall. I listened to the “Live At Carnegie Hall” album over and over and over again—if you were in Mt. Clemens, Michigan in the 1970’s you could never check the album out of the library, because I already had. I knew the lyrics of every song, and all the between-song patter. If there was going to be an afternoon TV movie of the week playing in the afternoon with Judy Garland as the star, I faked an illness and stayed home sick. I took Judy Garland albums to college, while most of my contemporaries were listening to the J. Geils Band or the Rolling Stones.
The first time I came home for a weekend visit after I came out to my parents, I was hiding upstairs in my old room. My dad called up the stairs, “Bob, you’d better get down here, there’s a Judy Garland movie on!” He didn’t know jack about queer icons, or Vincente Minelli, or letting tragic, broken, beautiful women stand in for part of who and what some of us wanted to be. He only knew that I loved her, and that her legs looked fantastic in the “Get Happy” number. We sat together and watched the whole blessed thing. No place like home, no place like home.