August 20, 1969
I haven’t heard from you in a while, but I assume from your letter that you’re still in Portland. I’m tempted to come your way since I miss you and I’m freer than I have been in the past.
I’ve had to assume total responsibility for myself once again: Sarah has written and told me that she can no longer send me an allowance, but that was inevitable. I expected it; so be it, I don’t quite know why, but it’s okay. Without a patron, I no longer have the luxury of spending huge chunks of my time writing: yet write I must. I’ve had to spend most of my days down around Fisherman’s Wharf where I work the tourists by reciting my poetry for 50 cents or a dollar a poem. I mostly ask for a dollar because I’m now published. The tourists seem to enjoy it, while I make a fool of myself. But I’ll run out of steam soon because hustling doesn’t suit me, so it’s once again decision time.
I’ll soon have another book on the shelves, but that won’t bring in enough money to live on so I may have to get a real job. I’m certainly not afraid of getting my hands dirty, which I think I’ve proven in the past.
By the way, you should come to The Castro, or San Francisco, not just because I’m here, but because it’s a lively place. Man, I keep forgetting you’ve been here. Sport, I don’t suppose you would consider coming back because I’d love to see you. I love you. Now I’ve said it. And I’ll say it over and over again. Not that you’re the only one.
I suppose San is still in Thailand. I haven’t heard from him lately either. Now you see why I feel abandoned.
Will I ever make enough money from my writing to live on, I mean without having to hustle the way I do? O pooh!
In case you haven’t noticed, I don’t like having to support myself. I hate the stress and the strain; and having to worry about where my next meal is coming from. But I don’t think the world owes me anything. So you see how I could easily become someone’s housewife.
Now I must put on my costume and scoot. O the sacrifices I make for my art. But I should be happy because I’ve come up in the world, though I’m not where I want to be materially. I just have to keep my anxieties under control. But now I must go. Tom
August 20, 1969
It was good to hear from you. Only you and God know what I told you in my last letter.
I feel detached, a little more so than yesterday, so I try to get out of the house every evening. When I knew you at Baylor I had no idea that I was gay. I knew I was different, but there was no way that I would’ve admitted it. Sport I think you knew. Then I came to San Francisco and met my good friend Sam, and he was so self-assured and gay…the perfect gentleman and gay, while I hated myself. I hated then to face the obvious. God, I’m thankful, though he was gay he didn’t try to push me. He wouldn’t because he was the perfect gentleman and gay. At the time I was still suffering from guilt over the incident in Amarillo (it was, thank God, what kept me out of Vietnam) and scared me to death. Well, I don’t remember whether I told you about it or not. (I tried to keep it a secret from everyone, except I couldn’t keep it a secret from Uncle Sam. I have a record.) It was in a restroom and I got busted. At the same time I felt an attraction for the woman next door, and around then too I started to get intimate with a guy I met who drove a T-bird, so you see I was so confused that I had to move away from Amarillo. Then came an affair in New Mexico, which taught me that there wasn’t anything wrong with me. Yes, from the affair I discovered that I could perform as well…better than any or most males because the gal there told me that I was the best damn lover that she ever had. That was when Uncle Sam tried to get me. Then came a long, long winter in Wichita, which I’ve put out my mind because I thought I was in love with a woman there, and to my horror she was quite satisfied with me. Now that brings me to Maine and why I married Sarah. When a man who is gay marries a woman it is usually hopeless. I feel I have cheated Sarah, though I don’t think she felt cheated until she realized a few weeks ago that I wasn’t going back. And here you were waiting in the wings while I’ve gone through all this, and remarkably you still consider me a friend. The three men I live with now must know; in case I haven’t told you, they’re gay, but I don’t dared join their threesome. Instead I frequent the bars around here, not to drink but to socialize. Otherwise, I’d get really grouchy. You must’ve had similar experiences, so I feel quite comfortable writing to you about it.
I wish to thank you for remaining my friend. Where would I be without you?
Lord, let’s get together. I don’t think it’s good for us to be apart, and I certainly would like for you to meet Sam. I suppose he’s still in Thailand, and you have said you wanted to go to Vietnam to see and to report on the war. Though I have no interest in getting killed, Thailand is not far from Vietnam. O but to look back and remember all we’ve shared, all the times, when we would sit and talk for hours on the steps of Brooks Hall (Baylor University). You would encourage me, me a lonely lowly freshman, and you the editor of the Lariat (Baylor’s daily newspaper), and what did I get out of it? I’m still writing poetry…well, well, how about that. Last night in bed I dreamed of you and it felt so good. I hope you’re not turned off by any of this.