|Letters I havent written [or if written, not sent...].
DEAR CHRYSLER HIGH
Chrysler High School
Whatsitsname, IN, USA,
Northern Hemisphere, Planet Earth,
[May I call you that?
We go back such a long, long way!]
Remember how I skulked around those brand-new halls, looking miserable? You know how you told me that all I needed was a positive attitude? And maybe a little tune-up in the fashion department. And that after I declared I intended to be a doctor you said I would grow out of it?
My clothes were a little disheveled, a little bohemian. Maybe I was a budding beatnik, skirts mid-length during the mini-skirt thing, hair un-beehived.... This and my obvious discomfort over dates, and jokes, and the hundred thousand innuendos (nudge, nudge) that juveniles substitute for sex; this was proof I was immature. And I seriously thought I could choose a career? I needed to fix my hair, maybe get a perm, start wearing makeup. I should try to date some boy who wasnt my cousin.
Well guess what. Im queer, and I was queer all that time (and so was that cousin) A Lezbo. Bull dagger. A female homo. I was clinically depressed, not sulky, which had a lot to do with the constant stream of anti-queer chatter from the students, and especially, from the faculty. Like my chemistry teacher, who constantly jeered about homos and any kind, age or race of women. He hated women more than he hated Sin, and he was big on Sin.
Queer. I knew there were others, like some of the guys; but I was right there in front of you, next to you, taking showers in the gym, singing solos with the choir. Queer. Cowardly? Sure. But cowards get to live to thumb their noses....
Site of Win, Place or Show Among Sexual Athletes
Dear Stephen (okay: Dear Cuni);
Its funny that after all this time I still miss you. What was it, 1986? We had been expecting you in the fall, but you called and said things werent quite settled out there in California... youd join us in Bloomington (where we had all met in Gay Liberation, and where I was now teaching) by Christmas New Years at the latest.
In the spring you wrote and said you were visiting your parents, which was odd, since you didnt like Columbus. You wrote there was a momentary shadow on your life, but you would join us soon. And what a grand reunion! I have a vivid mental picture of you: dark haired, handsome, self assured. Gay Libs few tense encounters didnt phase you such as when we chose the wrong tactic (or time, or place) and there were guys outside in the hall with golf clubs and baseball bats and croquette mallets you were the only one of us in complete command of himself. Later, with the rest of us freaking out, you were surprised and then disdainful. You didnt believe there had ever been any danger, refusing Fear the way you refused Disease the Christian Science way.
Christ said love your brother; and brother, you did. You were amazing. Sex was a kind of love, and you firmly believed in love one, three, eight or more times a night. And when you encountered men who refused to acknowledge you had met, you were invariably surprised. You genuinely loved them, and were generous to a fault. The rest of your time you worked like hell, being one of the early composers for synthesizer for which reason you took up electricity, radios, computers. You taught me several years of electronics one evening, sort of over-your-shoulder like.
And then we received the letter from your mother. She was going through your letters, finding addresses: ... Im writing to all his friends, and you know how he loved his friends... . It must have been hard to admit you had suffered so much. The first AIDS death, of many, that would touch me.
Id like to see your picture in Websters illustrating passion. You showed the world how generous Olympian sex could be. And how it could contort and devour love.
Madelyn Arnold, an early Gay Liberation activist, is a novelist and journalist contributing to the SGN since 1975. A Midwest transplant, she likes the dark, dank Pacific Northwest. So whats with this brightness garbage?