Love's Gay Fool. Autobiography of John Alan Lee.


Chapter 11. Straight to Gay

My union card at the OHEU (with a new brush cut!)

The Sixties brought new adventures for Jean and myself. In February 1960, the IWA promoted me to “director of education." Jean swelled with a healthy pregnancy. We were engaged in a novel friendship with Robert, a teenage orphan. He captured our affections and we became his foster parents. (This adventure is told in the next chapter).

Then my good friend in the CCF, Francis Eady, decided to leave his job as Education and Publicity Director of the union at Ontario Hydro. He urged me to apply for the position, warning: "Harvey Ladd will never let you amount to anything. He’s careful to surround himself only with sycophants. Whenever a staff person gets too strong, Harvey sends him packing. He’s especially leery of people who can think. You would be much happier at Ontario Hydro, where there are lots of members with university degrees." I continue from my journals:

March 2, 1960. There are thirty-two applicants for Eady's job. Half a dozen are short-listed for interview by the Board of Chief Stewards of the union. My turn came today. It was scary facing a circle of sixteen people, telling them about myself, the IWA strike, the SCM and Howland House, and my activities in university.

March 5. I got the job! And a considerable increase in salary. Today I bade Harvey goodbye. I learned a lot from him. The most important lessons were: never to bluff, and never to allow anyone to blackmail you with some information or advantage they have on you: “You can be 100 percent certain that if you give in, he'll be back, asking for more. Once started, it never stops."

That's me, second from the right in first row. Betsy and her father, John Anderson are at left end, front row.

March 8. More good fortune: Rolly and Helen, our friends sharing Langley, are buying their own home now that Rolly has a new job at City Hall. With my new job, I can afford to buy their share. The Lockwoods will remain on the first floor.

March 13. My first child is safely born. Ruth is beautiful, with a full head of hair. When Jean was admitted to the hospital this morning, I was told to stay in the waiting room – the hospital does not welcome fathers at the birth. I felt like a fifth wheel so I went to a movie. When I returned to the hospital, Ruth was already half an hour old. Fortunately, Jean assured: “I was too caught up in the excitement to miss you.”

April 1. My first assignment at Hydro is to keep the union inside the labour movement. The union was born as a management-sponsored Employees’ Association, but its leadership realized that, without external support, the union lacked bargaining power. It renamed itself the Ontario Hydro Employees Union (OHEU) and formed a loose alliance with the National Union of Public Service Employees. NUPSE was a small union – 4000 members – in which the 6000 Hydro members became the tail wagging the dog.

Stan Little, NUPSE president, used his effective organizing skills and new staff (paid for by dues from Ontario Hydro employees) to conduct an aggressive organizing drive. NUPSE grew to 22,000 members. Now the OHEU marriage with NUPSE is not running smoothly, and a noisy element at Hydro wants to be independent again. But the OHEU leaders like their new role in the larger labour movement.

It's my job to orchestrate a publicity campaign among OHEU members in favour of staying with NUPSE. The argument is a tightrope act. On one hand, OHEU leaders do not want their union to become an ordinary local of the national union. They want to keep control of their own pursestrings, and they will not submit to orders from Stan Little. My propaganda legitimates this as "a contract between partners, not a parent-child relationship."

On the other hand, if the OHEU leaves NUPSE, it would also be forced to leave the Canadian Labour Congress, which has granted sole jurisdiction in this occupational field to NUPSE. The OHEU would have to give up many useful links with other CLC unions, especially the exchange of research information and educational facilities. Much worse, OHEU members would be subject to organizing "raids" by other unions.

April 15. Reaction to my first issue of OHEU News is very favourable from all the right people – those in the pro-NUPSE faction. At home, Jean and Ruth are well. The garden is a glorious array of flowering bulbs.

Other annual reports were dull printed pages; I put a new spin on mine to attract a bigger budget.

May 24. The ballots are in, and two thirds voted to remain in NUPSE. It's my first public relations success since the peace conference.

September 14. Before Francis Eady left the OHEU, he introduced a new program of union steward education. I'm in Niagara region today, to conduct my first Stewards’ Basic Training course (SBT). I'm introducing numerous innovations. Gone is the "sit and listen while I talk" approach. Instead of being lectured on the union constitution, stewards will search their copies of the constitution to answer questions in a lively contest.

