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Monday, October 10, 2005

 
Silliness Delayed. Over 30 years ago, I cut some stencils for the mimeographed magazine I edited at the time for the small college-based organization Homosexuals Intransigent! (HI!) Mostly, the items I typed were briefs, mainly humorous, that were intended to appear amid the longer articles to give the publication a lighter feel by breaking things up visually. In those days, organizations of modest means couldn't readily use photographs or other illustrations for that purpose because of the limitations of the mimeograph medium. So I typed some short items in advance and intended to type in the longer articles around them later.
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Alas, we never did publish the issue for which those 10 stencils were intended, and they have lain in a legal-size file folder for all that time — till now. I have started to offload those texts from the crumbling stencils onto the Internet, and discard the originals, which are not just yellowing but falling to pieces.
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Two items that will eventually go onto the HI! website appear together on two consecutive stencils, and I thought them sort of funny, so offer an advance glimpse here.

INCONGRUOUS ASSEMBLED

Homosexuals have na├»vely cooperated with research studies into homosexuality, not realizing that the ultimate use to which such studies will be put is the attempt to eradicate homosexuality. The time has come to stop providing information for our foes to use against us — or, perhaps better (and certainly more fun), to throw a monkey wrench into straights' schemes by playing games on study questionnaires. One feature of many studies is a Family History section to the questionnaire. Here is how I'd like to complete such a section.

Half the men in my family line have been exclusively homosexual for generations. The other half were, alas, sterile, except my grandmother, who is childless, and my mother, who had five miscarriages before I was born. Due to complications while carrying me, my mother died six months before I was born and unfortunately, I did not survive infancy. Immediately after my birth, my mother had a hysterectomy to protect her from hazards, so my little brother wasn't born until two years later. The extended labor following Caesarean section and his brain damage from the forceps used in his breach birth so injured my little brother, who was the last child, that he died within hours of conception.

As a child, I lived a quiet, normal life. My oldest brother, Male 4 Mos., who stays in a formaldehyde-filled jar on the mantel, was always very quiet, and stuck pretty much to himself. (I never could understand the fondness all my brothers and sisters have for formaldehyde. I can't stand even the taste of the stuff.) My next-oldest brother, Male 5 Mos., went off very early to boarding school, where he excelled in biology, serving as an anatomy sample. Male 3 Mos., the older brother closest my own age, was always very serious. I can't recall his ever having cracked a smile. We didn't really get along, and his success has proved a barrier between him and the rest of the family. He is Head Sample at the Princeton Medical School Institute on Prenatal Mortality, and that importance has gone to his head (the rest of him is used in the course on developmental biology). My older sister, Female 4 Mos., was a warm, reticent child who stayed home all the time, mostly on a shelf in the cellar. My younger sister, Female 16 Weeks, was always outgoing, but a bit of a scatterbrain. She resides in Cornell University Medical Center, UCLA Medical School, and Trenton State School of Nursing. The baby of the family, Male 2 Mos. ("X414" as he is affectionately known), is very much like me, but not so handsome. He and I have always been close. I don't know if he is homosexual — if he is, he is in the closet (in the hall, near my bedroom door). None of us has ever married. In fact, I've never heard any of them even mention the topic. And Dad has never pressured me.

The stereotypical Freudian pattern does not fit my background. My mother was not overly dynamic, and we were not even geographically close. As I said, she died four months before I was born and moved away to a cemetery in Communist China, so she could be close to her parents, who are still vigorous and active in community life in Keokuk, Iowa, where our family has always lived except for those who immigrated to the U.S. My father and I have always been very happy and very close. After Mom died, he was like a father and cousin to me.

Dad was an extraordinary man who maintained a full, healthy family life at the same time as he aggressively pursued his career. He won high acclaim for his pioneer work in isolating and refining chromatose neoglabulins into epoxy cigars noted mainly for their freedom from carcinogens and their extreme resistance to fire. Following that breakthru, Dad was able to make significant headway in the inquiry into the nature and possible uses of synthetic exclamatious protineinids. In my teens I spent many hours training the trypanosomes that were so important to Dad's experiments, and used to divert myself by causing them to perform extra little stunts, aside from those strictly necessary for the schismatic-fibrosis-wave alluvations (or "nestorian heresies" as we jokingly referred to them). Dad's including me in his work strengthened our relationship and helped me to appreciate him as a full man, not merely as my father (an extension of myself) or Dad Shapiro's manluvd. In our closeness and the mutual appreciation between my father and myself, we depart from and therefore disprove the Freudian explanations for homosexuality.

Religious influences may be important in the development of my own homosexuality. I was raised a strict Catholic in the Lutheran tradition. I attended Sunday school every week for fourteen years, first at St. Seymour's and then at the Church of the Holy Apocrypha. Naturally, then, I was subjected to a harsh sexual Puritanism except that our minister, Abram Shapiro, S.J., was flagrantly carrying on a discreet sexual affair with my father, in full view of me and my brother X414, except when we were awake. I think that might have had something to do with my positive attitude toward homosexuality. Father Shapiro and Dad were obviously very much in love, and the excitement they felt for each other sort of inspired me. When I met Father Shapiro's son, Carlos O'Reilly (by a former marriage; he and Dad didn't have any children), I fell madly and passionately in love with him, and he reciprocated my feelings. At age 6, he and I were inseparable, sleeping together every night and putting to use the techniques we could manage from those we'd seen our dads employing. We were a very happy, very horny, and very sexually active family. When Teddy and I entered our teens, however, we started to drift apart, he into the Catholic religious life, I into the homosexual movement. We would still get together and make out every now and then, until he left for Ceylon to pursue his studies and I moved here to New York. I still get occasional letters from Johnny neatly typed, but they're in English, and I have a hard time reading his handwriting, so our correspondence is erratic. I'm still close to Dad and the Reverend Father Shapiro — and they're still making it together.

So, as you can see, aside from the fact that I grew up to see the beauty of bulging biceps in the intertwined arms of men making out together, my family history is completely ordinary. One would have to look elsewhere for the "causes" of my homosexuality — if indeed there are causes for homosexuality.

[Just below that article on the second stencil appeared this, typed with forced linebreaks to create the form of a cornucopia with the mouth at the top.]

HOMEWORK
Now, as tho any proof were needed that I've been strange for quite some time, I offer below an excerpt from a radio show I co-wrote, as a class exercise in a summer-session, radio/TV-production course at San Francisco State in 1969: "Shlomo (Shy) Schmerk, the firstborn, was to have been named Evan after Herbert's great-uncle, Evan Spruce, inventor of the spruce tree. But Mrs. Schmerk's best friend, Angina Pectoris of the Boston Pectorises, advised that all the Evans she knew grew up to be homosexual. So Mrs. Schmerk named the child after her maternal great-grandfather, Shlomo Shultz, of surfboard fame. Shlomo Schmerk, a truck driver, now lives with his lover of five years, Edward Sanders, scion of the Anaheim Sanders and heir to the buttonhook fortune built up by his father, Wesley Sanders the Forty-Ninth. Shlomo and Edward met while both were on the wrestling team at Haverford College, and it's been no-holds-barred ever since." (Reprinted from HI! Magazine, No. 5.)



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