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MEMOIRS OF A GAY RIGHTS MAVERICK

PREFACE

I am seventy-eight years old as I write this. Only now do I realize who I am and what I have been. These memoirs have been several years in the making. There were many false starts, because I thought that few people would want to hear my story. I was also concerned about revealing myself completely to the world. But many friends nagged me about it once I told them of my plans. Except for my early years, there is not much here in chronological order. I opted to devote many chapters to my passionate interests or outstanding experiences. I have been very selective, because everything I remember would fill three volumes. Some of the chapters contain much historical detail, and can be skipped without interfering with the narrative thread. I have left the most intimate details until the last two chapters, with the final one being the raunchiest. Those with more delicate tastes can merely skip these.

I have always marched to a distant, different drummer. I never had a driver's license, am very selective about movies, hardly watch TV, have no interest in sports or small-talk. I did not serve in the Armed Forces. I only went to church for weddings. Sometimes I feel I am a prophet, able to sense developing social movements and economic trends, long before most others perceive them. regret that I was not born into the twenty-fifth century. For me, organized society is still in its infancy. I would love to live in a age of advanced medicine, where all diseases have been cured and organs and body parts can be transplanted. I long to live in a time when the average life span is 150 years. I believe that in the way-distant future, mankind will gradually transform itself into computers, no longer requiring vital organs to keep us going. In that form we can eventually visit distant planets and reproduce ourselves without the cumbersome process known as pregnancy. This book is a way to work off a lifetime of accumulated hostility to the society I live in. It has been a cathartic and cleansing experience.

I want to experience a world without Aisms. I lived to see the beginning of the end of communism, and the first hints of a crumbling Catholicism. I want to live without unionism, right-wing bigots and knee-jerk liberals, in a world without robberies, murders, fools, and arrogant people. I sense the first withering of democracy. That is fine with me. I believe in rule by a meritocracy. I don't believe in the American jury system. I once told that to a judge while I was a juror, and was promptly dismissed. I think that the democratic voting system is a farce, while at the same time I loathe dictatorships and rule by oligarchies. I long for a world where everyone is bisexual.

At first meeting, many people take me for a patsy. I strike this pose on purpose. Later, as people get to know me better, they are struck by a ton of bricks. A sissy or a coward I am not. I have taken chances and done things that would send cold chills down most people's backs.

Throughout the book, I mention the incredible number of coincidences I have experienced, continuing to this day. Most people claim not to have had so many. At times it seemed as though we all live in separate boxes, not alone, but in large groups. Much like the trio in Sartre's "No Exit", we can't escape to a different box, but frequently come across others within our own. A friend once stated, "There are only 10,000 people in the entire world. The rest is done with smoke and mirrors".

I am fortunate to have met many of the movers and shakers of the 20th century. Undoubtedly I have omitted some persons who influenced my life. They won't find out, because most of them are dead. I have enjoyed reliving and recounting the hundreds of experiences and characters included here. I was able to track down many of them, and either speak by phone, or exchange e-mails, a thrilling experience. If I sound arrogant and self-assured at times, that is because I have these qualities, along with a loving, giving, and respectful attitude toward most. Some events are so painful or embarrassing to recall that I have had them translated into Sanskrit. If anyone is willing to go to the effort to get a translation, beware.

 

Photos
Pictures of me at various ages, and my lovers.

 

SECTION I: CHILDHOOD AND EARLY ADULTHOOD

1) Country Mouse and City Mouse ...............................................................................................................................................................1
I'm a product of both the city and the country. Raised on farms without electricity, in-door plumbing or central heating.

2) Back to the Land ......................................................................................................................................................................................8
Early adolescence and adventures.

3) Male High School ...................................................................................................................................................................................21
About gay cliques at an exclusive Louisville high school in the mid-1940s.

4) Rural/Urban Redoux .............................................................................................................................................................................26
Milk cows, feed hogs, plow cornfields, rabbit hunt and other strange things.

5) University of Louisville.........................................................................................................................................................................37
My passion for a sexy Bronx guy (cover photo of the book) and how I destroyed a girl who wanted to marry me when I told her I was gay. My relationship with composer George Perle.

6) A Year's Hiatus ......................................................................................................................................................................................42
How I told when I wasn't asked when I had my physical for the Korean War draft.

7) New York University: No Matter? Never Mind ......................................................................................................................................52
Migration to New York, another mad love affair with a fellow student, and how I became a graduate school dropout.

SECTION II: FROM BOOKS TO BROWNSTONES

8) Book Industry ........................................................................................................................................................................................57
My introduction to businessmen/scholars and how I walked the corridors of power.

9) Luso-Brazilian Books .............................................................................................................................................................................69
How I started a company with $1,000 and sold in 28 years later for $100,000.

10) State Street: That Great Street..............................................................................................................................................................76
The adventures of living on a gay block in Brooklyn, in a brownstone that I bought for $24,000 and sold 38 years later for $1,525,000.

SECTION III: HOMOPHILE ACTIVISM

11)
Mattachine Society ...............................................................................................................................................................................85
My deep involvement with the gay rights movement, my innovations, and anecdotes about gay rights colleagues, Randy Wicker, Frank Kameny, etc.

12) Al ........................................................................................................................................................................................................91
The lowdown about my lover, Al de Dion, Mattachine activist.

13) Cory/Womack ...................................................................................................................................................................................102
My relationship with two of the most influential gay men in 20th century USA.


SECTION IV: WORDS AND MUSIC

14) My Love for Music ............................................................................................................................................................................108
How I absorbed more classical music than most people could in three lifetimes.

15) Literature ...........................................................................................................................................................................................129
I've also read more books than most people, and how they taught me to be a writer.

SECTION V: GENEALOGY

16) A Genealogical Detective Story, or How Many Deweeses Can Dance on the Head of a Pin?................................................................132
How I discovered who my great-grandfather was, who fathered my grandfather out of wedlock.

17) The Interesting and True Story of Millie House: Corrupt to the Core .................................................................................................144
My great-grandother was a woman 100 years ahead of her time. She was corrupt to the core.

18) Grayson County . ...............................................................................................................................................................................152
My associations from early childhood with one of Kentucky's poorest counties.

SECTION VI: TRAVELS

19) Travels: Around the World in 80 years ..............................................................................................................................................160
A passion for travel that took me to large portions of the world.

20) A Hymn to Brazil and all its Hims ....................................................................................................................................................183
How How I fell in love with Brazil at first sight and why I now live in that country.

SECTION VII: TRUE CONFESSIONS

21) Friends ..............................................................................................................................................................................................190
A panorama of both male and female friends, mostly all unusual.

22) All my boys .......................................................................................................................................................................................210
How I specialized in nurturing young macho bi and gay males.

23) Casual Sexcapades ...........................................................................................................................................................................235
The raunchiest and juiciest part of my memoirs.

APPENDIX I.........................................................................................................................................................................................265
A reprint of my ground-breaking talk presented at the annual meeting of One, Inc. in 1960.

Bibliography
A list of all my writings, as well as the many books where I am mentioned.

Index

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