Posts Tagged 'Lee Lynch'

The Amazon Trail

Me and My Pin

By Lee Lynch

Lee Lynch by Sue Hardesty

 
“I thought I was the only one,” the stranger said in a low voice.
It wasn’t 1957, or even 1977. It was last week, at the grand opening of a supermarket in town.
He was gray-haired, tall, dressed like a ranch hand. His smile was sheepish, his eyes conspiratorial.
He wasn’t talking about finding a kindred gay soul. He pointed to my pin, the “H” arrow of the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. I smiled back at him. We enthused, we commiserated, we talked about the conservative places we’d moved away from. I wanted to assure him that our town was liberal, that there were more of us, but, where were the political buttons?
We were a month away from the presidential election. The stranger made me realize that I hadn’t seen anyone wearing a Clinton pin either. Or a he-who-shall-not-be-named pin. No bumper stickers. This election is intimidating: no one wants to show her or his colors.
I admit to feeling a moment of disquiet when I attached the pins to my vests. My neighbors know I’m gay and act very accepting, but there are bound to be Hillary haters in this over-fifty-five community. What was I letting myself in for?
Then the stranger told me the story of going door to door in 2008, asking permission to install Obama lawn signs in front yards. Part of his rural county borders Harney County, Oregon, where the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Occupation took place in January, 2016. Nevertheless, he did his bit and planted those signs all day.
The very next day, said the stranger, his signs were all torn down and smashed up.
He was feeling gunshy when we met and happy to find another Clinton supporter. He asked where to get a button like mine. There was no place local so I sent him to the internet. (https://shop.hillaryclinton.com/collections/new-arrivals)
Remember the days when there were party headquarters in practically every town? Big banners on storefronts, red, white, and blue bunting. Cars with loudspeakers that trawled through neighborhoods, playing patriotic music and touting their candidates? Volunteers or even paid workers who pressed buttons on passersby? Often, the buttons were tiny tin circles you attached to clothing by folding a tab at the top?
All those funds go to TV, the USPS, and the web now. I get one to two emails a day from the Clinton campaign, not even counting Facebook and Twitter promotions. There are no face to face human appeals or exchanges. My sweetheart answered the phone the other evening and spoke for a while with a young woman about a candidate for our state election. One of the questions my sweetheart asked was, “Who is he running against?” The campaigner had no idea.
It might infuriate me to see someone wearing an opposition pin, but this graphic silence is worrisome. Is the atmosphere in the US so uncivil that we fear to speak out? When one candidate hints that assassination might solve some problems, what craziness can me and my pin expect from politically frustrated followers who are desperate to get their candidate elected?
A day or two after my encounter with the liberal stranger, a cashier at the McDonald’s drive-in spotted my pin and asked where to get one. The servers were bogged down and as I idled, she told me how worried she was that he-who-shall-not-be-named might be elected.
A friend sent two more pins. Now I have four. No, I don’t wear them all at once. I haven’t done that since my gay liberation, feminist, peace and civil rights activist days. You kind of had to back then, there was so much going on.
Every contact since then, between my pins and me and the townsfolk, has been has been heartening. The women don’t always say something, but they spot the pin, look up at me and, I swear, their eyes twinkle, or at least their crows’ feet wrinkle into smile lines. But their lips are sealed.
I still haven’t seen other Clinton buttons or bumper stickers. Maybe it’s because I don’t go out much. Yesterday, though, I saw my first he-who display. Big clean new-looking white SUV with a red, white, and blue over-sized bumper sticker. Stuck out like a very sore thumb in that parking lot full of Subarus, muddy pickups and little old Toyotas.
Has silence settled over the whole of the US? Are voters in denial of this good vs. evil election? Why aren’t we the people speaking up in ways we used to? I can’t help but wonder if some folks fear repercussions should the demagogue sit in the White House. Or perhaps it’s simply that women tend not to be boisterous in word or political gear. Are not generally raised to speak our minds.
Because the last words of the now smiling stranger in the grocery store were these: “I believe it’s the women who’ll win this one for us.”

