Monday, January 09, 2012

A pivotal summer

Looking over my Memoirs (at the allied site, Homolexis), as I have been doing these days, I noted an extraordinary coincidence. In the summer of 1973 I had too unrelated experiences that shaped the rest of my life.

In July I went to San Francisco for a month, to assist in recovering from a serious illness. I was lucky enough to stay in the apartment (actually I was cat sitting) of a very intelligent Danish woman who was away for the month. With a well-stocked library, Lili J. was an enthusiast for libertarianism. At the time, I had a stereotyped and negative view of that political philosophy, but I couldn't help picking up the books. The more I read, the more sense it made. Once I got back, I read everything I could find by Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, and Milton Friedman, among others.

I have since moderated my adhesion to libertarianism (as some enthusiasts never do). I do believe that there is a role for (limited) government, and efforts to achieve privatization must be carefully calibrated as to means and ends. But I remain staunchly opposed to unprovoked attacks on foreign nations and I hold that the use of recreational drugs should be decriminalized--with adequate safeguards, to be sure.

The second thing that happened in San Francisco was that I read a news item about the formation of a new gay-liberation group, the Gay Academic Union. I joined immediately after I returned. GAU is long gone, but my concern with homostudies has persisted.

I don't know what would have happened to me if I did not go to San Francisco that summer. No, it wasn't the "summer of love"--that had happened some years before. But it was a double turning point for me. First, my political philosophy became more complex. I was too mature and cynical simply to "convert" to libertarianism. And second, I started on a long, occasionally meandering journey towards a career in gay studies. I am heartily glad that both these things happened to me.



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