Tuesday, August 9, 2016


Roundabout these days I
take no real exception to
gay people. And it wasn't
much different fifty years
ago. As far as I knew
anyway  -  it was all much
more invisible and left
unspoken. The seminary
guys had any number of
gay priests and brothers.
We didn't even have a
word for it, except maybe
'cute' or something. The
entire ethos of Catholicism,
especially this sort of
cloistered, strange effort
at 'priest' and 'brother'
was all kind of same-sex
oriented anyway  -  placing
complete trust in other
men and their slightly
skewed viewpoints. No
matter, life went on. I, for
myself, knew what I was
in the middle of, but
remained unaffected.
Nowadays, with supposed
equalities having been
agreed upon and terms
reached, about them, it's
different. In fact, it's
everywhere and it's of
no importance at all
except that the factor
of gayness has reached
the colloquial level, so,
once invisible and unseen,
it's now everywhere
and cannot be commented
upon. Strange switch, in
that now the tables are
changed and we have to
be subjected at all times
to their caterwauling.
Entertainment. Advertising.
Theater. Song. Architecture.
The Antiques Industry.
Cooking and Restaurant/Chef
stuff. I just shrug and watch
all the fluffiness in some sort
of awe. Entertainment. Funny
stuff, almost a parody of self.
Back in 1967, I wasn't even
aware of any of this  - there
were one or two flamers in
my last high school year, two
anyway come right to mind,
and it never bothered me  -
and then getting to New York,
yes, I began seeing them,
putting two and two together,
and realizing what was up.
The thing that really gave it
away for me was literature :
I suddenly realized what it
was about some of the
characters and situations
I'd be reading. Older men,
young boys, the pick-ups
and hangabouts. One time,
along the street, some black
guy tried picking me up, as
I passed one of those
eat-outdoor sandwich
places. He was sitting
there, and called out.
I went over, he offered
a chair, bought me (hungry
me) a sandwich, and next
thing I knew, incredibly,
I was walking back to his
apartment with him. All
that ensued was what
you'd imagine, except that
I walked out. He'd taken
'it' out, and that was my
cue. He called me naive.
Being called naive was, really,
something I could live with.
So it didn't matter. Better for
him that I left anyway. Less I
knew about that crap, the better
off both he and I would be. And
only then did the light go on.
Christoper Street, Stonewall,
all that stuff now known as
LGBT, or Q, or whatever.
The 'SAAB drivers of the
world unite!' thing. Sex was
second-class with me anyway.
It had been done to death.
How many times to you
have to pump the handle
to know what water is?
Know what I mean? Let's
just say I wasn't lonely, nor
without. The real force-field
of all this was reading James
Baldwin. 'Giovanni's Room',
for starters. It was all about
everything combined  -  anger,
sensitivity, longing, need, love
and lust, companionship,
maleness, memory, and more.
'An intellectual compassion for
the world,' I liked to put it. Yes,
sometimes I wished I was a
reviewer with a real platform
to get points across and have
a say. It's still like that too.
Baldwin took sex out of
category, and put it more
where it belonged : Heart.
Soul. Fire. Anger. Stuff I
could live with. If he had
a sister, I'd have taken her.
I met him once, actually.
A cold Winter's night,
dark, about 6pm, maybe
just about Winter,
Thanksgiving time.
He was walking along
at the Lincoln Center
campus of Fordham
University. He was utterly
recognizable, from the
book jackets  -  the big
pop-eyes, the cigarettes,
that face-look. I just, as
we passed each other, said,
'Hey. James Baldwin.'
He smiled, more laughed,
with that gravelly voice
effect he had, and said,
'well that much is true.
How about you?' Which
didn't sound so dumb as
it may read now. That was
it. Nothing more. Sublime
to the ridiculous, I guess.
Among the parameters of the
literary and artistic world,
gayness, and dual-sex too, 
had always been present. All
through history, in fact, if you
delve, it's surprising to see 
who was what. The great 
unspoken. It's all category
anyway, definition and almost
style. Hardly matters now  -  
but there are a lot of people 
who'd be really surprised 
about things if they ever 
started to dig under the 
'covers' of history. 
Well, what else are you
going to do? Back in the
seminary, there was also
a black father or brother,
obviously gay. The gay 
one. He drove around in
a new Ford, in and out of
campus, always seeming 
busy and very amused. 
These things were all 
signals to me of some or
another odd thing in the 
world I hadn't yet dealt
with, or even really knew
it existed. What a world
to come, what a world 
to come.

No comments: