Some of the activists at the local Gay Activists Alliance wanted to meet with the police to try and stop them from hassling gay guys on the street or in Rittenhouse Square. They also wanted the police department to start hiring gay men and lesbians. They weren’t thinking of people like me. I wanted to disband the police department altogether.

It was sometimes difficult to work with the gay activist types. They really had a different agenda. Respectability. Fitting in. They were always saying that “gays are like everybody else.” I didn’t want to be like everyone else. Normalcy was overrated. And boring. As Oscar Wilde or Jean Genet might have said.

Some activists thought that queens like myself were giving them a bad name, that we hurt their cause. By being out there on the corner of a street known for hustlers, whores, and queens or making a lot of noise in Rittenhouse Square (instead of silently parading around looking for dick), I was setting back the cause of gay rights.

He got right to it. He pawed at my pants and undies until they dropped down my legs. Then he started sucking my dick and loving it. He kept looking up at me like a puppy desperate to please his master. I started to smile. What a sight that would have been for the gay boys on the other side of Broad Street in their dark, noisy Mafia-run bars. In their view, closeted straight guys sought drag queens because they secretly wanted other men but couldn’t admit it. Gay men liked other men. Other men who dressed and looked like men. Only pure and unadulterated freaks liked queens because they were queens.

Queens knew better. We lived on the outskirts. We saw things that other people didn’t see. We were like that fool on the hill the Beatles sang about. We watched the parade of gender-obsessed people in the world with amusement. We knew it was all more complicated than dreamed of in anyone’s philosophy, even our own. The radical chic shrinks of the day only hinted at the world to come if the walls came down and people were free to invent their genders.

I got a taste of it that night. My trick was doing his job well. He was bringing me to the edge. I decided I wanted more.

They had a saying in those days: the butcher they are, the faster they roll over. Before I left that guy’s apartment, I would discover the truth of that saying firsthand.

Tommi Avicolli Mecca
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