Michael Murphy is an all-around great guy. And over the last few years, I’ve come to think of him as a friend.
The first book I ever read by him was called Little Squirrels Can Climb Tall Trees, and it was a delight! Not to long after that I saw him at GRL in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and he was autographing books and he had the most delightful swag ever—an acorn stress toy. You know those kind you squeeze on? I still have that acorn somewhere. When I finally find it—LOL—it is going to sit on my desk. Both to remind me of that book and my friend Michael.
Michael is a wonderful story-teller. You only have to check out his books to see that. In fact, that’s why when I had the idea to do an anthology called A More Perfect Union which would be comprised of novellas written by gay men who are legally married, but old enough to think it would never happen in their life time, I thought of Michael right off. And his story for that anthology, Jeordi and Tom, is a great one.
When I approached him about doing an essay for my celebration here at my blog on Fifty Years of Gay Pride, he mentioned that he’d been invited to teach a course at the university where he works about pre-Stonewall gay life and culture, I pounced. “Yes!” I cried. “Please! Make your essay about that!”
To my happiness, that’s what he did. I hope you enjoy it.
And Happy Pride!
by Michael Murphy
In 1974, I met my grandmother’s youngest brother. Her brother was about as gay as you could get. He was one of the first gay people I knew. It was exhilarating to a teenaged gay boy to see a sixty-year old man who was out, loud, and proud. He and his boyfriend attended family gatherings together as a couple. My grandmother’s brother did not deny who he was, he did not hide who he was, and he did not tolerate people giving him any crap about who he was.
He came out in the late 1930s. He was able to admit and embrace what so many others couldn’t.
It doesn’t matter if its 1930, 1830, or the year 30, the fact remains that it has never been easy to be gay. For countless generations, men and women were condemned, imprisoned, even executed, for simply loving someone of their own gender. But we have always been there, frequently in hiding, but we’ve always been there—waiting. Watching and waiting.
Stonewall was inevitable. What amazes me is that it took as long as it did for Stonewall to happen. But it was going to happen sometime, somewhere. That sometime happened to be New York City on a hot June night, June 28, 1969. It’s still not clear what the spark was, but something set events in motion that night.
When New York City police raided yet another gay bar—a very common occurrence—that night the people there said, “Enough is enough.” They refused to go quietly. They fought back. They kicked up a fuss. And the police didn’t know what to do. Gays had always been easy to control, had always been passive and cooperative—in other words, they had been an easy target. But that ended June 28, 1969.
For hours the men and women at the Stonewall Inn that night fought back. No longer would they go quietly and cooperatively. They resisted arrest. They threw bricks, they lit fires, they turned cars over, pulled parking meters out of the sidewalk, and instead of the police herding them, that night they chased the police and herded them into hiding.
It was a riot that was heard around the world. Immediately gay men and women understood that the old rules had been thrown out and it was time to create an entirely new rule book. Fewer than a dozen people gathered late that year and knew that this was their shot, their chance to change things for the better for future generations of gay men and women. Men like Marty Robinson, a youngster from Brooklyn who never shied away from a fight. Men like Tom Doerr, a graphics design artist who gave the new movement its first symbol—the Greek letter, lambda. Tom knew that every movement needs a unifying symbol, a brand, and Tom gave us the lambda.
And one year later, in June 1970, the world celebrated its first Gay Pride celebration. And here we are, fifty years after Stonewall, and what a journey it has been. There have been ups and downs, times when all appeared to be spiraling downward. But we always find our way back upright and forward.
When I marched in the annual DC Gay Pride parade this year, it was with a special pride and understanding and acknowledgement of all of those who have gone before us, paving the way for us today. But our journey is not over—it has only just begun and we have far yet to go. But what a journey it will be.
About Michael Murphy
In a world of so many things, how do you settle on just a few? All my life I’ve been interested in everything around me, wanting to see new places, meet new people, tell new stories. Writing has been the culmination of a long-term dream. Being a part of the Dreamspinner family is priceless beyond compare.
Anytime I’m asked the question of who I am I have to stop and try to decide how in the world to answer. I might biologically be middle age, but inside I feel like a randy teenager anxious to explore the world. Dreams of writing have been a part of my life since I was five years old.
Two of the greatest influences on me as I was growing up were my two grandmothers. Both were strong women who had unbelievable burdens thrust upon them when they were widowed very early in life. Both of these incredible women loved stories. They loved reading stories and telling stories, and the stories they had to tell were incredible.
For as long as I can remember I’ve been writing stories. What has been different over the last several years is that I’ve finally been brave enough to allow someone else to read what I’d written. When that happened, I found that others liked what I’d written which made me beyond happy.
In addition to writing, my other love is photography. Taking photos of some of the beautiful men of the world is my current focus. One of those photos graced the cover of a Dreamspinner novel You Can’t Go Home Again. My partner and I have traveled the world, trying to see as much as possible. When not traveling, we live in Washington.
Please stop by http://www.gayromancewriter.com to learn more.
Stranger in a Foreign Land
After an accident stole his memory, the only home American businessman Patrick knows is Bangkok. He recovers under the tender ministrations of Jack, an Australian ex-pat who works nights at a pineapple cannery. Together they search for clues to Patrick’s identity, but without success. Soon that forgotten past seems less and less important as Jack and Patrick—now known as Buddy—build a new life together.
But the past comes crashing in when Patrick’s brother travels to Thailand looking for him… and demands Patrick return to Los Angeles, away from Jack and the only world familiar to him. The attention also causes trouble for Jack, and to make their way back to each other, Patrick will need to find not only himself, but Jack as well, before everything is lost….