Page 289 - Gay San Francisco_Eyewitness Drummer
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Gay San Francisco: Eyewitness Drummer                269
             Sparrow and I took him to his first bathhouse. At that time, in 1974, Jim
             Stewart lived with George Hale who — I thought, meaningfully — was a
             direct descendent of the brother of the handsome blue-eyed blond wrestler
             Nathan Hale, the young American martyr, who, hanged at age twenty-
             one by the British on September 22, 1776, pronounced his famous last
             words, “I regret I have only one life to lose for my country.”
                Before the dumbing of America, connections like that had meaning
             in the six degrees of separation that Drummer readers liked, especially
             after the example of Allen Ginsberg who connected himself sexually to
             Neal Cassady who slept with Gavin Arthur who slept with Edward Car-
             penter who slept with Walt Whitman. Joining in that gay heritage, David
             Sparrow and I in 1970 had a life-linking three-way with poet Thom Gunn
             (1923-2004) who slept with Neal Cassady (1926-1968) who slept with . . .
                As a Drummer aside: Jack Kerouac fictionalized the wildly masculine
             Cassady, who was famously hung big, as Dean Moriarity in On the Road;
             Ginsberg mentioned him in Howl; novelist Robert Stone re-created Cas-
             sady in The Dog Soldiers which director Karel Reisz made into the brilliant
             film Who’ll Stop the Rain (1978) starring Nick Nolte and Tuesday Weld.
             It played for weeks at the Alhambra Theater on Polk Street where some
             of our Drummer squad went repeatedly to see the surrealistic film on acid
             because it brought us to heroic, romantic tears about our identity.
                My thought is that Herman Melville had in mind the aura of Nathan
             Hale when he wrote Billy Budd. Perhaps this connection homosexualizes
             Billy Budd even more, so that gay culture, always eager to “out” history,
             might accord gay canonization of the never-married Hale who was so hot
             his statue deserves fucking worship or fucking and worship.
                (In Drummer 22 and Drummer 23, the trope underlying my drama,
             Corporal in Charge of Taking Care of Captain O’Malley, leaned on Billy
             Budd and Captain Vere; Billy appeared again at the opening of the Drum-
             mer novel, Some Dance to Remember, page 13, Reel 1, Sequence 6.)
                Less abstractly, I lived domestically with my twenty-four-year-old
             lover, David Sparrow — the handsome, freckled, redheaded son of Ray
             and Nellie Sparrow — who said, “How would you like to be an insecure
             boy soprano, and answer the family phone when the caller’s first question
             is, Nellie?”
                In August 1969, I had moved my David Sparrow from working for
             Chuck Renslow at the Gold Coast bar in Chicago to Kalamazoo so he
             could attend college where I taught and where I funded his tuition and
             our commuter airplane tickets to San Francisco. In those days before
             gay liberation, when no one spoke of homosexuality, it was considered
             platonic and stylish in the open closet of academia to have one’s lover also
             be one’s student living under the same roof.

           ©Jack Fritscher, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved—posted 05-05-2017
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