On this last day of PRIDE month, I thought I'd post about the first man I was sexually intimate with as an adult. He was around my age (29) when we met in DC in 1971, where I was an anti-Vietnam War and Civil Rights activist and budding feminist and supporter of Gay rights. He was an activist as well but then on the front lines of the fight for Gay Liberation, in fact often cited as a co-founder of the Gay Liberation Front on the third day of the Stonewall uprising.
We had a brief, troubled, but intense relationship, which was challenging on many levels, but I am grateful that he instigated my "coming out" as a gay man, despite my continued attraction to women as well, explaining that calling myself "bi-sexual" would allow me to enjoy the sensual and sexual pleasures of being intimate with men like him while not suffering the consequences of being out as a gay man like him. This was long before the "B" was added to what became for a while LGBT.
As a result of coming out as gay, I lost my job teaching at a Catholic women's college, and some relationships with family and friends, and exposed myself to being criminalized and considered mentally ill. But getting in touch with the gay, and at times feminine, aspects of my true nature, was so liberating, it was more than worth it.
I never liked the term "bi-sexual" because it seems to imply two kinds of sex, when in my experience every sexual encounter I have ever had has been unique, not generically one of two kinds. But because the "B" in LGBTQ+ seems least talked about and often denigrated and misunderstood (how many times in the last fifty years has my sexuality been invalidated, or ignored as inconsequential, even at times by me!), I now want to stand up for all of us who fall under that designation, even those of us, like me, who prefer the label Queer.
As for that man, at the time we were together he, as many in the DC gay community, was known by a name other than his given one, in his case it was Total Assault, or affectionately "Total" to those of us he was close to. He lived for a while in the commune my wife Lee and I and our two children lived in (she came out as lesbian but was also "bi" and was living with a male partner in 1980 when she became ill and after a botched operation ended up in a coma for six years before she passed),
"Total" was a dynamo not just in the gay world, but the music and broader political worlds as well, and has been a controversial figure in all of them, as he is in my memories. But I still acknowledge my gratitude for all I learned about myself and the world from those early encounters with him and the gay rights activism that grew from them.
(C) 2021 Michael Lally