Off Color

Why I want to be first lady

By Jonathan Adams Mar 02, 2009

I knew I wanted to be the First Lady way before I knew anything about politics. It’s pretty much tied to my love of pearls.

I first played with pearls on the floor of my mother’s closet. But somewhere between recess and Sunday school, I learned that I couldn’t wear the pearls, so I found comfort in obsessing over—secretly loving and hating simultaneously—the women who wore such regalia.

Hence, my obsession with First Lady Michelle Obama.

Though many of you still have Kool-Aid smiles from Barack Obama’s win, I am sipping (and spilling a little) Michelle Obama tea. Maybe not every Black gay man wants to be the first lady. Some may just want to be a preacher’s wife or Ella Fitzgerald, but, for me, the obsession with Michelle Obama is the next best thing to actually selecting the new bedding for the Lincoln Bedroom myself.

Sometimes I picture myself holding the Bible for my husband while he takes the Oath of Office. In this fantasy, I’m wearing oversized sunglasses, and I’m careful to step sideways down the stairs for the cameras to catch the shoes. The only former first lady who could provide inspiration for a diva fantasy like this was Nancy Reagan. But you can’t be a progressive and look at Nancy Reagan—even though she rocks the pearls better than most—as a fashion icon. Michelle Obama brings to the White House something almost as great as the hope her husband gives to the country: she has good politics and great clothes. There’s really nothing better.

Did you see her on The View? What about that purple “fist bump” outfit? I couldn’t even breathe when I saw her in the red Maria Pinto dress during her tour of the White House. The Narciso Rodriguez dress she wore on election night was as talked about as that barely there dress Jennifer Lopez wore to the Grammys a few years ago. Love it or hate it, you couldn’t stop gossiping about what Michelle wore. Meanwhile, Michelle Obama is cool and unbothered by her detractors.

Barack Obama is cool sure enough, but the first lady keeps us all coming back for more. She’s confidently poised as if she—like me—had been preparing for this her entire life. Her perfectly timed tear during Joe Biden’s touching story about losing his first wife and baby daughter; her gentle applause during her husband’s address at the convention; and a walk with equal parts “working woman” and “lady of leisure” are all the makings of not only a celebrity but an icon—a smart, strong, statuesque, Black icon.

People have compared her to Jackie Kennedy, to Claire (Hanks) Huxtable, and even to your regular stay-at-home mom, and she may be all of them, but she is nothing less than an absolute diva. Michelle Obama is to politics what Dominique Devereaux is to Dynasty. If only I could see her read Cindy McCain with a smile or slap the taste out of Sarah Palin’s mouth for even suggesting that her husband pals around with anyone but her.

So, maybe Michelle Obama does not get into catfights or sing to her man from atop a piano, but that’s the thing about an icon. For many people, the Kennedys will always represent an iconic period in history, and from what we’ve seen from the Obama family so far, they will definitely be this generation’s royal family. Michelle will wear more fabulous gowns and give more eloquent speeches, and all the while, she will be wearing those pearls for all the Black boys in closets who dream of one day being the first lady. n

Jonathan Adams is a writer living in New York.