Fay Jacobs is a lesbian writer and self-described “sit-down comic,” who at 70 (“I see no good reason to act my age” she says) is garnering fans of all ages with her new show, Aging Gracelessly: 50 Shades of Fay.
“It’s part laughing at Baby Boomers aging,” Jacobs admits. “We used to smoke joints, not replace them. And it’s part charting the history of gay rights and gay marriage.”
The stories Jacobs tells are human interest that don’t require one to be gay or straight to enjoy. One of her funniest, she admits, “is a story about my unfortunate encounter with a baby skunk. Let’s just say, ‘They’re too young to spray,’ is a lie right up there with, ‘The check is in the mail.’”
But others are cringe-worthy. “Many audience members, especially our straight allies or younger LGBT people, are shocked to hear some of the indignities my partner and I—and other gay people—suffered during hospital care or employment prior to marriage equality.”
Old enough to have witnessed Stonewall when it happened, Jacobs has been surprised by political changes in recent years. “I would never have believed we would have marriage equality or sweeping anti-discrimination legislation—in some states—when I was in my 30s through my 50s. While I worked hard for our rights, I thought people who expected eventual marriage equality also thought unicorns existed. But once the marriage equality bandwagon really got rolling, I shocked myself by really expecting it could happen. And here’s to Edie Windsor!”
Fay and her wife Bonnie have been together 37 years, which included a wedding in Canada, (when marriage equality first became legal there), a Jewish religious civil ceremony in Delaware, an exhilarating day on the steps of Supreme Court as Edie Windsor was inside fighting the Federal Defense of Marriage Act, and now, a full legal marriage in their home state. (Their dog is actually named for Windsor.)
The comic spent 30 years in the Washington, D.C. area as a journalist and public relations expert. After moving to Rehoboth Beach, Del., Jacobs served on the board of directors for the LGBTQ organization CAMP Rehoboth for 14 years, and has had a column in the LGBTQ newspaper,Letters from CAMP Rehoboth, for 23 years. Last year she was named editor.
“When CAMP Rehoboth cofounder and executive director—and my dear friend—Steve Elkins passed away in March 2018, I was asked to take over his job as editor of the magazine. I'm honored to be doing the job and glad I can work remotely from wherever my travels take me.”
That means 50 Shades of Fay, touring the East Coast for three years now in both LGBTQ and mainstream venues, can keep trucking along.
“I really love performing to raise money for LGBTQ community centers, PFLAGs, Metropolitan Community Churches, Pride organizations, etc.,” Jacobs admits. “It's been a blast and I love to tell people I broke into show biz at an age I'd more likely break a hip.
Prior to her retirement into performing, Jacobs was the publisher of A&M Books, which she inherited from lesbian publishing pioneers Anyda Marchant (famed lesbian author whose pen name was Sarah Aldridge) and her wife Muriel Crawford. (Marchant and Crawford, together 57 years, died within 6 months of each other.) A&M was a successor to the legendary lesbian publisher, Naiad Press. In 2015, A&M merged with Bywater Books.
Jacobs is the author of four essay memoirs: Time Fries! Aging Gracelessly in Rehoboth Beach; For Frying Out Loud: Rehoboth Beach Diaries; As I Lay Frying: A Rehoboth Beach Memoir; and Fried & True: Tales from Rehoboth Beach.
In fact, Jacobs can sing the praises of Rehoboth Beach endlessly. “You can't swing a cat without hitting another lesbian [here],” she says. “Seriously, the Rehoboth Beach area is a full-time hometown for hundreds of lesbian singles and couples, with many more weekenders and visitors all year long. Add the music and foodie scene, pickleball and golf, and, oh yeah, the beach and boardwalk, and it's heaven.”
As we weather a political administration that’s hostile to queers, Jacobs has advice for young LGBTQ folks who might feel a bit demoralized right now. “Hang on! Work like hell. We can survive this!” But, she adds, “Okay, now have those brave, determined, genderfluid, queer, LGBT kids reassure me, too.”