A 19-Year-Old’s Diary Entries From December, 1970
by Richard Grayson
Thursday, December 3, 1970
Another warm day: it almost seems as though winter has been cancelled.
Space Age, with a new rider, paid $64 last night at Roosevelt Raceway. Mom went with Dad to Manhattan to pick out a mirror for the dining room, so I had the Pontiac for the day.
I spent the morning driving around and catching up on soap operas. Once on campus, I decided – after much deliberation – not to go to the initial meeting of the Gay People and instead sought out company in the Spigot office.
Bill and Jan were there, but the rest of the crowd were at Leon’s EXCO showing of Freaks, that horribly disgusting film. I sent out two copies of the Spigot to Simon & Schuster, the publishers of the book Hal reviewed.
Elspeth breezed in, announcing that the Government Operations Committee had picked the new Elections Commission: Elihu; Craig’s friend Sue, an ISS rep; and Hannah, the EXCO coordinator, to head it up. Petitioning begins next week, but I still don’t know if I’m running.
Emily, Rose and I sat on the grass, discussing the teacher evaluation booklet they’re putting together for spring registration.
In Art, Mr. Sawin showed us slides of Courbet paintings, and in Anthro, Mrs. Johnston talked about things she’d learned on her field trips.
At Barron’s, I bought Yukio Mishima’s first novel, Confessions of a Mask. It was a hypnotizing experience to read it; I’ve never read a book before that described what it’s like to be the kind of homosexual I am.
I know I would have loved Mishima – but I don’t think I will share his fate, though we shared fantasies (if not politics).
Dr. Wouk called, and I told him therapy was becoming a drag. He said although I’m feeling better, my problems are far from solved, and so I made an appointment for Wednesday.
Tonight, to relieve my depression, I had dinner at the Floridian and went to Kings Plaza. There I bought four shirts and a belt (for 50% off) at Sid’s and a pair of levis at Alexander’s.
Monday, December 7, 1970
Sometimes living in New York gets very frustrating. Several times during the day today, I felt like moving to Florida. The weather was exceptionally cold – in the 20°s.
We had snow flurries last night, and that’s just a preview of things to come. Oh, to be in Miami Beach. Maybe after I leave college, I can move to a warmer climate.
I spent the morning reading my Anthro book and other junk. After lunch, I went to the bus stop on Avenue N and waited . . . and waited . . . and waited. The longer you wait for a bus, the sooner you expect to see a green dot in the distance that will give you some warmth.
By 12:45 PM, with no bus in sight, I knew I couldn’t make it to class on time, so I walked home and called a private car service (the cabdrivers are on strike, remember).
I managed to get to Acting just in time to watch Gary and Eileen do a superb scene from Chekhov’s play The Bear. I also did my own acting exercise and Phil Becker asked me to work with him for the next scene.
In Soc, Katayama discussed Mishima’s suicide and the gap between liberal theory and liberal action. Cheryl, Ruth and I had a bite in SUBO and I put in an appearance at the Spigotfor copy day.
Lou gave us the story that Larry Sparks, a BLAC member, was arrested for the attempted murder of a detective. When I spoke with them, none of the BLAC members would give me anything more than the most basic details, but I’ll write the story as best I can.
Miriam came into the office, as she’s doing a story on a bulletin board proposed by Stella that would serve as a central campus-wide informationcenter. Others in the office were Allan, Maury, Juan and Suzin.
In Anthro, Mrs. Kardas went over kinship charts and witchcraft.
Tonight Alice drove over to tutor Marc. She’s finally had some kids to counsel at the Drop-In Center she’s founded under Peter Amato, the head of Volunteer Student Resources, who I interviewed a couple of months ago.
I did some writing on my new story tonight. My throat is sore and I’ve got a cough, probably from waiting an hour for the bus in the cold.
Wednesday, December 9, 1970
The weather turned milder today. I arrived on campus early and filled out the teacher evaluation questionnaire in Whitehead. Allan was manning the operation, and he said he’s also going to run with the Mugwumps in the election.
