Open Letter to Jack Fritscher

Hi Jack,

I was excited to read the news of your latest book, on Larry Townsend. I will let you know when my copy arrives. (I contacted the Leather Journal, and they said they had already reviewed it.) 

Over the past two years of the pandemic shutdown I have been coming out of retirement, a step at a time, and reaching out and reconnecting with old friends. I never adjusted to being “retired.” I miss teaching, writing, being involved in projects I find meaningful, having a social life. The move to zoom allowed me to reconnect with people and went a long way in taking the Cortland, NY “blinders” off. The Real World full of Real People is still very much alive and well!

When I divorced my husband in San Francisco, and could no longer afford to live there, I made two attempts to get on my feet and start over – in Eureka, and then Palm Springs. I am now an “economic refugee from California.”

The only alternative to being homeless in California was to move back in with my sister here in Central New York. Eventually I got into low-income public housing here in “downtown” Cortland. I love my apartment. And I had long-needed state housing and steady (if below poverty level) income. And this has allowed me to move back into being involved, and not having all my energies being focused on survival.

I am working on a book. It began as a memoir. I am now working through the third major rewrite. I finally feel confident about this version. Working title is Resilience, a title my editor came up with.

I have been spearheading the reboot of the Bear History Project. I was very surprised and disappointed that no one ever picked up the ball when I retired my work in 2005. (1) The bear phenomenon had grown so large so fast that one person could no longer do the work. (2) print media moved over to electronic media, and I had no idea how to capture all that. (3) By that point I was $30,000 in personal debt paying for the BHP, and had run out of funds, and ended up in bankruptcy .

I have attracted a small, but growing, group of dedicated folks, who are now growing the BHP. They bring fresh perspectives, fresh energy, and badly needed professional skills. It looks like the BHP will grow wings and take off.

The Career That Never Happened: My career goal was to teach German and Russian at a small liberal arts college. I majored in Comparative Literature, where this made the most academic preparation sense. When I was a freshman in 1971 that was very marketable. Both languages / cultural studies were essential in the Cold War era. And someone competent in German and Russian in this country was a rare thing indeed.

As I was approaching the end of my doctoral studies (PhD 1992), the Cold War was over, the Berlin Wall had come down, the Soviet Union had collapsed. The humanities had been getting gutted for long time. German and Russian Departments had been closed. I graduated into a nonexistent job market.

Parallel to my formal academic studies, I started researching on my own gay literature and gay history, back in 1974 in Tübingen. I had hoped to become involved in an as yet nonexistent Gay and Lesbian Studies field. I did all my “queer” work outside the academy. By the time I started working on my dissertation, Queer Studies/Queer Theory seemed to emerge suddenly. And my approach was antiquated.

So I hustled to remake myself into an English scholar to make myself employable in a job market where most PhDs did not find employment. I did. Unfortunately, Mount Ida College turned out to be a truly nasty joke. After 12 years of MIC administration’s covert war on me, I left. 

All that is now far behind me, and I have been able to work past all the anger, frustration, and despair that caused me.

So, here I am writing again, getting into print again, working with the BHP, and bringing myself up to speed on Queer Studies/Queer Theory stuff. 

LGBT communities seem to have passed into history, for the most part.  I tried to start a bear club, then a leather club, to no avail. All of my involvements in CNY groups went nowhere. With the shutdown I withdrew from all of them. After a decade of circulating and making hundreds of acquaintances, I have found it impossible to make any friends – city, suburban, country; well-off to working-class; town or gown (I got the clear message form the Cornell bubble that the likes of me are not welcome there); etc., etc., etc. 

So, I have come to terms with the social isolation and solitude here. It took me a very long time, but I have been able to come to terms with all that. And I am “okay.” I have reinvented myself once again, and am very engaged and motivated to move forward with my new life, post-retirement. 



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s