The Ladder, April-May 1970, Vol. 14, No. 7 and 8
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SIXTH BI-ENNIAL CONVENTION
AND GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF
THE DAUGHTERS OF BILITIS, INC.
PLACE: NEW YORK CITY
TIME: JULY 10, 11 and 12 - 1970
Complete Information on registration and program has been mailed to you separately.
EVERY MEMBER WHO CAN SHOULD ATTEND THE CONVENTION.
The New York Chapter of DOB is going all out to make this the most memorable weekend of your life.
In addition to the entertainment provided at the Convention--the General Assembly meetings determine the next two years of life for DOB.
THIS ISSUE CONTAINS A PROXY BALLOT FOR YOU TO USE IF YOU CANNOT ATTEND THE CONVENTION. If you do not have a friend whom you wish to carry your vote to the convention, you may send your proxy to CONVENTION PROXIES, c/o RITA LAPORTE, NATIONAL PRESIDENT, DOB, 1005 MARKET STREET, ROOM 208, San Francisco, CALIF. 94103.
purpose of the
Daughters of BILITIS
1. Education of the Lesbian, enabling her to understand herself and to make her adjustment to society in all its social, civic, and economic implications--by establishing and maintaining a library of both fiction and non-fiction literature on the sex deviant theme; by sponsoring public meetings on pertinent subjects to be conducted by leading members of the legal, psychiatric, religious and other professions; by providing the Lesbian a forum for the interchange of ideas within her own group.
2. Education of the public, developing an understanding and acceptance of the Lesbian as an individual, leading to an eventual breakdown of erroneous taboos and prejudices--by public discussion meetings and by dissemination of educational literature on the Lesbian theme.
3. Encouragement of and participation in responsible research dealing with homosexuality.
4. Investigation of the penal code as it pertains to the homosexual, proposing and promoting changes to provide an equitable handling of cases involving this minority: group through due process of law in the state legislatures.
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Published bi-monthly by the Daughters of Bilitis, Inc., a non-profit corporation, 1005 Market Street, Room 208, San Francisco, California 94103.
VOLUME 14 No. 7 and 8
NATIONAL OFFICERS, DAUGHTERS OF BILITIS, INC.
|Vice President, East||Joan Kent|
|Vice President, West||Jess k. Lane|
Chapter Presidents are also included on The Board
THE LADDER STAFF
|Production Assistants||Lyn Collins, Kim Stabinski, King Kelly, Ann Brady|
|Production Editors||Robin and Dana Jordan|
|Secretary to the Editor||Tracy Wright|
THE LADDER is regarded as a sounding board for various points of view on the homophile and related subjects, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the organization except such opinions as are specifically acknowledged by the organization.
IN THIS ISSUE:
|Women's Coalition by Jess K. Lane||
|Lesbian Life in England by Val Vanderwood||
|Women's Wing short story by Jocelyn Hayward||
|Uses of Sexual Guilt by James Colton||
Poetry Patricia Michaels, Michiko Yamaguchi, Gabrielle l'Autre,
Martha Shelley, Celia Leman, Carol Cunliffe
|Masquerade by Dorothy Lyle||19|
|Lesbiana by Gene Damon||23|
|Personal File: The Transsexual Experience by Karl Ericsen||25|
|Before the Gap Becomes a Chism by Fen Gregory||27|
|Ecclesiastes Be Damned episode by Patricia Michaels||28|
|Lesbian Literature in 1969 by Gene Damon||29|
|Whatever Happened to Sally? by Del Martin||41|
|A Brother's Viewpoint by Jack Stroud||42|
|Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright by Jane Alden||44|
Cover: "Mermaids" by F. Landi, Statue in park adjacent to the Cleveland Museum of Art.
Copyright 1970 by Daughters of Bilitis, Inc., San Francisco, California
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2nd BAY AREA
WOMEN'S COALITION CONFERENCE
Report by Jess K. Lane
In February the Second Bay Area Women's Coalition Conference brought together a dozen or more groups and organizations concerned with different aspects of women's liberation. The conference was held in Gresham Hall of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, with about 200 women participating. The age spread appeared to be from teens to seventies, with the majority probably in their twenties and thirties.
Subjects reported on and discussed ranged from repeal of abortion laws and action taken, through the endless spectrum of job discrimination, what is being done to promote child care to release young mothers; International Women's Day; women's centers in Los Angeles and San Francisco; and peripheral matters. Of particular interest to LADDER readers was the late afternoon panel discussion of Lesbianism with representatives of NOVA, DOB and Gay Women's Liberation participating. This inclusion on the program was an advance over the first Caucus held last autumn when Lesbians were kept invisible as far as the program was concerned--until the demand from the floor that BOB National President Rita Laporte be asked to give a report on the work of her organization.
The Lesbian panel, climaxing the Conference's afternoon session with time allotted from 3:00 P.M. to 3:40 P.M. plus twenty minutes for discussion from the audience, proved a climax indeed, and highly dramatic. More than one woman avowedly "straight" said she found the frank talks of the panelists and subsequent audience interchange the most profound part of the program. The DOB panel member, Pat Davis, met head-on the problem that organizations such as NOW and other women's liberation groups have in openly acknowledging having Lesbian members and in coming out against discrimination towards this minority. Pat cited her own experience in trying to interest a heterosexual woman in the Women's Liberation Movement as fairly typical. The woman argued that the "feminists are all man-haters and probably gay"; hence, she did not care to associate with them. We all
know the extent to which men, and some women, throw this "charge" about, intimidating wives and girlfriends who fear to lose "their men." Commenting that the argument is as silly as the one that attempts to undermine ail radical or reform movements in the U.S. by labeling them communist-inspired or dominated, Pat responded: If the feminist movement Is "nothing but a bunch of Lesbians," then why on earth are we collectively working so hard for child care centers and abortion law change? To the "charge" itself, we ought all to say, So what! "To spend time answering it is a waste of effort ... there is so much that can unite us as women--so many areas where we can work together--so let's get on with it." This approach makes sense, she said, if only because most aware Lesbians and non-Lesbians alike know that they are more discriminated against because they are women than for any other reason. This is especially so as women work and reach towards more rewarding and higher paying jobs and responsible positions, in whatever field.
The spokeswoman for NOVA, who did not identify herself by name, acknowledged the "fear" of Lesbianism that many women feel and express, but declared, "We suffer the same discrimination that all women must face. We feel that we can legitimately claim to be your sisters in the movement." She said that NOVA leaned rather to the social than the sociological, however, providing parties, sensitivity group action and recreation.
The traditional anonymity of the majority of homosexuals, their tendency to assess themselves in society's terms, and almost masochistic acceptance of prejudice against them was quietly challenged by the Gay Women's Liberation panelist, Alice Molloy. A poised young woman, jeans-and-sweater clad, she projected the unaggressive poise of one who knows herself, accepts who she is and expects acceptance from others. The time has come for openness, honesty, for homosexuals to stop trying to "pass"-- "like Jews in a country club" as price of the rewards of "respectability," she suggested. Times have changed, as reflected in the more profound understanding of human
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sexuality and women's and men's diverse erotic needs and feelings. This is particularly true among the young who reject the typing of people sexually, do not see variation as "deviant," and are consequently not fearful of their own or others' sexuality as their elders may have been. Alice commented: "Homosexuality is 99% cultural." She found that traditionally "the homosexual community has been highly conservative"--a pattern that was broken with the advent of the Gay Liberation Movement, at first predominantly male. Alice told of her contacts with this group in the Bay Area and of seeing the need for a like openness for Lesbians. Informally, ten or twelve women who felt this need came together to explore their situation. "Now there are 35 of us in Women's Gay Liberation here." Closing her effective talk, Alice Molloy said, "I was going to do something here, but was told it might not be advisable..." As she paused and smiled over the audience, one could sense a feeling of expectation: the women present wished her to go on. After a silence Alice said, "I'll tell you what I had in mind--and leave it to you. I was going to ask if every woman in the hall who had ever felt she could be erotically attracted to another woman would care to stand up." After the electric statement the silence was tensely felt. Several women stood, including your reporter. A few more slowly followed. Then, like a dam bursting, practically every woman of the 200 or so in the hall was on her feet. Since the majority undoubtedly thought of themselves as "straight" and were living heterosexual lives, this could be seen as an expression of acceptance and sisterly solidarity, beautiful in its spontaneity. Perhaps also it was something of a group confession, for the atmosphere of relief was evident, and reflected in the frank give-and-take of the platform-audience interchange that followed.
Prior to the Lesbian panel, Pam Allen reported on the Women's Center planned for San Francisco. Among the many suggestions discussed were several calling attention to the apparent ignoring of the Lesbian woman in the original proposal and outline of services. Submitted to the Women's Center by DOB's National President Rita Laporte and Vice-President-West Jess K. Lane, in summary, these additions to Center services were recommended:
1. A Lesbian department.
2. Inclusion of the Lesbian in research on women.
3. Easily accessible information and literature on Lesbianism in the Center library and other information sources it may make available.
4. Non-judgmental referral to suitable advisers for girls and women feeling Lesbian Impulses and needing guidance.
It would take far more space than THE LADDER has available to do justice to the Conference as a whole. Like the first one, it was outstanding in its blending of good organization with informality, and the conciseness and brevity of the many speakers, many of whom packed dynamite charges of activity and information into ten and fifteen-minute presentations. "Leaders" and "leadership" were not stressed but rather played down, with interchangeable chairwomen or spokeswomen for the various groups or activities. The aim throughout the Women's Liberation Movement is to encourage every participating woman to develop her own initiative--and initiatives-- and to act and serve wherever needed. In naming the following spokeswomen, therefore, let it be understood that another member of the group mentioned may be taking the responsibility on another occasion. Victoria Selmier of NOW launched the Conference with brief comments and introduced the participants in the morning session. These were: Del Martin (co-founder of DOB) who gave a moving eulogy for the late Inka O'Hanrahan, a long-time worker for women's place in the sun and a friend of Lesbians, according to Miss Martin; Dari Gillespie who spoke for the Sociology Caucus, University of California at Berkeley; Women, Inc. was represented by Hazel Hall who works with union women of Crown Zellerbach's Fibreboard Corporation, fighting job discrimination; Jean Cross told of plans for International Women's Day, March 7-8, for which events are scheduled also for the previous and following weeks, to include art showings, poetry readings and much more, centered at Glide Memorial Church.
Florence Vande Bogart reported on the Ad Hoc Committee on the Status of Women Commission, pointing out. regretfully that legislators with bills designed to help women were not getting enough verbal and written support from women. Help! Joan Jordan spoke for Independent Campus Women of San Francisco State College, particularly concerning the need for child
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care services so as to help women go, or return, to college. This group also is working to end job discrimination. It has a women's study program.
Virginia Selmier reported for NOW's Northern California chapter; Shirley Barnard for NOW's Southern California chapter. A report on Women's Caucus on the Media was given by Barbara Falconer who said her committee had been trying to get more women engaged for air time; more by-line women writers; an end to downgrading of women, so prevalent in the media. There was agreement, she said, that Women's Liberation need a song of its own. Following the lunch break, Sheriff Jensen gave a full report on the Abortion Initiative Project--which is gathering momentum. Both Dr. Nancy Cross and Brenda Brush made contributions to the "Case Against the Newspapers and EEOC." The meeting learned that Brenda Brush had filed suit requesting that television expand its coverage of visual roles for women to include jobs in the mechanical and construction fields.
There were many more speakers, both from the platform and the floor, reflecting an energy and dedication to betterment of all phases of life for women, and justifying the remarks of Victoria Selmier who said at the beginning of the Conference: "You can't stop an idea when its time has come. Our idea's time has come. It is 4,000 years since societies were matriarchal or equal as between the sexes. Since then we have endured the smog of patriarchal fallacies." This Coalition Conference as well as the one preceding it are heartening evidence, along with all else that is going forward in the Women's Liberation Movement, that this smog is no longer to be endured with patient, prone submission but is to be tackled like all the rest of the pollution that is insulting Mother Earth. Right on! as the young people say.
(Jess K. Lane, our vice-president on the West Coast, is, under her own name, an editor, free lancer and poet of note, a lifelong feminist and long-time member of DOB.)
Lesbian Life in England
by Val Vanderwood
American Lesbians who visit England these days have a pleasant surprise in store because the contemporary Lesbian scene is healthily upbeat, expanding, and communicative! The past decade, in fact, has been as progressive a change as a walk from darkness into dawn.
Other than that swinging, long-established Gateways Club, there are few gay bars exclusively for women; however, the girls are busily establishing many private social clubs throughout the country and these fulfill the need for Lesbian companionship at the local level, as do D.O.B. chapters here in the United States. Unlike D.O.B. chapters, these social clubs are each totally autonomous, financially and legally, without affiliation to any central body or charter. Attempts to develop multiple chapters of the same organization failed back in the mid-60's and the philosophy of local autonomy has become the prevailing pattern. While this pattern offers the greatest individual freedom for each of the social groups, it means that communication among the groups is limited by proliferation. Fortunately, the Lesbian publication, Arena Three, includes news notes about a few of the social clubs which have formed or are forming, or it would be virtually impossible for an outsider to contact other Lesbians in the same region for the purpose of socializing.
For the prospective visitor to England who is primarily concerned with Lesbian activities, then, the two organizations most likely to be of value during a vacation are Arena Three and social clubs such as the London-based KENRIC. The previously mentioned Arena Three Lesbian publication was founded back in 1963 and currently has a wide readership, not only in Britain, but around the world. Interestingly, nearly half of Arena Three's first subscribers were D.O.B. members from the United States, so there has been a camaraderie from one side of the Atlantic to the other since the very beginning of its publication. Arena Three has been instrumental in the establishment of Lesbian social clubs and in providing a focal point for their news; it has also been useful as a sounding board for a variety of
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opinions by and about Lesbians. It has reported research findings and encouraged participation in many research projects related to homosexuality. At certain times it has allowed pen pal introductions and a personal advertisements column within its covers, although current issues have deleted the advertisements. In short, a subscription to Arena Three could add flavor and anticipation to a prospective journey, or add further dimension to regular Lesbian reading. Subscription rates are $8.00 annually for overseas subscriptions. Address: Esme Langley & Co., BCM/Seahorse, London, W.C. I, England.
KENRIC is the largest and oldest of the English social clubs, having been founded in London during 1964 by former members of the Arena Three staff. Claiming a membership of over 300 women it is an organization well worth joining if a traveler anticipates spending more than a week or two in London. The annual membership fee of $2.50 includes a monthly newsletter which outlines its social calendar. A typical month's calendar might include: a private home dancing party, a public lecture, an evening at the Gateways Club, a theater or movie function, a discussion group (similar to Gab 'n Java), a literary event, a music group, or various outdoor activities. In addition to its many social activities, KENRIC does have serious purposes which extend beyond mere conviviality. Its goals --"To remedy the sense of isolation by arranging meetings, discussion, and other activities ... to offer sympathetic advice to members who have problems not requiring specialized knowledge ... and to educate public opinion and improve knowledge on the subject of Lesbianism by complying wherever possible with request for speakers or written articles ..." indicate a sense of responsibility and service not unlike those of D.O.B. They do not, however, publish anything except their newsletter social calendar. The subscription address: KENRIC, BM/KENRIC, London, W.C. I, England.
Lesbians who have time for an extended tour of the British Isles, or who expect to live outside of the London area, will find the news notes in Arena Three of great help in pinpointing similar social clubs throughout England.
The more serious vacationer may be interested in the work of the homosexual research-oriented organizations such as Minorities Research Trust, Albany Trust, and the more recently established Scottish Minorities Group. Under a different name, Minorities Research Trust played an active role in the formation of Lesbian organizations in the early 1960's. Its present concern is exclusively related to Lesbian British women, especially research, and it receives some financial support from the social clubs that wish to support its research activities.
Impressions of Lesbian life in England will, of course, vary from person to person, depending upon a number of factors such as the areas visited, length of trip, friendships, etc. Nonetheless, certain aspects of everyday life are apparent to even the most casual observer. The most obvious fact to an American woman is that the entire standard of living is generally lower in England than in the U.S.A. and that the earning power of women is often lower than that of the male. The past role of women in England was subjugation to male dominance although the current generation is making strides toward economic equality. Even so, our Lesbian sisters in England have less money to spend than we do and their material possessions are fewer in number. There are exceptions, no doubt, but for many English women it means a constant confrontation with financial concerns--not for the basic necessities, perhaps, but certainly for the extra conveniences, comforts, and possessions that Americans have come to take for granted. This should not be construed to mean that English Lesbians are less happy than their American counterparts, however!!! Their daily lives are filled with the same problems, joys, fears, and accomplishments as our own. Maintaining a happy relationship in one's love life, with one's family, on one's job, are just as vital. Having a home, friends, recreation and hope for the future are no less important. As people, women, and Lesbians we are variety personified, yet the commonalities exist and dominate. Our common language gives us the tool for communication, Yank to English or English to Yank.
The more relaxed pace of living where tradition and custom permeate the fabric of daily existence make England a most. pleasant country to visit, for in spite of its intensive metropolitan population center, the English countryside remains pastoral, charming, and by American standards, easy to reach. Public transportation in England puts our own to shame, both in cost and accessibility, and as for entertainment,
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London's theater offerings are excellent in quality and only moderate in cost by New York or San Francisco standards. The cities and towns arc filled with cultural and historical museums, (Just in case of summer rain which is prevalent), but it is the flavor of the individual buildings and the crooks and crannies just around every bend that whet imagination and the job of exploration.
