The Rural Homosexual

19720901-05I quote from Gay News No. 4 editorial ‘It is on this level, with individuals telling it like it is, that progress is being made towards liberation (in the true sense of the word, not just as a slogan).’

This is what it is like with me. This is what it is like at the opposite extreme to the ‘liberated’ city gay mixing freely and openly with his ‘liberated’ friends.

Thousands of people in Britain live not in cities or towns, but in villages, hamlets, farms and farm cottages (using the word literally), and in every group of 1,000 such persons there are, supposedly, 50 who are homosexual. I am one of them. I write only to say what it is like with me, but I am probably saying what it is like with many others.

In a truly rural society no individual can escape observation and comment. For him there is no anonymity. He is a subject of gossip and speculation, and while he may be accepted as a ‘character’ or an eccentric, let him offend against the rural community’s code of acceptable behaviour and he will find he has few, if any friends — and perhaps no job.

So the rural homosexual person, once he understands his predicament, either heads for the city (how many have done this because they were homosexual and not because they were looking for work?) or lives on where he wants to live, guarding his feelings and wondering who the other 49 (24½ males — 12 adult?) homosexuals are in his group of 1,000 — or have they all fled and is he all alone?

I can hear the ‘liberated’ city gay saying: “Come out into the open” or “Come and join us”. I admire the courage of those who have declared themselves openly, but I suggest, with respect, that the rural homosexual’s case is slightly different. The homosexual city dweller who declares himself may lose some friends but he will gain others. He may encounter discrimination and unkindness, but at the end of the day he has understanding friends to help restore his shattered morale.

At the end of the day I am alone. And, no offence meant, I don’t warn to join them. I want to live where I am.

Of course I want to love and be loved. For a long time I have been putting out discreet and tentative feelers and in recent months have made contact with members of a group in a city. In that respect I differ from the majority of rural homosexual persons who are ignorant of the means of making contact, but my equilibrium is worse now than it was before contact was made.

Twice I have been to the city (nearly 100 miles away) and mixed with group members on social occasions, but I was not one of them. Barriers built up in isolation take a long time to dismantle. I was accepted — they were friendly, but each had his own circle of friends, and I was in a world which was very strange to me. One would have to go there very frequently to build up the sort of friendships one is really seeking.

So I returned home on each occasion sad and depressed — sad because I had met people with whom I wanted so much to make contact but who were too deeply involved elsewhere, and depressed because these traumatic experiences had taught me that I could never be integrated with the group so long as I lived so far from it. To recapture my former comparative tranquility I should forget the group.

Forget the group? I can’t do that. So long as they work, as they do, to improve the lot of homosexual people I must identify myself with them. I must identify myself with all those whom they work.

So that is what it is like with me now. If anyone thinks he detects self pity in this writing, I assure him there is none. I have just told it like it is.

I did not choose to be homosexual. I do choose to go on living here, and one can get by without sex. But I still want someone to love. Is that wrong?

Coming Out

19720901-05My boyfriend once apologised to a woman who had caught sight of us embracing (it was in her house as it happened). The woman’s reaction was “You’ll never get anywhere if you don’t start doing that!” And I’m sure she was right — unless the hets are confronted with direct expressions of gay affection, homosexuals will continue to remain one of those faceless minorities about whom anything can be said, and who can be freely discriminated against by anyone who cares to, confident that no-one dare speak in protest.

How many of us really believe the one in twenty figure? Don’t most of us really fear that we’re only perhaps one in a hundred or even less? For the rule is to assume hetero until proven guilty, and we all fall for this at some time or other. That dishy guy you fancy so much at work just can’t possibly be gay – because he’s just too ‘normal’-looking, and anyway you’ve heard him admit to fancying that voluptuous chick all the guys go for. This sort of situation would be a good time for a gay guy to ask himself how many times he had agreed to being attracted to a woman when he really wasn’t, and to remember the times when he, along with the others, had joked about what the queers had been doing in the Sunday papers.

The popular misconceptions, which the people in the liberation movements so confidently laugh off, affect us all, and we propagate them either directly by backing up the male chauvinist pigs and laughing at their Queer jokes, or indirectly – which is just as harmful – merely by laying low, by denying our gayness to society in showing no affection in public and in keeping up heterosexual appearances while in non-gay company (I can remember one ridiculous situation when about five of us clammed up for the benefit of one het!)

