Tuesday, August 01, 2006
1961, Making a Spear of My Own
Discharged [from the military] into a poor area of Washington, D.C., with $80 and utter demoralization, I worked as a bar maid serving hard liquor to dying winos. I did not believe there was any farther to go on the bottom of society than where I was. But as I found the company of other Gay ex-service people who also had the state fall on their heads, living in an area mixed with people at the bottom of Washington's perpetual ghetto of Blacks and whites and a scattering of Asians, I found that despair has no bottom; it can multiply itself indefinitely, inside the mind and outside.
I took a night job as a sandwich maker and went to laboratory technician school during the days, even though I hated hospital work. But I had to put the pieces of my life back together somehow. The state had declared its hatred of me and my friends and family -- with one or two exceptions -- declared their fear, contempt, and disgust.
For more than two years, while other idealists of my generation joined the Peace Corps, I thrashed about at the bottom of the well of degradation among the more demoralized of America's people. Then I spent years emerging, fighting, studying, making notes on my own about Gay people I knew. I joined Mattachine Society to picket in a slender line for Gay rights at the White House in 1963, and by then Yvonne had come back to me and marched too. Life magazine printed pictures of Gay men and women who looked like me and quoted a cop saying we were germs.
(Updated and Expanded Edition)
p. 169, Beacon Press, 1990