Writing consultant Jay Blotcher came out 40 years ago to his adoptive mother. He then went on to be an activist and writer fighting for LGBTQ+ causes.
While he now lives life as a happily married gay man in High Falls, NY, the Massachusetts native initially came out as bisexual to his mom.
Blotcher wanted to ease his mother’s mind about the possibility of marrying someday.
“When she asked me, bisexual was always a nice way to pivot away from the truth,” he said. “Then it leaves her open to some hope.”
He dated girls throughout high school and college, but felt a stronger attraction to men.
“With women, it was more like a social experiment,” he said. “I was not turned on by women in the way I was by men.”
His mother passed away from pancreatic cancer in 1988. She never came to accept her son’s true sexuality.
Living Through the AIDS Crisis
Life as an out gay man began after he graduated college.
He worked for Christopher Street magazine, a publication targeted at a gay demographic. It was 1982, the year after the Center for Disease Control reported the first case of what would later become HIV/AIDS.
Blotcher went into advocacy work for the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, or ACT UP. He became a part of the organization’s media committee.
“There was so much against us at the time,” he said. “We kept pushing back, because we were fighting for our lives.”
Blotcher never caught the disease himself.
Being a Part of History
One of the causes that ACT UP addressed through protests was homophobia. Especially the fact that gay men could not be married to their partners.
Because of AIDS, these men were dying and their partners were kicked out of the apartments they shared, because their relationship had no legal standing.
“All over America, this horrible tragedy was playing out again and again,” he said. “Somebody dies of AIDS, then the landlord throws out the surviving lover.”
By 2004, marriage equality became a reality for Blotcher and his husband Brook. During a high-profile ceremony, former New Paltz, NY mayor Jason West married 25 same-sex couples, including Blotcher and his husband.
“Even if the marriages didn’t have any level of legal standing, it was a point that he was making,” Blotcher said of the mayor’s landmark decision.
His marriage gave him national media exposure. New Paltz became one of several municipalities across to country to perform same-sex weddings that year.
“We were photographed so much that a lot of people got to know who we were,” he said. “They respected that we took a chance.”
Today, Blotcher is grateful for how far acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community has come since 2004. Still, he worries that time will turn back.
“If people take things for granted, and think that everything’s cool, then they have to wake up,” he said. “I would like this new generation to spend some time talking with older gay and lesbian people just to find out what life was like then. It is a recipe for disaster if you don’t know your own community’s history.”
Corrections: Blotcher came out to his mother in 1981, not 1991.
ACT UP did not advocate for marriage equality, but rather protest against homophobia as it pertained to gay men in relationships not having legal status. News to Stay Sane regrets these errors.