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Gifts With Humanity
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Softball Memories
        We’re glazed in, said a neighbor. Ice, freezing rain, snow, winds. The streets are
sheathed in a thin, treacherous layer of ice. In the yard the fat little dog crunches
through the ice, then sinks into snow, one paw, two paws, three paws, four. In Sochi,
Russia, the Winter Olympics go gayly forward. Heck, they could luge down our hill.  
      "The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility
of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which
requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play."
Olympic Charter
      I don’t remember sports quite like that. Here’s what The Federation of Gay Games
writes on their web site about gays in sports.
      “The best gay and lesbian athletes in the world already do compete in the
Olympics (with a large majority of them in the closet). But the Olympics, and
mainstream sport in general, remain a very difficult place for homosexual athletes to
compete, and certainly to compete without hiding their sexual identity. There are
countless potential champions who under-perform, or simply don’t participate, in
mainstream sport because of homophobia.”
      When I was a kid, girls couldn’t use the gym very often. Our P.E. teachers taught
us demure dances in a classroom, while the boys shouted in the gym, feet and
basketballs pounding the wooden floors.  I remember once playing baseball in the
junior high playground, but never got to bat. Girls who played tennis walked over a
mile to courts at a public park and used our own rackets. The gay teachers were, of
course, closeted. The straight girls made fun of them. I hero-worshipped them.
      We got more space and time to do sports in college. We even had a women’s
sports association. Again, the teachers were closeted. They had to be in order to get
that space and time for women students. As obvious as some of the phys ed students
were, they played straight or they left school. Pretty clever, to get a lesbian
department head to weed out any gay girl whose profile wasn’t low enough. The male
phys ed chair tried to lure me away from the English department, but the phys ed
majors avoided my eyes. I stuck with the avant-garde English majors where I felt safer.
      Later, in my late twenties, I discovered women’s softball. Not to play, but to be a
fan at Raybestos Stadium in Stratford, Connecticut where the greatest women’s
softball team was located and where the greatest women’s softball player wowed the
crowds. Joanie Joyce played with the Raybestos Brakettes, a legendary fast pitch team
that won state, national, and international championships. Look up Joan Joyce on the
internet; she’s had an amazing career in golf and basketball as well and few people
have ever heard of her. I don’t know how I lucked out to live in the same state as The
Brakettes and Joyce, but I got to see her play and win there and during the brief
professional women’s softball league days in the 1970s.
      I’d go to those games with a mix of gay and non-gay women co-workers. The small
stadium would be half-filled with blue collar straight couples and wildly crushed out gay
women. It amazed me that most of the Brakettes’ followers were straight and
considered the games family outings. This was a new world for me. I came to enjoy the
relaxed late afternoon games and to admire powerhouse player Joan Joyce
enormously. She’s 72 now and coaching at a university in Florida, as competitive as
ever. She’s still completely gorgeous, a fitting idol for any young athlete. You knew you
were in the presence of greatness when you followed her team off the field.
      The women’s movement came along and proved, once everyone settled down a
bit, to have an interest in sports beyond passing Title IX in 1972. Suddenly, we were
watching or playing softball instead of talking and talking in consciousness raising
groups. The softball fields of the U.S. proved fertile ground for a meshing of lesbian
feminists and bar dykes.  I went to those games to be part of something. When the
lesbian team in New Haven played the straight girls, the dykes could count on a posse
of both head dykes and bed dykes to be raucous fans in the bleachers. Head dykes,
back then, came out via their feminist politics. Bed dykes just came out. Softball, so to
speak, leveled the playing field. Each side had something to teach the other.
      Today, it’s astonishing for me to see the “free” world taking up the cause of gay
Olympians and gay Russians.  We haven’t been free about anything gay for very long.
Is this just another way of condemning a Communist country or have we at last melted
the ice of repression in America and embraced the Olympian tenet of fair play?
Copyright Lee Lynch 2014
Tax Equality
        Tax season is such a delight. Just as the daffodils
bloom where we live, so do the tax forms. Truly, I doubt
there are as many daffodils on earth as there are tax
forms. A big pile of them reside in our home.