But whatever else American Lesbians appreciate about life in England, all will enjoy that fact that a Lesbian act is not illegal there! as it is most of our states. Merry Old England, thanks to Queen Victoria (who reputedly refused to believe that two women could make love ... and who consequently would not permit legislation to be passed citing Lesbian acts as a crime), has never made Lesbianism illegal. This is quite unique since sex acts between homosexual males have been illegal for generations. Only recently, in 1967, has legislation finally been passed which permits sex acts between consenting male adults.
The fact that there is no law against Lesbian acts, however, should, not be presumed to mean that no social pressures or public censures exist. Quite the contrary! There are many pressures and censures ... a vivid reminder that one may legislate but not necessarily educate the public. At the same time, one senses that British girls are not as heavily pressured to date as early as American girls are, that they are not pushed so hard to be "popular"--to be social butterflies, and that remaining legally single is more acceptable than once it was, all of which augurs well for the Lesbian. Conversations held with numerous women from the English social clubs, however, indicate that English women are still not likely to tell their parents and friends that they are Lesbians. Only a small proportion indicated they had or ever would label themselves publicly. The fact that there is no legal punishment against Lesbianism is reassuring to the traveler, nonetheless, even if it is not carte blanche to ignore current social mores.
In England today, as in America, society's attitude toward the Lesbian seems to be moving into a profound phase of development, perhaps as part of the growing civil rights movement in general. Books, films, newspaper and magazine articles on the Lesbian are available today that would never have been permitted a decade ago, except as psychiatric case studies or research projects. What the dimensions of this information will do to the public mood remains to be seen. Can any society sift through the ideas being presented in the various media and find that kernel of understanding which is requisite to acceptance of sexual differences?
While minority advances during the 1960's have been too blatant to be ignored and too powerful to be relinquished in both England and the U.S., past experience with other civil rights groups suggests that the cost of gaining full equal rights will be unattainable without the support of the general public and without great dedication of time, effort and money on the part of Lesbians themselves. Their voice must be heard, not merely through the work of research, but individually and also collectively through the power or organization. Each human being can influence society's opinion toward Lesbianism in both subtle and direct ways ... and nearly everyone can make some monetary contribution toward the organizations working on their behalf. Other civil rights organizations are succeeding, why not our own?
To achieve maximum success, however, we must somehow gain more volunteer leadership and support, in both England and America, for our Lesbian organizations and publications. We need both leaders and followers, the dreamers and the doers. We must continue to sustain the movement but also to accelerate its growth and power. To those dedicated women who have already made their contributions we are, of course, effusively grateful, but it is not enough to say to that benevolent corps of stalwarts, "Thanks for the work you've put in already ... cheers and Godspeed." No, talk is not enough. More of us must now join hands in their circle of deeds and add to their contributions. It is possible to encompass the globe with a commitment of time, finances, and dreams. Indeed, this can be an era to remember ... an era for history to commemorate ... a freedom renaissance!
Although vacations are enjoyable and visits to foreign countries pleasurable, don't we all have a common task to do, as well? Why not an international Lesbian organization, or at least an international subsection as part of our existing organizations? This has been spoken about before but no concrete steps have been taken to make the idea a reality. [note]
As mankind keeps rediscovering, we
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humans need to try for the Impossible, need to reach out--for the moon, certainly, but also for human understanding. Sexual freedom is there to reach out for, and it's within our grasp if we will dedicate ourselves to its achievement--each in our own countries but internationally, too ... English, Australian, Canadian, and Yank alike.
Where are those ten stouthearted women who will soon give us ten thousand more? They are urgently needed for the "Well of Loneliness" revolution in England, in America, and the world over.
by Jocelyn Hayward
To write about the girl in 42, I have to write as much--more perhaps--about the women's wing.
Because only if you understand just how it is in this awful, aseptic citadel of female sexuality, primal and complacent, will you know why the girl in 42 is so important to me.
For instance, the first I hear of her is when the little Armenian says she is in for a sex change and the walking patients believe it word for word. I do not. Already I know enough of the walking patients to know that either they are scared of the girl in 42 or else they are looking for a gossip subject.
They gossip dreadfully, the walking patients. Slipslop into each other's rooms, slipslop down to the stark little grove of visitors' chairs by the glass doors.
"--she don't eat what they bring so how she expect to get milk for the baby--"
"--tell you, women suffer a lot for men. Two needles I'd to call for last night, dear--"
"--heard the doctor say she'd ovaries on her like beach balls. Tubes'll be all to hell too, you ask me--"
You get the idea. I mean, no one has ovaries like beach balls surely. But to listen to them, all these women have beach ball ovaries or strangulated tubes or something very nauseatingly female.
Even the grandmother with varicose veins in 15, they say, got that way from being given too many pregnancies when she was young.
All they talk about is the labyrinthine entanglements of their female organs, and their men. They use the same tone of voice for both.
When the little Armenian asks if I am
married and I say no, she says "Ah lucky"
in a tone you might use to someone who
has won ten scorpions in a raffle. She says
her husband is not a bad man. He works
quite hard and gives trouble only on Saturday nights. She is quite lucky to have got him; she could have done a lot worse.
She is making him sound like a sale-price washing machine so I ask curiously if she loves him.
I think I have said a dirty word. Her head shoots up, she stares and mumbles "Of course," and then goes on quickly to tell me how many pints of blood she lost with her '67 miscarriage.
It's a citadel all right. Its passwords are ovaries and afterbirths, clamps and catheters. Its theme is masochism, its motto: Women suffer so much for men. Its ritual garb is the flossy nightie, usually the color of cheap candy, always bought--in atonement, presumably--by the husband.
I hold no special brief for men. But I feel sorry for them here.
They walk warily through the citadel. Male doctors leave the wards quickly, often with their hands behind their backs as if
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expecting a kick. The little Filipino who collects blood samples--"Why you take so much, greedy?" shrills the fat hysterectomy in 23--looks positively terrified.
A blond radiotherapist comes with a little machine to give treatment to the grandmother. After he has left they discuss his physique in minute detail. I go to sleep and dream they are eating him.
At visiting hour you really see the citadel for what it is. My bed faces down towards the glass doors at the end of the corridor. The husbands gather there, their expressions growing warier each minute, while on this side the walking patients slipslop back to their rooms and arrange themselves on the high white altars of their beds to receive homage.
When they let them in, the husbands know just how it is. They are nervous all the time they are here, continually doing clumsy things like dropping flowers and bumping drip-feeds. When the bell rings for the end of visiting hour, they leave quickly and nervously, like the doctors.
They are hardly out of sight before the walking patients are slip slopping down from their altars to compare gifts. Then the nurses start rattling bedpans and everyone settles back with smug sighs to the evening ritual of dressings and catheters and laxatives and needles.
"He is a good man," the little Armenian says, holding up some frilly magenta horror. "But it's sure nice just to be able to turn over and go to sleep without"--she winks --"a lot of nonsense."
And I turn over too but for a long time before sleep I lie wondering if this really has to be the ultimate in human relationships-- this smug jungle of tubes and catheters and ovaries and clamps on the one side, with the other a vanquished army allowed in once daily to renegotiate its treaties with flowers and cheap nighties.
This is what the citadel does to one's thinking.
All of which--as I warned--is a great deal about the women's wing but nothing about the girl in 42.
I am curious, of course, but I don't expect to do anything about it. However, in time I get to be a walking patient too and this day, passing 42 on my way back from therapy, I glance in and see she has dropped a magazine on the floor.
So I go in and pick it up.
Right then I decide the rumor started from fear. Because she is that most fearful thing, different. The other patients are pre-eminently physical creatures. They make one think of Hamlet's too, too solid flesh, even when the flesh is yellow with sickness.
But the girl in 42 is different. She is a little flame, thinly clad in a pale envelope of flesh which is almost invisible against the pale sheets. Her hair is boy-short and so pale as to be colorless. The only dark thing about her is her great midnight-blue eyes.
If indeed she wants to be a man, she wants it for no inconsequential reason. Candy-colored nighties and the consensus of the walking patients would cut no ice with this passionate flame.
She watches me, saying nothing. I am about to leave, but the magazine catches my eye.
There is a reproduction of a painting--a great, slabby, geometrical vista of a wide land under a wide sky, powerful as a cathedral nave, with the gothic arc of a rainbow uniting the two.
"O", I say as involuntary as breathing, "it's beautiful!"
Then she smiles.
She begins to turn the pages. There are others, all of a wide land and a wide sky, with a sense of reverence deep in them.
"They are by Pierneef, a South African painter." Her voice is thin and high. Her turning hands are almost transparent.
"He sees the--the bones of a land," I say. "Like the Canadian Group of Seven."
"O yes"--she is excited--"you are right! Pierneef and Lawren Harris would have loved each other, wouldn't they!"
And I am filled with happiness because here, in the women's wing, she has said: Love, and it has nothing to do with tubes and catheters and candy-colored nightgowns.
We talk for--I don't know, perhaps ten minutes, perhaps an hour. I do not know what we talk about, but I know it is not the labyrinthine things.
When I go back to my room the fat hysterectomy is visiting the little Armenian. She says, "Did she tell you what they were going to do to her?"
"No," I say shortly. "All I know is she is very sick."
"O sure," says the little Armenian. "Anyone who wants to get their sex changed has to be sick."
I lose a small shred of temper. "The other day you said men have all the fun. So wouldn't you rather be a man?"
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The fat hysterectomy stares. "One bears one's cross," she says heavily and goes off to talk about her hormones to the grandmother.
I return, of course, to 42. There is no magazine to be picked up but I go anyway because it is the only place in all of the citadel to go and be not just a woman but a human being.
I think she is pleased to see me. We talk about art and other things but the blue of her eyes is smudged over into the hollows around them and I must not stay too long.
As I begin to leave, she says, "What do they say about me?"
I hesitate. "What do you mean?"
"The other patients all peer in at me as they go past. What is it that frightens them and not you?"
"O," I say, "I am no hero."
"What do they say?" she persists.
The flame, burning strongly, demands honesty. "That you are in here to have your sex changed."
She smiles. Perhaps she laughs, but I do not think her body is strong enough to laugh.
"They are," she says, "partly right. Perhaps twenty-five percent. One must allow them that."
I say nothing because I do not really want to know. It is nothing and at the same time everything to me.
"Please," she says. "The soul lies much deeper than that, you know."
And of course when I go back to my room I lose my temper with the fat hysterectomy.
"Are they," she says, "going to give her a--well, you know, a man's you-know-what?"
"What makes you," I say, "think they are going to give her anything? Is it always handouts?"
She is very overweight round the eyes. They are like little currants in an uncooked bun. "I just asked," she says. "After all, what else has a man got?"
"Goddammit," I explode. "We talked about art."
The currants roll. "Not much use to anybody, is it?" she says.
"If you aren't talking about art," I snap, "then shut up about your hormones too. You can't have it both ways."
The fat hysterectomy leaves rapidly and the little Armenian slipslops after her, so I have a chance to read.
The next day the flame of the girl in 42 is burning brightly, even mischievously. She says, "Why are you different from the others?"
"O," I say, "I have no beachball ovaries, no tangled tubes. No man even."
"Do you mind?"
"I am not even sure I want a man."
"Maybe they don't either. It is like a nose, you know? No one really wants to have a nose. Of course it is useful to blow and to keep one's glasses up. But the only real appeal of a nose is that everyone else has one."
"You know," I say, "none of them say they love their husbands. They say: He is a big man, or an honest man, or a lazy man. But never: I love him. Am I being stupid?"
(There seems no strangeness in talking this way. Perhaps the women's wing has got to us too; according to the little Armenian, the miscarriage in 37 has been spreading her legs and inviting all the walking patients to count her stitches.)
The girl in 42 looks up at me in the blueness of her flame. She is very ill. She says, "Love is a gift. Will you hold my hand?"
I stretch out my hand but she does not take it straight away. She looks at her own. It is like the pale wing of a pale, delicate bird.
"I would like," she says, "to give you many things. In talk, for instance. But I am a little tired. So I will hold your hand and say nothing with words and everything with my hand. And if you listen hard you will hear me. Do I embarrass you?"
I shake my head.
"Good. Now close your eyes."
No, she does not embarrass me, least of all by her touch. For one thing it is so light I hardly feel it. For another, I feel it so deeply that there is no room anywhere in me for embarrassment.
After what may be a long time, I open my eyes and her two hands are folded. She is smiling gently.
I say, a little shakily, "You talk well."
"You listen well. And no, you are not stupid."
I am at the door when she says, "Will you come back? Even though I played a trick with you?"
She smiles again. "You are a very good listener. I never touched your hand."
Of course I will come back.
In my room, the blonde from 26 is visiting the little Armenian. She is not
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blonde at the roots nor in the straggle of hair at her armpits.
"See you was visiting 42 again," she says.
The little Armenian giggles. "Maybe, when it is all over, they are planning to be married."
The armpit brunette says, "Don't mind us, dear," and laughs until she chokes.
After she has gone, the little Armenian tries to be friendly. She tells me how it feels to have a baby begin to come on the back seat of a cab.
I do not think I want to have a baby begin to come anyplace.
Next morning when I pass 42 she is not there. A nurse says they have taken her down to the operating room and she will be there several hours.
In the afternoon, the little Armenian's husband comes. He brings her a banana-yellow bedjacket. After he has gone, she says, "You think he is bringing too much things?"
"There is maybe another woman. I do not trust too much gifts, too much nicenesses."
She has made me understand many things.
After supper I walk down past 42. There is a strange woman in the bed. She has several chins and an incipient mustache.
The fat hysterectomy, slipslopping past, sees me and says, "Died under the an-aesthetic. Best thing, really."
Perhaps that is right. She was not for a world where there can be too much of giving.
So I know nothing about her--neither her name, nor what was her sickness, nor why she died. I only know that she never held my hand and that, after all, love is much more--and much less--than a labyrinthine horror.
Tomorrow they are sending me home and that is the best thing too. The citadel is no place for either of us.
On the way back to my room I listen to my feet and find I am slipslopping. I try to pick them up and I try not to cry.
(Jocelyn Hayward, a frequent contributor to THE LADDER, is a professional writer, humorist, and editor. We are happy to present here her more serious fiction.)
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USES OF SEXUAL GUILT
by James Colton
"Commonplace sophistication holds that generations of revolt are mostly symptoms of social failure," writes Kingsley Widmer in The Nation (30 Dee. 1968). "In fact, they equally serve as agents of social change."
All around us evidence of social failure and the resultant revolt meant to bring about social change are obvious. And where are the homosexuals? For the most part, in hiding.
Because they do not believe society is wrong about them. They believe it is right about them--that they are sick, that they are criminal, that they are mentally disturbed, that they are sordid. The vast bulk of them buy the whole ugly bag of accusations.
Unhappily, it looks to this observer as if they need it. Of course, to a small number, their status as pariah is vital because it's their only distinction. But what about the rest?
Without question, their guilt has its uses. Who doesn't know the alcoholic whose unhappiness at his or her homosexuality makes him a burden to himself and his friends? The fact is, he likes to drink, needs to drink, and uses his sexual guilt as an excuse.
Who doesn't know the perennial failure, the man or woman with brains and ability who never makes the top in his employment sphere because he is "afraid" his homosexuality will be discovered and he needs the obscurity of a low-paying, drudging job to protect him from exposure? Who doesn't know people of potential talent, would-be writers, artists, musicians, dancers, actors, whose neglect of their abilities they blame on their homosexuality?
No, it isn't easy for anyone in our highly-structured and artificial society to be himself. The pressures against individuality are staggering and deforming. It is hard to resist them. Anti-sexual pressures are still high--and still doubled for homosexuals. Writes Thomas S. Szasz in his paper "Legal and Moral Aspects of Homosexuality":
"In the United States today, why is homosexuality a problem? Mainly because it presents, in sexual form, the classic dilemma of popular democracy: How much diversity should society permit? Many people, eminent psychiatrists among them, do not distinguish between democracy and what Tocqueville called, 'the tyranny of the majority.'"
Numbers of Americans either simply fed up with or actually disadvantaged by the tyranny of the majority are today openly and fiercely rebelling. But the homosexual --in some ways the most disadvantaged of all--refuses to rebel. Why should he when he can--he thinks--have the best of both worlds? No skin color or other inescapable feature marks him off. He can sneak into the establishment as something other than himself.
Why fight, he reasons, what you can join?
But the homosexual cannot join society as presently constituted, and he knows it. Whatever he pretends, he is an outcast still. If he has a decent job he is never secure in it. If he gets equal treatment under the law it isn't for a homosexual offense. If he wants a political career, a civil service career, an Armed Forces career, exposure of his sexual bent can destroy it. If he wants to make love he has to break the law in 48 of the 50 states.
In his book Must You Conform? the late Robert Lindner called homosexuality "a reaction of non-conformity, a rebellion of the personality" against "a sex-rejective, sex-repressive society."
How does the homosexual handle the role?
At a recent symposium on "The Aging Homosexual" sponsored by The Tangent Group in Los Angeles, a young man rejected the private, members-only baths that have become so much a part of the male homosexual scene in U.S. cities.
"They're too safe," he said. "There's no risk involved. There's no chance the guy you make a pass at will turn out to be a vice squad officer."
Rebellious--right? It shocked a good many participants in the symposium. Yet what in fact does it show? It shows a bleak dependency on society and its present attitude for one's kicks. The absence of any threat of arrest, exposure, humiliation, punishment, results in diminished sexual satisfaction.
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This man was rejecting the role of rebel.
However honest his homosexuality to start with, he has forsworn it in favor of conformity. Yes, conformity. He does not believe in his homosexuality, cannot assert it for itself and the happiness it can bring him. His need to feel guilty and therefore hunted comes above his need for sexual release. A hostile society and its dictates are more vital to him than his own ego and its needs.
He isn't a rebel; he is a victim.