I've borrowed a projector; this will be the first SBT to include movies. A National Film board production, The grievance , will illustrate the procedures unions use to resolve disputes. The stewards will be guided to role-play management and union sides in a real-life grievance from OHEU files. After the two teams have resolved the play-acted grievance, I'll pass around copies of the real-life outcome.

September 20. The Niagara SBT was a fabulous success. The members love role-playing and we had some great laughs when they ad-libbed local management personalities.

October 2. The union executive granted my proposal to totally revamp OHEU News into a tabloid newspaper. The new format looks smashing! There's printer's ink in my blood, all the way back to my first home newspaper. The union has given me another increase in pay. Jean and I can afford some new furniture and appliances, and I've launched what I hope will become an art collection by purchasing an original oil painting from Austria.

December 15. I've organized the OHEU's first all-woman SBT and it achieved what I hoped – a sense of common concern that's impossible when one woman steward finds herself among twenty men at a regular SBT. I imported female union leaders from the IUE, the Packinghouse Workers and the UAW, for a panel on women's issues in the labour movement. They noted that there is not a single woman on our bargaining committee. I supported their impression with a statistic: per capita, men are four times as likely to hold any office in the OHEU.

December 21. My pro-women News article has provoked some outcry. I'm getting calls from male members arguing that the union should oppose hiring of women whenever men are available. Today's caller was arrant: "A woman's place is homemaking."


February 10. I'm really pushing my luck as an "independent" editor of the union paper by introducing a new column: "A matter of opinion." It invites statements on any lively topic, and I've written the first one myself – on disarmament. It opposes nuclear weapons in Canada, based on data from my role as a CCND director.

Our pamphlet on unemployment.

March 1. I've banded with other SCMers such as Robert Wright, socialist ministers such as Rev. Smith at Woodgreen, and members of Howland House, to produce and distribute a 20-page pamphlet on Unemployment. I coordinated, typed and printed it, using the machinery and paper at the union office. We managed to gather an amazing amount of data and it's a respectable product.

December 28. Vancouver. I'm not leaving my fate entirely in the hands of the OHEU. The SCM at the University of British Columbia is looking for a full-time secretary. I'm one of the persons invited to apply. They're interested by my motley background: socialist, industrial worker in Howland House, political candidate, trade unionist, peace activist. My greatest weakness is religious. Although I've been going to the United Church with Jean, I'm still a Quaker at heart, and not many here think of Quakers as "real Christians. " Some also fear I’m too young. [What a different life I’d have lived if I got the job! Would I have remained married? Got a Ph.D.? Become a professor?].

December 31. Home again. My lasting memory of the trip will surely be the turbulence our plane encountered over Lake Superior. A young man seated beside me was returning to classes in a programme he hates – Commerce and Finance – just to please his father. As the plane plummeted, he burst into tears. After our situation calmed, I asked him why. He feared he might not live long enough to enjoy his own life. "Don't postpone joy" I urged. "You never know how soon life may end.”


January 12. I'm bored with my job. It all comes too easily. I'm also hurting from defeat by the Children's Aid. [See Chapter 12]. To find a new outlet, I've got the union's permission for one afternoon a week out of the office, with pay, to enrol part-time in the Master's program in sociology at U of T. Del Clark is glad to have me back.

February 7. Getting back into the intellectual world has lifted my spirits. I honed my research skills this month to start a series of articles in the OHEU News on “the wave of the future” for working people, starting with hours of work. The New York electricians' union has just won a 25-hour week.

April 11. Our son Peter was born today. This time I was able to watch it happen. Peter was eager to get into the world – he arrived just twenty minutes after I got Jean to the hospital. He’s a healthy, handsome baby.

May 10. Family, house and garden, union job, spare-time activities including CCF and CCND executive duties, plus a grad course in sociology, are not enough to keep me busy. I've just agreed to co-direct an SCM industrial work camp housed at Woodgreen. On-site direction will be the responsibility of a talented young woman. I won't sleep at the camp, but at home a few blocks away. I'll conduct Bible study and industrial study.

