Interesting Times

Writing My Story

by Pat Gourley, May 2012

for SAGE Story Telling Group
 

So I took the liberty of changing the words for todays topic just a bit. It was quite fortuitous that I stumbled into this group about a year ago now I guess. I had been semi-retired for about a year and one of my main retirement projects was to go through my old queer political and HIV writings primarily and see how much of that stuff I could get up onto my web site, most of it did not make the cut. With major help from a friend named Mick a connection I actually made through Cecil I do have the site up. It remains current I guess you might say in no small part because of the stuff I have been writing for this group and then getting Mick to post for me

This retrospective look back at my life’s story has been quite enjoyable for the most part. Many of the pieces I have written for these groups have made, if not significant, at least passing reference to many of my teachers and a disproportionate number have been women. Perhaps that is another little unique idiosyncrasy of being a gay male, we allow women, often but not always straight, to dramatically enter and influence our lives.

As great teachers go I would start with my mom and dad. My mother in particular was of course my first great Zen teacher with her frequent exhortations to please sit still and be quiet.

Looking back at my early years I am sure if I had been born 50 years later that Ritalin would have been prescribed. I have jokingly said many times that Holy Cross nuns and Catholic schools in general were great antidotes for ADHD, Sister Alberta Marie being the one great life changing exception to that stifling reality for me personally. My most exuberant years were birth to about grade 5 when I started to get the message loud and clear that there was something just a bit off kilter about my flamboyance and this was successfully repressed until the late sixties and my escape to a public college and away from the straight jacket that was Catholic prep school and white suburban Chicago.

We queers often have great stories to tell and in no small part because of the profound ongoing motivation that is our intrinsic otherness and how this forces us at a very early age usually to examine assumptions taken for granted by our hetero brothers and sisters. We learn at least quietly to question many things taken for granted or presented as absolute truth by the heterosexual worldview.

As I look back on my largely queer story I have few regrets.and only one real disappointment outside of a few personal things I could have done much better       of course.  That disappointment would be what I view, and have written about repeatedly for this group, our co-optation as a people into the broader hetero world with the twin M&M’s of marriage and military leading the way. It is an old radical axiom that forces perceived as at threat must be dealt with either through extermination or much more often through what I like to call “homogenation” or in other words the process of making uniform or similar.

Having said this I must acknowledge the dramatic change creating potential of seeing two men or two women embrace and passionately kiss on the evening news. All the better if they are in military uniform when they do it. Now if we could get some footage of U.S. military personnel embracing and aggressively kissing a reciprocating Al Qaeda operative their weapons and suicide vests in an impotent tangle at their feet we might be getting somewhere.

This current chapter in my wonderful gay life, the SAGE Story Telling Group, is another wonderful chapter in my queer life. It is again one that re-enforces for me how truly unique and special we are. The gifts we have to bring to the larger society are vital and go way beyond serving openly in the military and getting married in church. I think the most important of these is our potential ability to truly relate to one another as equals or as Harry Hay frequently said “subject-to-subject”.

If only society at large could realize that subject-to subject relating does not involve military drones often slaughtering innocents, rapacious bankers looting our retirements, women being forced to undergo unnecessary vaginal ultrasounds and young gay men being forcefully restrained while having their hair cut off there might actually be some hope for the survival of the human race.

The story telling we engage in here in loving communion is great practice at the art of subject-to-subject relating and truly change creating as it ripples out of this room and into our daily lives. I want to extend a heartfelt thanks to everyone here for allowing me the privilege to engage in this truly revolutionary work. Long live the revolutions.

 

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