Copyright Lee Lynch 2016

The Amazon Trail

Affectional Preference

By Lee Lynch

Lee Lynch by Sue Hardesty

Hey, world, big news! Gay people are more than our sexuality.
I am really, really tired of the focus on the third syllable of the term homosexual. It’s annoyed me for fifty-four years that I am defined by one part of my humanity.
Please tell me why, for example, that the minute a perfectly intelligent, well-educated, otherwise apparently open-minded adult male realizes I write lesbian books, he will only speak of my work as erotica.
Or why one of the more free-thinking non-gay women in my town can’t talk to me without mentioning her friendship with a lesbian couple in another state with whom I have nothing in common except being lesbian. Or why Ms. So-and-So needs to talk about her evolution toward accepting me and my kind.
You know what? I don’t give a rip. Those are their problems, accepting me, rejecting me, struggling, poor things, to understand homosexuals. What the heck is the big deal that they have to exert themselves so hard to figure out? Struggle away and excuse me for changing the subject.
I may live in rural America, but I am not a walking, talking letter “Q” for queer. Not an advertisement for a lifestyle. Not a representation of what-dykes-look-like. Not an object of study or fascination. Not a target of foul words, flung mud, or physical violence.
I am a lover of women, but that encompasses a heck of a lot more than sexual expression. When I was younger even I didn’t know that was true. I didn’t know I could love a woman friend without intimate touch. I believed the homo-hating hype that coming out made me one-dimensional.
My life crusade has been the creation of fully realized gay fictional characters and their efforts to discover who they are. The reason I want to accomplish this? So our people have someone, even on paper, who has made the journey through an unpleasant obstacle course and emerged whole. We read at least in part to find ourselves and I want readers to have a chance to do exactly that.
Thousands of us have worked with the same goal in mind. As a consequence, the generations after us will be increasingly emotionally healthy because some of us have written, others established resources such as shelters and support groups and hotlines, and still others have fought to teach our history or create music and art for and about us.
Today, we can see photos of people like us who are unencumbered by stereotypes. We watch gay people become champion athletes, T.V. and film and theater stars, heads of corporations, politicians. I like to think all our efforts have helped to provide solid groundwork for gay lives to be fulfilling.
It is time to look at how language continues to be one of our stumbling blocks. Change is already happening. Little by little a majority of Americans are becoming respectful of gay people, are realizing they need not focus conversation on gay matters. They are finding out that we are not threats and that we have more in common with them than not.
Both gays and non-gays need new language for the concept that we are the family next door, the gal who pumps gas, the transgendered head of the corporation. We need to move beyond words that mark us in a solely sexual way.
I’ve been using the phrase affectional preference. While I enjoy the company of some men, mostly gay men, my closest friends and family are women. If I’m going out somewhere, I go with women. If I join an organization, it’s more likely to be woman-centered than co-ed. If I exercise or swim, I like to do so in the company of women. I do business with women, preferably gay.
There is no sexual component in any of those activities. Why am I the only one with a sexual label in a room full of non-gay women who’ve gathered for lunch? I have affection for these women, not attraction to them.
In my marriage, of course there is the kind of intimacy that scares straight boys. Their biological imperative wants to defend potential mates. But really, there are enough children in the world. Resources are becoming scarcer: water, food, housing. Give it a rest, all you presumably straight guys riding the subway or voting on bills in state capitols. We’ll lower the blinds and turn off the lights now if you don’t mind.
As a matter of fact, we’re probably sitting in our living room discussing our day and reading. Or cooking dinner and doing the dishes. We might even be doing the laundry, cleaning the toilets, filling the bird feeders. So call us bird lovers, cooks, readers. Our passion for birds and books have nothing to do with sexual preferences. We simply like to share everyday life together as two loving women.
We had houseguests this week. We worked long hours. I went to the cobbler. Saturday we’ll visit the Farmer’s Market. Sunday I’ll change the kitty litter while my sweetheart vacuums. It’s exasperating to know there are people out there who see us behind our shopping cart and think sex.
Let’s stop sexualizing ourselves and come up with words that reflect the greater percentage of our days and ourselves—if we have to be labeled at all. Please note, it’s not the sex itself I want to eliminate, it’s the restrictive branding.
My affectional preference is for female companionship. Let’s see the churches, the social conservatives, the spawn of Scalia, make that illegal.
Copyright Lee Lynch 2016

