I learned the use of language at an early age. It got me in trouble and helped me get good grades in English Composition. As a teen my friends and I used the word “queer” to describe the History teacher who was awkward and socially inept and stammered when a buxom cheerleader gave him a view of cleavage when she asked him a question. Queer was used to describe the sensitive kids who’s mothers watched over them and didn’t fit in. “Fag” on the other hand was used to describe men like a guy nicknamed Madam Lee. He was real. He cruised town in a yellow Dodge Charger picking up young boys. In exchange for sexual favors he gave the boys money and gifts. Some guys went along with Madam Lee to finance a courtship with a girl at school. They thought of it as a necessity. If you have sex with a male and enjoy it. And, have sex with a woman and enjoy it you’re bisexual. None of the guys who Madam Lee “courted” turned into predators. They just grew out of it. Oh, the kids, mostly male we called queer. They went to good colleges, grew into mature stable men who married really good looking and loving woman. They show up at reunions and Thanksgiving Day football games to rub our noses in it.
I had my close call. While I was stationed in Japan there was a guy who worked in our shop. His name was George and he came from Pennsylvania. He was a wannabe Alpha male. We worked together on night shift. We didn’t get along. He liked giving orders, I hated taking them. We were sitting around the office one night. It was slow and George was regaling us with tales of what he had planned while he was on leave. He was a week away and the closer he got the more obnoxious he got. He was giving detailed uses of Q-tips. Like to keep his ears clean so his girlfriend could stick her tongue in. The radio was on. We were listening to AFRS the only game in town. A song came on “This Guy’s In Love” by Herb Alpert. When the song was over I said that I liked it. George called me a queer. He was standing in a confrontational pose so I punted his nuts across the room. I didn’t knee him, I kicked him with the toe of my boot. The next day he reported me to the shop supervisor. The shop supervisor interviewed the both of us. He passed it up the chain to the section supervisor, “The Judge”. He was a black E-8 who had overcome prejudice and racism to get positions of authority. Along the way he made some powerful friends. The Judge called George in first. Then it was my turn. We’d done this before. He didn’t address me by rank, he called me Mister. The Judge thought about it. I got two weeks mowing squadron lawns, George had his leave cancelled and when he transferred was sent to Alaska.
During the period that I was in the service and after I was exposed to a lot of culture that I seemed to have missed. Paperback books in the curtained sections of book stores that documented the “true” sexual histories of Victorian gentlemen. There was Evergreen Magazine and other periodicals carrying Ginsburg and beat writers. Homosexuality was discussed. I was interested, but not enough to participate. After I was discharged I went to college.
there were both lesbians and homosexuals. they seemed nice.
A mental glitch took me out of college and into the industrial world. Homophobia on the hoof. I was suspect because I wasn’t laughing loud enough at the joke about the queer who bought a corking factory. I ignored them and moved around. This went on for about eight years with school and idleness as intervals. I went back to school and into the hospitality industry. My first supervisor lived with his mother, raised parakeets and had a friend named Guy. When I moved to my first real restaurant I met Patty, “The Dyke On A Bike”. We became friends. We were subversive and terrorized the wait staff. We had fun and everything moved along. Patty needed some bodies to fill positions that had been recently vacated. The owners hired Kevin and Mark, brothers. They spent time in kitchens but never together. After six weeks Patty and I were having a smoke break. “Mark’s gay” she said. “How do you know?” “He told me” “No s**t” “You want to know what’s hilarious?” “What?” “Kevin doesn’t have a clue and they live in the same house.” “Oh well”
At this point I’m supposed to say “Some of my best friends are homosexual.” I don’t. I like homosexual instead of gay and lesbian, it’s one word instead of two. I don’t care what other people do. It’s their business. As for the use of queer, some homosexuals wore it proudly as a banner others hid from it. Some will fight if you call them that word. Here’s my take: We’re all made of everything. we’ve got female, male animal human built in. As far as sexuality we’ve all got every permutation built into our brains, whatever one shows up is mainly chance. If you see someone and you think of the word “queer” think of them as another version of you. One who nature caused other developments.

See you tomorrow.