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


Chapter 26. Finally hearing my inner voice


March 2. I’m doing as Alex urged, trying to let the “little Johnny” inside me speak. So far it says: “I am tired – weary of yearning for what I always wanted and never found.”

March 3. I’ve got it! Johnny is an eight-year-old at a birthday party. He gets many presents, but not the one he wants most. What I want most is a lover who is beautiful, (“flower face,” slim, smooth body), bright, compassionate, loving, and totally reliable. None of my partners has been the whole package. Is there even a remote possibility Janus could be the partner I’ve sought so long?

March 11. Today I drafted my very last set of final exams, skied with the dogs in strong March sun, and dined in my sunroom, a still and serene place.

My final act of college boat-rocking

March 30. At the very last minute, the college Principal decided to submit an article for my final Gadfly. I added it to the already-printed sheets. He admits that when I began years ago, he considered “suppressing” the broadsheet. I wish he’d tried!

The headline of my last salvo offers Notes for the college’s next Scheissstorenfried. That’s German for “shit-disturber.” I repeat advice the great radical organizer, Saul Alinsky, once gave me at a seminar: 1. never act alone; before you stick your neck out, make sure you have allies. Don’t let the bastards isolate you. 2. have no secrets. Lead a transparent life so no one can “get something” on you. 3. be a noisy victim, go to the media. And so forth. I wonder if the college will ever have another gadfly? [As of 2004, no].

April 8. My very last lecture. Stuart made a surprise appearance to present me with a canoe paddle!

April 30. Janus has managed to rent his flat, and began moving his furniture here this morning. When he arrived with the truck, I took one of the first boxes and carried it to the porch, where I braced back the screen door. “Don't block the way” he ordered.

“It’s not blocking your way; it’s holding the door back.”

“Go away – I’ll do it all” he bellowed. The problem was obvious: he was completely in control at his place, and now he wanted to take control of Kairos .

Eventually he repented, moved his furniture in calmly, stayed in a good mood for the evening, and actually suggested going to the bar wearing a slave collar. He also dressed the part, in body-tight leather.

Retirement party: I was thrilled to be presented with a collage of evidence of my activism over 30 years.

May 6. Today the college held my retirement party. Johanna and Janus attended. Bob James gave an admiring speech about my role as a maverick: “A fine college citizen, not just an academic.” Chairman Ted presented a unique gift: a framed montage of newspaper clippings about my gadfly role over three decades. I couldn’t have asked for better recognition of the person I tried to be. Janus sealed the ceremony with a very public kiss. My teaching assistants took me to dinner, and presented me with a handsome carpet. I’m in rapture.

May 12. I saw Quentin Crisp perform tonight. He’s still energetic and charming, and his cynicism about love is unchanged: “A romantic partner is the person who makes the most trouble in your life.”

July 26. Home from canoeing with Allan on the French River. Great campsites, few people, clement weather, intimate talks.

August 13. Woolpit, England, at the country home of the parents of Lucy, my son’s wife-to-be. Today, a wedding rehearsal, followed by dinner with Peter, Jean, Lucy and her parents. Peter is toughing-out a bad lung infection yet remains energetic and organized. Jean and I are behaving as if we were still his married parents.


Lucy and Peter married

August 15. The wedding was grand opera. Peter rented formal dress: morning coat, vest, gold tie. The ceremony unfolded in an old stone church where even the bouquets were larger than life, six feet tall. Jean and I sat in the front row while Peter took his vows as if he were a believer. An open coach bore the newly-wedded couple to a reception under a grand marquee, with a live band. Even the washrooms were spectacular.

A flash downpour added drama, driving two hundred guests into the huge tent. Throughout the evening Peter was radiantly joyous but always sober and efficient. My only words at the dinner: “I’m glad Peter has inherited my good looks and my brains, but I’m especially glad he has inherited my luck.”

August 16. Berlin. I’m here for the first time. It’s a more appealing city than Paris. I’ve spent many hours walking both East and West. A folk festival in progress fills the streets with crowds in jovial mood. Janus phoned, and claims he’s missing me.

August 17. The Pergammon Museum is all I hoped for. I left satiated with beauty and history. Today I visited the Schwule (gay) museum, a fine collection. Tonight I talked with Janus, who assured me of his love.

August 23. Safely home, and full of gratitude. Janus was warm in his welcome, and the dogs riotous.

August 24. Happy 66th birthday. I’m in a great mood. Janus is tenderly affectionate. We enjoyed a dinner of filet mignon and cheesecake, followed by a vigourous scenario. Peter called from Peru. How kind, to think of me while on his honeymoon.

September 1. We’re packing for a six-day Temagami trip. It will be my longest trip in a decade. Janus went out last night for sex with some guy because I’m not horny. He no longer demands sex from me as his right.

Labour Day. Home from Temagami three days early. My whitewater exploits are over. Long portages, six-hour days of paddling, and the quick skills of running rapids, are now history. We dumped on our first rapids, at the top of the Temagami River. It was my fault. We hit hard, smashing a hole in the bow. At least Hermes gave us sun to dry out. We had to turn back, relying on ever-helpful duct tape to keep us afloat.

September 7. Janus sat on the front porch for two hours, deep in thought. “What do you plan to do with your remaining days of vacation?” I asked.

“I’m too angry to talk. I’m reconsidering whether I want to live here. We just don’t mix. For now, I’m going out to a movie.”

September 8. Janus did not return until noon today, and his first words were as icy as his face: “I’ve decided to break off.”

We talked for 90 minutes, with many tears. He admitted he’s had me “on probation” ever since we met. His grievances tumbled out again: He doesn’t like Kairos. He’s envious that I’m smarter than him, smarter than his past lovers, and better able to control things: “They let me have control.”

And finally, without thinking, he whined: “There’s no future staying with you. You’re leaving your house to Peter.”

I began to assure him that he’s included in my will for a generous amount, but suddenly the truth dawned: His ultimate goal is to have my house.

September 9. Janus felt so ashamed after revealing his hope to inherit, that he wrote a cheque for $1000, to top up the rent he’s paid since May. I’ll cash the cheque because it’s the only compensation I’ll get from a man who oozed assurances of love when I returned from Berlin, but went off for furtive sex with a new boyfriend the night before we left for Temagami. The new guy is older than me. Janus admits dating him repeatedly while I was away, even contracting an STD by fucking without a condom! I’ll have to get another HIV test.

September 20. A new Rule: Never again date a man who is not thrilled at the prospect of living in Kairos. This home is me as much as the shell is the turtle. Distaste for Kairos is dislike of me.

Janus wants to leave his stuff until Hallowe’en (a reprise of Dane!). I agreed, but it must all be gathered into one room. I want the rest of Kairos back.

September 23. Driving to a canoe trip with dear Fernando, my former TA, I saw a billboard advertising a cable company: Starting over sucks. What’s on TV?

September 28. To the Shaw Festival with Johanna: “You have great potential for happiness if only you can learn to live a single life. You still have the capacity to enjoy beauty.”

October 11. Thanksgiving Day. A sympathetic letter arrived from Steve Murray, but wisely observed: “I think you are a drama queen. You like them not only young but volatile. You don’t want a done deal, you want to play Pygmalion.” He’s absolutely right; I enjoy an intense life of challenges. The day ended happily, in the company of Nicola, Andrew, and Alex, all dear and loyal friends.


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