So are most homosexuals. By choice. While they can believe in their own guilt they can dodge their ethical commitment to rebel, to change the society that victimizes them. Their only rebellious acts remain private and horizontal.
But rebellion in bed is as silly and wasteful a thing as one can do there. The fun most homosexuals today have in bed is not sexual at all but lies in a kind of childish nose-thumbing at an Authority that would punish them if it knew what they were up to.
Sex has a high value of its own. Most homosexuals never find out what it is. They subsist on side-effects of sex--a rigged and forever-losing struggle against Mom and Dad, Preacher and Cop and, often enough and even sadder, against God who, if He exists, surely made them as they are.
None of this is to say that once people stop reacting by homosexual means against the hypocritical morality of our up-tight society and come out into the open and band together to change the laws and set Mom and Dad, Preacher and Cop straight on the facts about homosexuality--that homosexuality will stop.
On the contrary, homosexuality might then, at long last, really begin--for those who actually are homosexuals. Those who have been faking it, for one guilty reason or another, will be happy too--happy heterosexuals.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
James Colton is a Director of the newly formed Homosexual Information Center in Los Angeles. He is the author of Strange Marriage, Known Homosexual and other novels, The Corrupter, a short story collection, and such magazine articles as "Science Looks at Homosexuality" and "Suicide and the Homosexual." He is an editor of Tangents magazine. His newest novel is Hang-up, published in July, 1969, and another novel, Gard, will appear this fall. He and his wife, the poet-artist-translator Jane Race, share a house with cats, a Myna bird; a dog, a hooded rat and a big white rabbit "who runs the place."
Fire torn, cursed by breaths,
Deaths with no hold on us other than our births;
We sheltered our fears until our deaths
And walked sublimely to reminisce our mirths.
With painstaking vows shielded beneath our rights
We vexed one another with constrained remorse;
We never once shed our veils of fright
Or adventures emanating from our selfless course.
Pleading within each kiss we sought to please
Avoiding the incandescent question,
"Why is this sinful?" "Why must we appease?"
Each touch and embrace a portent of deception.
Thoroughly, surely, we held our sacred vow
Which promised in clandestine affirmation
(To worship each other's desires)
Likewise we pledged again until death, until now,
And calmly led ourselves to delve assuredly beneath the mires.
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ON SCORPIO RISING
Those men knew how to do homage,
Knew that the ram of sacrifice
Must be belted and bejeweled,
Marked with memento mori,
Carefully tended and dressed
In the ritual, feasted.
In the prime of lust and luxury,
He must go knowingly, eagerly,
As a man prepared.
Sheath him in leather, black and burnished.
Studded in chrome
Hang chains from his waist, ring his hands,
Strap on his boots.
At the feast of masks let him strip,
Give stripes, receive adoration, ram.
He who goes down before the Lord
Must be without blemish.
And let him rise in the morning,
Mount, ride through the misty streets,
Ascend at the cross road with sirens
Wailing kyrie, beautiful symbol
Of his body sailing high and then ruined forever,
Cut by the chromium jewels,
Blood spurting out of the leather like love,
like spilt seed.
No Scarlatti sonata here
for you to drown in,
no trace of patterned sound--
only unbroken stillness
as you sit at a low table
folding flights of paper cranes;
by a flock of voiceless birds.
Always In Search Of The Muse
Her smile captures me,
I endure her walk.
She is passive, silent, reserved,
Lost in her thoughts.
I watch her as she walks lightly,
And hesitates before speaking
As though timidity had caught her.
She never speaks to me
Except in a whisper;
I nod politely,
But her skin is soft
And the whiteness intrigues me.
TO A YOUNG LOVE
Take from this twisted symmetry of limb
The tangled rhythm, slow pulse of hymn,
Tortured El Greco tempered and annealed,
Wild passion fixed yet not congealed,
Urge swirled by environment yet, in girth
And reach, thrusting from anchoring earth
Against shaping wind and oppressing air
To climb, grow, blossom. You who despair,
Feel you are part of the whole design,
Lending to landscape more dramatic line
And richer mood. Less rooted, more free,
You give to the heath more beauty than the tree,
And to life, and to me.
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SEVEN POEMS BY MARTHA SHELLEY
Draw near, my friend, and share with me
This couch. The lamp is bright
And sends warm glades of light
To slide along your thigh and scatter off your knee,
Like waterfalls that splash off rocks below.
We ate--your face is shining with the heat
And richness of the food. The wine was sweet
And loosed your hand to swing in slow
White curves that measured off the rhythm of your speech.
Give me your hand, and let mine
Follow down the golden line
Of light, as far as I can reach,
Around your waist and up into the puffs of hair
At the nape, and at the hollow
Of your throat, where if I follow
Too long, may be lost in contemplating there,
In the darkening valley, on slopes that are steep.
Give me your hand, and share with me
This couch, and offer me
The cup of gold. I will drink deep.
The papers pass beneath my hands
The bleak fans
Labor to unwind the August air
In smoky streams
Tapping of a typist's keys
Tapping of a woman's heels
And a flash-by-silk blouse.
And in my ears the beating of
And half-built dreams
Of hot rice wine in ginger lands
A dark room with a sliding paper door
And alien flesh to burn my hands
Her robe fell open at the knee;
I heard crossed knees
Shifting on the sofa springs,
Beneath white words she
breathed at me.
Like the curtains at the Met
Drawn for pale Aida,
Are the folds and stripes of her robe,
Blood-color fells of velvet:
Something with blood-caked fur
Stiffly paces the chambers
Of bone caves beneath my face,
Gazing at her.
She puffs words, "Do you love me?"
Love!--is toast and tea,
An ordered house
In a distant valley
And here in me the dark monsoon
In solid rainsheets falls,
Wordless, Keening in the dark;
I hear her blood across the room.
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The love I cannot cup in my two hands
Is also most-beloved.
My younger self would not believe
What did not taste of apples or touch silk
Or funnel out in gallon jugs
Or ring on counters in candy stores
And now a face I cannot see
Her hands that I have never held
Have claimed some squatter's right
on my heart
And I cannot be free.
Some letters, though, she has allowed to me
And every night I hurry home to mail
Like a lemming scenting sea.
Your cat-dilated, almost amber eyes
(as space between beats grows smaller
on drums that light broken streets)
Your touch draws
back of my eyes.
We are too crowded in one room.
I wish I were
the rapids of the Colorado
wild within cliffs
And you a storm
come down tundra
too narrow a path
For the lightning your fingers suggest;
Your lips demure
our cruel-edged limitations.
I almost ask you
Go; let me be
some small cool thing
Crossing the Plains
In late November.
You were in my arms, yet unpossessed;
My soul moved, bruised.
against the inside of my skin
Where it touched you,
As I could hear your soul move.
We lay together, unconsoled,
Wanting something more than
Beyond words, beyond caresses.
My soul was bruised
Because I could not be
You and myself besides.
I would deck her dusky shoulders
With bright flowers, twine them
In her long, loose hair;
And I would bathe and dress,
and so prepare
For her embrace--if she came softly,
And I were aware.
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"There are tigers deep within us,"
you have told me,
your green eyes glinting gold by candlelight--
and you become an antiquary
reading from an ancient map the words
HERE IN LIE TYGERS,
while your fingers trace each letter,
discovering by touch those continents
where tigers roam
upon vast moonlit veldts.
Wind-borne or gliding on a word
I come to you each night,
turn tiger underneath your hands
and in your eyes.
Japan is disappearing by degrees
and soon we'll have no gardens left
except for a withered bonsai
in an enamelled niche;
no clogs on cobblestones,
only the rush of rubber wheels
upon cement. Ask any crane
soaring above the city.--
one day we shall behold Mount Fuji gone
and in its place a gray stone wall
with no gate.
Foolish, foolish woman, what have you done?
A lover of women, you worship only the sun,
And for all your striving, though you look the part,
Though you've treated me like a man from the start,
I am more a lady than you,
And I must be a woman too.
You cannot comprehend my quiet kind of love,
The unspoken, gentle on the mind kind of love,
That lasts far beyond the loud bar, bed, and dawn
Through dark, lonely hours when the other is gone,
Not a quickly-broken promising love,
But enduring, all encompassing love.
CHANGING YOUR ADDRESS?
If you are planning to move, please let us know six weeks before changing your address. Please send your old address and your new address, clearly marked. You MUST include BOTH your old and your new zip codes. REMEMBER, third class mail is not forwardable. Send to CIRCULATION DEPARTMENT, 1005 Market Street, Room 208, San Francisco, California 94103.
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by Dorothy Lyle
Today, when women can dress as they please for the most part, and work at most kinds of labor, few feel the need to actually pass as men the entire time. This is a very new state of affairs, however, and in past times thousands of women made their lives more palatable by pretending to be male. Good women and criminals, noble women and outrageous scoundrels, Lesbians and heterosexuals: all have posed as men. Most of them are unimportant from a historical standpoint, though many had wild adventures which would have been impossible had they chosen to live as women since, traditionally, active lives are denied to women.
Christina de Meyrac, daughter of Baron de Meyrac of Bearn, was raised as a boy (unexplained) by parents who adored her. She was taught to ride and shoot and hunt, and various other sports. In a hunting party she accidentally shot and killed her brother. Her father, in a blind rage, set out to kill her, and she took refuge with a relative, the Abbe Dizeste. He smuggled her into Spain disguised as a boy. There she entered a university for a while but was wounded by a ruffian in a street fray, in an area of her anatomy that made concealment of her sex impossible.
With the help of a Marquesa D'Osseyra she convinced the surgeon to keep her secret. She made friends with the Lady Abbess of the Ursilines and became a pensioner in the convent of the Ursilines. Ironically, she was allowed to play a male role in a play performed by the nuns to entertain the Archbishop of Saragossa, and he recognized her from her student days at the University and asked the Lady Superior why she allowed a young man in the convent. Soon after this, Christina went back to her home in Bearn, her father having died in the meantime and her mother wishing to see her.
In Beam, dressed as a girl, of course, she received much male attention. She disliked the attention, however, and again with the aid of the Abbe Dizeste, she cut her hair, dressed as a boy, and went to Paris where she joined the First Company of the King's Guard. She went by the name of St. Aubin, and since the King's Guard was a detachment of musketeers, she has been known historically as "The Woman Musketeer."
The King journeyed to Flanders, accompanied by the Guard. During the trip, while billeted in the house of a wealthy burgher, St. Aubin had to put off the sexual advances of the wife, the sister, and the daughter of the burgher. (This would imply either wild exaggerations in the accounts of her life or unlimited sex appeal.)
Her history after this is confused (and the sources certainly don't agree), but it is known that she fought in several battles in the French Army and that each time she relinquished male garb she was followed and proposed to by the Marquess D'Osseyra, son of her friend, the Marquessa. Whenever this happened she donned male garb again and went into the army. At the siege of Ypres she was wounded seriously (actually the second time she was wounded in her military career) and died of her injuries. She is described as a great beauty and apparently ran from men by becoming one--her motivations, of course, lie buried with her at Bruges, Belgium.
To turn from muskets to the open sea, we have the remarkable story of Mary Anne Talbot who went against her will (as a slave of the Captain) to sea as a cabin boy in 1792. She liked the male role, however, and after many adventures which took her from her native London to the West Indies and back to London and Flanders, she escaped her cruel master. (He was killed in battle, fortunately.)
Dressed as a sailor, she deserted and tried to get back to England. She reached Luxembourg and shipped aboard a French lugger. This ship sailed in September 1793, and she soon discovered it was a privateer. In the English Channel the ship engaged a British vessel and was captured. Mary told her story (concealing her sex) to the Admiral himself and was made a powder boy. She served on many ships and took part in several battles and was wounded several times. She was also taken prisoner by the French another time but again escaped during an exchange of prisoners. She was 01 for a while and left the Navy, but continued to pose as a man. As a civilian she shipped aboard a merchantman bound for America as a ship's steward. Her pay was fifty pounds for the voyage. (A much larger sum than was usual, and no explanation is offered for this discrepancy
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in the accounts of her life.) The captain of this merchantman took a liking to the steward, and in America she visited his Rhode Island home where she courted his daughter--only leaving when the daughter pressed for marriage. Mary eventually sailed back to England where she was abducted by a "press-gang" (men who stole sailors and sold them as slave labor on other ships).
Later in life she admitted to having been "John Taylor" of some Navy fame and worked as an entertainer, still dressed as a man. She was awarded a pension by Queen Charlotte and was helped financially, too, by the Duke and Duchess of York and the Duke of Norfolk. This was undoubtedly due to her exploits rather than any real financial need on her part. She died in 1808, at only 30 years of age, having packed a lot of living into that short span of time.
Lady Hester Lucy Stanhope never pretended to be a man, but she took over all of the masculine prerogatives, including men's clothing. She was born in 1776 to a distinguished mother and father. Her father was Charles, Viscount Malion, afterwards Third Earl of Stanhope. Her uncle was William Pitt, the Younger, possibly England's greatest prime minister. She became William's housekeeper--and his most trusted confidant, a very unusual role for a young woman. When he died in 1806 he left 1500 pounds a year to her for life. (Some sources say only 1200 pounds; in either case, a wonderful sum.)
Soon after her uncle's death Lady Stanhope moved from London to Wales. She is described as being 6' tall, very beautiful, very intelligent and witty. As an aside we are told that she was headstrong, unmanageable, and very masculine. In 1806, at age 30, she fell in love for the first, last and only time in her life with "a young English girl named Williams." After four years, when much "coarse gossip" reached her ears, Lady Stanhope took Miss Williams and her personal physician, Charles Lewis Meryon, and several servants, and fled to the East. Her ship, the frigate Jason, was shipwrecked off Rhodes, but the party safely reached Palestine and Jerusalem. She obtained equipment and the party traveled into the desert and set up a camp near the ruins of Palmyra.
Later she moved her camp to the slopes of Mount Lebanon and made friends with the sheiks of various half-wild tribes (among other privileges accorded her was visiting the harems in her male garb, which caused some hilarious situations). She prevailed upon the Pasha of Acre to Cede her the ruined convent and village of Dahar-Joon-- built upon a conical mountain. There she rebuilt the entire town and added beautiful gardens and a strong outer wall. The Arabs loved her and her charity to them made them treat her like a God. She also adopted many of their customs, which would have added to her popularity.
However, when Miss Williams died in 1828 (or 1826; the sources vary) Lady Stanhope became quite increasingly uncivilized, particularly in her treatment of servants, punctuating blows with a mace (a metal-studded club) and "lurid language." She loved horses and cats and kept dozens of the latter. When she ran out of money (after helping to conduct a few Arab wars between neighboring tribes) she locked herself up in her paradise on the mountain and fasted to death in June 1839.
Catherine Wretford Tozer was born in 1834 at Axbridge near Somersetshire, England. She was well-educated for those times, attending a girls' college until age 16, when she married her first cousin, Percival Coome (or Coombes), some 23 years her senior. He was apparently very sadistic, mistreating her, and also once was discharged as a teacher for cruelty to the students. To escape him, Catherine ran away disguised as a man, and called herself "Charley Wilson." She became a house-painter and managed, to become a member of the Painter's Union in London. (This was a difficult accomplishment since membership in unions was then, as now, restricted, and usually passed on from father to son.) Catherine, as Charley Wilson, worked for 13 years for the P & O Company in London as a painter, and during at least 7 years of this time she lived with another woman--the two being considered man and wife, of course. The "marriage" lasted until the wife died in 1897. In April of that year Charley moved to a lodging house in Railway Terrace, Kinston-on-the-Thames, and told the landlady that she was a painter and glazier, and a widower who had lost a wife and three children. Catherine Coombes is known historically as "The Gentleman Painter."
The famous author of THE CLOISTER AND THE HEARTH, Charles Reade, wrote a far more elaborate and decidedly fanciful version of Catherine's life. Admittedly, his story is more Lesbian in tone, but also it is
[p. 21] | [Page Image]
very questionable. The only possible "fact" from his version is the name of the wife of Charley Wilson. He calls her Anne Ridgway, and one or two magazine articles use this name also; but it is not a verifiable fact.
"James Allen" presents a very intriguing mystery. There has never been any proof of the original identity of the woman called James Allen who successfully lived her adult life as a happily married man. In 1829 at St. Thomas's Hospital in London, James Allen died, and an inquiry into his death provides the only known facts. In 1808 James Allen was a groom in the household of a Mr. Ward of Camberwall Terrace and Mary Allen (no maiden name is known) was a housemaid. James courted and married her, and they saved their money and bought a small inn in Baldock, England. They were liked by people and the inn prospered for some years. Then a calamity struck: they were robbed in the night of all of their money and valuables. They sold their business and returned to London, where James found work in a ship-builder's yard. He was considered a sober and industrious worker. He was injured fatally by a failing piece of timber and died on the way to the hospital. The post-mortem examination determined him to be a woman, physically perfect in every respect.
At the inquest some question was made concerning the possibility of hermaphrodism. This was declared wholly without foundation by the several physicians who had examined the body. The wife, Mary Allen, is described as having been "innocent as a baby and unaware that there was anything unusual in her personal life." She must have been!!!
Almost everyone has heard of Deborah Sampson, the most publicized of the American women who fought as men during the Revolutionary War--but some of the more interesting aspects of her masquerade have been overlooked by her more saccharine-tongued biographers. Deborah was born in December 1760. Her father was a sailor, and he died when she was 5 years old. There were many children, and the mother had to farm them out to relatives. This atmosphere surely had some bearing on Deborah's later history.
