Monday, June 12, 2017


This photo was taken of me in 1972 when I was thirty, at the start of the few years when I began experimenting with my sexual identity. The photographer was an older man who said he was in love with me. He was a public figure and very closeted, a macho WWII combat veteran who despised "sissies" which I imagine is why he somehow provoked me to capture my more macho side at a time when I was making the first attempts in my life to NOT come across as macho.

There were very few examples of publicly self-identified "gay" men, or lesbians, let alone anyone talking about fluidity in terms of sexuality. I hated the term "bi-sexual" (as I was taught to by the man who was the first male I shared my sexuality with as an adult, who said calling yourself "bi-sexual" was a cop out, because it allowed you to enjoy the pleasures of sex with whoever you wanted without the consequences of being identified as a gay man).

So when I was included in "gay" poetry anthologies in the years that followed, I'd always mention in the bio section that I hated labels for sexuality, that my experience was that there were as many kinds of sexual experiences as there were people, but if I had to pick a term I'd use "pansexual."

The one exception in the poetry world was Dick Higgins, who became a friend and who wrote a line that I used to quote constantly back then (and unfortunately I cant reproduce the way it appears in his poem because of the formatting limitations on my my blog and Facebook): "look behind the eyes//i said and i say//worry about the plumbing later".

The reason I bring all this up is because today is the one year anniversary of the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. The kind of gay club I danced in and partied in back in the early 1970s in DC and NYC and San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Miami, Florida, during my travels then as an openly "gay" poet and man, despite the fact that I was always in sexual relationships with women as well at the time.

There's a quote from the artist and poet Joe Brainard (a man I was in love with, and was lovers with over the years though the sex was minimal and pretty unsuccessful) that I can't remember exactly, nor find at the moment, that said something like: Every day is the anniversary of something horrible. And that's true. And overwhelming.

But nonetheless, today's one-year anniversary of the death of those forty-nine people in that club and the trauma still experienced by those who survived the carnage, reminds me, at least, what I discovered in that period of sexual experimentation, that there are as many ways of being oneself as there are selves, including the multitude of selves we each contain.

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