June 2. Jean says "somebody must want you alive." I recently traded my old Vauxhall (veteran of Newfoundland!) for a brand new Corvair. Today I was driving at full speed in the middle lane of the Gardiner expressway, when the car screeched to a halt. The back wheels were locked.

High-speed traffic dodged on both sides. Miraculously, no one slammed into me. Even more freakish, a tow truck came along within a minute. He quickly diagnosed my problem: the oil had leaked out of the engine, which is directly coupled to the rear axle. It overheated and locked solid.

The truck bulled my car to the shoulder. I'm still shivering as I write this in my journal. [Ralph Nader would soon publish a book about the new Corvair: Unsafe at any speed. ]

June 23. I'm taking vacation time to spend with the work camp, where Jean and the kids also come for dinner. Since we participate in the evening program at camp, we fit our sex into a few quiet hours at home during the children's naps in the afternoon. We do it on the sunny third-floor deck, which is not overlooked by any neighbour.

Christmas Day: Tonight, as always, we enjoyed a family meal with the McIntoshes. Ruth and Peter are growing into beguiling children. They are both so bright, energetic and curious that they capture everyone’s heart, and I can scarcely believe I fathered them.

My proposal that the union initiate a “new era” of co-operation with Hydro management resulted in a major brief.


January 1. My religious convictions are really muddled. I've become involved in the United Church, even accepting election as an elder. But I also attend Quaker Meeting from time to time. I teach Sunday School – and I taught Bible Study at work camp last summer – but I'm not really "Christian." I doubt the historical truth of the Resurrection.

April 22. Easter long weekend: I attended the national CCND board meeting in Ottawa. We met several key members of Parliament. Our president, and leader of our delegation, is Justice Thorson of the Federal Court of Canada. He's an old fuddy-duddy but he helps make our anti-nuclear campaign "respectable." I’ve persuaded Jean that we should donate $500 to the CCND. It’s a large percentage of our annual income, but urgently needed to keep the Toronto office open.

May 2. It's time to sell Langley House rather than invest in major repairs. The house needs structural bracing, a new furnace, and a new roof – just for starters. We’ve already bought out the Lockwoods.

June 1. We’ve found a new place to live – a rental house in a suburban "maisonette" that reminds me of an Iroquois longhouse. After our foster son Robert (Chapter 12) left, we acquired another from the church Boys’ Home, but he will not move with us. He’s old enough to start life on his own.

Being editor of the union newspaper and organizer of union education allowed me to toot my own horn occasionally.



I rented this painting in 1963 “because I liked the colours.” It marked the last stage of repression before becoming gay.

July 8. This week the OHEU is lending me out to teach at a study institute run by the Canadian Labour Congress (for workers of many occupations). I'll lecture on automation, office workers, women workers, and labour legislation in Ontario.

July 16. Jean and I are trying to adapt to life without other adults in the same house. It's a big change for me, after years in Howland, work camps, and a three-family co-op. I've been having trouble sleeping; I asked Jean if we could switch from our double bed to new twin beds. She reluctantly agreed. It's quite different, not just rolling over to touch her.

July 25. We cleared $2000 after all the expenses of selling and moving. Jean's father will supplement this, to finance a trip by Jean to see Europe, and attend a women's peace conference in Moscow. Her mother will babysit the children. Then I'll spend my vacation with them.

Since we have lots of wall space to hang paintings, and no money to buy them, I've started renting from the Duncan art agency. Today I brought home a gouache of five male figures in bathing suits. Jean asked why I chose this painting. I like the colours but she thinks it's not a good choice.

[ Forty years later, I still have a photo of this painting, and it's clear: the imagery is homoerotic. Renting this painting was the first visual signal that I was about to make a dramatic change. Previously, I had strong emotional bonds with males – as Jean sometimes noted – but I was absolutely unaware of sexual interest in the male body. All my sexual fantasies pictured women, and I occasionally bought Playboy for the pinups. I was not aware that there were male sexual images for sale. In terms of “sexual deviance” I led a very sheltered life].