        With marriage equality comes more responsibility.
Well, not for me; my sweetheart has the fortitude and
know-how to tackle whatever the I.R.S. demands of us. I
cower in my writing chair, grateful to her for yet another
        Things are no so equal in our household in this
one way, but oh so much more equal than in brackets
far above ours. I keep reading about mega billionaires
and corporations that don’t pay any taxes. About places
to hide money offshore. And I think about gay people
more than willing to pay not just taxes, but the “marriage
tax,” in exchange for acceptance in the United States.
        I've always been willing to pay my taxes without
complaint. It’s clear to me that’s how you run a country. I
was tempted to withhold them in protest against the Viet
Nam war. Fortunately, I didn't have to because my
earnings have never been high enough to warrant
making out a check to the I.R.S. Perhaps I’d feel
differently if I made the big bucks?
        Probably not. The taxes taken out from 50 years of
paychecks have paid for horrific things. Collateral
damage, napalm, the salaries of politicians who don’t
know the difference between government and religion.
Enforcement of discriminatory laws, troops and law
enforcement savaging protesters, sacrificing our young
to unwise military actions.
        No way are enough of our taxes used for
education, public transportation or help for small farmers
competing with mega agribusiness. Our food is in
danger for the sake of profit making and for lack of
funds to inspect it. The Affordable Care Act should be
swollen with cash, not a bulls-eye for target practice.
Head Start, daycare workers, caregivers – if only the
federal and state governments followed the lead of
businesses like Working Assets and let taxpayers check
off our spending preferences from a list.
        The money leaves our hands and we might as well
hold Easter egg hunts among the daffodils and newly
green grasses to find it again. We could use some of
that cash on the federal highway near our home; it’s
crumbling into the Pacific. This area is seeing
unprecedented numbers of homeless people asking for
handouts on street corners. There is money to roust
them from unauthorized homeless camps, but not to pay
them to repair the highway. Hey, how about monies to
help homeless gay teens? Or using all that moola we
spend fighting marijuana to sniff out meth labs in every
        Whatever happened to investing in our country?
There isn't even money to go after the big tax scofflaws.
Tax rebels abound. I’d think it would be simple: you live
here, you pay for the privilege. It’s for our own good.
What makes sense about tax protesters who call
themselves patriots?
        Working for the I.R.S. has become dangerous.
There’s a law enforcement term, Potentially Dangerous
Taxpayer (PDT), for people who threaten or intimidate I.
R.S. employees, contractors and/or their families. A
recent interview of such an employee revealed that she
and co-workers at a large I.R.S. processing center hide
their occupations from neighbors and strangers
because they are fearful of reprisals for doing their jobs.
        By the time the daylilies come up in our little yard,
the taxes will be done. This is a complex year for us tax-
wise, because of our 2013 move, my sweetheart’s job
changes and my retirement from wage-paying work. Next
year our pile of forms won’t rival the height of lamp posts.
        The best news is that spring has sprung. The first
fluffed out robin sat on a bush outside our kitchen
window for quite a while yesterday, as if wondering why
he came back only to find rain and 60 mile per hour
winds. Other good news is the modest tax refund we’ll
get for the three years since our legal marriage. Not
exactly reparations for the way gays have been treated
while responsibly paying our share. It’s a very welcome
refund, though. Maybe we’ll tithe part to one of the great
organizations that helped make our marriage legal and
our tax statement a joint one.
Copyright Lee Lynch 2014  
Single in the Age of Marriage
      What good is being gay when you have no one to
love? What good is gay marriage when you’re single?
      During the periods I was single, I watched a lot of
films, at home, alone. The selection process had to be
very cautious. Romance was out. Drama too, as my
emotions were too raw after breakups. Suspense and
mystery were iffy; I’m more easily spooked when I don’
t have someone to protect. Sci fi creeped me out.
Comedy was about the only choice left.
      Silly me: I confused animated films with comedies.
Despite Eddie Murphy’s excellent donkey portrayal,
“Shrek” was not a good choice. Even a big green ogre
with funny ears had someone to love! The poor-me’s
took over that night and afterwards I went back to the
likes of Jackie Chan and “Men in Black.”
