In October 1987, at what has become known as “The Great March,” I held Mark’s face in my mind as I held Kenny’s hand—the first time I had held a man’s hand in public—as we walked together in the bright Washington sun. We were headed to the Mall, part of a long line of men—and women—marching, marching. I looked behind me and then in front. I had a brief thought for my military father. I was finally part of an army— not one he would have ever imagined, but an army filled with as much courage, as much resolve, and as much fierce determination as any army God or country had ever ordered into battle. And we were heading into battle.
I wanted to disappear.
“Hi, Paul! What are you doing these days? Where are you working?”
I stared blankly at this acquaintance, struggling to come up with a response that seemed like I wasn’t an ill-prepared fresh graduate. “Um, I have a few things I’m working on, but I’m just figuring things out.”
It was late evening, as just about everything was at Studio 54. I can’t remember who got me the interview, somebody I met in Cahoots, I think, the Upper West Side gay bar where they had little paper pads that said “Who were you in Cahoots with?” so you could write down your number for someone you wanted to meet up with some other time.
BAMMER member Brian Hutchison can be seen in The Boys in the Band, on Netflix, starting Sept 30. We asked Brian to share a few words about being in the show. The Boys in the Band is an important part of LGBT history, and this latest production is truly stunning.
I don’t like parties, but I had promised I’d attend this one birthday gathering at a ritzy pub in Istanbul, where I live. The upscale establishment allowed my friend to showcase his sense of eliteness. The closeted birthday boy had invited many women—his attempt to preserve his hetero image. The guests were mostly straight. I only knew one other person, his closest buddy, a short guy, well built with tattoos on his shoulder. He was closeted, or at least bisexual. Everyone seemed attracted to him. He was very seductive.
PODCAST: Interviews by baby-boomer LGBTQ historian Mike Balaban, with a diverse guest list, covering issues and themes from the global LGBTQ community.
EPISODE 15: Mike interviews Joel Tucker twenty years later: one of six survivors of the horrendous Backstreet Cafe shooting in Roanoke, Va. on September 20, 2000.
At the age of 19, I began to realize that something was wrong with my soul.
I live in Turkey, a Muslim country with a long secular tradition. But, even in its supposedly modern social environment, male homosexuality isn’t accepted. Turkish society makes exceptions for it when it involves rich and successful artists. But, for the rest of us, it’s forbidden. In addition, I studied at a French high school that instilled strong Christian doctrine, which taught me that my growing attraction to other men was forbidden.
When I was in graduate school in Boston in the mid-1970s, my attraction to other guys was proving intractable and I feared it might never be eliminated. In those days, it was not acceptable to be openly gay. You’d risk the loss of family, church or temple, job, and friends if the word ever got out that you were “that way.”
June 2011, my partner, Juan, and I left our 13-month-old son, Oliver, home in Roanoke with his nanny, and traveled to New York City for a Pride dinner with President Obama. By that time, the LGBTQ Community had made great progress in its fight for equality on many levels. As the recent board chair of the Empire State Pride Agenda (ESPA), NY state’s LGBTQ political action committee, I’d been intimately involved in its strategies, successes and failures. ESPA had begun years before by asking for a few, what now seem like “easy” (though they were not), attainable “wins” each legislative session.
I’ve just come in from coffee at my downtown spot, the Zoot Cafe—downtown being all of two blocks long in the quintessential coastal Maine town that is my home. The sun is out. My place is warm and full of light. Lucky for me, it’s even like that on gloomy days, but today it is really full of light.
My home is filled with artwork. At one point, I owned a very nice fine art gallery here. Although it wasn’t around for long, I was smart enough to collect a number of wonderful, beautiful, expressive pieces, all of which bring me great joy. In many ways, I’m like my parents. They had a wonderful collection of artwork that influenced me more than they’ll ever know.