July 31. I’m climbing a steep mountain. The name of my mountain is ANGER but I'm not sure what I'm angry about. I've channelled my childhood rage into activism in social causes – in the CCF, SCM, CCND, unionism – but I still feel angry. Jean says I behave as if "the whole world revolves" around me. She intends this as an accusation. I take it as an accurate statement of my subjective reality. Jean sometimes reads my journal – which I leave out in the open – to try to understand what's bothering me. She says she is not happy, despite our comfortable life and wonderful children.

[After-thought, 2003: One incident of my anger still brings a blush of shame. In the summer of 1963, our family was at the beach. Baby Peter soiled his diaper. Jean had neglected to bring extras, so she scooped a hole in the sand and buried Peter’s poo. I was scandalised: “How can you do this, where someone might sit, or even dig a sand castle?” Jean was unperturbed, so I went for a walk – leaving her to manage both children. What a prig I was; a year later I would be willing to get shit on my cock while fucking a guy’s ass!]

August 1. Jean has gone to Europe and Moscow for five weeks. I must use this time to sort myself out.

August 24. ON BECOMING THIRTY. I have a deep intuition that this birthday will be a great watershed in my life.

August 30. Home from a long vacation with the children, camping on the shores of Lake Superior. While they slept I’ve worked on a poem:

If I have wandered vaguely through the shadowed wood,
Directionless but always on the move; if years
Of life's experience have failed to leave their mark
On judgment’s sure facility, then should
I cease to search?

                            If hopes had died, and fears
Of Death's approaching step welled in me chill and dark,
Then would I halt pursuit, encamp where I am now,
Surround myself with wife and children dear,
Secure my post, defend possessions gained
In busy wandering.

                             But hope burns bright to plow
In virgin soil still unexplored, in lands not cleared
Of trees and undergrowth, and yet unstained
By human sweat.

                            For thirty tours of earth
About the sun, I've reckless plunged ahead and back
In search of self; enquired of travellers I met,
In sharp debate engaged, and weighed the worth
Of man's philosophies.

                                    No beaten track
Attracted me for long, ere I began to fret
To chart untested truth. But recent days have found
A new awareness casting light on routes
Now distant cold horizons long forgot,
Shaping their winding patterns cross the broken ground
Into a map!

September 2. Today while the kids napped I completed my poem:

                   A wondrous wholeness doth transmute
The separate strands I solitary wrought
To one design, a tapestry of QUEST
To measure life. I see that I've so lived that when
The sickly hand of Death should beckon me
Surrender life's brief lease to breathless dust, and rest,
With smiling gratitude for all I've met til then
I can agree.

September 10. Jean is back, and I had the melancholy realization as I picked her up at the airport that I felt lackadaisical about her return. I did not feel her absence. I kept busy with work, vacation, the children, and my own self-analysis. I did not miss sex with her. For the first time, I'm hiding my journal and not allowing her to read it.

October 1. Jean comments that I’m not touching her much. I tried to explain: “ My mind is confused. Can we wait, and not have sex, until I work out whatever is troubling me?"

October 24. We're still not having sex. I've been masturbating, using Playboy pinups to jerk off with. When I was buying a new issue at the local mall today, I noticed a small magazine, Tomorrow's Man, with male models in posing straps. Curiosity led me to buy it. I slipped it partway under Playboy so that only the clerk could see it at the counter. I haven't let Jean see it. I find these photos of posing men strangely exciting.

October 25. This evening while Jean was out, I tried masturbating, first with the pinup girls, then with the posing men. I found it quite arousing to look at the male pictures, and actually reached orgasm that way.

Peter and Ruth getting ready for Hallowe’en.



I often combined religion and politics in bible study.

October 31. Hallowe'en – a joyous evening of trick-or-treating with Peter and Ruth. Ruth dressed as a mouse, and Peter as a white rabbit, in costumes Jean created.

December 2. Today I lunched with Rev. Roy Demarsh, national director of the SCM. He invited me to direct a work camp next summer.

Christmas Day. Jean gave me a beautiful plaster maquette of a statue by a Toronto artist. There are three figures – a man and a woman, seated, linked by the baby they are sharing in their laps. I gave Jean a kit to make a mosaic picture out of tiles. [Jean later observed that these were subtly didactic gifts. Hers was a message about the importance of family. I gave her a craft to keep her busy all by herself!]