One evening she "borrowed" a suit of men's clothes and spent the. evening drinking at the local "ordinary" (tavern). For this she was put out of the Baptist Church (which comes as no real surprise). She ran away from home in 1782 and joined the army, calling herself Robert Surtlieff. She saw little war action (despite some biographies to the contrary) but did win a reputation as "a devil with the ladies." Several hilarious accounts are told of girls attempting to trap her into marriage. At one time she must have been very ardently pursued because she wrote a letter to the girl to break off the relationship, and ended the letter with "Your Own Sex." After the war she married and nothing more of her history has been recorded.
A very sad story from the days of inadequate physical knowledge of the human body and inadequate knowledge about emotional involvements comes down to us from many sources. In 1735 in Grenoble, Anne Grand jean was born. She was the daughter of a carpenter, and in his desire to have a son he raised her as if she were a boy. At age 15 a scandal was created in the town by whisperers who said she had more charms for the lasses than the boys.
Upset and overwrought, Anne confessed her love for women to the town priest. Being a good and simple man, he assumed an error had been made and told her that she was really a boy. She went home and announced this and soon was known as Jean-Baptiste Grandjean. When it was observed that Jean-Baptiste was as friendly with girls as Anne had been shy with boys, no one doubted that she was a real boy.
Soon after this, she married a Francoise Lambert and her troubles really started. The couple moved to Lyon and started a business. There an "old friend," jealous over losing Jean-Baptiste, made trouble between them, telling the young wife the very truthful truth that she was married to a woman. The wife went to another priest and this one decided that indeed she must be married to a woman. Poor Jean-Baptiste was exposed in the stocks for a time and then thrown into prison as a "defiler of the sacrament of marriage." She lodged an appeal and the Paris Medical Faculty examined her and declared her to be a woman "with a touch of hermaphrodism." (Today this would probably be a normal female with a slightly overdeveloped clitoris, a medically common occurrence.) The Parliament of Paris freed her from prison but annulled her marriage and restored her name of "Anne." She was then forbidden to have anything to do with the female sex.
No further record of her life exists. However, it is unlikely that she followed
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the decree against her since she was only in her middle 20's at that time and was quite clearly a Lesbian.
Our last subject, Madame Jeanne Dieulafoy, is perhaps the strangest of all. To borrow a vulgarism, she was a "mixed-up kid." She dressed always as a man and insisted that she be treated as a man, but didn't try to deny that she was a woman. She was married to Marcel Dieulafoy, and there is a delightful photograph of them, often reproduced, in identical evening dress. Since her hair in the photograph is shorter than his, they look like brothers.
In itself, this behavior would not be sufficiently unusual to be of interest. But Madame Dieulafoy ran a school for the education of children based on the principle that a feminine education of both sexes was the only way of teaching young people how to behave properly in society. Consequently she educated both the boys and the girls as little girls. The boys played female parts in the presentations of the comedies of the times. We don't know who played the male parts.
Her private life, and her public life, were circumspect, as far as can be determined. It would be interesting, though, to know why everyone had to be educated to be proper ladies while she played the part of a man all of her life.
Each of these women used the male disguise to "pass" into a better world-- even as light-skinned blacks have passed as white. If they lived today, almost without exception they would have had less eventful but surely less harrowing lives. It is a matter of some gratitude to realize that women do not have to resort to these disguises today, though looking at the current "liberation" movement, one wonders!
Gilbert, Oscar Paul, WOMEN IN MEN'S GUISE, London, The Bodley Head, 1932.
Stoker, Bram, FAMOUS IMPOSTERS, N.Y., Sturgis and Walton, 1910.
Thompson, C.J.S., MYSTERIES OF SEX, London, Hutchinson, n.d. (1938).
Vinton, John Adams, THE FEMALE REVIEW, OR LIFE OF DEBORAH SAMPSON, Boston, 1866.
Wright, Richardson, FORGOTTEN LADIES, Philadelphia, Lippincott, 1928.
(Editor's Note: Some contemporary sources cite Deborah Sampson as being a black woman. We would very much appreciate positive clarification of this question from our readers. This article was originally written over five years ago and was updated for publication. Miss Sampson's own memoirs in the John Adams Vinton title cited above do not indicate that she was black.)
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by Gene Damon
Not too many years ago to be remembered by anyone old enough to be reading this column, blacks were still considered a negligible civil rights force, and their efforts at self-determination and freedom were quite frankly laughed at. Well, that's changed, and not just a little. And for the past four or so years, women have been in the news ... demanding equal rights. Well, that's not new. Women have been doing that since the middle 1850's ... we all know that, and nothing much has happened ... so, naturally, nothing much ever will.
On the other hand, in 1889 the first big step toward Mack equal rights was taken in this land. So who is to say when the "worm" will turn, or if it may already have turned? All this is leading up to a plethora of new books about what the world would really be like if women ran it. Naturally, such books, in this world today, have to be couched in science fiction terms. This isn't even a new theme in science fiction ... John Wyndham's wonderful CONSIDER HER WAYS, which first came out in 1956, comes easily to mind; and there were a number of others in the later 1950's on the general theme of worlds of women only. But these were more truly science fiction, less truly sociological commentary. Wyndham's book was based on a bee hive sort of existence within the female community, with workers, drones, and queens.
THE LEAGUE OF GREY-EYED WOMEN, by medical journalist Julius Fast, Philadelphia, Lippincott, 1969, considers what happens when an enormous colony of women who share a mutated gene series giving them grey eyes and telepathic abilities set about uniting themselves and finding a way to create a male stud for the furthering of their race. Fanciful as that sounds, Mr. Fast has done his medical homework (I checked), and he is not out of line on the possibilities. Our interest here, besides the obvious, is that the women are often Lesbians ... not for any major reason beyond the lack of ability to communicate with ordinary men ... who lack the telepathic sensitivity which allows them full love. As terrible as the idea might seem to some, a world where war, hate, fighting and poverty would not be possible doesn't seem too bad.
Another, and far less plausible, view is
provided by John Boyd in SEX AND THE
HIGH COMMAND, N.Y., Weybright and Talley, 1970. This is about how it all happens when the women really do take over the world ... in high gear. It features male stereotypes along the lines one sees on television, and it fails mightily in both its larger concept and its humor, but it does end with an all female world ... presumably quite happy.
THE CHOSEN PLACE, THE TIMELESS PEOPLE, by Paule Marshall, N.Y., Harcourt, Brace and World, 1969, begs for that cliché, "a major novel." It really is that ... combining all the excellence possible in a large cast novel without losing the skills that most often shine through in the little ones. Miss Marshall is a slow and good writer with few real credits but much critical acclaim. Her earlier works, SOUL CLAP HANDS AND SING, and BROWN GIRL, BROWNSTONES, both were well reviewed. The former title was a four part collection of novellas and contained minor male homosexuals. THE CHOSEN PLACE, THE TIMELESS PEOPLE is centered about a research development project on a barren West Indian island. The central figure is Merle, a black woman, illegitimate daughter of an island patriarch. Merle has been educated, both in school and in bed, in England. Her past includes a destructive and formative Lesbian relationship. She is not a
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real person, but she is more real than most chosen for this sort of pivot point in a novel. I will be accused of much prejudice here, but Miss Marshall is a better writer, hands down, than any black male novelist I've yet read... and to that I add, hurrah for her.
Reprint news seems to be limited to THE PURITAN JUNGLE by Sara Harris, out now from Pocket Books. This isn't much, except for its kind comments re the various and sundry load carriers in the movement.
What fun it is to watch John O'Hara's amazing route. I began many years ago chronicling his progress into the field of homosexual literature. He began with a few excursions into the male aspects of the field and soon began including women... in recent years he has become more and more concerned with Lesbianism, reaching a high point in AND OTHER STORIES, which was his last short story collection (N.Y., Random, 1968, Bantam, 1970). His latest novel. LOVEY CHILDS: A PHILADELPHIAN'S STORY, N.Y., Random, 1969, is quite major. It isn't up to the level of his better Lesbian short stories, but his novels never are up to his shorter works, so faulting him on that ground is not really fair. It is a typical O'Hara novel, using his usual milieu, Philadelphia's upper class, in every way except for the really heavy emphasis on the Lesbianism. Critics are damning him again, but that is fashionable and a bit like shooting arrows at the Rock of Gibraltar... foolish. If you like him, this Is your book. Most amazing thing about the man is that he can write about women and be believed by women reading him... very few male novelists can do this. One in the eye for the critics. Perfect he isn't; great he is.
Theater nuts are asked please to watch for any printed presentation of Edward Bond's 1967 play, EARLY MORNING. This is supposed to be about Queen Victoria and Florence Nightingale... as Lesbians. Apparently this was first presented in England sometime in 1967 or 1968. It has recently (sometime in 1969) been presented as part of an Edward Bond Festival at the Royal Court Theater in London. We believe that it was the last play to be banned officially by the Lord Chamberlain, but we are relying on memory here and aren't sure. Certain magazines in the U.S. and Britain customarily publish full texts of plays. If anyone finds this one, please send a copy or at least the reference, attention Gene Damon.
Simon Cooper's THE RAG DOLLS is out from (Signet, 1970... read and forget type entertainment... minor interest.
On the other hand, May Sarton's wonderful THE FUR PERSON is out in paperback from Signet, 1970 (we feel this is probably its first paperback incarnation). It is about the finest cat book (fiction) ever written, and it tells about a cat about town, Tom Jones, and the two women he adopts (they think they adopt him), and how he becomes "with a little help from his friends" a fur person. Reviewer in PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY commented that she planned to give a number of, copies away to human-type fur people... and that will be 60 cents well spent and well received in each case.
Bantam Books has a paperback edition of THE MAGIC GARDEN OF STANLEY SWEETHEART out, 1970. Definitely worth paperback price but primarily for those interested in his potential talent. Lesbian material in it is silly.
If you cannot be present for the Convention, make sure someone who is attending can voice your vote via proxy. If you or a friend cannot attend, mail your proxy to:
c/o Rita Laporte, Nat'l. Pres.
Daughters of Bilitis
1005 Market Street, Room 208
San Francisco, Calif. 94103
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THE TRANSSEXUAL EXPERIENCE
by Karl Ericsen
I am a transsexual--a person who has changed physical sex (female to male). I have become increasingly disturbed by the wall being erected between transsexuals and lesbians. It seems to be the result of too much misinformation floating about, added to the tendency on most peoples' part to equate the two groups and therefore not understand the measures each takes in solving its particular problem, e.g., lesbians (and most heterosexuals) can't understand why a transsexual wants to be a man and think they are bowing to society in seeking a change. It is my hope that through this paper, a few more minds (and hearts) will open up and we can all progress.
The main thing to remember is that a transsexual is always aware of living a dual life, i.e., having the inner drives and desires of a male and the physique (or reasonable facsimile) of a female. Sure, I am well aware that many females "want to be a boy" at least during childhood. I am also aware that many think it more advantageous to be a male. But the transsexual does not look at it that way--something inside lets him know from the onset of conscious thinking that he is a male in the, "wrong suit of clothes". In every aspect of his life he is male except physically. He prefers and seeks male company and feels out of place with groups of females, is interested in male vocations and avocations and falls in love with females (usually heterosexual). While these may fit a masculine lesbian, there is one difference--the lesbian always know she is a female. A transsexual is constantly at war unless a sex change can be obtained.
That is a simple enough definition--the difficulty lies in pinpointing the cause(s). This is where the two factions clash and the name calling begins. I believe the "war" is a useless preoccupation because the criteria used to back up statements (biological, psychological and sociological) have not been scientifically substantiated and, therefore, facts become theories. I am not using this as a defense--only trying to get people to close their mouths and accept each other --maybe tomorrow we will have some real answers. Great leaps are being made in many related fields--genetics, behavior conditioning, endocrinology, sexual response research and so on.
Let me attempt to open a crack to the "inner door" and let you take a look at some of the obstacles a transsexual faces in making the sex change. Before we go into detail on those, I believe we should clear up some of the scandal that has come down upon the heads of the doctors who are working in this field. Of course, there are quacks--as in every field of medicine-- and the public is partly at fault in this case because it effectively restricts ethical doctors from entering this field. Our laws are so shrouded in puritanical hogwash that a doctor risks not only his reputation, but also his practice. However, I must say that the doctors I have met have been excellent. They made every effort to make a thorough and objective evaluation of me before recommending treatment. Transsexuals have their share of borderline cases (those are patients who might change their minds or who are not quite sure) and more than their just share of emotional instability (the transsexual often lives many extremely lonely and hopeless years in a world just not made for him). Most surgeons who perform the operations will not even interview a patient until he has been screened by a psychiatrist and an endocrinologist and enough time has elapsed to give the patient a chance to live and work in the new sex.
The transsexual's first obstacle is to find a doctor (or person) knowledgeable enough to know that work is being done in this field. This may seem minor to a well read city dweller but it is a real mountain to some poor kid in Wheatville, Kansas. Once the transsexual has been put in touch with an endocrinologist in the field, the problem is temporarily taken out of his hands and he is put through every imaginable test. Some hospitals (Johns Hopkins, University of Michigan and U.C.L.A.) have been using this information and transsexual subjects for research work.
The first test includes a very detailed personal history--family, medical, sexual and social, and a thorough physical examination. Besides being looked at and into from all possible angles, measurements are
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taken (often a hypogonadal condition shows up in these) a cornification test is given (testing for female hormones) and reflexes are tested (for instance, the "gagging reflex" is primarily male--gagging when an object is put near but not touching the pharnyx lining).
Next, the transsexual is sent to an endocrinal laboratory with a twenty-four hour urine collection. Tests are made to determine the level of the male hormones. A blood test is also taken and several evaluations made. The female averages from 8 to 14; the transsexual averages from 12 to 30.
Lastly, the transsexual is given a battery of psychological tests and referred to a psychiatrist.
After all of this information has been collected and studied, the patient is again interviewed by the endocrinologist. At this time the findings and future are discussed. A very frank discussion takes place and all questions are answered. The transsexual is told everything that is known in the field and what procedures will take place. If the doctor considers him a likely (and qualified) candidate for surgical procedure, he is invited to join a discussion group. In this group are other transsexuals (in various stages of change and dress), transsexual's mates, doctors and lawyers, and every aspect of the transsexual's past, present and future are discussed.
The transsexual is then started on a series of male hormone injections--these cause menses to cease, voice to deepen, body and facial hair to grow, skin to coarsen, and muscles to increase strength. The transsexual is advised to begin living and working as a male. All this is to give the transsexual a chance to sample life as a physical male and to see if it is really right for him. If he decides that it is not, the injections are stopped and he gains all of his female-ness back except his voice (once the vocal chords are stretched, they do not shrink).
After a period of adjustment, an interview with a plastic surgeon is made. If the surgeon agrees, a double breast amputation is performed. This is a rather simple surgical procedure leaving two almost invisible scars on the chest. Hospital stay is two to four days; recuperation, one week.
The second surgery is a hysterectomy. This is a very traumatic experience to most females because it completely takes away any chance to procreate. It is, therefore, given serious consideration by the doctors and patient. A true transsexual could only come away elated and with no regrets.
The third operation has not been perfected to any degree. This is the construction of a penis. It has been tried on several transsexuals without much favorable result. It would include enclosing a section of rib cartilage in a skin graft and running the urethra through lit. Most transsexuals are not willing to go through the pain and expense of this operation until it has been perfected. The doctors and transsexuals are hoping for this or a transplant to become feasible.
The social obstacles the transsexual meets are varied. Some families have completely understood and supported--others have disowned their transsexual member. Friends are sometimes slow in acceptance if the transsexual has kept that part of himself away from them. Some friends (usually friends of the family and relatives) are shocked--some think it is a change for the better and necessary. Strangers who do not know of the change never bat an eye (if the change is successful).
A sex life for the transsexual is difficult at best. Before the change he has a problem relating to women because they tend to see him as a masculine female. In sexual intercourse he is always the aggressor and can never look at himself as any part female. This presents tremendous problems. Heterosexual women would shy away from a masculine female; lesbians would be attracted to his female side (every human possesses both) but be appalled by his maleness. Another problem is his body--it is odious to him before the change and he doesn't want his mate to view it any more than he wants to--this takes much of the enjoyment out of sex. Because of these overwhelming odds most transsexuals have either abstained completely or they have had many stormy affairs which have been unsuccessful.
After the change the transsexual usually has a lot less difficulty in finding a mate. Most marry legally--once the transsexual has been changed, he can accept his body and most of the obstacles are removed and love removes the rest.
A very few transsexuals have a mate before the change who remains with them afterwards. Others try but fail, for after the change the transsexual is not the same physical person and many mates cannot accept it.
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The most difficult obstacle is the paper world. The main object is to get the birth certificate changed. Each state handles it differently. Some have sealed the old and issued a new. Some have issued amendments to be attached. Others have refused to deal with the problem. In some states the courts have forced the administrative branch to side with the transsexual--in other states the courts have made it more difficult. Sometimes it is a simple matter of writing a letter and sending the doctor's affidavit--other times it can be a costly and time consuming matter. Once the birth certificate has been changed, other papers can be changed and life can go on. If it cannot be changed, then other means must be found. Sometimes a church will issue a new baptismal certificate. In extreme cases, forged papers are a last resort.
Adjustment after the change can be trying but the problems seem minimal and laughable after his previous life. He must take steps to guard his family and self from sensationalized publicity--this is hard to insure unless he wants to change his complete life. Often he must accept a change in his vocation--usually into a much lower economy (I know of cases where years of education and hard work had to be given up). If he has not been used to the male role before the change, a whole new set of mannerisms, dress and habits must be adopted.
The transsexual realizes that many times in his life he will be criticized for what he has done. But these storms he can easily weather because they are small compared to his life before and he knows that he would make the same decision one hundred times more, because for the transsexual it is the only acceptable and available answer.
Before the Gap becomes a Chism
by Fen Gregory
A few years ago the term "straight Lesbian" would have been self-contradictory. No so today! The generation gap (or the establishment barricade, as some prefer) has struck the homophile world.
