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


Chapter 17. Logan House, 1976


January 8. I've found a house I can afford. It's a "handyman special" – real estate lingo for "a wreck." I've made an offer.

January 16. I'm now the owner of 951 Logan, though I can't move in until April. It's a squalid, run-down, two-floor rooming house just north of Danforth. It comes with five fridges and stoves, drapes, carpet, and a lot of junk. The owner is stone broke – he has four mortgages on it! The price: $48,500. There's a tumble-down garage and a small garden.

January 20. Gavin writes: "I saw you at the Manatee. Do you feel like me, wanting to walk across and hold me? When I see all those people I've been to bed with, and feel no sense of companionship, it leaves me cold. I would give anything not to have walked out on you." Too bad, Gavin.

February 2. Ottawa. The Quebec rep of the CSAA (Danielle Lee, no relation) and I met with the Minister of Immigration today. He agreed to issue new regulations requiring preferential hiring of Canadians at universities. Hurray!

February 3. My son Peter won't let me sign his school report; he's afraid his classmates might discover that his father is "that gay man on TV." Quite understandable, like having a known Communist for a father. 

February 13. Tonight a trick tried to blackmail me, claiming to be under age, though we met at a gay disco. I solved the problem by driving him back on the excuse of wanting to "dance some more"  and soon lost him.

March 5 . Sunday I had dinner at Jean's, for Ruth's birthday. Ruth is, and will be, one of my best friends. A little to my surprise, Peter is becoming a friend too. Working with him on model trains has provided great companionship.

March 7. It's my turn by seniority to be Sociology chair but hateful Tarshis, to spite me, appointed Ralph Beals (an American!). Ralph started interviewing American candidates. I organized our Canadian grads into a protest; we made it impossible for the candidates to speak. I also used my media connections to arrange for reporters to descend on a shrill and apoplectic Tarshis.


A portion of the plans I prepared for Logan House. I actually completed both “year one” and “year two” in four months for frantic renovations.




I began tearing out walls of the former boarding house the day I took possession.

March 10.  Ruth joined me to take internal measurements of Logan in order that I can draw detailed plans of my renovations. She burst into tears when we got inside, as the house is a mess of tatty furniture. "Daddy, are you sure you're going to like it here?" She could not envisage what the house might become.  

March 31. Today I took possession of 951 Logan, my next major project.

April 3. My brother David and his wife Helen came over for dinner.  She had to help feed him. He has some kind of nervous disorder. 

April 28. Four weeks without an entry! Intensely busy – and bushed. The past month should have been pure joy because renovations are going perfectly, but I am utterly alone much of the time.  I'm working seven days a week, twelve hours a day. My education at Western Tech is now paying off big. Only my son is a regular helper, coming after school. 

May 1.  Victory for the Canadianization battle at the college! Tarshis actually phoned me to concede that he is hiring a Canadian. At Logan I’m making great progress. The first ad for an upstairs tenant appears Saturday.

My son has continued to be a wonderful helpmate. We had a crazy time carrying a fridge up the stairs, getting stuck on the midway level and fetching Eric, a neighbour, to rescue us. Later we tore down the old fireplace on the first floor. I've replaced it with a Franklin stove.

May 15. What good luck! Instead of a stranger as tenant,  Steve Murray and his lover Terry will move in. Steve is an American doctoral student at U of T who first met me at the formation of the GAU. 

June 3.   Ruth must have heard from Peter that I'm feeling abandoned; today she came over to help, and made a fine contribution. We wallpapered the dining room ceiling, a tough job for one person. 

June 24.   My first journal entry at Logan. Life is less lonely – Ruth has spent two days a week helping me, to earn payment of her special school fees. She's great as a "second pair of hands." 

July 16.  Last night was crazy!  I spent yesterday applying tiles to the wall of my new bathroom, using contact cement.  It was a hot day, and the temperature continued to rise into the night. About 4 AM, I heard loud noises below my bedloft. I rushed down to find the tiles sliding off the wall into the bathtub. Today I mounted them again, this time using tiny nails to keep them in place until the cement dries.

July 21.  Steve and Terry are excellent tenants. We have enjoyed several meals together, with lively and intelligent conversation.

August 24.  My forty-third birthday. To treat myself for a summer's achievement, I bought my own birthday present: a set of fancy copper cookware. Ruth called from Florida; she is well and cheerful. 

