Three Blocks from My House – A Lifetime!
Jewelle Gomez: I was lesbian from my childhood. I always knew I was a lesbian and I couldn’t quite figure out what I was supposed to do with that.
Margie Adam: What does that mean: “I always knew I was a lesbian?”
Jewelle Gomez: I just knew I was in love with the girl across the street when I was eight years old. In fact, the first girl I knew I was in love with was named Diane. I used to climb up in a tree and watch her… but what was I going to do with that? I was in love with the wife of my grandfather’s friend – she was a crossing guard. I just loved watching her. I would sit on the curb, my little eyes bugged out…
Margie Adam: Was it easy to make the transition from those dreamy ideas to actually kissing a woman?
Jewelle Gomez: It was pretty easy. What was difficult was the social aspect of it. I had a friend, we slept at each other’s houses. We became lovers at the age of fourteen. That seemed easy… but we knew it was a secret. We assumed there were other girls who did the same thing because we went to an all-girls school. One time I was challenged about it in school by another girl who made a kind of comment like: “Yeah, we know about you and your friend….” My response was: “Yeah, if you know so much, get out of my fucking face!” In my school you had to be tough or you would get your butt kicked. So that seemed natural. Ultimately, the girl was not a lesbian though we were lovers for about four years. I slept with her the night before she got married to a man.
Then it became hard because I had no cultural context. I didn’t know what to do with who I was. It was the 60s, it was Black Power. Nobody was talking about gay people, believe me.
When I was in undergraduate school at Northeastern, we had a free newspaper called Boston After Dark. I would get it every weekend and look at the back section where there was always an ad for Daughters of Bilitis. I would practically lick the ad off the page. It read something like: “If you want to come, call this number.” But I never would… because I was afraid. I thought there would be a lot of older white women who would not want me there. In my mind, I envisioned I would have to go to Beacon Hill to some nice house for this secret meeting… Where do these ideas come from…probably because I read The Well of Loneliness. I imagined they would never want me there.
Fast forward from 1969-71 to 1992 when I had already moved to New York. Through Lesbian Connection, I found a B&B in Boston when I went back for a weekend visit. I ended up staying in the very house where the DOB meetings had been held. It was three blocks from my house – a lifetime! I was shaking with sadness, fury, and disappointment that these were people I could have known. Three blocks from my house in the south end of Boston! It was a very strange feeling but also comforting to know… lesbians had never been that far away!
Editor’s note: I am thrilled to have feminist icons Margie Adam and Jewelle Gomez on Epochalips. These two have influenced our generation by paving the way as feminists and out lesbians in the early days to continuing to share their gifts with the world today. Click here for Part 1 and Part 2.
Margie Adam is currently fully engaged in her “third act.” Having completed a PhD Program in Psychology, she has entered private practice as an integrative counselor. She is also a singer-songwriter-pianist and one of the early organizers of Women’s Music, a Second Wave feminist cultural initiative fueled by lesbian passion. Her song, “We Shall Go Forth!” resides in the Smithsonian’s Political History Division. She is associate producer of two films, Radical Harmonies: A History of Women’s Music and No Secret Anymore! The Times of Del Martin & Phyllis Lyon. Margie’s counseling practice is based in the San Francisco-Bay Area, and extends world-wide with telephone technology. Her focus is on creating a safe, empowering, and joyful environment for women in transition to explore esp. sexuality, recovery, aging, and/or completion of projects. firstname.lastname@example.org
©2012 Jewelle Gomez & Margie Adam. All rights reserved.