A week ago, Guy told Mark and me that he saw the darkroom chairlady of the Photo Society wearing the magnificent watch, a gift from his grandfather back in Haiti, that he’d lost while he was in the darkroom developing Spigot photos two months ago. Today, Guy got his watch back, but he and Mark refused to give me any details.
I hung around with Jerry, Stanley, Elayne and Jill, and we went to lunch at the College Deli. Jill’s having sinus trouble; mine’s clearing up now that I have a humidifier.
I watched some kids in Acting do their exercises, but I decided to skip Soc. Am I cutting too many classes?
Ray is apparently one of the four students to be brought up on disciplinary charges before a faculty-student committee for the American Express thing.
Mark and I said we’d both testify that Ray wasn’t part of the demonstration. The student committee members include Jerry and Greg, and the hearing is scheduled for next Thursday.
Bob came in, saying that President Kneller had rejected our proposal for student control of SUBO; maybe we can get some petitions supporting it or something.
When we walked to the bus, Elihu told me that a dozen seats are open in the lower constituency and many people want to run. I’m sure I’ll lose.
I drove downtown tonight to see Dr. Wouk, who shaved off his beard (“Too many nuts are walking around with beards these days,” he said.) We decided that since my adjustment has been good, we’d go into deeper stuff, like sex.
I’ve decided to turn to the homosexual life, but I don’t want to have an affair yet. There’s still a part of me that says no, maybe you can be straight – but I’ve made a decision.
Dr. Wouk says I’m too vibrant and sensuous to remain asexual. I’ve never thought of myself as sensuous. Or rather, I supposed that everyone thinks they’re a little sensuous when they’re really not.
As I drove back home from downtown, I passed by Dr. Lipton’s window and saw him involved with group therapy. I wanted to go in and say hi after it ended, but I was afraid.
The taxi strike continues.
Saturday, December 12, 1970
I didn’t fall asleep until very late, thinking about the state of my life circa December 1970. I thrive on all this activity, but then lingering doubts from years gone by remain.
Last night I sat by the window, like I used to do in my “recluse” days when I didn’t leave the house, watching the rain fall.
I’m going to continue the way I’ve been going, getting involved, but at the same time, trying to learn more about myself. Sometimes – rarely – I get a strange feeling. It can come in bed or on a bus. I wonder what I’m doing here, what I am, how do my thoughts work, and how does my body respond.
It’s miraculously absurd and lasts only a few seconds.
The weather today was miserable, as an icy rain fell all day. I woke up late with some sort of cold; maybe I caught it from Marc, who’s been sick all week. Mom wasn’t feeling well this morning, either; she’s having trouble with her period.
I trotted off to Georgetown and bought a book of art prints by Rousseau. I think I’m going to do my Art paper on his Sleeping Gypsy, but I’ll have to get moving.
Of course I say I’m going to dig in and do it today, but somehow I never get around to it.
After lunch, I went for a long drive on the Belt and through Brooklyn. The borough is all decked out for Christmas; all we need now is snow, and I think we’ll get a few inches before the holidays.
Back home again, I listened to the radio and exercised and watched Muhammad Ali win a fight over Oscar Bonavena. I watched too much TV tonight, though.
As Gary said yesterday, there are no programs worth watching regularly, but if you turn the set on, it’s almost like a tranquilizer and you can’t shut it off.
Tuesday, December 15, 1970
A cold, wintry day that saw the season’s first snow flurries. I spent the morning catching up on news. Mercury pollution is a terrible menace that has made me wary of eating tuna since they say one of five cans is contaminated.
At the Assembly meeting, I again took minutes. If I lose the election, I can always fall back on my job as recording secretary. At least today I didn’t have to do the Assembly story for the Spigot, as Hal’s doing it.
Speaking of Hal, we finally got around to his bill dealing with ecology. A three-man committee (Hal, Larry, Pam) was set up to see what the BC community can do.
Also, Timmy was defeated for Upper Court Judge.