Looking back over my journal for the past year, I find very little about my academic writing. No comment about my publications: Bending the Rules;  Failsafe; Romantic Heresy,  and so on. Irving can't fault me now for not publishing refereed articles.

The garden at Logan House.

September 4.  I am helpless before the magic of beauty.   Last night I brought home a Swedish travelling salesman. He is drop-dead gorgeous: blond, slim, with a cheery smile, silk-smooth skin, firm pecs, cute ass, and he loved being fucked. I was so moved by his beauty I had trouble staying hard. I'll never see him again and in a few days I won't even be able to conjure up his face. Three lyrical hours!

Labour Day.  This day ends the summer. I'm sitting in warm sun in my garden, redolent with fragrance and a riot of colour: neon-red roses and chromium-yellow gladiolus. At the bar last night I wore a badge: TIRED OF TRICKS? I'M LOOKING FOR A LOVER. I've seen countless nude male bodies, fucked innumerable asses, and found only a little love. My heart has been badly mauled, and I'm ashamed that I have mauled others like Franz, who still loves me.

September 12. All week I've been wearing my "Tired of tricks" badge to the bars. It has helped in several ways, but last night I weakened, and brought home a tall slim stranger. We did the coffee/fireplace/bed routine and I realized that I'm losing the capacity to act as if  I feel romantic.

I’m not content with loveless sex; it is too destructive of genuine emotion. I weary of aping the emotions of gentle touch, eye exchange, cuddling, knowing that I will have nothing the next day. Love is a lottery in which I have bought many tickets, and won a few small prizes, just barely enough to cover my losses.

September 14. It's a lovely September day. Peter is here to build a newspaper cart for his morning paper-route. He is an ambitious, self-sustaining teenager. Ruth is coming for dinner.  Terry and Steve are playing my piano and a clarinet, in my living room. It’s so reassuring to have good company. 

September 25. Since the papers won't carry personal ads for gay men seeking same, I'm using a "shared accommodation" ad. It reads: "Young man, 25-35, wanted to share cozy house with same."  My ad has produced 55 replies. 

On the phone, all but 11 answered my first question, "Are you gay?" with a yes. Of these 44 gay callers, the majority thought my ad was for sex. They were not interested when I explained that I'm seeking a live-in partner.

However, 18 did discuss this option. Eight seemed interested enough to promise to call again. (I said I was not available now, a device to discourage those really wanting only sex). Only one guy actually called again, and came over, but he was not cute. Thus, 55 calls reduced to one encounter. A futile campaign.

October 2.  I was bored and about to leave The Quest tonight when a tall, slim, blond Scandinavian "dancer" type arrived. I instantly lit up, as he stood alone by the jukebox. He smiled, we talked, and we danced. 

I made it clear to Hans that I was not looking for a trick, and he seemed pleased. We had coffee at a restaurant. We finally agreed to come back here just to sleep, and that is exactly what we did. He has Wednesdays free, as do I,  so we spent today talking and cuddling.

Hans has lived in Toronto two years, and still has no gay friends here.  He has kept himself exhausted with work. A year ago he became depressed and slashed his wrists.  He's gone through five psychologists without finding self-esteem.

October 4. Hans was looking for a place to live when I met him, and has accepted my invitation to move in here. Once again I'm taking a major risk. Hans needs affection, cannot bear criticism, depends on sleeping pills, and is given to morose moods. 

October 16.  What an eventful week! The Toronto Star  published an inflammatory editorial about my Failsafe academic journal article, as a result of a lunch I arranged with Robert Nielsen, associate editor of the Star. The lunch was my attempt to invite Nielsen to speak at the GAU about the Star's  insidiously subtle homophobic news coverage. He was civil, even friendly, and after the gay topic we talked about university education.

He headlined my study on the editorial page: "Travesty of a college education."  Nielsen transformed the neutral academese of my article into a provocative critique. All hell broke loose at the college. Colleagues charged me with "disallegiance " and the student paper declaimed me in their shrillest language. However, they agreed to publish my reply.

October 18. Life with Hans continues well. Our sex life is dull but he shows a great earnestness to make our relationship work. He cooked a superb meal for the kids and us. Hans has adapted well to living in a house where– as yet– he has no real territory of his own. We must work on that. Tonight I'm taking him to a college party at Bob James' home. 

October 20.   Nielsen, the Star editor, gave a civil and intelligent talk to the GAU. He is not as homophobic as the chief editor, and was willing to respond to our criticisms.

