Not too long ago, in a town far, far away, armed with only wit (and blueberry almond layer cake), two men waged a battle for acceptance in the minds and hearts of their heterosexual neighbors in suburban Atlanta. The Gaybors are coming! The Gaybors are coming!
That might sound like the introduction to a science fiction film. But there's nothing fictional about the antics of a gay couple that lives – clutch your pearls – in Cumming. The conservative suburb is 40 miles, and a whole word apart, from the comfy gay confines of Atlanta and it makes @Gaybors a fun follow.
We reached out to Marc Nolan, the pen named personality behind the Twitter handle, for a sneak peek into his hilarious world. From placing McCain/Palin signs in his front yard to the sandal beat down one of his neighbors received (and loved) from an Atlanta drag queen, he and his partner are conquering what might be the next frontier – OTP.
And he’s writing all about it, too, in something longer than 140 character tweets. From Swinger clubs and husbands showing up on Grindr to housewives fighting by the pool during wine and Xanax parties, Marc is holding nothing back in his nearly completed book, "Gaybors."
So we chatted with him about why the Gaybors have found “pioneering a gay existence in an extraordinarily conservative community” enriching, what Nolan says OTP gays have that ITP gays just don’t, and why they’ll have to move when the book is published.
I have to ask where the Twitter avatar photo came from? Did you design it?
The avatar was a complete surprise from Robbi Sullivan of Old 37 Creative. We were introduced to her at our friend’s home over dinner one night. We brought dessert, which was this elaborate blueberry almond layer cake that was a piece of art. She thought it was the gayest cake she had ever seen and called it a gake. We told her about our experiences out here in the suburbs, and she designed the avatar. You will notice that we are carrying our gake to our friend’s house. It was a fun surprise and amazing that she captured our essence after one dinner. There are some other subtleties in the avatar that give clues about our story, too.
Gays who live inside of the perimeter see OTP as a death sentence. What is the greatest thing about being gay and OTP?
The heterogeneity is the most appealing aspect of being gay OTP. There is a sense of integration and unification that is different from the experience ITP. Our neighbors are straight, middle class families who are experiencing a gay couple for the first time, and we are learning as much from them as they are from us. The ITP lifestyle has its rewards, but pioneering a gay existence in an extraordinarily conservative community has been enriching for my partner and me. It has not been easy, but it has been an eye opener to the possibilities that the LGBT population can coexist in any community without their sexuality being a primary consideration.
What is the worst thing about being gay OTP?
People don’t always know how to take us, so we have to work a little harder at forging friendships. Most people out here are getting to know a couple who is different from them. It is not in a bigoted or homophobic way, it’s just a new experience for them. Most everyone likes us, so there is an inner conflict that comes into play with many of them. We can see the wheels turning in their heads when they realize they want to be our friends, and we can see that they are trying to figure out how they meld their lifestyle with ours. They are wondering if their social circle will accept us and how they explain our relationship to their children. There is a subtle reluctance on their part that takes some getting used to. We can’t take it personally. I think being ITP, that all comes easier.
Is there anything OTP gays have that ITP gays don’t?
There are a lot of gay people that will disagree with this statement, but I think that generally speaking, ITP gays aren’t fully experiencing an integrated society, and are missing the potential that can be when we stop deliberately living apart from the general population. OTP gays have an opportunity to live outside the bubble, and certainly outside of our comfort zones. How else will we make strides in unity? We can educate people all day long through TV characters and gay events like Pride, but true unification and integration will come when we live side by side without reference to sexual preference and eliminate those boundaries. I have been accused of betraying the gay community by living in this ultra conservative town that is known for its historically racial bigotry and staunch, unbending conservative values, but OTP gays, in my mind, are pioneers who will help lead us to the next level in the evolution of gay acceptance. That is an exciting experience that is much harder to find ITP.
Judging from your Twitter account you love your 'Real Housewives,' football and 'RuPaul’s Drag Race.' Would we be surprised at how many people watch RDR in Cumming?
No, I don’t think so. The mainstream is fascinated with female impersonators. As a matter of fact, I have taken several of our straight couple friends to drag shows and they loved it. One neighbor was even beaten by a drag queen with her own sandal at a show and loved every minute of it! That story is definitely in the book. In a way, I think straight people are less sensitive to drag than they are to gay people in general. It is entertaining, fun, campy and a statement about being comfortable in one’s own skin. Everyone can relate to that. God bless drag queens!
What are your thoughts on the ‘gay drama’ surrounding certain cast members on 'Real Housewives of Atlanta' this past season? Do you think they gay-bait?
Of course they do. They play to their target audience but I think the gay baiting went too far this past season on RHOA and made some of us uncomfortable. One housewife was pandering to the gay audience when she inferred a husband was gay/bi. Another was casually throwing around the word queen, which is a term that she has no right to use. I think both incidents misfired with the gays. Did they learn nothing from Marlo Hampton’s use of the f-word in an earlier season?
Several television shows such as 'Desperate Housewives' and 'United States of Tara' have a gay neighbor couple often providing comic relief. Is that your experience in the suburbs?
Not really. We are more of the straight players in the sketches, forgive the pun. People assume we are like Mitch or Cam from "Modern Family." In reality, we like to think we are witty and entertaining, but we are not the exaggerated characters that TV depicts. There is an abundance of comedic characters in our neighborhood, often for all the wrong reasons. Somehow they always find us and we just enjoy the comedy as it unfolds. Hence, the book I’m working on.
You’ve said the book is about the antics in your conservative neighborhood, where some might consider you the strange ones. Can you share one of your favorite moments where you were the strange one?
Besides the time we put up McCain/Palin signs in our yard at election time? That isn’t strange within itself, except that it completely threw off our neighbors and confused the heck out of them. I loved watching people’s faces as they walked by. Other than that, we have a massive collection of vintage glassware and dinnerware. You can’t come to a party at our home without seeing it. People find our fascination with glass to be quite strange. Our basement is like a museum. We love glass. And Cumming. There is always a happy ending! (laughs)
How many different jokes have you heard when someone finds out you’re gay and from Cumming, Ga.?
There are so many! It must be hard living in Cumming or I want the tee shirt – I Love Cumming! And of course, I just said there is always a happy ending in Cumming.
What other details can share about the status on your book?
The book is called "Gaybors," originally coined as a negative term by a Mormon dad down the street who got a few laughs off it at our expense. The book is nearing completion and has already gained interest by some publishers and a production company. It is a comedy about the bizarre antics in our super conservative, OTP neighborhood. Swinger clubs, husbands showing up on Grindr, housewives fighting by the pool, wine and Xanax parties – there is a little something for everyone. It is a cross between "Desperate Housewives" and "Sex and the City," all set in Cumming, Ga. It also highlights incredible friendships that developed amongst the misfits in the neighborhood friendships that became the envy of the community. I will have to move once it is published, though.