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  • When I was a sophomore in high school, one day in the hallway, I overheard a classmate, saying in a loud voice "Christopher Street, that's where all the faggots hang out."

    My ears perked up, and the very next day, I took the subway down to Greenwich Village, and at the Sheridan Square station, I wandered about, not sure what I was looking for except that I knew that this was the place that I belonged. Here.

    The neighborhood was quiet, on a weekday afternoon, the bars (those that were open) were mostly desolate, a few old men, sitting in dimly lit rooms, in sepulchral gloom, from a jukebox, I heard Tina Turner singing, sobbing about some love that had vanished.

    It was autumn, early October, and the air had that crispy crunch, that hint of chill, the London plane trees were becoming denuded of their leaves. their scraggly shadows, dark, against the cement, in that gold light, everything was quite marvelous, the redbrick building and the green park benches, the man with the Boston terrier, walking with his lover, holding hands, it made my head turn, it was like seeing a premonition of your future, the feeling was a mixture of dread and desire.

    Even now, I am not sure what I was hoping. A banner with a "Welcome Peter" sign in purple. A greeting committee.

    But that day, I came away disappointed, on the subway ride back, I felt even lonelier. Isolated.


    Many years later, at the Gay Pride parade, on the corner of 5th Avenue and 34th Street, near the Empire State Building, I would see a contingent of marchers, and in that procession, waving a little rainbow flag, I saw him. A former friend from high school.

    I then remembered that day, in the hallway, among that crowd of boys, when the word faggot was uttered with such scorn, my friend, how he was standing there. Laughing.
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