January 12. My first thirty years were lived in a chrysalis from which I now struggle to emerge. But what shape will I take – gorgeous butterfly or ugly moth? Have I been alive in the past, or merely acting? My journal for years-gone-by reads like the record of someone else's life.

February 17. Jean and I subscribe to Maclean's Magazine. This month's issue contains an article by renowned Canadian journalist, Sidney Katz. The Homosexual Next Door is promoted as the first positive article to be published about homosexuals.

Katz's portrait of the "quiet and neighbourly unmarried man living alone next door" makes me wonder: is it possible for decent, functioning, even religious people to be homosexual? Could I be homosexual? I know only one “obvious queer,” who is employed by Bob Miller at the SCM bookroom. I’m certainly not like him!

February 18. DAY OF DECISION. All morning in my office, I debated whether to contact Sidney Katz. Finally, I went to the pay phone at the streetcorner, put a handkerchief over the mouthpiece to disguise my voice, and called: "I want to find out if I'm a homosexual. Can you give me the address of the secret club you describe in your article?”

February 24. Last Friday, I crossed into another country, yet this too must belong to God. I told Jean at Friday dinner that I was going to a CCND executive meeting. Instead, I went to the address Katz gave me. An unmarked door led to a second-floor "club." Petrified of what might lay inside, I parked my car in the side street opposite, and for an hour watched who entered. Some glanced up and down the street before ducking in, but none was notably distinguishable from other pedestrians.

Finally I mounted the long staircase, and faced a stern woman: "Your membership card?” she asked. I explained that Katz gave me the address because I was curious to know more about homosexual life. "What bars do you drink at?"

"I don't drink in bars; I'm a married man." She gave a hoarse laugh: "Oh well, as long as you behave yourself you can go in.” This private club is called The Music Room. It’s a space several times the size of an ordinary living-room, decorated with flock wallpaper and furnished with comfortable couches around the edges of a dance floor. The music is quiet enough to encourage conversation. Both homosexuals and lesbians are welcome, and the atmosphere reassures: “You are in a safe place.”

February 26. On Sunday during Quaker meeting, I was filled with remorse about lying to Jean. I’ve never done that before. Now I’ve told her where I was on Friday. She thinks my sexual apathy over the past few months is due to some unexpressed adolescent stage. [On reading this manuscript in 2001, Jean remarked: "This was the most intimate moment in our marriage. You brushed my hair while you told me."]

"You can't be homosexual" she assured me. "We used to have very good sex." Perhaps the fact that I was a shy teenager who never engaged in any "fooling around" with other boys has finally come back to haunt me. We've decided to tackle the problem together. Jean will come with me to The Music Room next Saturday.

March 1. Jean and I visited The Music Room . We met an old chum of Jean's from university, an artist named Paul Bennett. On Sunday Jean and I dined out with the kids, in a Chinese restaurant. My fortune cookie astonished me: "You will soon have to make up your mind."

March 30. Jean and I decided to try one of these new-fangled “open marriages.” where each of us would be free occasionally, by pre-arrangement, to sleep outside our marriage – in both our cases, with men! She has always had an attraction to Gerry (not his real name), a United Church minister I worked with at Woodgreen Centre (see April 17, 1958). We agreed she could sleep with him while his wife’s away. Jean has beaten me to bed with another person! Is she trying to make me jealous?

Easter Sunday. Jean agreed that I could stay out overnight if I met anyone at The Music Room last night. I danced with "Burch," age 19, and went back to his room – right opposite the sociology building! Burch is a lean and whippy young man though his face is plain. Knowing nothing about making love to a man, I let him take the lead. After much kissing and caressing, I figured out his signals, and fucked his ass. It was sensational.

Early this morning, I returned home in time to clean up and go to Quaker Meeting with Jean.

April 13. I had lunch with Gerry today. We talked about his work, his marriage (not going well), the peace movement, Jean’s night with him, and my recent discovery of homosexuality. There's nothing like candour.

April 16. Jean has been so understanding! Today we had an encouraging talk with Bob Miller. A couple he knows have lived for years in an arrangement where the husband has freedom to be bisexual. 

The Toronto Telegram has published an article aimed at counteracting the Macleans article. Their reporter describes his journey into the “sick underworld of the homosexual.”