Following Elihu’s recommendation, we agreed not to have a Christmas party, following last year’s disaster. Fred’s report to give additional funds toWomen’s Lib and other groups was accepted, and the Assembly passed a bill that would allow impeachment.
Greg also proposed that the Assembly congratulate Kieran and Sindy on their engagement; the resolution passed unanimously.
In Art, Mr. Sawin showed us more Manets; tonight I did my report on The Sleeping Gypsy, finally. In Anthro, Mrs. Johnston told us the Hindu myth of Ram, an incarnation of Vishnu. I realized that there are only fifteen days left in the term.
Elihu, Sue and Robert (who replaced Hannah) finished checking the petitions of the rep candidates, validating all. I put up some posters with Casey and Joel, and downstairs we had a strategy meeting with Allan.
Somebody stole a lot of our leaflets, and the evidence points to – guess who? – Bruce Weitz. I took some posters home so they won’t be ripped down overnight. Lou was on the Flatbush Avenue bus coming home (he says the stock market is “so-so”) and was a bit amused by the posters.
I visited Mom at Kings Plaza tonight. Dad’s upset that business at the store, like at all of the Pants Set, isn’t as good as it should be. He’s even started smoking a cigarette a day.
Thursday, December 17, 1970
I was the first person to vote in the election, but I did little campaigning, as I was so nervous about testifying. I met Ray this morning, and we had a confab in the faculty cafeteria with Father Reagan.
The disciplinary committee hearing began in a big lecture hall in Ingersoll at 12:30 PM. It seemed like a real trial. Ray’s ACLU attorney, Elton Greenberg, did show up, and the Board of Higher Ed had some old shyster.
Jerry chaired the committee, which included three professors, and Greg, Jon, and Avi, the head of the evening student government. The case was divided into two parts: Ray and the other three defendants from SDS.
Deans Breglio, MacGregor, Jones and West testified for the administration, but under Greenberg’s cross-examination, all of them admitted that Ray did not lock hands with the other students or use abusive language or block people’s way.
The case against Ray looked weak, and then Mark testified, saying Ray was only peripherally involved.
After a recess, I took the stand and corroborated Mark’s testimony, adding that Alice – who’d come in there just to look for a job – did manage to look at the bulletin board. That showed office services hadn’t been suspended.
Then Consuelo, Stella’s roommate, who works at the Placement office, was a last-minute witness, and she said she was able to go on with her work.
Father Reagan read three faculty character witnesses’ statements, and another three teachers testified in person as character witnesses.
Ray then took the stand and went into his motives. He wasn’t really sure what to do and said a lot of internal agonizing went on that day. At that point, both sides rested in Ray’s case, the commission went on to hear the other three cases, and I left.
I know I did the right thing in testifying. I was really afraid – especially this morning when Elton Greenberg, Mark and I were walking on Hillel Place and a guy in a suit across the street was taking pictures of us. (He was probably an FBI agent.)
But a man has to place other things ahead of his own emotional security. It will probably kill my candidacy for rep, but if Ray gets off, it’ll be worth it.
Tonight the Mugwumps had a strategy meeting. Today’s turnout was poor, and we’re being hurt by SA’s lies and the Assembly vote to give Larry Sparks and BLAC bail money.
Still, Kingsman’s endorsement of the Mugwumps (they have a new editor) could help.
Mark called. The disciplinary committee’s decision has been made but hasn’t been made public yet.
Friday, December 18, 1970
This morning, on the Flatbush Avenue bus, I met Neil Lefkowitz – my classmate from high school and one of the three SDS defendants. He said that Jerry called him last night to say he’d been given a “reprimand,” the other two SDS members a “censure.”
When I saw Ray on campus, he waved his fist into the air and ran over and hugged me. He was acquitted on all four counts. Beautiful.
Jerry said he couldn’t tell me how the committee came to its decisions, “but one fucking Jew voted guilty every time” – that Avi is something.
People came over to me all day while I was leafleting to congratulate me on my testimony. I had no time to celebrate, however, as I had to campaign all morning. I stood in front of Whitehead with Bill and Mel, who are running on the Upper Slate.