Two young women, for example, were recently refused service at a gay bar-restaurant in Oakland, California. Why? Because they looked more like hippies than Lesbians. Their "kind," they were told, were not welcome.
At a joint DOB-Women's Liberation meeting in the Bay Area the discussion ended up in a debate about marriage (heterosexual or homosexual) as an institution. Afterwards one of the young Lesbians remarked she felt she had more in common with the "straight" people at the meeting than she had with many of the Lesbians she knew.
And the San Francisco DOB Chapter discussion group found its younger members protesting the criticism of others' dress and speech habits. It shouldn't matter, they argued, what kind of clothes people wear or whether or not their language is seasoned with four-letter words.
Before the gap becomes a chism or the barricade a brick wall, we might well consider why this rupture between the generations is such a threat to the homophile movement.
For years the battle for acceptance has been fought along a particular line; one comparable to that which, until recently, the Negro followed. In fact, homosexuals and Lesbians were spoken of as a minority whose problems of discrimination were akin to those of religious and racial minorities.
More important, the argument for their acceptance into the larger society paralleled the arguments against racial and religious discrimination:
They may be A (insert any minority), but they are just as B (nice, moral, devout, etc.) as you and I. Therefore it is unfair to discriminate against them because of "A".
The strength of the argument increases if "A" is inborn, or at least, involuntary. Its validity, however, depends on "B". If it isn't true, the argument collapses.
Utilizing this approach with its emphasis on sameness creates a vested interest in moral and social conformity. The result in many cases is the "straight" Lesbian and homosexual, persons who have become rigid advocates of the social and moral status quo.
Now! Enter the young; the new morality; the belief that the individual has the
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RIGHT to be different. Basic to this attitude is the assertion that the larger society cannot legitimately dictate the life patterns of social habits of its individual members.
Fortified with this idea, increasing numbers of young homosexuals and Lesbians perceive their sexuality in the same manner as other social differences; placing sex practices (not just homosexuality) on the same level as variations in dress or life-style habits. And individual differences, according to the new morality, are not legitimate reasons for discrimination.
It is this change in premise that threatens to split the homophile movement, for its advocates have a vested interest in non-conformity rather than conformity. One's right to be different, indeed, rests with that of every other individual's.
Also it involves a new strategy. People seek acceptance, but they DEMAND their rights. Openly. And LOUDLY. Sometimes, even, DEFIANTLY.
The question as to whether or not a split in the homophile world is inevitable still remains open. However, the possibility of the older, conformity oriented homophile community becoming part of the rejected "establishment" does exist.
And it is talked about. Among the young.
BACK ISSUES OF
Prior to October/November 1968, THE LADDER was issued monthly for the most part; we now issue six magazines a year. THE LADDER year begins with the October/November issue each year.
Where available, copies of each issue in Volumes 13 and 14 (Oct/Nov. 1968 through Feb./Mar. 1970) cost $1.25. Individual issues before that time are $1.00 per magazine.
EVERY MAGAZINE IS NEW UNTIL
YOU'VE READ IT!
ECCLESIASTES BE DAMNED
By Patricia Michaels
It was a simple misunderstanding, of course. You simply read my lack of colors to be an admission while it was actually a refusal. I do not traffic in the coin of the realm... I live in my own world and there is no room for another. I came to dinner and went home scarlet, confused but unoffended. And how I thought about it, that supposedly unintellectual decision! I thought instead of eating, instead of sleeping, and when I could think no more, I drank to maintain an aesthetic distance from myself. Hollows came back beneath my cheekbones and my eyes, already deep set, no longer peered out at the world but burned in hot, honey-colored confusion. I have yellow eyes like a cat, and catlike, I have always walked alone, more alone than ever because I had just severed the one tie that had bound me to anyone. I could not give myself, and then you asked me to take you, casually, elegantly, gently.
Oh, you are gentle, and I am not. I have fought, scarring my knuckles and scarring my mind, rebelling against a world that would take my mind and run it through the stamp mill of conformity, building my own private world of books and dreams, developing the mind of a philosopher and the heart of a poet but the emotional courage of a hedgehog. To be handed something as fragile as your heart and as soft as your body... I was suddenly all sharp corners and clumsy fingers. I ran as I alone seemed to run, back to the sterile, mathematical precision of machinery, power that I could control and bend to my will. I bought a machine to tame, this time a motorcycle because I couldn't afford another car, and now I flee the winds of wrath that are of my own making.
I thought about it and decided that I had nothing that I could lose but a chance to gain the elusive wholeness that is absent in my life. You had touched a long-hidden chord in the atonic jangle of my nerves and I had responded, but I needed time to learn the intricate fretwork of so complex a melody, and with all you offered me, the one thing you could not give me was time. Your needs were immediate, and my decision came too late. So I smiled, as I am smiling now, and asked you to be happy so that I would not be sad, knowing that my inability to give had destroyed your opportunity to love.
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Lesbian Literature in 1969
an annual review by Gene Damon
For the first time in years, the report is being abbreviated in the interests of space and time.
All of the titles covered here have been reviewed in the last year in the Lesbiana column.
Statistically, and in every other way, this was an excellent year. As has been done for several years, we do not even include the several hundred paperback originals that fall into the category of hard-core pornography. These are usually more notable for their impossible writing than their erotic content. Forty-three of 1969's 66 recorded titles were hardback books. Most of these are well worth having, and there were a number of titles that cannot be fairly included in the statistics but that deserve mention again. Only titles discovered between November 15, 1968 and December 15, 1969, are included, which means that some of the titles in this issue's Lesbiana column are included in this review and some are not, but we have to have an arbitrary cut-off time. Anything missed one year is picked up the next.
Too many of the major titles were too good to select a best or even a small number of better books. From the standpoint of literature, possibly Sybille Bedford's A COMPASS ERROR; London, Collins, 1968, N.Y., Knopf, 1968, leads the rest; but personal taste will find most readers choosing Isabel Miller's A PLACE FOR US, N.Y., Bleecker Street Press, 1969. Both are major must novels. John O'Hara's late 1968 short story collection, AND OTHER STORIES, Random, 1968, Bantam, 1970, contains three pertinent stories, "The Broken Giraffe", "We'll Have Fun", and the short novel, A FEW TRIPS AND SOME POETRY. His 1969 novel, LOVEY CHILDS, also Random House, should be read by anyone remotely interested in the literature in this field. Following these closely would be THE SWEET DEATH OF CANDOR by Hannah Lees, N.Y., Harcourt, Brace and World, 1969; Olivia Manning's THE CAMPERLEA GIRLS, N.Y., Coward-McCann, 1969 (in England, THE PLAY ROOM, London, Heinemann, 1969); CATCHING SARADOVE by Bertha Harris, N.Y., Harcourt, Brace and World, 1969; and Norman Bogner's THE MADONNA COMPLEX, N.Y., Coward-McCann, 1968, Dell, 1969.
On the serious side, and less apt to please the general reader, are CONSIDER SAPPHO BURNING by Nicholas Delbanco, N.Y., Morrow, 1969, and William Bryant's literary game, ALMOST, N.Y., McGraw-Hill, 1969. Both are good books ...neither is likely to be popular.
There are always a few novels that deal directly or indirectly with sadism and masochism that are accurately or erroneously included in this field. Renato Ghiotto's CHECK TO THE QUEEN, N.Y., Putnam, and London, Macdonald, 1969, was widely and erroneously reviewed as pertinent here ...it is not. On the other hand, George Revelli's very funny COMMANDER AMANDA, N.Y., Grove, 1968, is, and sophisticated readers may enjoy it.
History lovers will like THE GODS ARE NOT MOCKED by Anna Taylor, N.Y., Morrow, 1969 (this is very major, incidentally, and well done, so it is recommended to all). A less successful historical novel, THE ROSE AND THE SWORD, by Sandra Paretti, N.Y., Coward-McCann, 1969, includes a couple of Lesbian nuns in the cast, one a good kid and one of those other kind.
There were the usual handful of minor titles... some minor only because the Lesbian in the story is dealt with more or less distantly, without the personal aspects, and some minor in terms of pertinent pages in a lengthy novel... INTERSECTIONS by Graham Ward, London, Hutchinson, 1969; FANCY by Robert Krepps, Boston, Little, Brown, 1969; THE BIG STUFFED HAND OF FRIENDSHIP, London, Peter Owen, 1969; WOUNDS by Maureen Duffy, N.Y., Knopf, 1969 London, Hutchinson, 1969; and Shirley Schoonover's fascinating SAM'S SONG, N.Y., Coward-McCann, 1969. We can fairly include here Graham Greene's autobiographical TRAVELS WITH MY AUNT, London, Bodley Head, 1969.
Inevitably several books must have special mention. THE DAKOTA PROJECT by Jack Beeching, London, Jonathan Cape, 1968, N.Y., Delacorte, 1969, is high grade science fiction with a very, very major Lesbian subplot and very well drawn characters. It is highly recommended. Three titles, all minor, must be mentioned for their literary qualities... FAT CITY, by
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Leonard Gardner, N.Y., Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1969, is one of the candidates for the National Book Award for this year; Richard Condon's blockbuster MILE HIGH, N.Y., Dial, 1969, and London, Heinemann, 1969, is simply delightful to read, and the Lesbian portion though minor has far reaching consequences; Paule Marshall's THE CHOSEN PLACE, THE TIMELESS PEOPLE, N.Y., Harcourt, Brace and World, 1969, is an excellent novel.
These five, are varying degrees of competence posing as trash, or maybe the other way around: THE RAG DOLLS by Simon Cooper, N.Y., World New American Library, 1969, Signet, 1970; THE MALEDICTION, by Julian Claman, N.Y., Dutton, 1969, Bantam, 1970; SEX CAGE by Llonka, N.Y., Vantage, 1969; THE BEAUTY TRAP, Jeanne Rejaunier, N.Y., Trident, 1969, Pocket Books, 1970; and PROVIDENCE ISLAND by Calder Willingham, N.Y., Vanguard, 1969, Dell, 1970. (Note, please, that only the vanity published SEX CAGE has so far not appeared in paperback... which proves something about the nature of trash and reading habits. Many of the better books never get into paperback, which is sad in view of the cost of books today.)
The low point in recent years was reached by Lord Snow in his THE SLEEP OF REASON, N.Y., Scriber, 1969 (London, Macmillan, 1968). This is possibly the most unwarranted bit of viciousness we've suffered in recent years. Despite extensive publicity, by the way, this book did not sell well.
Humorous fiction, or attempts at it, are either very popular or publishers wish this to be so. Six titles fell in this area, some good, some very bad. The best by far was the publishing of Lytton Strachey's ERMYNTRUDE AND ESMERALDA, N.Y., Stein and Day, 1969. This was followed closely by Robin Cook's PRIVATE PARTS IN PUBLIC PLACES, N.Y., Atheneum, 1969; THE MAGIC GARDEN OF STANLEY SWEETHEART, Robert Westbrook, N.Y., Crown, 1969, Bantam, 1970; and MRS. MOUNT ASCENDANT by John Goldsmith, London, Hogarth, 1968. Less successful was Raymond Spence's fairly funny NOTHING BLACK BUT A CADILLAC, N.Y., Putnam, 1969, Berkeley, 1969... and dreadful was GUMDROP, GUMDROP, LET DOWN YOUR HAIR by Jeannie Sakol, N.Y., Prentice-Hall, 1969.
Another novel that needs to be discussed by itself is the very disappointing LUCY by Helen Essary Ansell, N.Y., Harper & Row, 1969. Miss Ansell's novel is poor but she has already shown remarkable talent in the short story field and it is hoped she will go on writing. This is, by the way, quite major.
Three short stories: Lin Yatta's wonderful "Fitting" in EVERGREEN REVIEW, May 1969; George P. Elliott's minor and not very good "Nikki: For a Couple of Months" in ESQUIRE, June 1969; and Pamela Frankau's COLONEL BLESSINGTON, a short novel first run in the August, 1969, COSMOPOLITAN, and then published in book form by Delacorte in 1969 (this last novel is variant rather than Lesbian).
Poetry lovers are advised to watch for all of the work of new and good young poet Lynn Strongin (see "Lesbiana", October/November, 1969). The only other poetry to report is the glorious Beram Saklatvala restoration of Sappho's work in SAPPHO OF LESBOS, London, Charles Skilton, 1968, and the book length narrative poem, CASSANDRA, by -William Bentley Edmonds, London, and N.Y., Arcadian, 1969.
Once again I close with a plea for help. There is no way any one person can find all of the titles. This is especially true of magazine fiction ranging from popular women's magazines to the most esoteric quarterlies and so-called little magazines. It is also true of poetry, which is undergoing a very welcome renaissance just now. Please, those of you who read poetry as a matter of personal enjoyment, let me know about any pertinent writers... if they seem suspicious, let me hear about those too, so they can be checked and then shared with others.
Lastly, the major titles are obviously going to be found... but those "big" books with cinemascope casts often contain substantial chunks of interesting, valid and pertinent material. Some years ago reviewers deliberately neglected to mention such material for fear of being offensive. Now, many reviewers are so emancipated they no longer "bother" to mention such ordinary material as male homosexuals or Lesbians. So help, please, where you can.
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HONG KONG, November 29, 1969. Margaret Tu Chuan, local actress of note, was found dead in the embrace of her also-dead lover, Ho Miao-chu. Tu Chuan, 30, and Ho Miao-chu, 26, left notes asking that they be buried together (this was not done). Tu Chuan, separated from a husband, left a son. Ho Miao-chu, an interior decorator, had never married. In a television interview following the deaths, Tu Chuan's mother denied that her daughter was a Lesbian!! (This particular story must have been published all over the world, for it did reach me from about 10 different places ...now if you all will just tell me what's going on in the good old U.S.A....)
ANUBIS, A LOS ANGELES-centered social club for both male homosexuals and Lesbians, was illicitly raided on December 19, 1969. It has been learned since that time that two female undercover agents had infiltrated the organization: one, Louise Sulzner, an investigator for the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control; the other, Laura Jamosky, is a deputy sheriff. No arrests were made, but two citations were issued, one for selling alcoholic beverages without a license, and the other for allowing dancing without a license. This outrage took place in the private clubhouse of the organization. People present were harassed, and the police were said to be angry not to find something that would warrant any arrests being made. We wonder how many innocent people are murdered in this area each year while the law enforcement agencies concentrate on "desperate homosexual criminals," minding their own business on private property.
SEX IS A PRIVATE AFFAIR: Austin, Texas, AP. December 20, 1969. A. Dallas couple, Mike and Jan Gibson, filed on December 1, 1969 to show that Texas' laws on sodomy are illegal. Since they are a heterosexual married couple, it is quite clear that Assistant Attorney General Charles Perrott's public statement, "We have a problem if a married couple challenges this statute," is about to come true deep in the heart of Texas.
SEX IN THE DAYTIME... SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER AND CHRONICLE, December 21, 1969. Dwight Newton, writing about soap operas, comments, "The sex in soap operas is almost totally heterosexual. Homosexuality is practically taboo along with physical violence, nudity and racial integration. Among the 15 soap operas monitored this week there were but two blacks--one black male detective... and one black female secretary... Generally speaking, the television soap opera is a lily-white world. Correction: a lily-white heterosexual world."
FREE PARTICLE: NEW MAGAZINE ARRIVING. December 30, 1969. In an interview with Dunbar Aitken, chairman of the Gay Liberation Front in San Francisco, the San Francisco CHRONICLE announced the beginning of a new magazine, FREE PARTICLE, which Mr. Aitken describes as a "scientific and literary journal by and for male and female homosexuals." We haven't seen one yet as this is being written; presumably we will and will comment then.
SOCIOLOGICAL APPROACHES TO HOMOSEXUALITY: BERKELEY, January 1970. Yes, that is just what it sounds like, the name of a college course--a two-quarter course--at the University of California, Berkeley. Numbered Sociology 191, the course has been approved by the Sociology Department of the University for the next two years. It is accredited and to be given on campus. The instructor is Roxanna Sweet, whose doctorate is in criminology. Dr. Sweet is familiar with the Bay Area homophile community, and it is felt that she will do an outstanding job. Many area organizations have made contributions to enable the course to begin (educational monies have been frozen in the area by the Reagan administration), including DOB, CRH, TAVERN GUILD and SIR. (Other groups have been contacted and will undoubtedly contribute as well.)
HBBA, San Francisco, January 1970. Those initials stand for HOMOPHILE BETTER BUSINESS ASSOCIATION, and the group concerns itself with informing the homophile community of unfair business practices aimed at them... wonderful ...To date, all we have seen is their introductory letter and a list called "Alert Notice" covering January-February 1970 and citing a number of parties engaged in questionable enterprises.
CALIFORNIA TEACHERS' UNION ADOPTS HOMOSEXUAL RESOLUTION:
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January 1970. The California Federation of Teachers, at their annual meeting in Los Angeles, December 27-29, 1969, adopted an unprecedented resolution demanding the establishment of sex education programs and "the abolition of all laws or other governmental policy which involves non-victim sexual practice." The resolution was written and presented by Morgan Pinney, assistant professor of accounting at San Francisco State College, and an active member of the militant COMMITTEE FOR HOMOSEXUAL FREEDOM. This federation represents thousands of teachers at all levels of education, and the successful passage of this resolution is an enormous breakthrough for all of us concerned with our civil rights in all areas of private behavior.