November 1. It is impossible to keep any alcohol in the house, even sherry. I knew before Hans moved in that he drank a lot, but I had no idea how addicted he is. Like many drinkers he must also smoke; the house stinks of stale tobacco.

November 4. Disaster with Hans. He came home a drunken dervish, bearing a gift plant to placate me. We got into a fight, and I called Steve down to help fend off Hans. He will have to move out.

“Hans” wrote out this promise to move, then defaulted.




I was flattered by this article in the college bulletin. So-called “media terrorism” is a totally non-violent form of social action. I used my media connections to achieve goals for change in the university.
8a near start of 1977.

November 7. Hans has done almost no packing. After dinner he asked if I'd like a cup of tea. "No thanks, but a hot chocolate would be nice." 

The chocolate tasted bitter but I never dreamed what he might do. As I drank, he sniggered wickedly: "You're drinking 200 milligrammes of barbiturates." I tried not to show panic, but shut myself in the bathroom and forced myself to vomit.  

When I woke at 8 AM, I started to panic. I was unharmed – but what might he have done while I was so drowsy last night? Hans was sound asleep. I quietly packed his things, put them on the porch, then woke him: "You've got until noon to be out of the house."

Now he panicked. He ran around shrieking that he had nowhere to go. Finally he called the police. I met them calmly at the door after asking Steve to come down as a witness. Hans went overboard with the cops: "I've got nowhere to go, this is my home, I'm being forced out,” ad nauseum.  I offered a quieter story, and finally the cops negotiated that Hans would have 12 hours to move, and Steve would stay in my quarters while I was at lectures. 

"You can have the whole Foreign Legion here as witnesses if you want," Hans whimpered. When I returned, Steve reported that Hans spent the day in desultory packing, calling his mother and his lawyer, and taking lots of Valium and alcohol. 

"I'm staying the night" Hans told me.

"No, you are not. I'll call the cops this time." 

He spewed invective but I refused to budge. Finally he calmed down and promised to move the next day. I wrote his promise on paper and he signed, with Steve as a witness.

November 12. Hans moved, and invited me out to a fine dinner this evening. He was unctuously eager to be friends again. No way.

This week the Scarborough College Bulletin published an article by my American colleague Ralph Beals, branding me a media terrorist. He alleges (without actually naming me) that this type of terrorist uses his ability to get publicity “irresponsibly” to "drop media bombs.” I phoned and complimented him on a clever article. He's amazed that I'm not infuriated.

November 17. I was on Morton Shulman's famous TV talk show tonight, and gave a fine performance. I actually got him to admit on air  that he's had a homosexual experience. 

December 4.  Today at the CBC I taped a "debate" for ten minutes with President Evans of U of T.  What a superficial business TV is!   There was no serious attempt to get at the real issues in depth. Just a look at.  Evans is a slick performer. The crew had to do a few after-takes of Evans looking in the direction where I had been sitting, to edit into the tape, because all the time we were talking, he never looked at me.

December 13. My journal article, Going public,   is well under way, as is my next book,  Getting Sex.   Steve is editing the chapters as I go. I'm also busy as the new chair of the Sociology group at the college.

The children were over for the weekend. We shopped, played Monopoly, chatted by the fire, and they helped me prepare for the Sociology staff party. It's customary for the chair to give a Christmas party. 

Christmas Eve. Gavin and I had a drink today. It was difficult resisting his blandishments because I'm suffering terribly from Xmas syndrome. What effort, to maintain a precarious emotional balance when the world is all at a tilt. 

December 25. Another splendid Xmas dinner with the McIntoshes.

I also used my media connections for action outside the university, such as this condemnation of the Don Jail, after a fire in another prison. I knew the jail well, from many visits with the Quaker Prison Visiting Programme.




Nelson Carry, surely one of my most beautiful boyfriends, died of AIDS in 1989.


January 4.  Oceanic experience while walking into the college in the bright sun: MY LIFE NOW IS A BONUS. I have already lived longer than much of humanity. I have experienced more than many who lived decades longer– more in ideas, work, travel, music, books, sex, romance, other adventures. I can treat the rest of my life as a bonus.  I have already done it "my way."  I do not need to envy anyone. Nor do I need to look back with regret. Maturity is owning all your choices. 

January 20. Ad for the Body Politic  (gay newspaper): "Looking for a lover?  Likewise. I'm 35, 6', 160 lbs, handsome, smooth, cleanshaven, nonsmoker, even-tempered, well-educated, versatile, uninhibited; seeking similar 25-35, except you should like to follow; I prefer to lead." 