Ira, Craig and others from SA handed out copies of the old Kingsman editorial criticizing the Mugwump-led Assembly – but it was made to look silly in light of today’s endorsement, however qualified.
Voting is poor, as usual, but we may pull this election out yet. The Upper Slate should do well. Today’s “Freaks” leaflet went over almost well as the movie did.
I had lunch with Sheila, Gary and Elspeth, who all have bad colds; I’ll probably get one, too. Gary’s doing a great job, really talking up the Mugwumps, even if he’s not running.
Mrs. Myers didn’t show up for class today, but Phil, Harold, Barry and I will do the scene from The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial after Christmas, hopefully.
In Soc, Mr. Katayama discussed population control. After class, he confided to me that he thinks a black student in the class who sits in the back and wears headphones is an undercover FBI agent.
After class, I went back on the campaign trail, with Sindy and her freshman sister Shelli, Allan, Joel and Warren. Joel made up our next leaflet, entitled “Bullshit.” The students are so apathetic, they probably deserve SA to win the election.
I got paid $5 for printers’ night in Williamsburg thanks to Mark, Timmy and Central Depository. This weekend I’m going to try and recuperate from this week. I don’t feel comfortable in the role of politician.
Monday, December 21, 1970
I arose early this morning and quickly hurried off to school. Joel was nowhere to be found, so Shelli and I went to Boylan cafeteria to look for him at the Ham-State table.
On the way we passed a few of our candidates trying to corral up Mugwump votes. In the cafeteria we corralled a few ourselves: Eugene and a friend of Shelli’s from Tilden.
While we had been looking for Joel, he was in LaGuardia looking for us with our new leaflets, which try to counteract all the lies and rumors. I stood in front of Whitehead with Allan and Elspeth (who’s recovered from laryngitis and has her voice back – is that good or bad?) until Gary came along with Kjell.
They’ve become good friends from their class together, and the three of us talked for a while. Kjell’s still waiting to be called up by the Reserves and he’s working at Macy’s for the holiday.
Gary and I went to the deli for lunch, and as we started heading to Flatbush Avenue, Jerry joined us, as did Don, home again from Harvard Law. Jerry took his law boards last week and is now trying to get recommendations for NYU Law from Dean Breglio and Paul O’Dwyer.
Mr. Katayama had an interesting class, based on a news article he cut out. He’s a good man; we really get into spirited discussions in Soc.
After class, Cheryl, Ruth and I went to SUBO and were joined for drinks by Barry. In Anthro, Mrs. Kardas discussed our readings in religion.
Mark isn’t putting out a Spigotthis week, but he did persuade Shelli to join the staff.
By the end of the day it was clear that the vote is small and going against us heavily, at least in the Lower Slate. It’s because of the Sparks bail fund, the Academic Club Association and Hillel budget cuts, and other stuff: BC has a silent majority, too, and it seems like we’re too radical for them.
Still, I wouldn’t have done anything differently if I could do it over again, especially testifying for Ray. Well, after tomorrow they won’t have Dick Grayson to kick around anymore. Tomorrow’s going to be a sad day.
The Supreme Court upheld the 18-year-old vote law, but only in national elections; that could create problems.
Wednesday, December 23, 1970
Somehow, slowly, we learn to live with defeat and disappointment. I had no sleep at all last night and was very depressed this morning.
I had to vent my frustration on something and someone, so I picked Mom and the screen door, of which I broke a glass pane.
The inevitable explosion led to my crying in Mom’s arms, after which I felt much better. Fate also picked Al Ellman to be the first one I ran into on campus this morning. “Now you know how it feels to lose,” he said. Maybe it will teach me something.
I handed out my Christmas cards to all my wonderful friends and got some back from Elspeth and Juan.
Craig said he’d nominate me for Assembly recording secretary as the candidate of the SA majority as well as the Mugwumps. (Nobody else wants the job anyway). Sue said she was sorry I lost. So, for that matter, were a whole bunch of other people – or so they said.
Jerry and I had lunch in the faculty dining room (the others were closed, remember?) and then we had our LaGuardia Hall Christmas party.
