By Their Own Hand

I probably met Brian McKinney only once, but his death more than thirty years ago still haunts me.

I recall lingering at the bus stop in downtown Flint while in high school in the early 1980s as an achingly lonely gay boy, watching for him.  He was a student at the barber college on Saginaw Street and, with lilting hair dyed blond and green, dared to be visibly queer at a time when being queer and being visible were unfathomable in my hometown.

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The Quilt at Cobo

Thirty years ago next month, at age 24, I took the Greyhound bus from Flint to view for my first time the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, which was on display at Cobo Hall.  Caught up in my own post-teen gay angst and loneliness, I wrote in my journal on July 6th: “Tom’w I go to Detroit to be sobered by the AIDS quilt.”

As if it was a movie or TV show that would trigger some deeper feeling, that might jolt me out of early-20s myopia.

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Roey and Her Interviews

“These women were irrepressible,” Roey Thorpe remembers.

In 1992, while a doctoral student at Binghamton University, Roey interviewed two dozen Detroit-area lesbian and bisexual women for her planned dissertation.  Although Roey did not finish the dissertation—choosing a path of activism rather than academia—she mined these vital oral histories for two pioneering articles.

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Remembering Age Thirteen

This week on Facebook, my friend Pete tagged me for some sort of album challenge whereby I am urged or obligated, chain-letter style, to post an album per day for ten days.  With little instruction to the challenge as it came to me, I have been selecting albums, good and bad, that made a lasting impression.  My album of choice for today is Shaun Cassidy’s self-titled 1977 debut LP.

It had nothing to do with the music.

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LGBTQ Anniversaries

Since elementary school, I’ve had an obsession with anniversaries.

Chalk it up to Batman, begun by Bob Kane in Detective Comics no. 27 in May 1939, accused of queer deviance by one Fredric Wertham in the book Seduction of the Innocent and in testimony before a congressional investigative committee in the 1950s.  Something homo going on with that Robin kid.

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Our Queer Snapshots

When I was three years old, I had a snapshot taken of me wearing shoulder pads.  Not actually wearing them proper, but lopsided with the padded, leather cups meant to protect my shoulders humped on my back on one side, sagging over my chest on the other.  My real shoulders, unprotected, slope weakly as my arms just hang there.

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