John Rechy

“Did those “new gays” spinning about like giddy tops in discos care to know that dancing with someone of the same sex was punishable as “lewd conduct” then? Still, a club in Topanga Canyon boasted a system of warning lights. When they flashed, lesbians and gay men shifted—what a grand adventure!—and danced with each other, laughing at the officers’ disappointed faces! How much pleasure—and camaraderie, yes, real kinship—had managed to exist in exile. Did those arrogant young people know that, only years ago, you could be sentenced to life in prison for consensual sex with another man? A friend of his destroyed by shock therapy decreed by the courts. Another friend sobbing on the telephone before he slashed his wrists— Thomas's hands on his steering wheel had clenched in anger, anger he had felt then, anger he felt now. And all those pressures attempted to deplete you, and disallow— “—the yearnings of the heart,” he said aloud. Yet he and others of his generation had lived through those barbaric times—and survived—those who had survived—with style. Faced with those same outrages, what would these “new gays” have done? “Exactly as we did,” he answered himself. The wind had resurged, sweeping sheaths of dust across the City, pitching tumbleweeds from the desert into the streets, where they shattered, splintering into fragments that joined others and swept away. Now, they said, everything was fine, no more battles to fight. Oh, really? What about arrests that continued, muggings, bashings, murder, and hatred still spewing from pulpits, political platforms, and nightly from the mouths of so-called comedians? Didn't the “new gays” know—care!—that entrenched “sodomy” laws still existed, dormant, ready to spring on them, send them to prison? How could they think they had escaped the tensions when those pressures were part of the legacy of being gay? Didn't they see that they remained—as his generation and generations before his had been—the most openly despised? And where, today, was the kinship of exile?”


John Rechy, The Coming of the Night
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The Coming of the Night The Coming of the Night by John Rechy
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