In the early days of my fully-fledged gayness (1807... okay, 1972), not long after I shed the last of my closetyness, I found myself, often, in the company of what I started to term, only to myself, "Professional Queers."
I have to admit that I was sort of judgemental towards PQ's. These were people who had become so outraged at the treatment of America towards it's LGBT's that they divested themselves of any semblance of "normal lives" and instead devoted themselves to ... well, overturning the status quo through various, mostly subversive, political activities.
There were people like John Francis Hunter (a beautiful man who used a lot of facial moisturizers, as I recall), Barbara Gittings and her partner, Kay (Barbara was a marvel. I adored her.) and Frank Kameny, who had been a government astronomer until the government found out about him.
I guess they were afraid he was going to divulge state secrets regarding Orion's Belt to the Commies, or something.
Anyway, surrounded as I was by all this American League Queerness, I started to see myself becoming so embroiled in the movement, as many others had, that I feared that in no time at all I, too, would become a PQ.
I decided that I didn't not want to be a PQ. Hell, I was far too interested in partying to get too worked up over my rights. Yeah, yeah, I wanted 'em alright, and I was sure putting more effort into getting them than 90% of the rest of the gay population was, but I liked having some "down time" now and then. Down time when I could engage in a little Down Low which, to my way of thinking, involved booze, drugs and handsome men.
In time I walked away from all that involvement in the movement. It was easy enough to do. Especially in my last year at the UofD, when politics got way out of hand and a faculty friend of mine wound up in Federal Court fighting the University over his right of free speech for being gay. That experience left a lot of us with a bitter taste in our mouths. I was thoroughly disillusioned by it, even though it hadn't happened to me.
I took two hostages and moved to Seattle. There I began my life as a voluptuary (good-time Charlie). I forgot about politics and focused, instead, on the message of hedonism that had been born out of the movement. I wanted to drink, dance and get laid. And so I did.
I've let other people do all the work for many decades now. But now, I think it might be time to get back into the fray.
I've started taking baby steps. I regularly e-mail my two (liberal) Senators from New Jersey about LGBT issues both in NJ and the US. Senator Lautenberg (or one of his staff) actually composes e-mail responses that don't sound like they were generated by a machine.
But I need to do more. I'm obliged to do more. I have talents, now, that could be of use to the movement. ORGANIZATIONal skills. CONFRONTATIONal skills. More than just a hot-head full of piss and vinegar, someone who can actually make a difference.
Maybe it's time to rejoin the cause and become a Professional Queer.