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A Coming-Our Story

August 25th, 2014

I’m taking this opportunity, to announce: I’m coming out of the closet. This may come as a shock to a lot of you; I’m not all that obvious, I think, and I try not to let it show all the time, but here it is: I am an old person.

Oh, I’ve been gay all my life. I came out as a gay man at the age of nineteen, about when I admitted to myself that I was gay. But now, let’s face it: I’m an OLD gay man. A whole different barrel of fish. Or no, not fish…think of something else. Anything else.

At any rate, here’s how old I am: I was at Stonewall! Wow–I bet you don’t know anyone else who was at Stonewall. Here’s a kicker: I was 27 years old at the time–getting close to the age above which one is not to be trusted. You can trust me on this, though. I was there. At Stonewall. June 29, 1969. Very early morning.

Okay, I wasn’t IN Stonewall, just outside. It wasn’t called “Stonewall” at the time, either; it was The Stone Wall Inn, a bar (rather sleazy, mafia-run sleazy bar) on Christoper Street, in Greenwich Village, New York City, New York. The bar was about 100 yards from where I lived, at 7 Gay Street (yes, it’s all true) with my lover Ruben. Ruben Torro. Oh, he was a beautiful man, both of body and of soul. And there we were in a little two-room, street-level apartment (two working fireplaces! $93/mo.!) in the heart of the Village.  I had been standing just up Greenwich Avenue, in front of the Women’s House of Detention, where Angela Davis had just been incarcerated. Sort of a vigil, rather lonely, just me (and of course the street girls shouting encouragement up to their girlfiends).

I was on my way home to my apartment, when I saw a commotion going on down Christopher Street: flashing lights blue and red, shouts, some excitement. Nothing new there; there was ALWAYS something going on near the Stone Wall, and on the nearby corner of Seventh Ave., what with the handy subway entrance right there–and convenient access for the kids from Bronx, Broolklyn, Queens, New Jersey. At the time, you could drink at age 18 in New York; with the right card, you get get in at 15.

So no, I wasn’t IN Stonewall, just AT Stonewall, as a silent observer. I’d left my apartment (from where I could hear a lot of excitement still going on) and walked down to see a lot of people gathered there at Sheridan Square, a favored kids’ hangout. More people than I had thought–they pretty much filled the Square, and the streets too were filled blocing traffic.

I did not see any “riot” going on. It’s called the Stonewall Riot now, but I didn’t see it that way; but there were bottles being flung, and glass broken, and the miracle of the police, the cops, being forced back to their patrol cars for a while. I saw no cops being chased down the street by drag queens. But it was a beautiful sight: finally, resistance! Pushback at all the harassment and brutality that the New York Cops, cops in all American cities at that time, had been using in that homophobic time.

The revelation that resistance WAS possible awoke everyone in the gay community (i.e. the Village). The next year I was in the first Gay Pride Parade, ever, up Fifth Avenue from Washington Square to Central Park. The times changed really quickly, after that.

Changed so quickly, that a lot of guys felt free to do very many crazy things that were probably not so good for them. This was before the plague years; but there were plenty of pathogens going around, all the same. I got sick; it was all becoming too much for me, and my body couldln’t take the abuse, what with the drugs and all. I turned macrobiotic, trying to get my head and body together. Eventually, I moved to Boston, to study macrobiotics with Michio Kushi. That led me into the search to recreate the euphoria of the drug experience, but without the drugs. Which led me to Guru Maharaj Ji, and India, and then to Denver, where I edited a national newspaper for Divine Light Mission, and lived in one of the ashrams there in the national headquarters. That’s were I met Avis.

I was caught by surprise: here was Avis, who I got to know the times she went with me and my friends down to the gay bar on Broadway in downtown Denver, and she was funny, and kind, and understanding, and an all-arouind beautiful person, and I knew I had met someone I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, and finally got her to marry me, so here we are so many years later.

Getting married meant telling my gay friends about it, and it was just like coming out gay the first time: painful. I lost a number of friends, for whome I was somehow a traitor, marrying a woman and all.

So I’m not just a fag–I’m a married fag. And not just a married fag, but an OLD married fag. And that’s my coming-out story.

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