I was asked by Bi Women Quarterly to write a letter to LGBT people under 40 and I came up with this curmudgeonly piece. The daring Mark McNease thought the readers of lgbtsr.org might be interested in reading it. It has been lightly edited since its original publication.
Dear Queers under 40,
I was a baby butch in the days when being caught with my high school girlfriend led to threats of incarceration and electroshock. In fact, she nearly succeeded in killing herself and I was forced to undergo therapy with a pig who wanted to know, over and over, what I did to her and what she did to me. She and I were separated, forbidden to meet. It was 1964.
I was a baby butch when the law required that you wear at least three pieces of clothing suitable to your own sex, so our motorcycle jackets and ties and cuff links were all threats to our very freedom.
I was a baby butch decades before there was an internet, when we not infrequently met our lovers by flirting with the other women standing in the line to the bathroom at the bar.
I knew women who passed by binding their breasts and lowering their voices, because they needed the higher-paying jobs from which women were excluded in order to support themselves and perhaps their girlfriends. There were lots of children around in those days too, for many gay people straight-married and built nuclear families before they found out why they felt the way they felt. Or found someone else to feel it with.