April 17. While at a union meeting in London, I posted a letter to the editor of the Toronto Telegram, signing myself as "London sociologist." I condemned the Telegram article. They have published the letter.

April 24. Lunch with Roy DeMarsh, General Secretary of the SCM, about the details of directing a work camp this summer. He knows nothing about what's going on with my marriage.

April 30. Jean has decided on a trial separation. I’m horrified. I thought we were going to try Bob's idea. Our children are our only achievement, but a great one. Ruth! Peter! How can I live without you in my life? Instead of joining me at the SCM camp in Toronto, Jean will co-direct a CCND "peace camp" near the nuclear base in North Bay. We will visit each other, and her plan is to get back together in the fall.

My article comparing a covert gay disco, The Music Room, with the Upper Room of Christian tradition, appeared in Canada’s first gay magazine.

May 10. Rick, owner of The Music Room, publishes a magazine called Two. (The magazine of the homosexual Mattachine Society in the USA is called One ). I'm an associate editor, under the pen-name Peter Alann, concocted out of my son's name, my daughter's middle name (Ann) and my own middle name. I have two items in the current issue: an article and a poem. I’m already an activist in so many ways; it's hardly surprising that I’m quickly becoming militantly gay.

May 12. When I got home from work tonight, Jean was in the basement, packing to move to the peace camp in North Bay. As I gave her a domestic kiss on the cheek she stopped me, and held up a photograph. It was a head shot of Jean with short bobbed hair, taken while we were courting. She waited for my reaction. I mumbled: "All I can say is, my taste hasn't changed that much."

In the photograph, Jean has an uncanny resemblance to Burch, with whom I spent my first night out, on Easter Weekend. Jean met him on Saturday when she again joined me at The Music Room.

May 16. I have moved into a room in the basement of the Trinity Anglican Church manse – my home for the summer, at the SCM work camp I’m directing. The campers are arriving.

As a work camp director I provoked unorthodox religious discussion, resulting in the campers teasing me for “John Lee’s gospel.”

May 30. Camp life is going very well. Our study programs are quite lively. Like the other campers I'm out at my usual job during the day. The OHEU gives me a lot of freedom to be out of my office when I need to be at the camp.

As for gay life: fortunately my basement room has access outdoors without passing through the house. After everyone has gone to bed, I slip out and walk up Yonge Street to the Music Room.

June 15. It had to happen! One of the campers, Tony, turns out to be gay. I ran into him cruising Yonge Street.

June 23. Tonight I came out to the camp as a homosexual. A perfect opportunity offered itself during a discussion of Christian sexuality.

June 25. News travels fast! Rev. Roy DeMarsh has called. He’s annoyed at me for not disclosing my sexuality to him earlier, and he’s also angry at Bob Miller, who shared my secret. However, he’s doing nothing about it. No one in camp has complained about my behaviour in any way. In fact, they seem quite satisfied with my leadership.

July 1. I’m back from a visit to Jean and the kids at the North Bay peace camp. There was an emotional scene when Jean and I went to worship at a local church. I still hope we can make our marriage work the way Bob Miller thinks it might.


The 1954 SCM work camp often met outdoors on study evenings.



When I left the OHEU the union hired its first woman staffer.

July 10. Camp Three Arrows: The whole SCM work camp is having a holiday weekend here, and Jean and the kids are here too. She's angry that I’ve come out to the camp as a homosexual.

July 24. Must everyone who becomes gay pass through an “outrageous” phase? Fortunately mine was brief. This week I bought a new dancing outfit: black shoes, white knee socks, red surfer shorts (very short indeed!) and a tight white T-shirt. I had the temerity to walk up Yonge Street last night from work camp to The Music Room. I’m lucky I wasn’t bashed, for my garb is screamingly gay. On the dance floor a conservatively dressed guy grimaced: "That's the kind of gear that gives us a bad name." I won’t wear it again, even though another dancer called me “drop-dead gorgeous.”

August 15. Grindstone Island. Jean and I are both here, on this Quaker-operated island, for training in civil disobedience. We arranged it long ago. Jean has made up her mind: she will not return to our marriage at summer's end. I'm shattered.

