Andrew Holleran’s “Lewd” article about pornographer Boyd McDonald in the recent Gay and Lesbian Review sent me to my bedside table. On the bottom shelf behind a crumpled electric heating pad I found McDonald’s magazine “Straight to Hell” (Nos 39, 49,50, 51, 52) and his books Cum, Skin, Filth, Cream, Smut, Scum, Meat, Flesh, and Raunch. They may explain why I served as the Lambda Lit erotica editor for a couple years. It says more about my libido and the time I came out – the early 70s.
I came out in 1972. I was 28 married with a son. In that year a thousand men from all corners of the country arrived in San Francisco every month to live free. We were a community of strangers bound by our pride in our sexuality (the faint-hearted went elsewhere). I had an active sex life that that didn’t stop me from occasionally enjoying a delicious erotic moment with one of Boyd’s stories of a farm boy in the big city or Navy man on leave on the bed next to me, a worn pair of underwear (with holes even better) covering my genitals and a generous amount of my lube de jour for my hand.
Felice Picano and I were born the same year that makes me part of the Picano generation that Holleran alludes to. What characterizes Picano’s generation for me is: sex was our god. I loved sex with friends and I worshiped sex with my partners; I indulged in sex with multiple partners at the baths. I experimented with different kinds of sex. I had sex with friends and my partners on different drugs. I deprived myself of sex to see if it got better when I went back to having sex, and most important, I talked about sex. I talked about the sex we had last night, the best sex I ever had, the best sex ever with a certain man, the bad sex a friend kept having and the time I got caught by my father. Sex was second nature.
When I arrived in San Francisco my generation had ended segregation in the South, we were ending the war in Viet Nam, and the women of my generation were asserting their claims for equality. Sex was my language and my religion. I believed we could change the world with love. It kept me up late at night and fucking on the back porch at parties that always ended at eleven so the men could go to the bars. I thought gay liberation was the next logical step and once America had achieved gay equality America would become a just peaceful nation. But just as my world of love got even better than I’d hoped Reagan got elected and then AIDS took my partner of eighteen years.
Like my generation the Millennials are out to change the world this time with technology. I wonder if they have our curiosity about sex and our willingness to test the limits of sex. Do they consider sex essential to sanity as we did? It would make my heart beat a little warmer if I knew another generation of gay men is going through life the way the Picano generation did.