      Goddess willing and the creek don’t rise, I won’t
ever be single again. I’m not sure I could survive all
the great news about winning our rights to marry.
      Some of us enjoy the freedom of bachelorhood,
others decidedly don’t. Some of us are better off
single than attached to the wrong person; others
would rather be imperfectly hitched than be Netflix’s
best customer.  I thank my very lucky stars for the
perfection of and perfect match with, my sweetheart.
      Way back when, Robin Tyler titled her comedy
album, “Always a Bridesmaid, Never a Groom.” It was
just a joke thirty-five years ago, but now it would
bother me to be in that situation. Then I think about
Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to
Marry, and veteran gay marriage groundbreaker as
far back as the landmark Hawaii marriage case, Baehr
v. Miike (1990 to 1999).  The entire time he was
pioneering our way to marriage equality, he was
single. It was only in 2002 that Wolfson found his mate
and 2011 when they legally wed in New York. All those
years he worked for a goal that might never have
benefitted him.
      I’m sure he’s not the only one. The funds
required to reach our victories could not possibly
come only from gay couples. Butch bachelors and
maiden femmes and free-spirited gays have
contributed to the miracles of the 21st century. They
have not been sitting at home crying over Shrek’s
good fortune. They’ve attended the marriages, stood
up for the betrothed, even performed the
      So why do I feel guilty? Why do I want to tone
down the hoopla just a bit, so those who need to can
escape? Why do I feel protective of these masters of
their own fates?
      I fear my answer lies deep in the cultural
imperative to marry. Throughout history the spinsters
and old maids, the old bachelors and mama’s boys
have been pitied and looked down on for their lack of
mates. Young women’s lives were focused on
snagging husbands and young men’s careers
depended on having wives.
      Even deeper are the reproductive mandates. The
“poor” couple who can’t have kids. The barren wife
and the sterile husband who are somehow less than
the robustly fertile breeders who can’t afford to feed
their broods. We’re taught early to tiptoe around
childless het couples and to be sensitive about their
inability to overpopulate the planet.
      What arrogance that culture promotes! It may
have been important in the beginning of time to mate
and populate; there may be biological urges we feel
compelled to fulfill. The planet is running out of food
and water. We should honor those strong enough to
go their own sweet ways, just as we do those who
want to live in tandem. We need to cultivate respect
for humans who are simply happy to keep their own
      The fortunate implementation of gay marriage
will, I hope, carry over the benefits of the tradition and
leave behind the old patriarchal baggage of non-gay
marriage. The rules that dictated prohibition of same
sex partners on insurance plans, in intensive care
units, as foster parents and on and on, were devised
out of prejudice and greed. When civilization as we
know it was being organized through trial and error,
one of the biggest errors was creating a structure
based on male inheritance. It forced men to claim as
their own women, children, stock, property, currency.
Any deviation from that schema was eventually
      Thus, unmarried people, straight or gay, who for
the most part did not reproduce and therefore did not
pass on ownership of lands or water rights or coins to
their own flesh and blood, became criminal deviants.
The ability to marry saved non-gays from that fate.
But for us, it all went downhill from there.
      Let’s not make marriage the law of our gay land.
Now that some of us have the legal right to marry, we
are not suddenly superior to those who choose not to.
Maybe there are gays among us who envy Shrek’s
connubial delight and maybe those are few and far
between. Love takes many forms in this world;
happiness comes in a million shapes. Every one of
them is good. Just being gay, for many of us, is
enough cause for celebration.
Copyright Lee Lynch 2014
Gifts with Humanity
Axing the Coaxial
        Our introductory contract with the cable
company ended after a year and they wanted to up
our payments by over $50.00. Sorry, Charter, we
need that fifty more than you do. We declined further
TV service and let go of our land line. Internet is
$55.00 per month; can’t see a way around that yet.