The resolution reads as follows:
BECAUSE millions of American homosexuals are oppressed by the American System,
Because homosexuals are harassed and intimidated by the police,
Because the self-hatred caused by the system's oppression is the most hideous result thereof,
Because their ability to hide the sexual nature (unlike blacks, whose race is obvious) keeps homosexuals immobilized,
Because the government's anti-homosexual policies set the tone of homosexual oppression as nation- al policy,
THE CALIFORNIA FEDERATION OF TEACHERS DEMANDS:
(1) The abolition of all laws or other governmental policy which involves non-victim sexual practice.
(2) A vigorous life and sex education program at all school levels which explains the various American life-styles.
WHAT GROUP DID YOU SAY? Long before you read this there will undoubtedly be another 10 new groups with very similar names in New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles. There are almost as many groups for them as there are gay people, and the last year has created a number with almost identical names... all sounding vaguely like GAY LIBERATION and GAY WOMEN'S LIBERATION. Eventually, since they are all radical groups, they will begin to be referred to collectively as GAY LIBERATION, in much the same way that WOMEN'S LIBERATION is a catch-all term covering some 20 different organizations. We try in these pages to keep them all sorted out... but don't be surprised if you are confused--so are we. Latest example is that the GAY ACTIVISTS' ALLIANCE was formed in New York City in January 1970. This group represents a dissident group from both MATTACHINE SOCIETY of NYC and GAY LIBERATION FRONT. Despite the even more radical name, this group formed to get away from the "do your own thing" philosophy of the "front" group. And on and on...
WIN MAGAZINE, January 1970. This issue of the radical WIN magazine is devoted to the Women's Liberation Movement and includes a reprint of Martha Shelley's excellent essay, "Stepin Fechit Women," from the first issue of COME OUT.
ALLEN GINSBERG on the witness stand. Chicago, January 1970. In the Chicago "7" trial, witness for the defense, Allen Ginsberg, was harassed by the prosecution in an attempt to impugn his character by asking him to read one of his poems on a homosexual theme. They may well have regretted it, convictions or no, because Ginsberg's shaming replies have been printed coast-to-coast. Among other things he said: "We have many loves, many of which are suppressed, many of which are denied. ...Becoming aware of these loves is the only way this nation can save itself and become a democratic nation."
WBAI-FM, New York City, has a regular program called, "By and for the Homosexual Community," every Thursday at 9:00 p.m.
FAMILY WEEKLY, January 4, 1970. We don't know what this newspaper-type magazine is, but suspect it is a local item. This issue of FAMILY WEEKLY has a ridiculous and highly insulting article on women, called WOMEN WILL CHALLENGE MEN, listing a handful of token females in top jobs...bleah!!!
DEL MARTIN AND PHYLLIS LYON'S wonderful article on the Lesbian, which first appeared in MOTIVE MAGAZINE in the March/April 1969 issue, was reprinted on January 9, 1970 in the LOS ANGELES FREE PRESS. We believe this "underground" newspaper has very wide circulation at least in major cities, and are pleased that the article could, therefore, reach so many.
MIDWEST MAGAZINE, CHICAGO SUNDAY SUN-TIMES, January 11, 1970,
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Article by Judy Nicol with the utterly senseless title, SHOULD WE RECOGNIZE WOMEN'S FIGHT? The article itself Is good... for what it purports to be. Wait, Chicago, till you all hear about the issue of RAT I am going to talk about later.
SAY IT LOUD--WE ARE GAY AND WE ARE PROUD; Los Angeles, January 11, 1970. More than 250 homosexuals and Lesbians, led by Rev. Troy Perry, chairman of the Committee for Homosexual Law Reform and pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church, marched down Hollywood Boulevard this rainy Sunday evening, in a peaceful demonstration for civil rights.
SYDNEY J. HARRIS, syndicated columnist often mentioned in these pages, in his January 13, 1970 column called JOURNALISM RAZING BARRIERS TO WOMEN, hits hard at his own craft (the males in it) for excluding women. He concludes with, "THE MOST ENORMOUS PREJUDICE IN THE WORLD IS THIS ANIMUS AGAINST 50 PERCENT OF THE HUMAN RACE." Thank you again, Mr. Harris.
A PARADE OF GAY PICKETS: San Francisco, January 16, 1970. Some 60 members of the Gay Liberation Front picketed American Broadcasting Company's station KGO-TV (and radio), protesting the firing of KGO-radio's Leo Laurence. Laurence, an ABC network news editor, was fired the day after he took part in a Gay protest against the San Francisco EXAMINER. Only two arrests were reported, and no violence... the pickets carried the usual "Gay Love Is Good Love" and "Love Thy Brother" signs... (Love throwing that "usual" in there... remember when it wasn't so usual???) Union Local 51 of the National Association of Broadcast Employees has been fighting the firing for Leo, and he has been receiving his pay check regularly from the station since the firing.
CONCEPTION, MISSOURI, January 15, 1970. KANSAS CITY STAR for this date carries the story of Daniel Gorham, dismissed from the Immaculate Conception Seminary at Conception, Missouri for his letter to the editors of LOOK magazine that appeared in that magazine's January 13, 1970 issue. Mr. Gorham describes himself as president of THE VINEYARD, an organization founded in 1967 for both heterosexuals and homosexuals who wish to give themselves to the church. In his letter Mr. Gorham specifies that the church has not turned its back on homosexuals (though his dismissal would not indicate much else), and further said that homosexuals might belong to Vineyard though they were still active in homosexual affairs. After the letter appeared, says the STAR, a St. Joseph, Missouri television station asked Gorham for an interview, but later Gorham's school made him cancel it. He was also forbidden to talk to newsmen, but that was overlooked, obviously. At the time of the appearance of this article, the dismissal was not certain but was dependent upon the wishes of a conservative bishop of the church. Ironically, the article makes It fairly clear that Gorham is, himself, not homosexual.
MORE DANIEL GORHAM: KANSAS CITY STAR, January 16 and January 21, 1970. Daniel, dismissed from the Immaculate Conception Seminary in Conception, Missouri, has been accepted by the Senru Cenacle at Jarrel, Texas, another Catholic seminary. We wish him well.
BELATED NEWS: On January 19, 1970 we were informed that the long-promised book on Women's Liberation, which is to feature a complete history of DOB, along with addresses, etc., is finally scheduled again for publication. It is now firmly titled THE HAND THAT CRADLES THE ROCK; editor is Robin Morgan, and publisher is Random House... time now due: May 1970. We also learned that in addition to Gene Damon's chapter on DOB, there will be another chapter on the Lesbian in the book, authored by our own Martha Shelley. It is noted, also, that the Lesbian is the only special group to have "double" appearances in the book.
TEXAS LAW OUT: Dallas, January 21, 1970. The previously cited attempt to have the Texas sodomy law thrown out worked. On this date a three-judge United District Court in Dallas unanimously declared the law unconstitutional.
SAN DIEGO, LOS ANGELES, DOB AND REV. PERRY. Friday, January 23, 1970. Special to THE LADDER. Twelve visitors from the San Diego DOB chapter attended the meeting of the Los Angeles chapter, and the approximately 40 women -attending heard Rev. Troy Perry speak about the METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY CHURCH.
CLEVELAND, CHICAGO, RITA LAPORTE AND ALAN DOUGLAS: Special to THE LADDER: Television and radio audiences across the country were
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treated to Interviews with Rita Laporte, national president; Eve Devon, president of Cleveland DOB, and Stacey Smith, member of Cleveland DOB, late in January 1970.
They took part in a two-hour panel discussion on the Alan Douglas Radio Show on January 23rd and taped a half-hour television show. Audience reaction was favorable and we have received reports from all over the western and northern portions of the U.S. where these shows were carried. The trip to Cleveland, partly financed by the station, gave Rita a chance to meet with the newly chartered chapter. Eve Devon, chapter president, reports that the "participants enjoyed themselves immensely." The Cleveland chapter has been inundated with requests for information ever since. ON TO CHICAGO: Rita Laporte arrived in Chicago on Sunday, the 25th of January. Sharon James and Kay Kelly of the Chicago DOB were on hand to greet her at the airport. Later that evening a meeting of the group was held in Rita's honor at the home of a member. Various plans were gone over to give publicity to the group and increase its size. Aleta Styers, past president of NOW, was the featured speaker at the meeting. Currently serving on NOW's Public Relations Committee, Aleta spoke of the Lesbian's role in the feminist movement and stressed the point that the goals of the Daughters of Bilitis were not unlike those of her organization in many respects.
NOW EMPLOYMENT CONFERENCE: CHICAGO, January 24, 1970. Several members of the Chicago DOB attended this day-long meeting of NOW in Chicago, which featured prominent women from all over the U.S. speaking on women's problems ...except, of course, for the Lesbian. Much of the material, however, including the areas dealing with work, was applicable to all of us. And the burning brand that tops them all is that in 1968 the median income for year-round full-time MALE workers in the U.S. was $7,814, and for WOMEN, $4,560.
WOMEN'S LIBERATION IN CHICAGO: Just prior to the NOW meeting, the CHICAGO TRIBUNE ran a long article on the Chicago Women's Liberation group ... so-so coverage.
NO SPACE. We haven't room to report on all the suits being filed across the country on behalf of women who are being discriminated against in job situations. It is enough to note that some 20 such cases are clipped and sent to me each month ... surely an enormous increase and a good sign. VATICAN CITY, January 26, 1970. The Vatican has refused accreditation to a West German diplomat, Elisabeth Muller, on the grounds that she is a woman. The Vatican spokesman made it clear that the Vatican will only allow men to hold high-ranking diplomatic posts to the Holy see. This is a serious outrage, and we hope something will be done about it.
ORDER DENYING REHEARING: January 27, 1970. With that cold legal term, the fight for the listing in the yellow pages... reported here a number of times during the past year... was denied. On April 25, 1969, CRH, SIR, TAVERN GUILD and DOB filed suit against the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company for refusing to list all of the organizations under "Homophile Organizations" in the yellow pages. As reported last issue, the suit was found in favor of the defendant, and now, the rehearing has been denied. Big Brother now decides whether you can find your own people... as always.
BERKELEY TRIBE, January 30, 1970: Gale Whittington reports in this issue the January 18, 1970 harassment of Arthur Ornales, a Mexican-American homosexual. Ornales' apartment was invaded by two military policeman and four city policemen without search warrants and without permission. They questioned him about an, AWOL soldier. On learning he knew nothing of the soldier, the policemen beat up Ornales ... shoved him into a bathtub and struck his face and chest repeatedly. An account of this atrocity did not appear in the San Francisco establishment press: THE CHRONICLE had an article about it but it did not appear, at the request of the police department, according to the TRIBE. Although there are about 90,000 homosexuals in San Francisco, they are still subject to the whims of the police, and complaints from citizens are given the cold shoulder by the "authorities."
IN PURSUIT OF THE AMERICAN WOMAN: HARPER'S MAGAZINE, February 1970. Edward Grossman's thus-titled article is a reasonably intelligent look at women's liberation from a male viewpoint. While not as good as Richard E. Farson's articles, this is certainly second-best, and it covers the subject from every possible literary and sociological aspect as well... worth reading, if you can keep your temper during the slips...
SACRED HEART COLLEGE, Wichita,
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Kansas, February 1970. The students of the Sociology Department of this school compiled 28 questions for Rita, Laporte to answer... by long distance, having Rita tape the two-hour question-and-answer session for their use. The tape and several issues of THE LADDER were provided to the school.
BACK ON THE HOME FRONT, San Francisco, February 1970. While Rita has been roaming far from home to speak in various other areas, the San Francisco chapter has been speaking locally to various groups. The Council on Religion and the Homosexual lined up women from the San Francisco DOB, NOVA and GAY WOMEN'S LIBERATION to speak, and during January talks were given at San Francisco State College, Berkeley High School and Sequoia High School in Redwood City, California. As this is written we have no further information regarding the group identified to us "as GAY WOMEN'S LIBERATION, and suspect it is only an auxiliary of one of the male groups in San Francisco... we are inquiring and will report if anyone bothers to answer the inquiry. (See "Women's Coalition" report.)
RAT, February 6-23, 1970. With this issue, RAT magazine (it is not a typographical error--the magazine is named RAT) was liberated by women of the Women's Liberation Movement in New York City. The paper's sub-title is "subterranean news," and it is a political hodge-podge... imitative and derivative, or maybe it is just that pseudo-revolutionary cant can be repeated just so many times before its effect wears thin. In any case, this issue of RAT is about women, and it contains an article by Robin Morgan-- "Goodbye to Ail That"--that would be must reading if it had come wrapped in almost any other kind of garbage.
KPFA, Berkeley, February 7, 1970. Special to THE LADDER. Roland Young gave the homophile movement another public boost on his February 7th radio show, on KPFA, Berkeley. A portion of the program was devoted to questioning Leo Lawrence, Don Burton and Sheila Finney (of the San Francisco DOB chapter) about the increased activity of homophile organizations in the Bay Area. The participants found a friend in the black radio announcer. In addition to extending his personal well wishes, Mr. Young offered to publicize events of the Daughters of Bilitis on his show.
FREE, University of Minneapolis' homosexual group, appears to be growing and making substantial strides. Their third newsletter, dated February 10, 1970, indicates they are pretty well organized and doing well. Good for them.
DEAR ABBY, February 12, 1970. Abby's column for this date (and close dates in other cities) contains a letter from a mother lamenting her lack of a grandchild because her only child is homosexual. Abby's reply is sensible, but she suggests that those whose children are dead are the only ones worse off... which is a change ... remember when we were a "fate worse than death"?
WHIFFENPOOF'S VANQUISHED: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, February 12, 1970. The tables down at Mory's, Yale's all-male refuge, have been attacked by the female Yale student body. Members of the law association and the women's alliance staged a successful sit-in on February 5, 1970. Results unknown at this time.
HOUSTON CHRONICLE: February 15, 1970. Unlikely as it might seem, this paper's Sunday section article on women's liberation is one of the finest of the short studies yet to appear. Arthur Whitman's "Gals Who Picket, Protest and Publicly Burn their Brassieres" is good, despite the terrible title and the male authorship. He even manages to point out that the movement is similar to the black movement and the homophile movement.
MORE ON REVEREND PERRY: NEW YORK TIMES, February 15, 1970, carried a fine article on Metropolitan Community Church and the work it is doing for homosexuals and Lesbians in Los Angeles. The resultant publicity is excellent, inducing even such far-away areas as the DETROIT FREE PRESS columnist Shirley Eder to run a short mention of the church and its purpose, and San Francisco CHRONICLE writer John Dart provided a good write-up for the group, too.
OPEN AIR PUBLICITY? KQED radio, San Francisco, February 16, 1970. Rita Laporte was interviewed by feminist supporters Mr. and Mrs. Baranco at noon on KQED live. The one-hour question-and-answer session was done outdoors at Zellerbach Square on a cold and windy day. Reports indicate the interview was successful except for the fact that the interviewee "developed uncontrollable shivering and turned blue." Oh well, proves we are human.
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METROPOLITAN COMMUNITY CHURCH and ANN LANDERS: February 16, 1970. Ann's column for this date (and close dates in other cities) has a letter from a Los Angeles resident who signs himself "Resident of the World's Largest Open-Air-Lunatic Asylum," all about Rev. Troy Perry and the MCC. Rev. Perry and the church aren't named, but the poor guy is shook up to think there is a church for homosexuals. However, even with his animosity, he makes one very telling remark: "When the word gets around, you won't be able to get into the place." Ann's answer is excellent...
IN THE STILL OF THE NIGHT. February 17, 1970. Special to THE LADDER. Sally Jessy of Station WIOD, Miami (NBC) interviewed Rita Laporte by long distance telephone at 1:00 A.M. this date. The 30-minute interview was live at 4:00 A.M. in Miami (audience??). Interview Was as a result of Rita's letter in PLAYBOY last summer.
PUBLICITY GOES ON AND ON. The power of the press, especially for a group as small and financially restricted as DOB, is a blessing. That long-ago PLAYBOY letter referred to above also recently (February 1970) brought us inquiries from New Zealand women interested in starting a chapter of DOB...
JILL JOHNSTON, VILLAGE VOICE, and have you read anything like this lately? This woman has a column called DANCE JOURNAL which appears regularly in VILLAGE VOICE, discussing everything but the dance... which confuses some of the readers not old enough to have heard of Havelock Ellis. The dance this lady discusses is of vital importance to us all... the life dance. Her February 19, 1970 column, WHAT SEX?, is must reading in its analysis of sexuality, feminism and revolution. If you are curious and too lazy to buy it, write to me and I'll send you a photocopy.
PRAISE WHERE DESERVED: MAIDEN VOYAGE, VOLUME I, NUM- BER 3, February 1970. DOB chapter newsletters may not, under our bylaws, be sold, and each chapter is required to publish one when able to do so, so they survive on donations from the kind and interested. Boston chapter's newsletter, MAIDEN VOYAGE, shows just how much real progress has been made, in the field of rights for Lesbians in the last 14 years. With its 12 neat pages of information on many subjects, articles, news of chapter events, programs for chapter work, it is 10 times the "magazine" our beloved LADDER was in its first year of publication. If you'd like to see a copy, write to the Boston chapter address, elsewhere in these pages, and INCLUDE AT LEAST $1.00 (don't be a charity case).
AND WHILE WE ARE IN BOSTON: Special to THE LADDER. The Steve Fredericks Talk Show on WMEX devoted an hour to upcoming Massachusetts law reform bills, February 20, 1970. Panelists on the program included Laura Robin of Boston DOB, Frank Morgan, president of HUB (a Boston men's, group) and Boston lawyers Alan Cook and Peter Connolly. The three bills in question cover those items being currently debated in many states, the restrictive sex laws, which hurt heterosexual and homosexual alike (though seldom, ironically, affect Lesbians).
