It’s at the end of the last, the third, night of the fighting, people are drifting away, some of them to go down to the piers for sex and some to the trucks, but our guys are still sitting on the high stoop next door to the Stonewall, watching and listening to things dying down. It’s the end of the novel, Adam in the Morning, and our guys—it’s all guys because Belle, who wants help from the guys to get pregnant left a few minutes ago, and Mitzi, a fifteen-year-old homeless girl who has been on the front lines of the fighting for three nights has gone back to her gang—turn their attention to final things.What now?
“Our guys” are Bo, a carpenter at the local repertory theatre, his lover Andrew who is a waiter and a writer who writes from a radical leftist perspective for counter-culteral rags and is strong, tough, brilliant, Joseph, an actor who has just come from the West Coast and has experience with the best Black Arts Theatre in America and wants to move in with Bo and Andrew and plays Caliban in a Village repertory theatre, Bo’s straight brother Billy up from Houston to help Bo in the fighting, and Gus, the youngest and prettiest of them, a fighter from the tough neighborhoods of Baltimore and also an actor, who plays Ariel. These men address the question, What do we need to put our energies into now?
“Besides, guys, we need to take time this summer to look at the question Andrew raised,” Joseph says.
“What’s that? I’ve forgotten.”
“The obvious one, the most basic one of all.”
“And what’s that?”
“Why this one. Andrew asked it this morning on the sidewalk, going to get Billy’s tickets.” Andrew is enjoying this. “What are we? What is a gay man? What is he for?”
“I’m serious, guys. That’s the most important question of all. And we don’t know the answer to it, either.” (a couple of pages before the end of Adam in the Morning)
It was something their gang had been talking off and on about since the beginning of the riots. What is a gay man? Someone who has sex with men. That’s for one thing. Everything seems to follow from that, but Bo has been invited to have sex with Belle and father her child. Is he still gay? How much sex with women can a gay man have before he stops being gay? And, of course, Republican lawmakers raise the question, How much sex with men can a Republican have before he stops being straight, or a Republican? Bo Ravich, the narrator of Adam in the Morning, doesn’t want to take that approach to the problem. “I can do what I want. I’m free.” It’s the Sixties in Adam in the Morning, and freedom is a powerful symbol. I want to be free.
The question of a gay man—what is he? is important right now in this week between June 21 and June 28, 2013, because a week from today, at the latest, the Supreme Court is going to deliver its judgments in the marriage cases, and it is unlikely that their decisions are going to even mention the science around the answer to the question, What is a gay man? The science around the question studies the behavior of a man like those in Bo’s group. The actual behavior of gay men on the street is not going to figure in the Supreme Court’s decision. It is also unlikely that the Justices are going to mention the politics around the question. The politics around that question divide humanity into two or more groups, name them, and then determine appropriate behavior for each. It is unlikely that the Supreme Court is going to recognize that there is a politics around this question. That means that, however the cases are decided this week, things are going to be more complicated afterward than they are now. This is always the way when great decisions are made while ignoring great bodies of knowledge.
The quoted passage is from the ebook Adam in the Morning, Adriana Books, 2010, which is available from Adriana Books (www.dwightcathcart.net)