But for whom do we act like this? For a minority of ignorant bigots, or is society as a whole really so unapproachable? How many gay people tend to arrogantly believe that society consists of prejudiced ignoramuses who just ‘couldn’t understand’? What good are we doing ourselves by poking in corners for cases of discrimination and complaining what a raw deal we have because public opinion doesn’t allow us the ordinary social facilities of the majority, when, in fact, public opinion has never really been tested – most people ‘have never met one’.

The only product of lying low – gay people pretending not to be gay – is unhappy gay people: isolated people who think that they’re ‘the only one’, bitter political people with a deep sense of ‘us and them’, and people who have crushed the very quality of their personalities by repressing every aspect of their gayness. If only a lot of gay people would come out, then the isolated individuals would i see for themselves that they’re not alone, the ‘us and them’ feeling would be dispelled as many of them turned out to be us. and society might, after all, prove to be rather more human than we perhaps believe.

Don’t we owe it to our fellow gay people not to mention ourselves, to come out and express the goodness and enjoyment of being gay? Fve held hands, hugged and kissed with other boys in some very public places, not necessarily as a protest but because it seemed good to do it there and then. Usually, nobody notices, sometimes you get a bit of a surprised stare, and the most reaction I’ve ever found was “Uh! Fucking queers!” And I’m sure most gay people can think of a reply to that!

Love to Graham Chapman and other people who’ve come out.

Friends in High Places

19720901-05John Edgar “Mother” Hoover is dead at 77. Although Mother was much maligned in recent years by radicals — both Gay and straight — Hoover will probably be remembered in history as one of the great heroes of Gay history.

His critics said he was a master of the queenly arts; that he maintained his power by cunning conivery; that he was a master of deceit, that he used his dossiers on the sex lives of politicians to get his way. All of these techniques are the skills of the old-time queen; the things that queens had to do to survive in a hostile world.

In spite of his right wing political views, in spite of his practice of using his sex files against his enemies, not once in his 48 years in office did he use his files against a Gay brother. Undoubtedly, his files had the dope on many secret homosexuals in high and low places, but to Hoover, this secret was a confidence, a holy trust which he never betrayed.

During the McCarthy-Nixon anti-homosexual witchhunts, Hoover refused to turn over his vast files on homosexual employees to the Unamerican Activities Committee.

When McCarthy and Nixon equated homosexuals with communists. Hoover wrote a best selling book, “The Masters of Deceit”, in which he said that while communism is a conspirital political movement, it has no connection with homosexuality, and, in fact, communists are vehement in their persecution of homosexuals.

When President Johnson’s chief aid, Walter Jenkins, was arrested for sucking cocks in the YMCA toilet, Hoover sent Jenkins a bouquet of roses. Hoover and Jenkins had been close friends for many years. When Hoover was summoned to court to explain why he gave a top security clearance to a man with a long record of arrests for homosexuality. Hoover told them it was none of their business, and refused to turn over his file on Jenkins.

The evil things they say about the viciousness and treachery of Hoover may be true, but he didn’t cooperate in the purges and persecution of homosexuals. In fact, Hoover often used the prestige and power of his office to protect homosexuals from the witchhunters.

Some radicals used to start of discussions of the F.B.I. by saying “Did you know the director is a fag?”. Gay Liberationists often used Hoover as the horrible example of the closet queen. But Hoover could not come-out as a self-declared homosexual. To have done so would have destroyed his effectiveness.

Hoover is survived by Clyde Tolson, his constant companion during the last 44 years of his life. Tolson, now 70 years old, was very close to Hoover. The two bachelors lunched and dined together almost every day and had dinner together in Tolson’s home the night Hoover died. Every day. Hoover would pick up Tolson on his way to work, and drop him off again after dinner in the evening. They spent their vacations together. They worked together in the same office.

Hoover left his entire estate of $551,000 to Tolson, who now lives alone in Hoover’s $100,000 antique filled mansion in Washington D.C.

Most Gays are still hostile to Hoover because of his conservative political views, but in time, Hoover may come to be recognised as the great benefactor of the Gay Community, a man who was loyal to his friends, and never did wrong to a fellow homosexual. The status of homosexuals in America today would be a lot worse than it is were it not for the protecting hand of Hoover.

The story of the 44 years of mutual love and devotion between Edgar and Clyde may become a classic story of Gay love, and rank with the stories of David and Jonathan and Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas.

Reprinted with love from the Bay Area Reporter (BAR), May 31, 1972.