The Amazon Trail

Game of Throne

By Lee Lynch

Lee Lynch by Sue Hardesty

Game of Throne is what my sweetheart calls the nightly battle between our cat and me over Big Blue.
Bolo is our gray, fourteen year old, lesbian-required cat. Sadly, we’re down to just one kitty and no dogs. We can’t add either to our household because Bolo has diabetes. Her symptoms are triggered by, among other factors, stress. An addition to the family could kill her.
The Throne is Big Blue, a recliner we bought for my rotator cuff and bicep surgery. In recovery, it’s too painful to lie flat and I only had use of one arm for 2 months, so we needed a power recliner. I added the stipulation that it fit both Bolo and me.Bolo and Me On Big Blue
Once my shoulder healed enough, I was able to return to my sweetheart’s side and the cat, a heavy sleeper and loud snorer, to her place on us, between us, or as a lump on our feet.
When my sweetheart first mentioned Game of Thrones, I thought she was talking about the current presidential race. Neither of us follow the HBO series. Without that frame of reference, it made sense to me that she would be talking about Clinton vs. Trump, a nightmare that should not be happening. No one in the U.S. has ever worked harder to prepare for the presidency than Hillary Clinton. Never mind what a complete (insert bad word here) Trump is, Clinton has been in government for so long, the (new bad word) opposition uses her suitability against her.
I pictured he-who-would-be-king attempting to de-throne she-who-qualifies-for-coronation.
There was our blonde equivalent of Kim Jong Un in all his immaturity, surrounded by the likes of supporters Chris Christie, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Tyson and Sarah Palin, headed for the throne as if entitled. And there was Secretary Clinton, followed by a train of millions of women—suffragist foremothers to expectant little girls to underemployed lesbians—carefully navigating the broken glass of a ceiling never before penetrated.
That this should be a contest at all is beyond my comprehension. People say they don’t trust Clinton. And they trust Trump? People believe the muck that’s flung at Clinton. And they don’t see that their god of business is covered in slime? People say they want the country run like a business? Well, finally, after decades of big business corrupting our government, capitalism may trump democracy.
To call a powerful woman names and to otherwise disparage her—come on, America, we’re better than this old-fashioned misogyny.
Oh, America, where has your soul gone? It used to be said that our streets were lined with gold. Now they are, but not the narrow streets filled with people of color and immigrants, not the dirt roads into rural poverty, not the intersections crowded with protesters, not the crosswalks which the old and/or disabled enter with trepidation as drivers speed through, oblivious.
Hillary Clinton has always shown that she cared for all Americans. From her first universal healthcare attempt to advocating for women employees on Wall Street, she has proven her bonafides, while her challenger has left service workers in the dust, business people unpaid for their labor, and financial failures of colossal size.
But that wasn’t what my sweetheart meant at all. Not the Game, not politics, but our delight in Bolo and Big Blue.
It doesn’t take much to make this marriage gay. We laugh when Bolo’s all snuggled in beside me and I dare to absent myself for some necessity or other. Say, heating up my green tea, refilling my sweetheart’s Diet Coke, giving Bolo her insulin shot, or, goddess forbid, visiting the restroom. When I carefully lower the footrest, our little one glares at me sidelong, perturbed, and moves not a squinch to let me up.
I wriggle out slowly, slowly, making myself as small as humanly possible to avoid further disturbing Her Highness. As soon as my back is turned, my sweetheart tells me with a laugh, Bolo takes over the entire built-for-two seat to soak up whatever warmth I’ve left. We live with an energy-efficient cat.
On my return, the true tussle begins. Logically, I should be able to retake my fraction of the Throne. As any cat person knows, cat bodies are subject to thermal expansion. The body heat I leave causes Bolo’s furry fourteen pound self to gain mass and spill from her original boundaries. There is probably a mathematical formula for this.
In a gentle voice, I suggest that Bolo make room for me. My sweetheart laughs more as this method is guaranteed to fail.
I begin slowly, slowly, to sit, while extending my hand and arm to reverse the kitty’s diffusion. Again I get the annoyed glare, her eyes mere slits. I wriggle all the way onto Big Blue, petting the kitty, scritching her favorite spots. Finally, I raise the footrest.
This is not nearly as hard as walking the tightrope of public opinion in sexist America. Or as dangerous as being point woman in the gender war.
Miffed, Bolo gets up and, to underscore her disgust, licks her fur where I’ve touched it. With deliberate dignity, Bolo daintily steps over me and leaves to flaunt her magnificent silver grayness on my sweetheart’s couch.
I have, to my bitter disappointment, won our Game of Throne. I beg Bolo to return, I offer kibble, I debase myself by crawling after her. To no avail. I know how President Obama must feel facing our obstructive congress. I know the stakes are high for gays in this election.
I re-reheat my tea, re-return to the Throne, try to remember what I was working on, focus, and—Bolo’s back, demanding to be petted in apology. By the time she finishes rearranging herself I remember what I was doing: sending a donation to Hillary Clinton, the next president of the United States of America.
Copyright Lee Lynch 2016

