It's PrideFest weekend and I'm looking forward to, among many other delights, the Joan Jett concert on Sunday night. I owned the "I Love Rock and Roll" record back in the early '80s and wore it out on the turntable in my parents' basement. Having been raised on Beethoven and mariachi, I think I was less attracted to the music than to her attitude. She was a woman who played rock like a man. She led her own band. Then there was the way she looked: the black hair, the leather jacket, the sweat, the chain around her neck.
OK, so it wasn't her attitude.
There's a classic gay pride T-shirt that simply asks, "What was your first clue?" It looks best on someone so fabulously gay that there's no question that the shirt's message is sarcastic, as in, "What was your first clue that I'm queer, you big ol' gaydar hotshot?"
For lots of LGBT people, the funny thing about coming to terms with our sexual orientation is that it's not just strangers who need to get a clue. We do, too. It took me years to figure out who I really am and maybe Joan Jett should've been my first hint.
There were some others. There was Sigourney Weaver in the "Alien" movies. I don't like suspense, horror or monster movies. I especially hate ones that are loud and violent. So why did I spend many a teenage night watching not just "Alien" but the sequels, too? Go get yourself a copy and check out Ms. Weaver hunting down extraterrestrials in her white tank top. It will explain everything.
Ooh! And Annie Lennox from the Eurythmics. The first big concert I went to was the Eurythmics show at Alpine Valley. My mom, a friend and I sat on the grass and Annie Lennox took off her shirt on stage. I thought I was going to die. Not because I was with my mom, but because my mom was hogging the binoculars.
There were more teenage crushes: Jamie Lee Curtis, Debbie Harry, Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis, Carrie Fisher, and on and on. Sherlock Holmes solved many a knotty case with a lot fewer clues than I had.
I think that says a lot about the pressure society puts on all of us to be straight that the whole Joan Jett thing wasn't enough to tip me off.
Jennifer Morales is an elected member of the Milwaukee Board of School Directors, the first person of Latino descent to hold that position. She was first elected in 2001 and was unopposed for re-election in 2005. In 2004, she ran for a seat in the Wisconsin state senate, earning 43% of the vote against a 12-year incumbent.
Previously, she served as the editorial assistant at the educational journal Rethinking Schools; as assistant director of two education policy research centers at UW-Milwaukee; and as the development director for 9to5, National Association of Working Women.
She became the first person in her immediate family to graduate from college, earning a B.A. in Modern Languages and Literatures from Beloit College in 1991.
In addition to her work on the school board, she is a freelance editorial consultant and a mother.