My age is a lie; I am 44 but can easily pass for 35. Dishonesty about calendar age started when I was 13, looking for work at Simpsons. This continues to be my only important falsehood. [At 70, I would be advertising myself as 62. All my life I felt this to be a harmless lie, and in the gay world an essential one for older men. My justification is this: once an ad respondent sees me, he can decide for himself whether I “look too old.”  Happily, even at 70, no one challenges my claimed “62”].

February 4.   Tonight Gavin called "just for sex" but when we got started he came on with a passion he promised to avoid. When I demurred, he broke into a frenzy. I'm still bruised on nose and forehead. He reduced my spare bedroom to a heap of rubble. 

February 6.  Gavin paid for the damage, came back for a pleasant night, and promised to do things my way. But this morning he flew off the handle again, over the issue of house keys (I refused to give him mine). 

February 9. Last night I chaired a GAU presentation of Christopher Isherwood to a crowd of 300 on campus.  He is a revelation – a twinkling man, gentle, soft spoken. He uses the advantage of age to admit an outrageous past without shocking his audience. How I hope to mellow like this!

In private, over dinner, he showed great reluctance to describe his lovelife from 32 to 50, when he was "searching for love" and apparently quite promiscuous. But he did say it is necessary “while searching and yearning” to "stay alive" and "let the unusual happen." Which it did, when he met Don Bachardy, 30 years his junior, and his partner ever since. 

Isherwood emphasized the importance of a journal: "It will help you savour life, and there is no pressure, as the work is never finished."

February 16. Nelson Carry.  I first met this captivating young man weeks ago at the Quest, where he bartends. I boldly asked him for a date but he was too busy with school, and working to survive. I kept chatting him up,  and finally he agreed. When I picked him up tonight I was so nervous I could hardly talk intelligently. He is so beautiful!

I took him out for dinner and the Jacques Brel  musical. There my courage returned and I took his hand during the song "If we only had love." 

February 17. Nelson is experienced as a gay person– even having a New York City affair– but is wary of early sex in a relationship. He worries about being approached only for his looks and wants to be friends. That's terrific as long as he is attracted to me and will eventually go to bed.

February 19. Nelson says he likes me and wants to go on seeing me, but is afraid of hurting me. He has a history of “being catered to” by his lovers (small wonder, with his beauty!).

February 20.  Today I spent a grand time with my son Peter and his model trains. He is so kind and honest and bright. I like the way he speaks frankly and deals with me as a friend. In the evening I took Ruth to a ballet.

February 21. Last night I went to The Quest early, to talk with Nelson at the bar. Dennis M was there, and revealed that Nelson went home the night before with a mutual acquaintance. A shudder of deep pain racked me. I'm trying to get a rational grip on my feelings for Nelson.  He is only 25, not settled into a vocation, working in a bar. Worst, he is egocentric – intensely aware of his comeliness.

February 24. Dinner with Nelson: after dessert and drinks he grew mellow, and coyly asked: “Is there anything you really want?”  I replied instantly: to take you back to my place.   He accepted. In bed I was overcome by his sleek beauty and could hardly function, so I invited him to fuck me.

February 26.  Even if it doesn't work with Nelson, I know that what I seek exists.  Also that a beautiful body must be matched with gentleness, energy, affection, intelligence. His looks caught my eye but his sweetness won my heart. Keep hold of that insight in the years ahead.

February 28.  Just home from dropping Nelson at Ryerson College. We spent yesterday at his studio preparing his portfolio, then had a quiet dinner during which we discussed us.  He has several worries: is he ready to settle down, and am I too serious for him? Very honest points, but he does like me and my body.  He invited me to spend the night when I was expecting to leave, and he even gave me breakfast.

March 5. Yesterday I visited Joe D at the Don Jail. Joe is a bar acquaintance who appears to have no close friends. Last week he took a trick home. He claims the trick grabbed a kitchen knife and tried to rob him, but Joe struggled for the knife, and ended up killing the trick. In a panic, Joe cut up the body (without special tools!) and disposed of the pieces at various garbage dumps. When parts of the body were reported in the papers, Joe contacted a lawyer, who advised and arranged for his surrender. 

Later: Ruth brought the schoolmaster of the independent school where she studies, to my Soc of Education class. I felt so proud! And tonight my son Peter came over to meet Nelson, who is drawing Logan House to illustrate the invitation to "our" party. This doesn't mean Nelson is ready to move in, but at least he will meet my friends.

