I’m proud to announce that now just before my 80th birthday, I’ve wrapped up my third memoir covering eight extraordinary years in 25 chapters. This might at first seem an unremarkable achievement, but I conceitedly consider my life to be an important chronicle of gay history.
This third memoir describes my glamorous and scandalous life in Washington DC in the 1970s, a period I call the Golden Age of Gay Liberation. I feel perfectly justified in calling that special time nothing less than a Golden Age because during my eight decades, I’ve experienced several successive ages of gay liberation.
In the 1950s, the Gay Stone Age, when I was an innocent adolescent unaware of being gay and imprisoned in a cave of superstition. No one would ever “say gay” or acknowledge that any alternative sexuality even existed. (See my first novel BAT IN A WHIRLWIND.)
When I came out in 1961 into the Gay Neolithic Age, I learned first thing that I was a despicable outlaw and went to live in the French Quarter gay ghetto as a lowlife pariah, one step ahead of the Vice Squad, scandal, and/or jail. (See my second novel DIVINE DEBAUCH.)
Moving in 1964 to respectable Seattle trapped me in a straight marriage. (See my first memoir THERE WAS A SHIP.) During my Middle-American Captivity in the later 60s, elsewhere the gay phenomenon was breaking its chains, most symbolically in the Stonewall Riot in 1969.
After my divorce in 1970, I came out again into a whole new world, a Gay Age of Enlightenment when being gay was a unique mark of bravery and individualism, though we gay folk were still handicapped by social and legal discrimination. (See my second memoir LORD WIND.)
In 1973, the year after I moved there, the DC City Council passed a landmark human rights law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. We gay people were validated at last, legalized and made part of society at large, albeit still as second-class citizens, and set free to live the lives we chose. This sea-change brought on that Golden Age—when I was no longer an outlaw, living and loving with impunity at the Four Bells (as told in this, my third memoir, GAY GEISHA).
I feel terrifically privileged to have witnessed these early ages of Gay Liberation and hope that my novels and memoirs do them justice. My works are about ancient gay history before the plague of AIDS almost destroyed us all. Gay folks under the age of forty or fifty are usually only aware of our history starting in the mid-80s with that epochal catastrophe. I hope they will read my chronicles and learn how we “prehistoric” gays lived our lives through the earlier eras of oppression and homophobia, surviving to enjoy at last our Golden Age in the 1970s.