We quit Verizon Mobile for Consumer Cellular and cut
our cell phone bill from $120.00 to $52.00. Robo calls,
telemarketers, are, so far, a thing of the past without a
        There have been a couple of times when the fax
line might have been handy. It makes me crabby to
use our cell phone minutes waiting on hold for, say,
an insurance call center. But the TV? No problem,
never watched it. When I watched author Carsen Taite’
s Vlog at “Women and Words” <http://goo.
gl/Kd7SD0>, about TV binges, she got me thinking.
        Both my sweetheart and I used to watch TV. She
worked long hours at her job before leaving the rat
race to join me as a downwardly mobile West Coastie.
TV was the perfect antidote to her thankless high
pressure job. I kept away the lonesomes by paying
bills, doing my taxes, brushing the animals while
tuning in to “Law and Order,” “Boston Legal,” “Gray’s
Anatomy” and “The Closer.”
        We did have a tradition of watching the New
York Thanksgiving Day Parade while preparing our
meal. On New Year’s Eve we liked to watch the ball
drop at Times Square. This year we watched the
Snoopy balloon and Anderson Cooper on line. There
is even a way to receive a TV signals through our
computers and broadcast it on a larger TV screen.
But we haven’t bothered. Maybe we will by the time
Ellen hosts the Oscars again.
        I developed an aversion to TV as a kid. My
father brought home the first one when I was five and
soon that was the only thing the family did together on
a regular basis. After a few years of that, I found
myself getting angry while watching, or while others
watched. TV had become an irritant. As a teenager I
considered TV to be the drug of the masses, although
I did watch old movies in the wee hours. In college I
was usually the one to turn off the television in the
dorm lounge, which otherwise would have droned
24/7. Into adulthood, just the sound of the infernal
machine drives me bonkers. The flickering of the light,
if I’m not looking directly at a screen, makes me
        Was all this the result of a lesbian childhood
spent in the company of heterosexual parents? Do
televisions trigger the anger born of that poor fit?
Maybe. Or: I remember, at an early age, complaining
to my mother about the ads. She explained that’s how
the stations made money. I was having none of it and
had a little 8 year old socialist revolution. Then my
father fashioned a “blab-off.” He attached a wire to
the mysterious back of the console TV and put a
toggle switch on his end. The sound of the ads
blessedly disappeared. Now cable companies think we
should pay fees and watch ads.
        When I was living in Florida, every doctor’s
office had a T.V., usually controlled by staff and often
set to FOX News or docu-ads. I saw a retina specialist
periodically. It was crazy-making to sit in a waiting
room trapped with other people half-blinded by
dilation drops, a screen flickering above us, and the
volume turned high for the hard of hearing seniors.
Even more maddening was the acquiescence to this
common visual and aural bombardment at the internist’
s, the vet’s, the eye surgeon, the diagnostic lab.
        Our television is draped with a rainbow flag.
DVDs of TV seasons and movies have been sitting of
shelves for years now, ready for viewing when we
have time. We never do have time.
      Instead, we play with our rocks, pictures and
books. We collect agates, petrified woods fossils and
jaspers on beach walks and pour over these beauties
in the evening. My sweetheart is a natural archivist.
She spends hours looking at and organizing
photographs, content as a little kid. Or researching for
fun. We both read our eyes out, as my Irish-American
mother used to say, complaining that I read too much
as a child, even though she’s the one who took me for
my first library card.
      The irony, of course, is that often we read on our
Kindles. My sweetheart’s archiving is all done on line.
Together, we own 2 basic Kindles, three laptops, an
HP Touch, a first gen iPad, two smart phones and a
Galaxy Tab 3. If their screens are not enough to make
up for the loss of TV, as a last resort, our shelves
hold about 5,000 books. Which is yet another reason
we needed to ax the co-ax.
Copyright Lee Lynch 2014
The Brightest Month
        It may be December, the darkest month of the year in North America, but this is
the June of our gay lives. June, as in the most popular month for weddings. June, as in
the anniversary of the Stonewall riots. June, as in our Supreme Court victories.
