I am a 68-year-old dyke, a UC Berkeley staff retiree. I came out in New York City in 1971.
I could tell you:
- About police raiding bars — beating, terrorizing and arresting queers, for fun.
- About being so afraid of being recognized by a spectator that I wouldn’t attend the Pride March in New York City in 1972.
- About my best friend, a 19-year-old boy, who was institutionalized and given shock treatments.
- What my mother said when I told her I am a lesbian.
- About my partner being disinvited to my brother’s wedding.
- About doing too many drugs and drinking too much alcohol in an attempt to medicate myself against self-hatred.
But I’d rather tell you how I survived all those negatives. In 1976, I moved to San Francisco with my first love. S.F. gay life was far beyond its infancy.
- I worked in the Castro at a wildly gay gift shop/art gallery/hair salon called Hot Flash of America.
- We protested against Anita Bryant’s anti-gay campaign.
- Women went to music festivals, and men went to Fire Island.
- I worked in 2 collectives: the Old Wives’ Tales bookstore in San Francisco (“by, for and about women”) and an organic produce distribution company.
- I married a woman, and we had a child in 1990. The marriage ended in true lesbian fashion (drama), but a child is forever, and mine is the best.
- AIDS changed our queer world forever. It wiped out a generation of fabulous men — but it also brought gay men and lesbians together through joint efforts to fight for recognition and to help those afflicted.
- We marched against violence against women.
- We opened gay- and women-owned bookstores.
- We created gay olympics.
- We fell in love more openly.
TODAY OUR QUEER WORLD IS BIGGER THAN EVER and I HELPED
Sim Kallan is a Berkeley community member and involved with the Pacific Center.