I came out in 1979 and it wasn’t easy. I didn’t know why or what I was growing up. I just knew I had no desire to having anything to do with boys. I spent a lot of my time in high school avoiding dates. My senior year in high school a bunch of us gravitated together and went around in a big group. I now know that most of us were gay and the rest just liked being in a group with no pressure. We confused the hell out of the rest of the school because we seemed to be always switching partners and the rest of the school sometimes thought we had something very weird or kinky going on but what we were was a mutual protection society. My brother, Tony, and Jerry were cute and always had some girl after them and hanging out with me, Georgia, and Michelle meant we were nice beards for them as they were for me. Clayton was a good friend and a late bloomer, 10 years after high school he turned out to be gorgeous but then he was over 6 feet tall, pizza faced, braces and skinny. There were a few other girls that would join us but we were the core. We’d go to the movies and sit in different couple combinations so no one could figure out who was supposed to be with whom. It was also cover for things like homecoming dance that we wanted to go to but didn’t want a date. Cam, my brother, Jerry and I all went to the same church and Tony when to another Presbyterian church in Glendale so we had that in common too. None of us were out to ourselves let alone each other.
I spent the first 2 years of college avoiding dating except for when a sorority sister would ambush me with a blind date. One poor guy I ended up with twice and there was absolutely no chemistry. Many years later I found out why when I monitored the AIDS quilt and found his name lovingly embroidered on a large panel. I wish I had known in college and we might have been friends instead of something to avoid. That hurt.
I left school to work at a year round camp and things started to relax and for the first time in my life I felt free to be me. I started at a YWCA camp in 1975 and worked all of 1976 until we ran out of money in the spring of 1977. My boss, a Camp Fire Girl like myself talked me into working for her a the Girl Scout camp she has been hired to direct to be her Arts & Crafts Director. That year was a year in hell and it was a wonder that I decided to try a different camp the next year and not just stop
. That year I fell heavily in love with a straight woman and scared the crap out of her and me since I really didn’t understand what was going on. That year there weren’t any out lesbians or if there were they didn’t come out to me and I felt really alone. In July I got struck by lightning and pissed my friend, the boss off for scaring the kids and then in August I ended up getting poisoned by buckthorn and almost dying at camp because they wouldn’t take me to the doctor until I was unconscious but that is a story for another time. The poisoning happened during a staff game and my boss got mad at me for that too and even though I was really sick she sent me home with a concussion, a deep wound from surgery on my calf to try and get the thorn out and shock and a fever of a 105 and a blood pressure of 80/60 when they finally took it a day later. Camp was done for that year and I never heard from my boss again.
I learned then to keep things to myself and when I went to my next GS camp I thought I would do the same. The first night of precamp was a full moon and I got invited to a top of the road party by an bunch of the staff. We couldn’t drink in camp so you had to go to the top of the road to partake and this group of staff turned out to be lesbians and had assumed I was but I still didn’t really even know what a lesbian was. They were very confused when they figured out I was clueless about why I was invited. They left me alone for most of the rest of the summer and I had started to process that I might really be like them.