The Amazon Trail

Freedom Clothes

By Lee Lynch

Lee Lynch by Sue Hardesty

 

 

So here I am, trying on men’s dress pants for the Golden Crown Literary Society Awards ceremony, and I keep thinking of the photos of our people in Orlando. They dressed up too in their best freedom clothes, also anticipating an evening of togetherness. I’m grateful to be alive and able to gather with other gay women, while I can barely take in how many of us were killed, wounded, traumatized and experienced losses because of our gender preferences.

 Lainie and Lee dressed up for GCLS 2014

Lainie and Lee dressed up for GCLS 2014

I’m reading about NYC Gay Pride. When I attended the early NYC marches, there was security, but nothing like what’s planned in 2016. Blocks and blocks are closed to parking. There will be thousands of officers on the streets, on rooftops, in the air and in boats. My biggest fear in the early 1970s was that my mother would see me on T.V. and I’d have to deal with laying that trip on her.
Yet ever since the 1980s, when the right wing decided it would be politically expedient to build their power base by turning us into a featureless symbol against whom multitudes of non-gays could unite, I have expected mass killings. We’re natural targets for people taught by their religions that their deities find us an abomination.
The horror of that Central Florida night brought back the general horror of gay bars for me. Like whole neighborhoods that house other minorities, the bars pen us in one place where we are queer ducks— queer sitting ducks. Orlando was a pogrom, “the organized killing of many helpless people,”* in this case organized by a stealth enemy that turns people like the deeply conflicted, unstable shooter into murderers.
I think affectionately of some gay bars—I got to wear freedom clothes there too—but I also remember the horror of them. They were a nightmare then, they’re a nightmare again. Yet I thought of them as fun. Didn’t we all? I loved being with other gays, but drank to tolerate the demeaning conditions of our loud, cold, dirty, dangerous pens.
Truth be told, I’m a wallflower by nature with seldom enough self-confidence to ask a woman to dance. Even with the drink in me and a cigarette going, the bars bored me silly. Any excitement came from dancing with my partner and being surrounded by our kind.
The gawking het couples on dates who came to laugh and stare at what to them was a grotesque sideshow, the ones who always managed to get tables because they knew the owners of the joints while we stood around without a place to set our drinks, degraded, intimidated and antagonized us, their very presence a warning that we danced to their fiddle. My rage at them continues to this day and fuels some of what I write. It’s due to the gentle nature of our people we are the victims of violence and our tormentors get off scot-free.
I expected such an attack on LGBTQ people at least since the night, in the mid-1970s, when my friend and co-worker Carm was shot outside Partners Cafe in New Haven, Connecticut. Carm was walking to his car when out of nowhere, someone started shooting from a moving vehicle. Young, handsome Carm got a bullet in the arm. Now I’m only surprised at the infrequency of the attacks.
I am surprised that a gay bar has been designated a National Monument. This is only one of many such dichotomies. We’re central to the frightening divide between U.S. voters, which only confirms how powerful we really are.
It’s fitting that our monument should be a bar. Human communities form where they can, spontaneously, and eventually develop traditions. Hellish as they can be, at times they were glorious, glorious! The music may have been loud past bearing, but we danced all night! Under the glitter balls we saw ourselves reflected in our peers like nowhere else. I was not the only shy one and eventually a few strangers would become friends, friends grew to circles. With a gay bar nearby we never needed to be totally alone.
A night at the bar was always a celebration. Angry, estranged, alcoholic, festive—companionship was there for the taking. Danger united us, as it does still.
There will be increased security at venues and events like the one I’m headed to. I’ll be wearing my dress-up pants, shirt, vest, pocket square and tie. Others will be in alluring frocks, and a number in their full-dress U.S. military uniforms. Day by day, more and more people condemn atrocities against LGBTQ people and other minorities and we are stronger for every changed mind.
I will remember the beautiful, proud and daring men and women who were attacked that nightmare night in Orlando, every time I don my glorious freedom clothes.