August 17. Roy DeMarsh visited the camp for dinner tonight, and complimented me on my successful leadership. Rev. Vince Goring (director of my 1956 work camp experience in Montreal) also seems pleased with life in our camp.

August 24 At dinner tonight the work campers presented me with a birthday cake and a rollicking version of Happy Birthday.

Labour Day. Summer’s over; the SCM camp is dissolving. We wound up with a great party at the house in Don Mills. Jean has apparently changed her mind and will be coming back to live with me.

September 8. I met Jean and the kids and drove us home to Don Mills, to begin family life again. As I was unloading Jean’s bags from the car, she went into the house with Ruth and Peter. A few moments later Jean rushed out and shouted “I want you to take us to my mother’s!”

“What on earth has changed your mind?”

“Go upstairs and look at the bedroom.”

My heart sank as I looked at the twin beds. They always stood about two feet apart, but a week before, I met a cute guy at the Music Room. Unable to take him back to the SCM work camp, I drove us to the Don Mills house for the night. I pushed the beds together to make a double. The next morning, I forgot to push them apart again. The symbolism was too much for Jean – distance between us, closeness with my boyfriends.

As she gathered things she needed from the house, the children stood utterly bewildered. Little Peter picked up a sharp stone and began scratching lines into the fender of my car – an image I'll never forget. I drove us in silence to the McIntosh home.

September 9. I’ve found a bachelor apartment on Balmoral Avenue, within walking distance of the union office. It’s a single room on the 11th floor, on the south side. The building is at the top of the Avenue Road hill. The hill plus eleven floors is the equivalent of thirty floors above Bloor Street. The view over the city is pluperfect. The rent is more than I can afford– $105 a month – because I’ve agreed to give Jean $200 a month in child support. Yet I’m so desolate at the prospect of living alone for the first time in my life that I must have an uplifting place to live.

September 15. John McIntosh, Jean’s father, had lunch with me today. He’s a school inspector, with a Ph.D. Yet he assured me he’d met only two homosexuals in his life. “One of them is in jail now, and the other is in a mental institution.”

I promised: "I have no intention of joining either one."

September 16. Surely God is still watching over me. Tonight I did a foolhardy thing. At The Music Room I met a vivacious and willowy young man. I couldn’t bring him here; I have no furniture yet. I drove to his house, but his parents were home. Across the street lay High Park, with its famous Lovers' Lane.

I pulled in, and was just about to go down on him as we sat in the front seat, when a blazing light shone into the car.

A hand tapped hard on the glass. I rolled the window down and a young cop looked in. “What are you two doing here at this time of night?”

“I was just on my way home from a party and we stopped to walk in the park for a few minutes.”

“Let me see your licence. Have you ever been arrested for Vagrancy E?” [ A criminal offence for sex outdoors].


He radioed to confirm my reply. Then he moved to the other side of the car to question my companion. Name? Address? Where did you meet your driver? To my utter relief, this youth kept his cool. Perhaps it was not his first brush with the law. He was suitably humble and respectful.

I was so scared I prayed silently for the first time in months.

The cop noticed a photo of Ruth and Peter in my wallet and asked if I was married. “Yes” I whispered, nearly mute with dread.

”You shouldn’t be here!” he rasped. “ Get back to your wife and kids.”

My rage at being selected, out of perhaps twenty parked cars of heterosexuals, for this cop’s interference, was cancelled out by relief that I would not be arrested. He started his motorcycle engine and roared away, further into the park.

A flood of thankfulness welled inside me, followed by sudden realization: I hadn't thanked the cop. How could I, without admitting some guilt? Yet I had to thank him. It might make the difference for some other hapless victim. Dazed, ambivalent, I followed the cycle's raucous clatter.

The cop noticed and stopped his machine for me to overtake. Now, would he think I was ignoring his warning, not leaving the park?

I was trembling as I leaned out the window: "Officer, I just wanted to say....thanks, for being so human. Thank you very much."

He blinked in surprise or disbelief, and silently nodded, the slightest trace of a smile on his lips. He throttled his bike and was gone.