        During the wonders of the holiday season, starting at Thanksgiving, we have
much to be thankful for and to celebrate. Somehow the holiday lights and candles seem
to glow brighter and spread more light with the knowledge that a majority of Americans
are expressing increased tolerance toward our people. The dreadful Defense of
Marriage Act and California’s equally ridiculous Proposition 8 have been laid to rest at
last.  I’d love to send holiday good wishes to the courageous Edie Windsor and more to
the righteously defiant California couples Paul Katami and Jeffrey Zarrill, Kris Perry and
Sandy Stier.
      The frosting on the wedding cake was the legalization of marriage in Rhode Island,
Delaware, Minnesota, New Jersey, Hawaii and Illinois. Betrothed couples in Illinois have
to wait until, when else, June, for the law to take effect.
      Of course, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act has a way to go, but there are
fewer Scrooges among the Republicans than there used to be. And there always has to
be a Grinch:  Michael Steel, Boehner’s spokesperson, quoted the head buffoon, who
"believes this legislation will increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs,
especially small business jobs."
      The undeclared states and politicians are a noodle pudding of marriage confusion:
they will here, they won’t there; it’s already legal, they won’t take pictures at gay
marriages, they won’t make gay wedding cakes, they will make gay birthday cakes…  
Federally, President Obama appoints gay ambassadors and judges, and the
Republicans protect the nation from gay ambassadors and judges. Gay cadets marry at
West Point when just last year they could be dismissed for wanting to. The trend is
worldwide; at least 15 countries no longer prohibit LGBT marriages.
      We were discussing the legitimization of gay marriage and my sweetheart came up
this little questionnaire for our non-gay, married neighbors to make sure all these
changes aren’t hitting them too hard.
      “Hey, how you doing there?”
       Neighbor is fine.
      “Well,” my sweetheart asks, “We just wondered – is our happiness bothering you?”
      Neighbor looks puzzled. I am trying not to laugh.
      My sweetheart says, “We were concerned you were maybe thinking of checking out
the other team?”
      Neighbor looks horrified.
      “We thought our playfulness on walks around the neighborhood might be making
you reevaluate whether watching T.V. on your couch is really enough for you –?
      Neighbor gets huffy.
      “Or if seeing Lee take out the trash or pick up the dog poop might inspire you to
help your wife with chores?”
      Neighbor’s wife peers out around hubby.
      “We meet your wife at the neighborhood ladies’ luncheon. It’s so much fun,” my
sweetheart would say, “that we both can go! Because, you know, we’re the only couple
there. Ever.” I can see her swallow a little snicker.
      “Does it bother you to hear us laugh in uproarious delight for extended periods of
      They are mute.
      “Don’t you sometimes wish your bedroom shades were pulled down at all sorts of
odd and unexpected times too?”
      They sigh.
      “It’s really hard,” my sweetheart tells them, “to keep our happiness under wraps.
So, just let us know any time our gay marriage threatens to derail your 50 years
      Meanwhile, in the rush for holiday gifts, dinners, travel and parties, we can buy
from a lot more vendors. The Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index saw
the largest growth in the survey’s history, adding 54 new businesses. The Victory Fund
reported big wins for LGBT candidates. Even the Salvation Army timidly went with the
flow – it removed links to two notorious “ex-gay” ministries as part of its new campaign
against LGBT discrimination. Sports and acting celebrities seem to have popped out of
their closets with greater frequency this past year. And personally, my sweetheart and I
were able to leave an uber conservative area and move to a community where we were,
literally, welcomed with open arms.
      As we take the plunge into 2014, I’m reveling in this new, unexpected season of
freedoms and confidently expecting the breakthroughs to continue. I remember when it
was unthinkable to take a lover home for the holidays. Now, far more often, it’s
unthinkable not to.  
      We’re not all home, or out, yet, but this year Brazil, next year, who knows. Uganda?
Russia? India? Texas? I hope so. During our festivals of light, I don’t want to see one
more light go out, one more lonely queer’s life go dark when it takes all of us, and all
our ways of loving, to brighten the darkest month.
Copyright Lee Lynch 2013
Butch Stag Party
        The Pianist and the Handydyke got married a
couple of weeks ago in Seattle. I couldn’t go because I
had the honor of officiating at the wedding of the Lady
and the Kid in New York at the same time. Therefore,
it was very important to me to have a stag party for
the Handydyke.