*www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary

The Amazon Trail

Searching for Old Dyke Tales

By Lee Lynch

Lee Lynch by Sue Hardesty

 

The only information I had on old gay people when I came out was that we were doomed to be alone and thus miserable. Oh, and lesbians would have leathery skin while gay men would become pitiful predators.
At least, that’s how old perverts were portrayed in the pulps, and in non-fiction about criminology and juvenile delinquency.
First off, let’s define “old.” I’m seventy and happier than I’ve ever been. If you’re under, say, 64, you think I’m old. If you’re over seventy you think I’m a spring chicken. One of my Tai Chi instructors is 80, the other is 88. My best friend is 81 and still writing novels. It’s impossible to define old.
I couldn’t look leathery if I tried, nor could any of the dykes or gay men I know. I’ve seen plenty of people who might be described that way, gay or not, but they’ve usually spent years broiling in the sun on beaches other than Fire Island or Herring Cove in Provincetown.
It’s funny how, most of my life, perfect strangers recoiled at the sight of my androgyny. With white hair I’ve become invisible, even to other dykes. Where once I’d get a smile or nod of recognition in the street in response to my own, the gaze of younger lesbians slides right off me, like I’m a lampost or a (shudder) straight person.
In my thirties and forties, I made up old lesbians in my stories. Perhaps I was looking for my elders. There may have been many around, but the generations before me were so very closeted I was aware only of a vacuum.
Once I got to know some actual true-to-life old dykes, I totally forgot there was an age difference. They treated me as an equal and we developed long, respectful friendships.
But I did such stupid stuff as a kid, made such risky, reasonless decisions, I could have used the guidance of an old dyke. In those younger years I was Alice falling down one rabbit hole after another.

Young Lee in Provincetown

Young Lee in Provincetown

Could I have learned from old lesbians and gay men or would my eyes have slid away from them the way baby dyke eyes do from me? Would I have listened? Yes, I was like that, very respectful of experienced people. As a matter of fact, I longed for such counsel, or at least for tales from people like me.
Would I have used their hard-won knowledge? Would I have followed recommended paths? I have no doubt I would have—and asked for detailed maps.
Would old gays have given me the kind of advice I needed? It would have been tricky for them to even associate with gay kids. Say I doctored my birth certificate (which I most certainly did) so I could go to gay bars. Say Joe Gay or Josie Gay, age 64, taught me how. Say my mother, a teacher, found out, or, worse, the bar was raided. Could Josie or Joe trust that this scared child would withstand a browbeating aimed at naming names?
Very few of us have biological or adoptive lesbian mothers. Where can we find guidance for our early gay adulthood? A local physician calls our mutual friends, the pianist and the handydyke (both 70 plus), her lesbian mothers. The pianist tells of the day a younger woman rushed up to her in the grocery store and announced that she and the handydyke were her lesbian aunties. The pianist knew another young lesbian, in the military, who had her suicide carefully planned out until two gay men stepped in to save her life. She also talks about a student, a homeless high school lesbian who lived with her and the handydyke for a year and who once said, “I wonder what an old lesbian looks like?”
There’s an obvious crying need for links between our young and old. The Old Lesbian Oral Herstory Project,* started by Arden Eversmeyer in 1997, seeks to document our lives. Books published by the project offer our stories. I would have devoured every word right up into my thirties, looking for who I was and who I could become.
The Trevor Project has a huge presence on Twitter that seeks to encourage gay and transgendered kids.
Reportedly, 40% of homeless youth are LGBT. They so need adults to model themselves after, ways of living gay to try on, in order to find themselves. Some have lost their families; some have families to whom they’re unable to relate. Who can hold their hands when they’re slipping on the icier, dicier spots of life? In whose footsteps can they follow on the paths of relationships?
There are more and more visible role models: Edie Windsor, Del Martin, Phyllis Lyon, Ellen Degeneres, Greg Louganis, Anderson Cooper, Janis Ian, who give gay kids something to strive for. But what about the non-celebrities, the lesbian Boy Scout leader, the gay male crossing guard, the hairdressers and auto painters, the farmers and pilots—how do we get them into the lives of lost children, lgbt college students, young gay barflies? Wouldn’t any of us, even now, love a gay grandparent who could teach us to garden or build a boat and rap our knuckles, or at least warn us, at any age, when we leap into the arms of ridiculously incompatible lovers?
The good news is that now we’ve begun to have voices, we have started to display our images, we know the young people are out there, seeking as we did. Our very openness is a way of offering ourselves.

