Gay liberation is not new to Vancouver. In previous years groups such as the Association for Social Knowledge and the Gay Action Committee burst forth with high hopes only to fold after people found out that if you want to be liberated you have to do the bull work like addressing envelopes, and that some of you must not be afraid to make yourselves publicly known as homosexual. How can you expect the straight world to respect you if you have not got the self respect to sign your letters to the newspapers with your real name?
Paralysing fear is the only thing that is holding you back. You are afraid that if you come to my apartment, or if you go to a club, that you will meet someone you know. You are afraid he will tell your boss and you will lose your job. You are afraid he’ll tell all your friends and relatives and that they will all disown you. This will not happen. There is an unwritten rule amongst gays that you do not tell straight people the names of your gay acquaintances. If someone were to do this to you, you could do exactly the same thing back to him.
You are afraid of blackmailers who are complete strangers. Ok, give me a fake name, carry no I.D. and never take anyone to your house so that it will be impossible for anyone to even find out who you are. After you have been out a few months you will lose this groundless fear.
You are afraid that you will be gang raped, pounced on by slithery old men with tertiary syphilis or at least coerced into sexual acts with people you find unattractive. But by now you must feel silly about these old — maidish imaginings.
But your real fear is that nameless apprehension of the unknown — that same fear you have to conquer the first day of a new job. If you give into this fear, you will be no better off after reading this booklet than you were before. Up to now you have been a victim of repression. You did not know how to meet gay guys. Now you do. You can no longer blame society; you have only your own inertia to blame for your continued misery.
What is it like to come out? I cannot describe how big a difference it makes after you have come out. You have an exhilarating sense of freedom. Once I used to think of homosexuality as a curse; now I consider it my greatest blessing.
I have a freedom a straight will never know. I can go into any strange city in the world and within one day have made 10 new friends. I can get all the sex I want whenever I want it. I have met a cross-section of society that no straight ever could. I have talked to a logger, a nurse, a heart surgeon, a town planner, a composer, a businessman, a clerk, a jail guard, a monk, a gay bar owner, a professional dancer, a student, a food scientist, an impresario, a psychologist and even a hairdresser. Because each of these people was gay, he immediately had something in common with me. He would take the time to explain his line of work. Could you imagine that kind of reception a businessman would get if he walked up to an unknown straight logger sitting at a bar and said, Please tell me about your work.?
Ever since I came out I have had enough adventures to fill a very fat book. But then every day is an adventure once you come out — no shit!
Perhaps you are wondering what ever possessed me to start on this huge project. In July, 1969, I was a reasonably miserable un-come-out gay. From age 15 on I knew was a homosexual, but try as I might, every person I met turned out to be heterosexual. One day a straight (opposite of gay — not the opposite of hip) friend of mine introduced me to a gay friend of his. His friend in turn spent many hours telling me what the gay world was like and then he took me to a gay club. Ever since that day August 8, 1969, I have been one of the happiest people alive.
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