MORE IN BOSTON: On February 23, 1970, members of the various male homosexual groups there testified before the Judiciary Committee of the state legislature in favor of these bills. DOB's testimony was submitted by letter. It seems fairly apparent that most states will eventually adopt similar laws. . probably within the next 10-20 years. This all means that some 25 years from now we will be about where ordinary homosexuals and Lesbians are today in Great Britain. . in precisely no different a position than they were BEFORE the Wolfenden Laws were passed, as reported In these pages in CROSS, CURRENTS February/March 1970 by Yorke Henderson, writing for the San Francisco CHRONICLE. Legislation is, in this instance, like taking "one baby step" in "Mother, May I?"
SATURDAY REVIEW: THE NEW FEMINISM, February 21, 1970. In a fairly inclusive article, Lucy Komisar of New York City's NOW covers the general aspects of the new feminine revolution. Not the best coverage at all, but in this magazine it will go where it will do more good than even the better coverage seen in some other magazines. We were left out, naturally, but times are changing, as they sing in the telephone company jingles.
YELLOW PAGE FIGHT STILL GOING ON: San Francisco CHRONICLE, February 28, 1970. Attorney David I. Clayton, acting on behalf of DOB, Council on Religion and the Homosexual, Society for Individual Rights (SIR) and Tavern
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Guild, appealed to the State Supreme Court of California on February 27, 1970. The suit asks the court to overturn a State Public Utilities Commission ruling which backed the telephone company's refusal to list the organizations in the yellow pages.
ATLANTIC MAGAZINE, March 1970. The entire issue is devoted to "Woman's Place" and the general tone of the whole issue is sick. One article, "What Are You Supposed to Do If You Like Children," by novelist Anne Bernays, is unbelievably vicious. Why she hates women so violently might make interesting clinical reading, but it does not belong in even a lukewarm picture of the liberation movement. The title is especially irritating when even the most conservative are now pointing out that we either voluntarily restrict birth or the "big brothers" are going to do it for us. Miss Bernays may be remembered by readers of THE LADDER for her 1962 minor Lesbian novel SHORT PLEASURES. Though paperback reprints seldom include any biographical data at all, we noted that the 1964 reprint of SHORT PLEASURES explained that Miss Bernays was a graduate of one of the 7 sisters but was safely married and the mother of three.
NEW YORK DOB: PAGEANT MAGAZINE, March 1970. This issue of PAGEANT contains a verbatim reprint of Enid Nemy's NEW YORK TIMES column on Lesbianism which was partly about the N.Y. chapter of DOB. Very wide coverage, but this is a mixed view... loaded with too much Dr. Socarides... (Those of you who wrote to suggest that Dr. U. Sockitome, THE LADDER, December/January issue, is related to Dr. Socarides are thanked for your views.)
PLAYBOY AGAIN. March 1970. PLAYBOY FORUM continues to provoke interesting comments on civil rights for homosexuals... we recommend reading this section of the magazine, even if you can't stand the rest.
BRITAIN WOMEN'S GROUPS: NEW YORK TIMES, March 2, 1970. Bernard Weinraub reports that 15 equality groups have sprung up in Britain during the last year.
28 PER CENT MORE COMPLAINTS were filed by women in 1969 than in 1968 with the Labor Department on charges of unequal pay for equal work... good. (WALL STREET JOURNAL, March 3, 1970.)
ANN LANDERS AGAIN: March 6, 1970. A mother asked Ann to rerun a recent column on Lesbians because she has "a-daughter in college who writes she has fallen in love with her roommate." Ann's reply was first to find out if the roommate was a boy or a girl... and her usual second half-reply, suggest therapy, and if not, LEAVE HER ALONE.
SAN DIEGO, March 10, 1970. Bobbi Gove, president of San Diego's chapter, spoke to about 40 students in a social science course at San Diego State College ... usual basic data... response was good, and this is encouraging in this area, for unlike much of California, this is a conservative locale.
NOW WE ARE NINE: President Rita Laporte is happy to announce that as of March 15, 1970 there are NINE CHAPTERS OF DOB... their addresses are listed on the official page elsewhere in this issue. . Newly chartered groups are CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, RENO, NEVADA and MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA. For those of you in the still-unchartered groups, it is encouraging to you (we hope) to add that the Reno, Nevada chapter has been in the works for about a year-and-a-half ... so don't be Impatient--it just takes work and time.
AND YOU LAZY SOULS who live in or near DENVER, COLORADO and PORTLAND, OREGON and DETROIT, MICHIGAN, get going, at least investigate your nearest group and maybe help a little, too. The rewards are great.
DENVER DOB, P.O. BOX 9057, SOUTH DENVER STATION, DENVER, COLORADO 80209.
PORTLAND DOB, P.O. BOX 8857, PORTLAND, OREGON 97208.
DETROIT DOB, P.O. BOX 4490, DETROIT, MICHIGAN 48288.
NEWS, DAMNIT, IS IMPORTANT: ALL OVER THE U.S., EVERY DAY, EVERY MONTH, EVERY YEAR. That is the headline and dateline I'd like to burn into all of your memories... I can only put material into this column if you provide it to me. I need much more from the New York. City and Los Angeles areas... and if any of you in any other city or town in the U.S. see anything at all about HOMOSEXUALS, LESBIANS, CIVIL RIGHTS FOR EITHER OR BOTH, WOMEN'S RIGHTS, etc., and don't take the simple time to clip it, mark the publication name and date on it and send It to me, you are denying some of your own people, living
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somewhere else, from seeing the news. Please, please help ... I'd rather be inundated with 500 copies of a single clipping than miss one scrap of national or local news on these topics.
FLASH NEWS... NEW ORLEANS now has a DOB group forming, and you can reach them at DOB, P.O. Box 24033, Lakeview Station, New Orleans, Louisiana 70124.
(The following letter was sent to Mr. Herb Caen of the San Francisco CHRONICLE on January 26, 1970, by the "Action Core" of the San Francisco DOB Chapter, the Social Action Committee of NOVA and the Gay Women's Liberation (S.F. Group).)
Dear Mr. Caen,
We are deeply concerned over the "news" Item which appeared on November 17th in the Chronicle, an item apparently released by Attorney Melvin Belli's office, which Involved the firing of the 5 stewardesses from Western Airlines. The item read as follows:
"Notes of a Newsnik: Five stewardesses on the S.F.-L.A. run, fired for alleged lesbianism, have retained Attorney Melvin Belli to fight their fickle fate... "
As a Newsnik, your abilities as a news gatherer need some developing. There were only 3 girls involved, not 5. They were not stewardesses, but held high positions in the management of Western Airlines." The charge of "lesbianism" was never mentioned. Only one of the girls had specific charges brought against her, charges which Implied lesbian activity, but which were so absurd in nature that they were subsequently dropped, and the Airlines rehired the girl. Only one of the women is being represented by the Belli office. Another girl has been dismissed from the airlines, but no charges have been made public; the woman herself is not even aware of them. She was subsequently replaced by a man, who has been at Western only a year--as opposed to her 18 years of service. She is fighting her dismissal on the grounds of female sexual discrimination, and is taking her case through the EOC.
Whether or not the women are gay is beside the point. What we question is why the Chronicle would treat the subject of anti-lesbian job discrimination so lightly. We in the gay community experience enough pressure and fear in our lives simply In our efforts to get by. The threat of expulsion from jobs is a real and frightening prospect to everyone who is homosexual. We at least, Mr. Caen, are fully aware of our tenuous position in society, as you do not seem to be aware--at least aware in the sense of what it means for a gay person to lose his job. It is not pleasant to hear one's life described as a "fickle fate" in your glorified gossip column.
Your cute and clever attitude treats the homosexual as an object, not so much of disdain or disgust, but of sly ridicule. We are those laughable fairies with the limp wrists, or the bull dykes in their tailored suits and cropped hairdos. Humor is fine-- in fact, many gay people will be the first to laugh at the stereotype above, but this kind of humor is not so funny when it fails to elucidate the problems in back of "it-- problems which deserve far more serious concern than this item Indicated they do.
If you're setting out to titillate the general public, then why don't you carry the joke a bit further--titillate the good straight world with this--tell them that a person's sexuality is hardly a matter of public concern. Tell them that a homosexual can function just as well in a job situation as anyone else. Tell them that one's sexual proclivities are not sufficient grounds for the dismissal of anyone, unless they interfere with one's job.
That will undoubtedly titillate them no end. And perhaps one day the point will even sink home.
(Editor's Note: There Is never room to include the dozens of letters sent by staff members of THE LADDER, by Rita Laporte, and by other members of DOB to periodicals and newspapers. However, whenever any article appears that we feel requires a reply, one is sent. Some are printed, some are not. Those that do get into print always get mentioned in THE LADDER. They bring us, new people, sometimes from half way
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around the world. More importantly they assure us of OUR voice being heard.)
Dear Miss Damon:
I thought you and the readers of "Lesbiana" might be interested in knowing of the existence of the Tartan Book Sales, P.O. Box 914, Williamsport, Pennsylvania 17701. They are a mail order house specializing in hard cover editions of current titles at really astonishing prices. What pleased me more than anything, though, when I received their free catalog (I'd sent for it) was discovering several books of special interest to us, including some you've reviewed recently.
So, any of your readers interested in building a library of hard cover titles ought to send for a catalog and start ordering.
Re May Swenson's poetry (THE LADDER, February/March, 1970). You missed the best of all, suggest you all read "A Trellis For R" in the Winter, 1969 issue of THE SOUTHERN REVIEW, page 78.
(Editor's Note: Three readers brought this poem to my attention.)
Dear Gene Damon:
Dr. James Pike spent much energy in the pursuit and defense of personal honesty and free choice, both ideals close to the concern of DOB members. Since his death, his wife, Diane Kennedy Pike, is working to hold together the organization he initiated for those who feel the inadequacies of the traditional church and wish to affiliate with a transitional group. Information about The Bishop Pike Foundation (formerly The Foundation for Religious Transition) can be obtained by writing P.O. Box 5146, Santa Barbara, Calif., 93103. A complimentary copy of their publication, New Focus, may be requested.
Carla S. Virginia
(Editor's Note: Bishop Pike had ex- pressed an interest in our work in the past, Carla. He was scheduled to speak at a DOB convention in past years, but was unable to at the last moment. Those who value freedom everywhere mourn his loss.)
To: Readers of THE LADDER From: ORPHAN VOYAGE, a program for persons of illegitimate birth and other social orphans, including "adopted" orphans.
I have been reading THE LADDER for many months, having been introduced to it by one of the members of ORPHAN VOYAGE. I have been quite interested for two reasons: One, many members of ORPHAN VOYAGE are of homosexual persuasion; two, THE LADDER is presenting, through its letters column, a preliminary dialogue about the relationships among different minority groups, persons of different afflictions. In the December-January 1968 issue, Helen Sanders stresses the differences between the Negro and the Lesbian. The Negro, she says, is born this way. Well, so is the bastard. Also, she stresses, the Lesbian can "pass" and few Negroes can. So can the bastard pass--if he has been adopted. But he does not pass inwardly. And here is an important common factor. That is, we of different afflictions can resemble those in other groups in one way while differing from them in another. Is this a disadvantage or an opportunity?
In the sixteen years that I have been "directing" ORPHAN VOYAGE, I have, of course, been very much aware of the efforts of other people to overcome their social handicaps and have often pondered whether I might learn from their efforts something to help the people I have been the most concerned about, people adopted and denied knowledge of their ancestry, forbidden to make any approach to their natural family. To be quite frank, I have not found too much help in this way. The members of ORPHAN VOYAGE perhaps resemble THE LADDER readers in the relative invisibility of their condition and the problem that is presented to them in any effort to overcome their handicaps: Becoming visible. Oh it is difficult to remove the cloak!
Some of the DAUGHTERS OF BILITIS seem to believe that if society would pass laws giving them status, permitting them marriage, ceasing to discriminate, that they would acquire a sort of social security, a sense of belonging which they lack now, and which it is so painful to lack. They seem to be wanting something similar to the
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conditions of adoption, whereby persons of illegitimate birth can apparently become members of society without prejudice. But as I know, adoption does not overcome illegitimacy, but only veils it. People vary as to the willingness they feel to live under a protective veil. Would it not be the same for the Lesbian, for any homosexual, if society should actually give them legitimate status? There would still be something lacking, and many would chafe and all the answers would have been used up.
I, as an adopted person, and as a past social worker and researcher in the social sciences, confronted just such a situation in my middle years. Adoption gave me security within society, but not within the larger world which includes nature. If one is to live as a part; of this larger whole, one must have human ancestry. I groped my way into the population of adopted people, gathered courage to look for my natural mother, found her, wrote about adopted people, encouraged them in their desire for wholeness, and tried to conceive of a program which would answer an impossible demand: How can an individual who finds himself placed between two warring factions, society and nature, belong to both?
Let me describe, briefly, what I have attempted to build, for persons whose handicap is described in such different terminology than your own. I have tried to build something for them which society has frowned upon in its policies. I have tried to circumvent the sealed birth record which confronts adopted people as they mature. I have tried to do this in a way which can, for at least some adopted people, solve their failed sense of identity. They have been offered by ORPHAN VOYAGE a Reunion File, to which they may come and register their names and circumstances, hopeful that those they wish to rejoin, their natural parents, will some day do the same. In this way, for these few people, a reconciliation will be possible in a deeply realistic way. They will thus be able to lay the "ghost" of absent parents, they may become somewhat familiar with their ancestry, they may learn directly and in the perspective of time, why it was they were "abandoned" in infancy or childhood.
As I have seen in some cases, people are immensely relieved to have these questions answered in this way. They take heart from an enlarged sense of human identity; they share the human condition with people who are entirely legitimate--yet who are really not so different. For when one penetrates behind society's definitions of status, one finds that there is a deeper substrata within which the conflicts of society are solved. Of course it is difficult to venture beyond the definitions of society; it is a lonely type of venture, and not everyone is equipped to engage in it. For those who are, ORPHAN VOYAGE stands ready to offer its resources, its Reunion File, and its efforts to lend association to adopted people. One cannot come out of such an experience unscathed, but earlier scars do have a way of disappearing under the impact of reconciliation.
I have written these words for two purposes: One, to offer the services of ORPHAN VOYAGE to those members of the DAUGHTERS OF BILITIS who might be interested; and to raise questions in their minds as well as in my own about how much can be learned by two differently-organized associations (dealing in apparently different afflictions) from each others' programming. From reading THE LADDER I am not clear whether the Lesbian finds herself in conflict with society or with nature or with both. Not knowing this, I can hardly make any suggestions about programming other than outlining as I have above how the adopted person finds himself or herself in relation to society and nature. It is fortunate for us that a solution is inherent in the situation.
A final word. There are so many individual differences. People disagree violently about solutions to afflictions. What helps one does not help another. Is there any way through this problem? When I released my first study, "The Adopted-Break Silence", it was severely criticized by professionals because it was an "inadequate sample", or because the participants were thought to be overly sophisticated (as readers of the SATURDAY REVIEW). But it has proven to contain a valid hypothesis. The study was based on the life history approach. The questions answered related to various facets of that life history. It could be seen in this way that what might seem different at one age became a similarity at another. Is not something of the same possible for the homosexual? Are there any life history studies made of their lives? Is there a desire to have such studies made?
(Editors Note: Miss Paton welcomes inquires from orphans regarding ORPHAN VOYAGE. These, however, should be directed to THE LADDER editor.)
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Whatever Happened to Sally?
by Del Martin
She was a pretty young woman--short, dark-haired, slim, brown-eyed, soft spoken. When she first showed up at the DOB office she appeared shy and nervous. She hadn't broken up with her girl friend, and she wasn't contemplating suicide. But like a lot of young women who come to DOB she wanted to meet some Lesbians, wanted to talk to them.
She had to be honest though. She was a graduate student, a nurse who was doing a sociological study on the life style of the female homosexual. Could she attend the meetings, discussions and social activities? Would she, an outsider, be accepted by the women in DOB?
Well, for one year she did and she was-- and then she disappeared.
Sally had made quite an impression on the group. She was warm, understanding, sensitive to them as human beings. She could laugh with them and at herself. The girls opened up to her in trust. And then, paper done and class over, this warm, almost intimate, friendship ended.
Whatever happened to Sally? we asked. We never did receive a copy of her research paper, as she had promised. Five years passed. The Council on Religion and the Homosexual was invited to send speakers for an inservice education workshop for nurses at a San Francisco hospital. Dorr Jones and I were assigned to do the job. The program was in session when we arrived, and we sat down at the back of the auditorium.
A pretty, dark-haired woman turned around. "Hi, Del," she grinned in recognition. It was Sally--shy and nervous once again. Then to my surprise she rose and strode to the platform. She was somewhat apprehensive because, as she said later, I had been involved and I was present at her first attempt to discuss publicly her adventures in DOB.
Sally began by saying she intended to discuss female homosexuality, that so much had been reported on the male, but little Was actually known about the Lesbian. As females, they are still basically women with the values of a woman and have more in common with women in general than with the broad term homosexuality, she observed. Most people think of Lesbians as masculine, but this is not the ease.
In courtship Sally pointed out that Lesbians have the same kinds of concerns as other women--warmth, attraction, emotional ties with the sexual secondary, common interests, companionship. While sharing was emphasized, physical beauty was down the list. The goal is "marriage" and building a home. A high premium is placed on long lasting relationships, and those who have achieved this become counsellors and role models. There is less incidence of promiscuity. If it exists, it is discreet--certainly a womanly characteristic.
While Lesbians as a rule are not as subject to arrest, there is a great deal of concern with the law, Sally observed. There is concern also about appearance and image, how to present one's self to the larger society so as not to be offensive and obvious.
