My Gold Key… Accepted For Being Gay

June 1, 2013

I just read the Wonderful article that Frank Rich (chief critic for the New York Times from 1980-1993).. he is now the editor-at-large for the New York magazine…wrote in this week’s New York magazine .”Ancient Gay History”” …in which he talks of a mentor…Clayton Coots….- who became a father figure …a “surrogate parent”…Frank’s father was a German Jew, his mother a Russian Jew…they moved from Manhattan to DC after the stock market crash of 1929…Frank is 3 years younger than me born in 1949….the point of the article is that now that being Gay has become more of a yawn…there are many people who have been forgotten due to the lack of the internet back then

..though Frank says he had a ‘chaste’ relationship with.Clatyon … wonder if the lady doth protest too much…Frank has been married twice and has two sons by his first wife…..his second wife – Alexandra Rachelle Witchel – a writer for the New York Times…”Alex Witchel”… he asked to pursue her sources to see what had happened to Clayton…seems he died of AIDs.

This led me back to ponder who was “my mentor” ….

my first was a Professor at College in my second senior year

(I had dropped out just a month before graduating …due to my love for my roommate and a girl we both loved….I have written about that before)….

I was allowed to come back to college due to my family’s influence…my Uncle Dick whom I never knew, died there of pneumonia ..going from the basketball court to his dorm one wintry evening (my Uncle Sumner said that “Dickie” was a “little slow” which my father denied)……and my grands gave a basketball award “cup” in his name…well it was called the “Matteson” Trophy …..the college was totally booked so they had to put me in the “Guest” Room…which was divine as it was on a landing going up to another floor…had its own telephone…it own bathroom…and an unobtainable roof off of it…Rose though somehow was able to shimmy up the drain pipe and knock on my window…..scaring the bejesus out of me…THAT relationship did not last too long………

my father attended Carleton also … was the head of everything from President of the Student Body (his first act was to abolish fraternities)….he was Captain of the Baseball, Basketball, Football, and Boxing teams… consequently when this slight/puny kid got to college….he did NOT want his name mentioned…as there was NO way he could fill his father’s boxing shoes…

but Patrick came across me seated on the floor of the gym trying to figure out WHAT courses I would take for my second senior year….he had electric blue hair …. a scratchy beard…he was the Most revered science professor at college….and as time went on people did not understand WHY we hung together… I had NEVER taken a science course….. they were jealous as THEY could not get close to this man who imported things from the Sahara …from the deepest reaches of the Oceans…..

He lived off campus in Professors housing…which were verboten to students…the first time he snook me in under the cover of darkness….and then gave me a key to his room…which was furnished like a Zen Buddhist monk…a single bed with a VERY thin mattress on an iron frame….

We made Wonderful Love…

his VERY slim body smelled of the deepest reaches of the ocean mixed with sawdust…and sand from the VERY hot deserts….

his body tasted like sea salt…..

I learned a helluva lot the those first wintery months in 1969..that had nothing to do with my courses..

.. one day he came back with a sack of groceries….I heard a noise on the staircase outside his flat…he came in with a ripped sack….crying…saying “Rob it is OVER”… I said WHAT do you mean??….he said our relationship…I just had bought you this fabulous bottle of Organic olive oil from Spain…the bottle was so exquisite…it reminded me of your body…………

But the main mentor was my dear dear Uncle Sumner…Dad’s younger brother by 4 years..(28 years older than I am)…..they were like night and day….Uncle Sumner was like an Auntie Mame type… not effeminate.nor a jock like Dad……and could tell the best stories of ANYONE I ever met….I sat at his feet ever since I was born until he died in 1991…as every time he told a story…he would just embellish it a tad more….which made it even Better!!!! and his laugh was infectious…which even made him laugh more and the rest of us with him….

I called him from a pay phone booth at college (there were no cells back then)…and felt that since he was a playboy and a “bachelor’ he might understand the mental grief I was going through….of maybe being Gay…..he passed it off…and said there was NO reason to be upset and not to worry about experimenting at my young age…. THAT gave me A LOT of relief…..

as did my mother 3 years later after we had been out swimming together at our summer home on Lake Namekagon…when she asked me to tell her “EVERYTHING” about my Life….and when I did…as we were lying on our dock…she said “How Chic to have a Gay son”….and she Knew before I did that I was Gay…

but my Uncle Sumner was one of a kind…lucky beyond belief…just loved Life……… he had many many friends that loved him as we all did..

….he never graduated from college…went to the University of Virginia (he told me he picked it out as it was a Party school)…his girl friend at that point was a very busty Cynthia Dowrimple…

and after one boozy evening they went down the main street and shot out all the street lights….

during the gas rationing back then he bought a gas station and padlocked it so only he could use it….

one late evening he and Cynthia were driving back from another Wild evening….it was raining and he hit a patch of water as he was going over a bridge…skidded off through the other side and landed on a mud bank…he said Cynthia somehow ended up in the front well of the passenger seat…with her legs pointing back over the seat….he said he could not stop laughing nor could she…it was the first time he saw her knickers

he was at UVA …for something like 5 years without graduating…. the Dean who was a friend told him he better join the services….

he sighed and joined the Navy…. he smoked with a cigarette holder…the Captain … would come by and snatch it out of his mouth and throw it overboard..saying it was effeminate ……but little did he know that Sumner had brought a case of cigarette holders on board…which infuriated him NO end!!!! Sumner pointed out that the President smoked with one…so why should he be penalized….which just made the Captain madder….

this ship was stationed in the South Pacific…and one night the Captain told him (oh this reminds me of how Sumner became an officer…amusing story for later)…but Sumner was told he was in charge of navigating the ship…and Sumner only had passed blinker school by bribing a guy to tell him what the flashes meant….as it was all Greek to him…anyway…he took charge of the helm…well after several hours…the Captain after being tossed out of bed stormed up and asked ” WHERE in the Hell are We??

Sumner pointed at the map…and said well we started here…and I honestly don’t know where we are….

Turns out they just went in circles and circles…until the Captain was thrown out of bed….

Sumner was relieved of his post and put in charge of the Victrola records that would be played through the PA system…and one evening after the Captain snatched the 46th cigarette holder out of Sumner’s mouth throwing it into the sea….

Sumner’s went up to put his first song on through the PA

it was “Daddy Beat Me, Eight to the Bar” ( “the title adopts hipster slang”…Don Raye who wrote it..asked his friend Freddie Slack ..nicknamed “Daddy” to give him a boogie beat, or “eight to the bar”)

The Captain saw RED!!!…………had Sumner removed from Victrola duties….

(Sigh!!!!!)….Could One have had a BETTER mentor into Gay Life?????

One Response to “My Gold Key… Accepted For Being Gay”

  1. xRob:

    You describe in cinematic and poignant language the sacred initiation and universal ritual of igniting the internal lantern of becoming the very life of your life. The love expressed in “seeing” a young person for who they are and who they are is courage.
    The societal labeling of homosexual was a signal to hate the nature of who you are: labeling a rose a blight, when a rose is a rose is a rose- as Gertrude Stein would write riffing from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. It is what it is. The acceptance.
    Mentors are gardeners of the soul. The risk gay mentors took to be the water to bewildered young men and women was love and courage. Love is courage/Courage is love. There must be a plaque for the science professor made and installed at Carleton. To give light to life to me is more remarkable than winning a game- it is the sacred, deep sacred, actions of love.

    The GOLD KEY is this story and so many stories that are beautiful: tending to the roses. Mentors for those blooms who society’s dominant culture disdain and would like to discard. The next r/evolution is persons with “disabilities”.

    I love you.

    You saw my perfume.


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