September 23. My apartment seems large because the single room is twenty feet long, separated from the bathroom and closets by a walled corridor My bed must double as a couch. I have my table on the balcony, where I can look out at the city as I eat. Mornings show only a few church spires and tall trees through the autumn fog. It’s as if I’m overlooking distant villages. Utterly lovely!

Jean and I divided our household peaceably, with not a single quarrel. When I told her about my High Park scare she urged: "Oh please be more careful!" She also gave me a housewarming gift: a Fanny Farmer cookbook. [I still treasure it].

September 30. I’ve given the office my new address, with no explanation, and mercifully, none was asked. Jean kindly continues to accompany me to social functions at work. We’ve arranged that Ruth and Peter will spend every Saturday with me.

October 8. Tonight Jean wryly observed: "I understand why you have sex with many men, but must you fall in love with each in turn?"

She’s right. I do. Sex for its own sake seems empty; I feel the need to court each partner. Since Burch refused to move in, I’ve asked at least five sex partners, and slender, raffish Bruce has now moved his few belongings into my apartment.

October 19. Bruce didn’t last long! He was so nelly that I could hardly be seen in public with him. We were driving up Avenue Road and he was sitting close to me on the front seat, rather than over by the window. A carful of teens noticed and gave chase. The driver tried to force me into the sidewalk. I managed to make a U-turn, and rush back down the hill, where I pulled up in front of the police station. The teens passed and left me alone, but what a fright!

November 23. Paul Bennett has become a great friend and mentor. We do not have sex – fortunately neither is the other’s type – but we share convivial times. He works at home, across the street from the union office. I often spend lunch-hour with him.

I owe him vital lessons in surviving the corrosive social toxin that seems to pervade gay life. His gracious, courtly style contrasts with the bitter wit of some gay men (“bitchy queens”) and the barely repressed anger of others [ soon to be scientifically labelled internalized homophobia ].

Last week Paul taught me the importance of distinguishing between reliable friends and cute tricks. I was scheduled to have dinner with him on Sunday, but on Saturday night I brought home a gorgeous trick. He wanted to spend Sunday with me. Flattered, and romantically hopeful, I called Paul: " Would you mind postponing our dinner?"

"Don't do that” he advised. "You'll really need the few gay friends you make. In a month, this guy will be history, but you'll still want to see me." It took only a week, not a month, to prove him absolutely right.

December 18. A few days ago I bought a black wool sweater in Yorkville. It has a tight crew neck, and requires buttoning along one shoulder. While trying on the sweater, I joked with Billy, the clerk: "I'll need your help to get this on whenever I wear it." He gave me his phone number!

I plan to wear the sweater tonight, so I called Billy, and he came over after work to help me put it on. As I intended, we had delightful sex. [I repeated this manoeuvre several times, and still have the sweater].

Christmas Day. Jean has given me a book dedicated "with much love and little wisdom." I joined family dinner tonight at the McIntoshes as if nothing had changed. Perhaps they hope I will pass through this phase, and I did not disillusion them. They are kindhearted people, but I am actually enjoying gay life, though not my present state of living alone. I’ve composed a poem to celebrate my determination to continue:

Falcon's Flight
Falcon's sweep in soaring flight,
Devouring skybound air –
Could cage contain this noble kite,
Or tether bind to care?
Spirit winged undying youth
Uplift to heaven's dome,
Renewed in strength by loveborne truth
And life itself his home.
Never hope this bird to hold
Within your heart's confine.
Daring all, your wings unfold;
Pursue his steep incline.
Follow close his joyous cry
As long as life condone;
Comrade spirits of the sky,
Our lust for life is one.

December 30. I'm back home alone in my bachelor, and I've confessed my feelings in a poem called Loneliness, which I call "the yellow-toothed rat that gnaws man's troubled soul, keeps him from sleep.... Adam's black curse until Eden's repeal... Bottomless pit I vain strive to fill, meeting new people, exploring new thought, weary of solitude, longing for love, hoping to find but never be caught."

[Now we break the chronological flow of my journals to go back and examine a portentous experience in the lives of both Jean and myself: our decision to become foster parents].


The entire contents of this website Autobiography are Copywright by John Alan Lee.
Viewers may reproduce one hard copy without advance permission from the author,
for personal use, not for commercial purposes.