Sally alluded to certain stages and phases in the life of the Lesbian. At first she may dress like a man in order to identify herself as a Lesbian in order to meet others or out of hostility against a repressive society. But she found that there was less need for this manifestation of behavior when the Lesbian came to accept herself.
In the social aspect of Lesbian life, Sally found that most prefer home parties to gay bars, that they tended toward private circles of friends with similar socio-economic interests. New Year's Eve, for example, would be spent at a home party and not out in public, for the Lesbian would want to be with her mate at midnight.
The Lesbian is very concerned with rejection--even by another woman as well as society. Because of her sensitivity to the other person's reaction, the Lesbian is prone to gentleness and exclusiveness.
In the area of security, Sally noted that many Lesbians worried about what would happen to them when they grew old. Emphasis was placed on job security. For fear of losing her job the Lesbian was forced to assume a double identity and used a fictitious name in relating to DOB or was known in the homophile community by first name only or a nickname.
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When asked if Lesbians were troubled about not bearing children, Sally admitted this was an area of concern to some. She stated that a number had been heterosexually married and did have children whom they were rearing. When questioned as to what kind of life they might wish for their children, more times than not they expressed the desire for them to grow up "straight."
As for the Lesbian's desire to change, Sally found that the emphasis was placed rather on feeling comfortable and acceptance of self.
Asked about male and female roles in the Lesbian relationship, Sally indicated there was not a sharp difference, that there was an. evolution of roles dependent upon who has what interest and ability. While there may be marked differences early in the relationship or among younger Lesbians, the difference is more in attire than self image. The one may be slightly more masculine in subtle ways, such as the use of make-up or in manners. There is little correlation in the sexual role where there is more a concept of sameness. Passive and aggressive is more an attitude than a life style, Sally concluded.
As to value of an organization like DOB, Sally noted it stemmed from a concern for general welfare and mutual benefit, helped individuals to find self knowledge and self understanding, served to educate the public, provided a safe meeting place where one could let one's hair down and participate in in-group discussions, and lent support in times of crisis.
Regarding the Lesbian's feelings about men, Sally said that would depend on the characteristics of the men they came in contact with. She found no particular hostility toward men in general.
When she first began her study on Lesbianism, Sally said she naively and openly discussed it with her women colleagues. The responses she received included dead silence, non-verbal anxiety, analysis of her motivation in undertaking the study, defensiveness. As result of the study, Sally admitted she did have to sort out her own feelings. That is why she did nothing with her report, why some five years later she was only beginning to come out and speak. about it.
Whatever happened to Sally? She came to understand herself better as well as others. She became a nurse among nurses. She is now the director of education at a San Francisco hospital.
(Del Martin is one of DOB's founders. She and Phyllis Lyon are now working on a definitive study of the Lesbian for a major publishing company.)
A Brother's Viewpoint
by Jack Stroud
I AM A HETEROSEXUAL MALE, 38 years old, divorced, and the father of two healthy boys aged 10 and 7. For the past 22 years, I have lived with the knowledge that my sister, ten years my senior, is a Lesbian. On Gene Damon's kind invitation, I am honored to give "my side of the story," that is, what it has meant to me to learn, to adjust to, and accept the fact that my older sister is, as we used to say, "not like other girls."
It is an awesome task and requires, as I see it, a good understanding at the outset between reader and writer as to my purposes in accepting it. In the first place, I support the objectives of DOB and of its publication, The Ladder. I believe that it is nothing less than humanly and spiritually right to accept fully as brother or sister any person, regardless of race, color, previous condition of servitude, or sexual orientation, who lives with a concern for other people and for the right of everyone to self expression consistent with the common good. Specifically in the case of homosexuality, I believe that no one, whether secure in his conviction of heterosexuality or fearful of exposing a latent or real homosexuality, has the right to ridicule, denigrate, or prosecute the gay male or female who practices his or her love and sex ideals privately and honorably. If I can be of the smallest help in furthering this kind of human and humane viewpoint, I shall be compensated many times over.
In the second place, much of my income
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is earned through writing, and perhaps the best contribution I can make at present to the acceptance of homosexuals and Lesbians by our society is an article in a publication most concerned with the problem. I am not writing to see my words in print. On the contrary, I approach this assignment with a deep sense of humility and commonality.
Finally, let it be understood that I welcome reactions, including violent disagreements, to my experiences and beliefs. The idea is to begin a conversation or dialogue (perhaps multilogue is a better word) between people who are concerned with one group's denial of certain basic rights; it is to suggest, in minds and hearts that may not have opened up sufficiently as yet, that it is not the homosexual who is a cancer in society, but people's attitude toward him or her; and it is to stimulate new ways of regarding and coping with a situation as old and, I suspect, as lasting, as mankind.
It was a warm summer evening in 1947 when my sister, back east from the Women's Army Corps in California and a couple of years of civilian employment there after the war, asked to talk with me and explain something about her that was important for me to know. We sat at the dining room table in our parents' country house, and a 26-year-old woman haltingly, sometimes tearfully, explained to her 16-year-old younger brother how she didn't like men but preferred women, how this was why she had to leave the W.A.C. before her enlistment was up, and how sorry she was to have to tell me this.
Both of us drank a bit too much; and when my sister went to bed around midnight, I remained highly overwrought and went down to a nearby lake for a time alone under the stars. Rowing out onto the lake, I alternately sobbed convulsively and cursed God for visiting on me and on my sister this unnatural, evil curse. I was a little drunk, a little more shocked, and greatly confused. What did it all mean? Was my sister some kind of inhuman ogre?
I was not the only one shocked. I was soon to learn that my (our) father and mother were equally, if not more, dismayed. "When we first heard that Mona was in trouble," one of them said, "we of course thought there was an illegitimate child. Now that we know the real trouble, we only wish there had been such a child!"
Thus were my frightful suspicions confirmed: my sister had done, and was, something unspeakable. All news of her actions and condition would be suppressed where possible. We would hug the deadly secret to our bosoms.
For a while--about two years--I did not see Mona very much as I finished prep school in Massachusetts and she lived for a time in New York and then went to Oakland, California. Then in the fall of 1949, being a restless sort myself, I drove out west to spend some time, perhaps a year, with my sister. I got a job in a small printing shop and lived with Mona and her mate in my sister's house. Lots of my own hangups were involved in this ill-fated sojourn; not being at all trained psychologically, I don't pretend to know what they were. But I respected, or at least wanted to maintain a respect for, my sister; I felt I could talk to her as I could not with my parents; and, in fact, I was quite dependent on her as I had been since she had changed my baby diapers.
That stay was to last not quite three months. Whatever I had expected to find out west with my older, and wiser, sister, I did not find. We all drank too much on several occasions; once I had to sit through a sexy dance by Mona's mate as Ravel's "Bolero" filled the room (I felt quite uncomfortable because, however appealing she looked, my knowing she was queer made the whole performance unexciting to the point of disgust); and the "three's-a-crowd" situation broke apart one evening in November, after which I returned to New York.
Since then, some 20 years ago, my sister and I have not spent more than a few days together at a time, and these times have been few. But mark my words: she has been very often on my mind and in my life, and her effect on me has been far greater, in many areas, than I sometimes care to admit.
There were the times--and they are legion--when I found myself unable or unwilling to carry through a relationship with a girl to its logical conclusion, when something or a number of somethings prevented me from expressing and acting out a beginning love for another person. In large part, I think now, this was my upbringing and parental outlook restraining me and had little or nothing directly to do with my
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sister. And yet ... could I, too, be homosexual? (I had had; as most boys do-- I know now, but knew not then--a couple of homosexual experiences which had been quite pleasant.) Was homosexuality something catching, like the "flu? Did it run in families?
I began to get the unmistakable impression that most girls rather objected to boys, that women considered men more or less animals only, led by the penis, interested in quick sexual satisfaction and not the least bit concerned with the higher things in life--with sensitivity, Creativity, love and compassion. Did not my sister, my older, wiser, sister, believe this and express her belief frequently?
Then there were the implicit assumptions --sometimes the explicit declarations --that I was latently homosexual and trying desperately by outward conformity to hide the fact from others, and especially from myself. This was a horrible thought to contemplate!
Why was it so horrible? For several reasons. I suspect that the strongest of them was my own ignorance of what homosexuality was. I simply did not understand the condition, or phenomenon (I didn't know what to call it, much less describe it). And as the years went by without my going to bed with a girl in spite of several opportunities, I could not shake myself free from a feeling of dread.
There was another reason for homosexuality's horror to me. My parent's suppression of the whole "sordid" affair (and I don't blame them; they too, faced society's censure if the knowledge should out). And then--well--a feeling sometimes of great personal lack: I did not have a "normal" sister, hence not a normal family, and I felt substantially deprived.
But the days of wine and sorrows over these matters are largely over for me now, and I have hopes are coming to a close for my sister as well. I reached, between a year. and two years ago, a sure knowledge deep down that I am heterosexual. I am glad of this, because I am not looking for one more problem to deal with. And I am glad for my sister, who has found a purpose she believes in, and one I believe in: a bringing into the open, for discussion and acceptance if not for enthusiastic acclaim, the proposition that the homosexual has a right to his or her private life and emotions and loves to the very same extent that any other human being has that right.
I look back and know beyond any doubt that my own process of adjusting to and accepting my sister's Lesbianism was a long and hard one. I also know that it does not compare with her difficulties. But the point is that homosexual and heterosexual alike were and are faced with obstacles, some or many of which need not have been in the way.
Had there been, for example, a greater understanding, or just a greater tolerance, of the homosexual in our society, the pressures on my sister, on me and on our parents would have been to some extent dissipated. If people's minds now were generally more open to the fact that the homosexual is a human being with talents and needs similar in many ways to any other human being, then today's and tomorrow's families' with one or more homosexuals or Lesbians would surely have an easier and more amiable adjustment leading to higher individual and social productivity.
No doubt such a millennium is a long way off, if it ever comes to pass. But if this magazine and the people it represents can serve to move us all closer to an understanding of the Lesbian by the larger portion of people who willingly or unwittingly erect barriers to her right to live, then to all of you in DOB, I salute you!
Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright by Jane Alden
A little over six months ago, we, that is we, the employees of the U.S. Embassy in Paraguay, hired a cashier for the tiny PX we've been running in the roach-ridden basement of our chancery. This new employee was so stunningly beautiful, as the cliché goes, that you'd have taken her for an ex-movie star just beginning to put on weight: really gorgeous, and everything in giant-size, like a billboard Coke ad. She reminded us of an overgrown Betty Grable: huge blue eyes; miles of blonde hair piled into a somewhat sloppy beehive; perfect legs measuring at least two yards to the thigh. And no wedding ring.
Because the PX was mostly stocked with nauseating snack materials and exotic liqueurs, I seldom bothered to shop there.
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But now I began haunting the place. Just watching this Amazon tapping away at the cash register keys was a delight. She'd joke a little while adding my purchases; and her soft, husky voice would echo in my ears the rest of the day.
Shortly after her arrival, I began to have vivid, always-the-same dreams. In them, this big, voluptuous blonde would charge into my apartment and pounce on me like a tiger in heat. We would go down on the floor together, growling and purring, "consumed with passion," as the saying goes. Sometimes I'd wake myself up bellowing, "Leslie, Leslie!"
I couldn't find anyone around the Embassy who knew any more about her than that her first name was Leslie. It was rumored that she'd come to Paraguay from San Francisco to study Spanish, but no one really knew why. Just when I'd braced myself to defy protocol and invite her to my apartment for dinner, Leslie disappeared.
I thought at first she must have been on sick leave, but she simply never came back to the PX. Her replacement, a baggy wife of one of the Embassy officers, remarked that she'd heard Leslie had been fired for "irregularities"; but I was afraid to delve too deeply into the matter for fear of calling attention to my "unnatural" interest in her. Embassies thrive on gossip, especially about unmarried females who appear to prefer that state to the more conventional joys of husbands and children.
Between my daily work in the file room and my reading of Henry Miller at night, I'd almost stopped thinking about Leslie and having my Tiger Dreams. Then, three weeks after her disappearance, she telephoned me. She told me she was in trouble but wouldn't discuss it over the Embassy telephone, which we were both convinced was tapped. We arranged to have dinner together to talk over her problem. For the rest of the day, my hands were clammy.
Waiting for her at the restaurant, my heart beat so fast I began to worry about congenital heart failure. The mystery; woman finally stalked into the dining room wearing a magnificent white leather coat with fox collar. I seated her at our table with more pride than I'd felt in years. She looked superb, and all the males--and females--stopped their eating and stared at her. That's just the effect she had.
After our second round of martinis,
Leslie revealed that a group of auditors
hired by the Embassy had uncovered fraudulent cash register tapes and had accused her of stealing several hundred dollars' worth of merchandise. The Security Officer, Pat Doyle, had taken her passport as bond until the PX investigation was complete. Until her innocence was established, she could neither get another job nor leave Paraguay. She called Pat names I hadn't heard before or even read in Tropic of Capricorn. I didn't much care for Pat myself, but that's another story.
At two A.M., I hailed a taxi. Leslie blew me a kiss, and I repeated my promise to see Pat about her problem as soon as I got to work.
Promptly at nine next morning, I paid a call on Pat. During my impassioned defense of civil liberties in general and of Leslie in particular, he cleaned his nails with a letter opener. Then he handed me her folder. Aside from the usual statistical information, I learned she was 46 years old. I was thinking how well-preserved she was and trying to memorize her home address when Doyle broke in.
"As you see, this gal's a mess. Divorced four times and now living with a Peruvian exiled guitar player, no less."
"You mean exiled Peruvian guitar player," I snickered dismally. My hands were perspiring so badly that the ink started to smudge Leslie's report. I glanced at an auditor's notarized statement concerning the PX thefts and then came to a handwritten confession signed by one Leslie Chaves de Valle de Jones de Zarate, admitting she'd stolen $340 in goods from the PX while working as cashier. I was stunned as much by her audacity as a thief as by her marital history. How did Jones get in there?
"How'd you squeeze this bogus confession from Mrs. Zarate--with a rubber hose?"
His pop-eyes peered into mine unblinkingly.
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"Come off it, jane. Got an interest in her or something?"
My blush belied my words. "Of course not. Ridiculous. Me? Couldn't care less for women, let alone such a--uh--criminal. I just hate to see the Embassy gang up on her. Isn't she a human being?"
"You got me there, kiddo."
Had I been infinitely braver, I would have slapped him. As it was, I had to settle for a more womanly measure to save Leslie's honor at the Embassy, pulling a ballpoint pen and a check book from my purse. I wrote a check for $340 in a none-too-steady hand.
Doyle started to argue, but he must have noticed something in my manner that stopped him short. He took my check as if it were contaminated.
"Well, thanks, anyway, for clearing up the PX problem. Would have meant piles of paper work. Might as well take her the passport, my dear. If that's what you're after. And I sincerely hope that's all you're after."
I snatched Leslie's passport and ran from the menace of Doyle's look as if I'd been stabbed. And the more I thought about how truly criminal Leslie was, the more I worried that my perceptive Security Officer would label me guilty of misconduct, either by association with her or because I had simply one emotion he could not tolerate: I loved her. For this, I would be sent back to Washington in abject disgrace, my clearances revoked, banned from government service for life. My stomach began to gurgle with an incipient ulcer, and one of my migraine headaches slithered into the tiniest wrinkles of my brain to stab and burn. I finished the rest of the week in bed--heating pad on fevered brow, one might say.
Leslie called me a few Mondays later, asking about her passport. Oblivious to telephone tappers, I informed her that she could pick up her precious document at my apartment. She was silent for a moment, but didn't beg off or protest. I guess she figured that a deal was a deal. Perhaps she was proud of being able to barter her favors at $340 in spite of her age. I ended our conversation before she could reconsider.
Leslie trudged into my apartment a little after eleven, looking like Betty Grable Struck By Lightning. Her eyes were glassy, her nose red, and I could smell cognac on her breath. Embassy cognac, no doubt. I solemnly handed her the passport, which she crammed into her purse without comment. Then with absolutely no pretext of enthusiasm, she unbuttoned her blouse right there in the front room. I suggested we survey my bedroom and guided her in that direction, but she veered into the bathroom for an aspirin and some mentholatum.
When she emerged, I was in bed, hunched over on one side to give her room to climb in. My God, what a big Betty Grable she was! The bed frame trembled when she lay down, and I tumbled against her warm side like a toy doll. In seconds, she started snoring husky, sonorous snores that reminded me of an asthmatic bulldog I'd once had the misfortune of owning. I prodded her awake and began to caress her full breasts, but her sigh of forlorn endurance utterly froze me.
"Got a cold, honey," she murmured. Then I felt like a pygmy trying to mount an indifferent and indisposed elephant. When she started snoring again, I quit.
I am a quiet sleeper and am unused to sharing my bed with anyone, least of all with a snoring hulk of cold germs, so I savagely pinched her awake and ordered her from my apartment. Ordered, mind you. She heaved herself out, presumably dressed, and finally slammed the door, behind her as she departed amid a stream of Southern Gothic oaths.
Almost as soon as the door shut, I fell asleep in a haze of cognac and mentholatum. Then the Tiger Dream returned. A bright, beautiful Leslie bolted into my apartment with a feline gleam in her eye, growled, and pounced upon me as of old. I joyously grappled with her, and our animal passion was so mutually overwhelming that we sank to the floor intertwined, panting in a fury of synchronized lust.
Then my alarm clock went off.
(Jane Alden writes that she graduated from the University of Maryland in 1958. Sought fame and fortune as Assistant Editor, Children's Books, New York publishing. house. Soon loathed children's books. Discovered that Uncle Sam is a Big Spender. Has been wasting taxpayers' money ever since. Spent two years in Lisbon and four years around South America. Recently returned to Washington, D.C. Next post: Laos?)
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