http://www.oloc.org/projects/herstory.php
Copyright Lee Lynch 2016

The Amazon Trail

Emily Dickinson’s Desk

By Lee Lynch

Lee Lynch by Sue Hardesty

How do gay writers celebrate the end of a book, a poem, a story? I don’t know about Sarah Orne Jewett, Langston Hughes, Willa Cather, or Allen Ginsberg, but after that brief moment of relief, before the serious editorial worrying begins, after my sweetheart takes me for a long walk on the beach and a romantic dinner with a view, I clean my desk.
Okay, I don’t clean it that night. Or the next day. It might take a month. Or two. I like to get a few short stories written between books, so the purging comes in fits and starts. But definitely before I begin the next book.
This time, after four years of concentrated writing and nine years of research on my new book, Rainbow Gap (due out in December), I’m still struggling with the logistics of making the desk optimally functional. For inspiration, I went on line.Rainbow gap
I found a photo of Emily Dickinson’s desk. In an old issue of Amherst Magazine, Dickinson’s niece is quoted: Emily’s “only writing desk… a table, 18-inches square, with a drawer deep enough to take in her ink bottle, paper and pen. It was placed in the corner by the window facing west.” Eighteen inches square? No wonder she wrote such short poems. Didn’t she need space for her drafts? Her little red toy tractor? An index card file? Her thermometer/barometer? Oh—I guess that would be me.
I do the household filing and a while back that situation got out of hand. Our filing consists of shoving the right piece of paper into the right folder—eventually. I never expected the pile would climb to such heights. As a stopgap measure I plopped a cardboard inbox on the desk.
There were complications.
Bolo In Desk DrawerOur cat’s personal physician suggested some time ago that we provide stimulation with kibble “hunts.” It soon emerged that Bolo’s most stimulating place to hunt was my desk. Kibble could be found inside the overflowing inbox, under the escaped bills, behind the paperweights and hand thrown pots of pens, and inside irresistibly tiny boxes and mini-crates filled with small hand tools, pretty rocks, batteries, a penknife, outdated newspaper clippings—the ephemera of the writers’ trade.
The kitty dumped the contents of the inbox between the desk and the adjacent four-drawer file cabinet so often I placed a wicker trash can there and labeled it Inbox.
“There was a secret compartment in Henry James’ desk,” according to the brilliant biographer Leon Edel. He wrote that, when explored, no secret stash was discovered. I would have found something to put in that compartment, you betcha.
Louisa May Alcott’s “… father built her a half-moon desk between two windows and a bookcase to hold her favorite books.” That sounds a bit roomier than Emily’s. I wouldn’t want a desktop computer on it, though, cutting out the window view. I’ve learned to place my desk to one side of the window, so I can watch birds at feeders we’ve hung right outside. As a matter of fact, I just spotted my first Chestnut-backed Chickadee of the season. I’ll bet Louisa May was as distracted by the view as I am.
Langston Hughes was more disciplined. His very small manual typewriter and metal gooseneck lamp were on a desk that faced a wall. To use a typewriter, a sturdy desk was necessary. Hughes’ desk also held a large telephone, his cigarettes and matches. Neat, and a far cry from Emily Dickinson’s writing table.
Although Willa Cather is sometimes pictured with a substantial desk—perhaps after she moved to Greenwich Village—one of her writing desks was a “secretary.” I have my Nana’s secretary. Spindly legs, a flip down writing surface that rests on the open drawer for support. Some cubbies inside. A narrow shelf low to the floor. I never penned a word there.
Sarah Orne Jewett wrote at an elaborate secretary, more of a hutch with glass display case above, ample drawers below, and a hinged writing flap. I could no more write on a secretary than I could build a skyscraper on a placemat. Nana’s is in our kitchen storing address books and gewgaws.
A 1986 photograph Dave Breithaupt took of Allen Ginsberg’s desk, in his bedroom on East 12th in New York, shows neatly arranged stacks of paper, a lamp with a bare bulb, a pen. It looks as if Ginsberg tamed his desktop and would have known where to find exactly which page of “Howl” he was looking for. Of course, he had at least four, maybe six, drawers that hid who knows what.
James Baldwin’s desk was gloriously outrageous. Large, a photograph shows it covered edge to edge with paper and more paper and a great big electronic typewriter. My desk except for the machine.
Because writers no longer need desks. A desk makes a great surface for stapling and organizing. Its drawers are indispensable. I write seated in a small recliner, but it seems an apt celebratory ritual and homage to the queer writers before me to give my desk periodic respectful attention.

Copyright Lee Lynch 2016
May 2016


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