Aug 11, 2013

Bill's Big Brother Sings About Men


When I was a kid in the 1960s, I knew that lots of boys liked boys, not girls, but the adults always pretended that there was no such thing.

Like my friend Bill's big brother Mike.  Sometimes when he was babysitting, he played us his comedy albums like The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart.  Or he played the guitar and sang for us.  One night, probably in the summer of 1969, he taught us David Seville's "Witch Doctor."

On another night, he sang us some Flemish songs (his grandparents were from Belgium).

 “Ik hou van allen vrouwen, dat is een groot verdriet, met een kan ik maar trouwen!” He translated: “I  love all women, and it’s a big problem, because I can only marry one!”

I must have made a face, because Mike asked “Don’t you dig it, Bud?”

“It was good,” I said politely. “But I’d rather hear a song about a man who loves all men, but he can only marry one.”

Mike stared at me as if I were speaking gibberish.  “A man who. . .what?”




“You know – ” Bill explained. “A boy who loves boys, not girls. Like Robbie Douglas on My Three Sons.”

“Like Chekhov and Sulu on Star Trek,” I added.

“Um. . .gee, I don’t think I know any songs about that. How about a song about men with beards?” Without waiting for an answer, he began: “Al die willen te kaap’ren varen, moeten manner met baarden zin. If you want to be a sailor, you have to be a man with a beard.”

Thinking that Mike was just pretending not to know, we looked through all of the sheet music and music books stored in the seat of the piano, but we couldn’t find any songs about a man who loved men, or a boy who loved boys. Mike must have hid them!  Why did the adults want us to believe that there were nothing but boy-girl loves in the world?

The story of Bill continues here, when we see a naked Indian god.