        But what would such an event consist of? Sitting
around talking about femmes who would probably be
in the next room? Throwing a blowout party at the
local brewery when neither I nor the Handydyke drink?
There would be too many designated drivers. A
lesbian strip club? Do those even still exist? To tell the
truth, I never understood the attraction and we
certainly don’t have one in our little town.
      How about pizza with the softball team? Thank
goodness we’re beyond softball field age. Did I
mention that the Pianist and the Handydyke have
been together 42 years? The Handydyke is 82.
      We do, amazingly, have a Starbucks. Maybe we
could stage a butch invasion and have a java
jamboree, except we don’t drink coffee either. A whale
watching wingding – but we did that for her 70th
birthday. I was beginning to think we’d have to do a
boring old restaurant dinner.
      The Handydyke was so excited about getting
married; she deserved all the fringe benefits. She
went all out on her wedding garb. She found a vendor
in the United Kingdom that makes rainbow
cummerbunds and bow ties. Then she found a
supplier of rainbow cufflinks. She bought a pair for her
best butch and another for me to wear at my New
York ceremony. Her best butch gave her a ruffled
white shirt located at a kitchen supply store. The
Handydyke was all spiffed up! With her black tux and
gray hair she was one handsome groom?
Bride/Groom? Broome?
      I did get to see the couple in their finery. They
hosted a marriage equality fundraiser once back
home and wore their wedding clothes, the Pianist in a
gorgeous flowing blue patterned dress The best butch
wore her wedding gear too, matching the Handydyke’
s, and I wore the clothes from the day I married my
sweetheart. The only change was the shirt: I had to
find one with French cuffs for my new rainbow
cufflinks. As it happened, I stumbled across a Brooks
Brother’s shirt in an upscale consignment shop that
filled the bill. The Handydyke is an inspiration.
      But what to do for a stag party? I should have
asked the Kid if she had one. There are lots of ways
to gay-party in New York. The Kid wedded in a silver
tux with silver sneakers while the Lady wore an
elegant yet simple cream gown. I’d guess hunting
down those silver sneakers would make a hilarious
stag party in itself.
      I had no stag party. Unless you call spending
every second with my sweetheart partying, but that’s a
pretty chronic state. Being married, these days, is a
party in itself. Gay folks are celebrating their love at
the same time we’re celebrating an unexpected
freedom. What gets me most is the family stuff. Writer
Lori Lake sent me a beautiful video of a proposal in a
Home Depot. It was all bouncy fun and then the family
joined the dancing gay friends. Watching it turned me
into a blubbering mess. <
com/watch?v=l4HpWQmEXrM  (Preview)  
      As it turned out, the Handydyke came up with her
own stag party idea. She invited the Quiet Butch and
me to attend the Disaster Preparation event at our
local Armory. The disaster was not, of course, getting
married. It was about living on the edge of the
earthquake and tsunami-prone Pacific Ocean.
      The Handydyke and I have been gathering
emergency paraphernalia for years. Our spouses may
be glad, but I suspect it’s really a way we can amass
butch toys. Things like combination searchlights with
built-in sirens, red warning lights and weather radios
which require eight D batteries that must be replaced
frequently as the lights are stashed in our sea-air
soggy cars. We have backpacks full of heavy sox,
compasses, bug spray, jackknives, foil blankets, hats,
flares, sterno stoves, propane for camp stoves,
survival water, ropes, multi-tools, toilet paper, canned
foods. We have backpacks and duffle bags and army
blankets and crumbling chocolate bars and first aid
      What a stag party! We learned about (and
bought) Water Bobs for bathtub storage and purifying
sipping straws and museum wax for protecting our
treasures. They gave out escape route maps. We had
a free lunch with a Red Cross guy just primed to
educate us. It was great! Better than drinking or any
of those traditional pre-wedding celebrations. I’d
recommend it to any butch who ever longed to rescue
her girl or, as we can now, at last, say, bride.
Copyright Lee Lynch 2013
Carol Seajay, Lesbian Literary Legend
Dear Carol: It’s been so long! Of all my old friends, you are one I think of most.
