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'

let me know the first step had been taken . I dropped out of

school, checking the homosexual box on the draft

questionnaire. I started working in a boutique - too naive

then to realize the heavy gay traffic in customers and

clerks, but being eased slowly out of my uptightness by just

being around Gay people for the first time. And I had my

first sexual experience - a guy from the store made an

advance - copped-out on by the excuse of mere horniness

- for which I was very grateful, seeing the very practice of

homosexuality as something still distant from my experi–

ence.

T

hat first sex introduced me to new areas of

misunderstanding and denial. I felt that what was

happening between us was good and expressed

much - but he refused to incorporate or even

acknowledge it in the daytime part of his life. He told me

that Gay might be good for some people, but that he

wanted to be straight. And it was such a lie to say that -

such a contradiction to the good things that were

happening when we were together, away from all the

peer-group pressures he gave into on the street. Such good

things for the two of us then, particularly the first

experience for both of us, as yet not conditioned to the

subcultural values attached to bedroom performance and

ultimate orgasm. But he hung onto his straight facade,

would come no further out of the closet with me, and a

couple of years later when

I

saw him, he was still freaking

on the same dilemmas.

I

want him to be happy now too,

but know that only his determination can make him come

out.

I read about the Gay Liberation Front, and tried to get

my friend from the boutique to come with me to one of

1972

their meetings. He wouldn't, so I was again, still, on my

own. Train rides back and forth from Philly to New York,

several Sundays trying to find Washington Square Church,

walking all over the Village, then finding that the location

had just been changed. The first time I went to the meeting

on Ninth Avenue, I was sure all the people on the bus knew

where I was going, so I got off several stops early, and

walked blocks on the opposite side of the street before

crossing

over

to the church. And then circling around,

afraid to go in, preparing all kinds of "interested student"

cop-outs to offer as identity to the still-frightening

unknowns at the meeting. Once inside, frozen on my chair,

I was confused by the battle that raged on the floor - a

condemnation of the very paper that had informed me of

GLF's existence. And awed by the people around me -

never before had

i

seen such enthusiasm, such life, such an

exciting sense of birth. Never before even, had I seen guys

my age with their arms around each other's waists - one

suggesting a sewing circle for the Gay males to make clothes

to wear to the dances. And the arguments, which seemed so

distant at first, but which I felt such an energy contact

with, people talking about ideas I'd shelved for years in the

unspoken back of my head, here being developed and

attempted.

Thank god for the few people who came up to talk to

me at those first few scared meetings - for Bob Kohler,

who I called during the weeks before moving to New York,

asking him some of my hundreds of coming-out questions.

The GLF newsletter and he told me about the con–

sciousness-raising groups, just starting, where I was able to

sit down to an evening with a dozen or so new people like

me, and we would rap about some of those experiences and

lonely feelings that had been bottled up inside for so long.

In those early months, I met the first real friends of my life,

and things wer.., thought out in those groups that havt

become, in the couple of years since, so central to my

identity, that I can't imagine surviving through that time

without those groups.

People I met and loved then have become so much a part

of me - we participated together in the birth process of our

Gay-self realization. They are my brothers and sisters.

They're the initial parts of the Gay community that is still

piecing itself together, that I feel whenever I go to a dance

or meeting now, and can feel that shared experience coming

through - an identity of a people hidden so long from each

other, but finding ourselves now, and sticking together.

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