March 9.   Nelson came over here on his own, and knocked on the back door to surprise me. He is romantic after all!

March 9.  A letter from Joe D, thanking me for visits. He is especially moved because we were never more than casual friends. I feel lucky something like this has not happened to me.

March 12.   Great gods, I've done it again, falling in love with a guy who is already involved with someone else.  Nelson admits that he has been seeing another guy for months. I wept: “You must choose. I will not continue, if you are not a free agent. I refuse to condemn myself to the hell of unrequited love.” 

March 20.   I spent the afternoon with Nelson, who feels so guilty about cheating that he is totally reluctant to touch or hold.

March 21. Retreating to Gavin again, I’m ashamed that I didn’t admit why I called him (my hurt over Nelson). We spent a fine Sunday at the GAU meeting, then dinner, good sex, and The Wizard of Oz  on TV. 

Nelson drew Logan House for my invitation to a cocktail party.

March 23.  Nelson is “trying to do the decent thing” by going ahead with my announced Open House party.  Today we took the art off my walls and he hung his photographic prints.

March 31. Open House:  one year since taking possession of Logan. The guests included ex-lovers and many old friends: Paul Bennett, El Cox, Bob Miller, Ron and Roland, Eric and Virginia (neighbours), Chris Nagel, Jackie Robinson (my TA), lawyer Harry Kopyto, Jim Quixley, Bob Wallace, Gavin, Gary, Doug Chambers, Clarence Barnes, Ab Currie (my TA), Bob Grimson,  George Hislop, Barb and Bonny, Ian Young, Bob and Lois James, Jerry Moldenhauer and John Scythes, Dennis Magill, Gordon Macnamara, Larry and Ron, Arthur and David, Scott R (my doctor), David Ross (my lawyer),  Bob Van Alstyne, Nelson and several of his friends, and of course Steve Murray and Terry from upstairs.

I originally dreamed that Nelson would co-host, but he faded into the crowd until it came time to take down his prints and go.

Gavin invited himself to stay the night by installing himself in my bedloft. He exclaimed "I’m crazy about you" as I climbed in beside him, but when he realized my beaming exhilaration was about the success of the party, not his presence, his fists flew. 

I called Steve and Terry for help. Before the three of us got him under control he had broken a mirror, torn out the phone, and pushed over a dresser. We forcibly dressed him as he continued his verbal assault: "I hate you. You'll never come closer to a lover than me. Now I want to kill you."

Steve and Terry led him to the front door, where he shattered the century-old etched glass. On the verandah he kicked at my bike (chained to the railing) until it was mangled.  Thank the gods Steve and Terry were here to help! 

April 19. This evening at The Quest I met Michael, a cute Dutch guy, who rejected my first approach, but later came and propositioned me. This morning as he left, he declined a second assignation: “I only sleep once with anyone!"

April 22.  The final marks are in, and another academic year complete.  My four-month summer begins. What will it bring?

April 26.  I never realized just how serious Ruth is about life. Tonight at dinner she revealed “I'm so depressed at times about the world that I’ve thought about suicide.” I can scarcely believe this; she usually seems happy. Apparently she considers the world a hopeless place. 

May 15. A unexampled evening with Jean and the kids, to celebrate Mother's Day. There was laughter, caring, and poignant reminiscence. We are an unusual family.

May 24. Ruth and Peter have been dropping over frequently just to help out – perhaps sensing my intense loneliness.

June 4.  After long talks with Gavin on Monday and Tuesday, we had crazy sex on Wednesday, and agreed to go camping at Elora.

June 7.  Elora:  everything was fine until after dinner, when we played Canasta. I began to win, and he became annoyed and intensely competitive. We stopped when he claimed I was cheating. 

June 8. Over breakfast Gavin revived the Canasta quarrel.  When I packed up the camping gear, I took care to hide the bread knife in case he got angry and decided to shred my tent.

I drove us home with the radio on; thank heavens for CBC's Quirks and Quarks  to keep the air busy. After dropping Gavin off, I returned to the safety of Logan and sighed with immense relief. On hearing my account, Steve and Terry persuaded me that I‘m in serious danger:

"You're like a guy who can't stop using his credit cards. Why not give them to me?" Steve urged.

"What do you mean?" I groaned. 

"Just promise me that before you talk to Gavin or see him again, you'll come and talk to me first."

"OK, that sounds like a reasonable idea. I promise."

And so it was that I did not see Gavin again for many years.


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