      I am reminded of you: you will appear at the Lesbian Oral Herstory Project
symposium this year, Celebrating Our Lesbian Legacies October 10-13, 2013, in
Houston Texas ( I’ll be on the East Coast those days, officiating,
to my amazement, at a gay marriage, visiting family openly with my spouse, doing
Provincetown Women’s Week book! events, so I can’t be there, but I’d like to be.
      A quiet, thoughtful groundbreaker, you were a Pied Piper we hardly realized was
leading us beyond what we could imagine achieving. The unbridled excitement of those
early years hid the hard, hard work we all did. I feel it now, the vast exhaustion that
threatens to silence me.  I am slow to think, to move, to write. I remind myself of your cat
Chia, who always impressed me with her deliberateness of motion.
      I have wondered if the burden of your work in pioneering and sustaining the women’
s print community has led you to retreat to the shadows in which we all once lived. Or if
you are stirring new concepts in your cauldron of women’s words, concepts that will
build upon the structures we old dykes can claim with pride.
      Many women have raised their voices, their pens, their placards to contribute to
these loud and lasting movements of our making: the women’s movement, gay
liberation, lesbian literature. Few have had your impact. You are best known as a
founder of Old Wives Tales in San Francisco, one of the first women’s bookstores; of
“Feminist Bookstore News” (FBN), the house publication for women’s bookstores
around the world; and “Books to Watch Out For” (BTWOF) a later publication that  
continued to spread the word of books by, for and about women.
      What most women are not aware of is how incredibly hard you worked and the way
you lived to accomplish your life’s work. I remember when you took a job as a FedEx
driver with that fledgling company and stuck with it for years in order to support yourself
and FBN. I remember your small apartment in San Francisco which served as both
publishing empire and your home for many years; papers and books, computers,
periodicals, flyers and a view of a storefront church across the street. Your apartment
and neighboring buildings became the setting for my book, Sue Slate, Private Eye, and
I have many photographs of your neighborhood that I took in preparation.
      I remember how influenced you were by The First Women In Print Conference in
1977. I believe that’s where you met Barbara Grier and so many other women who
created our lesbian publishing industry. I knew nothing of all this, voiceless since “The
Ladder” folded. Yet there you were, in the midst of our print revolution, organizing so
women like me could be published. Thank you for making that long journey to the
conference in one of your small used cars –  was it the Subaru named Jane?
      You had a story published in “Common Lives/Lesbian Lives” some years later,
when I also was publishing there. I loved your story and wrote you a fan letter. You
answered! Where did we first meet? San Francisco? Provincetown? New Haven? You
stayed with my then partner and me at our condo. You and I were both so shy. I think I
blushed every time we exchanged words. You were so accomplished and so fervent
and knew everyone in the lesbian writing world and you liked my work too. I was so glad
and proud to have you as a friend always.
        I can’t imagine how you made it financially. You had to buy food and housing and
fund the bookstore and your publications. At the height of the popularity of women’s
bookstores you were actually able to hire a part-time helper – or was she an unpaid
intern? But you were the reporter, researcher, reviewer, distributor and writer for FBN
all those years. It’s a wonder you didn’t get sick or burnt out.
      But I think you came from hardy Midwest stock, though they no longer wanted you,
their lesbian daughter. I remember listening to your story of leaving home on a little
motorcycle and setting out for San Francisco. On the way you broke down or had an
accident. Ever the exceedingly competent femme, you got yourself to the city of your
dreams anyway and helped put on our revolution. Your work was so important. I hope
you know that.
      You drove all over the country in the early 1980s, women’s bookstore to women’s
bookstore, sleeping on couches or in your little car. You amazed me and I want to thank
you for inspiring me, gently patting me on the back, housing me, accepting my lovers,
introducing me to yours, selling my books, promoting our literature and our culture and
just plain being instrumental in the flowering of lesbian literature.
      And, Carol, I don’t know if it will reach you, but I am sending this photograph* of us,
decades old, because, you know the movie line: We’ll always have Provincetown.
Copyright Lee Lynch 2013
*Photo credit to D. Pascale