New York City

In the spring of 1980 I moved to a tenement apartment in Hoboken NJ and edited technical consulting reports for my father.

A friend of the family told me about a special program run by the New York State Board of Regents. If I earned qualifying scores on two Graduate Record Examination Subject Tests and passed three undergraduate-level subject tests, I could receive a BA without having to go to college. This was a very congenial option, since it was self-paced, and I proceeded to study and then pass these tests in 1981. The degree arrived crumpled in my mailbox in March 1982 and cost about $400 in fees.

Soon after moving to Hoboken, I began to meet some gay people. A straight friend from childhood introduced me to someone in New York who introduced me to a gay guy my own age with whom I went out a few times. Although we weren't meant for each other, I enjoyed the companionship.

In early 1981 I met a couple at a book reading who belonged to a small activist group. They invited me to a meeting of the group, where I met someone my age who travelled to far-away places whenever he could save up the money. He welcomed me into his life, as did the other group members who included a menswear salesman, a sixtyish lesbian who traded really funny acerbic comments with a fortyish male poet who wrote limericks, and Alberta, a seventyish transvestite with a glittering assortment of Fredericks of Hollywood gowns. A gay socialist also belonged to the group and befriended me. I wasn't political but we went to see documentaries and hang out at places in the East and West Village. Activism brought these people together but they were also each other's best friends.

I also began to volunteer every Tuesday night at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, which was headquartered in New York at the time. The volunteers mainly stuffed envelopes but also went on a field trip to distribute literature on Fire Island. I did not feel the uninhibited anger and exuberance at NGLTF that I felt with the smaller activist group, who were closer to the street. But there was a sense of comradeship at NGLTF and I was glad to contribute something to its efforts.

I joined a gay volleyball group in the summer of 1981 that played in Central Park. I had gone to bed with the first person I dated. I also did this with an NGLTF volunteer and with someone in the volleyball group. But the first two didn't want to get more involved with me and the third wanted to have a wife and children and me on the side, which I didn't want. Part of me wanted companionship but part of me also wanted to be by myself. I ended my search for a companion that fall, and since then I have lived a celibate existence.

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