Michael Musto is a longtime entertainment and nightlife writer for the Village Voice. Musto has written four books, appeared on countless TV channels and streaming services, and has been named one of the Out 100 of the most influential LGBTQs in the country.
Spring 2021: We’re in Arizona looking in on my mom’s condition for a while. It has been an opportunity to revisit my coming-of-age life from the late 1970s to 1980. Things really accelerated after this.
After a swift escape from the confines of high school life, I couldn’t imagine committing to four years of study when there was a wild world out there that I wanted to be part of. After a few months in a converted garage apartment on the west side of sleepy Phoenix, I landed in the middle of the city, where, if anything was happening, it would be happening there.
My new apartment was walkable to the two jobs I had, making it easy to get to work without driving since my old Dodge station wagon was overheating regularly, and I eventually just left it somewhere and moved on.
The Sombrero Playhouse was a half block away and was a very cool scene. Patrons would gather and parade their looks in a front desert courtyard before heading in to see the avant-garde films of the day. Of course, there was Harold and Maude, Eraserhead, and Andy Warhol reels, but there was The Rocky Horror Picture Show for my growing awareness and toe-tipping into gay culture. I remember the surprise at seeing so-and-so there with a gaggle of their eccentric friends. The crowd I was running with blossomed in this environment.
Two Jobs and Liberace
At job one, Aaron Brothers Art Mart, I quickly tuned into the skills I needed for the constant visual adjustments, x-acto knifing, and final fussy touches of framing. I loved it. The staff was packed with artists doing their own thing led by an inspiring manager guy (another artist). I remember him telling me not … more
Below is the video and text of a presentation I gave at Tech Inclusion in San Francisco on October 19, 2017
Today is my epic story and some techniques for surviving as a graying, gay person in tech.
I’ve worked in tech for close to 35 years and alternative newspapers before that.
I was always interested in changing the status quo through media and associated myself with organizations that I thought at least accepted who I was.
When there was discrimination it was often subtle, but thanks to some early activism I was always reactive first.
Sorry mean people.
I survived with a technique I’ve come to call
“The Humanist + Activist Approach”
Here’s how it works and why it’s more important than ever today.
- If you haven’t noticed… blatant harrassment and discrimination is filling the news cycles.
- We’re in a dangerous political environment. Those in power today are turning back the clock on many gains in civil rights. Just yesterday our vile, so called president was joking about lynching gays. Seriously
- This thinking is becoming normalized and will bleed into the workplace and discrimination will become even more OK.
- This may be hard, but before you react, take time to understand the experiences and point of view of the people you interact with. That’s the Humanist part.
- You DO have a right to be at the table without discrimination though. so, Don’t ever back down.- That’s the Activist part.
- Some Signs
- Subtle uneasiness. Always can tell that something is off that you can’t put your finger on it. This is when understanding that person matters.
- Still, a lot goes unstated. You can almost hear it “He’s old and doesn’t get it” “Gay people are different” “I’d rather not know about that thing I don’t understand” “we don’t