It was a mess. Elihu says people like to destroy themselves. Jerry and Ray said Mark is a fool for letting Ann, Benny and the rest to smoke in the Spigot office; there could be a bust.
I took along my camera and got shots of Juan drinking bourbon from the bottle (or pretending to); of Marty surrounded by empty liquor bottles; of Elspeth and Hal kissing; of Allan and Shelli passing a joint. Mason dressed as Santa and we all wished each other good cheer.
No one got really sick or smashed, although Dean MacGregor was throwing up in the men’s room downstairs.
Mark left early to see his shrink. I waited till the very end of the party, leaving with Hal and Shelli, though we stopped off at the xerox office to bring Lou a screwdriver.
I needed cheering up, and the party was just the thing. Snow, sleet and hail fell all day, and by the time I left school, driving was so treacherous I had to cancel with Dr. Wouk, who understood.
I’m going to get a good night’s sleep and plan for a nice vacation. Winning isn’t everything. (Said the loser.)
Friday, December 25, 1970
A cloudy Christmas Day. I woke up late and watched how the soap opera folk celebrate the holiday. Then I went to Rockaway, and at Grandma Ethel’s apartment, I wished her and Grandpa Herb a happy anniversary.
Mom, Dad and my brothers came later, and Marty and his family soon after that. The family tensions were evident the whole afternoon, and it’s awful hard not to become part of it.
Because of all this awful Pants Set business, Dad and Marty are hardly speaking. Grandpa Herb is angry with Marty, whom both Dad and Grandpa Herb want to go back to the Slack Bar.
Grandpa Herb feels Marty has neglected the one store he owns by himself and is letting it run into the ground. Dad is very tense and has slowly but surely gone back to smoking.
Marty and Arlyne are seemingly unconcerned, but relations were strained all day. So I concentrated on Grandma Ethel’s cooking and playing with Wendy and Jeff. We bought Jeff aSesame Street record and Wendy a maxi-coat. Jeffrey can talk more and more and is a very affectionate two-year-old.
I came home early, before the others, working for a while, fixing up my photo albums. I’ve definitely decided to go on some sort of diet to lose weight.
After Mom and Dad came home, Aunt Sydelle and Monty stopped by after dropping the twins off at their grandmother’s.
Monty said that Joel had asked him about the possibility of their taking over the Pants Set stores. Dad advised him not to do it and told Monty not to go into business with his stepson-in-law: “The worst thing you can do is go into business with a relative.”
Of course, Dad has been working with Grandpa Nat for all our lives. But I’m afraid, like the Forsytes at the end, our family is falling apart.
Being gay – and I’m more sure of that every day – I will probably never have my own family, and maybe that’s the best thing. I feel closer to my friends at school than I do to my family.
Saturday, December 26, 1970
We got a slight dusting of snow early.
Mom and Dad were awakened early by a call from Adrienne, who said she was sick and couldn’t open the store, so Mom and Dad had to hurry and leave for Kings Plaza. To complicate matters, another girl didn’t show up and they had to run the store until Bobby and Rhonda showed up at noon.
The store was extremely busy with people exchanging unwanted gifts and spending their Christmas money, so Dad spent the whole day there.
He was fed up with Adrienne’s incompetence and fired her over the phone and then changed the store’s locks.
I cleaned up the house and then hurried off to Georgetown to catch the noon showing of Diary of a Mad Housewife. It was an excellent film, and if that’s anything like what a housewife has to put up with, I’m glad I’m not one.
Frank Perry directed, and his flicks are usually good. The actors – Carrie Snodgress, Richard Benjamin and Frank Langella – were excellent.
I had a salad at home and then went to the college library to do research for my Soc paper on political TV ads. I took out a few books, including some that aren’t related to the topic. Politics will always be my first love. Jerry says in ’72 we’ll both run as Ramsey Clark delegates to the convention.
Uncle Dave called to think me for the Christmas card; I told him thanks again for the Enrico Caruso album. And Grandpa Herb dropped by on his way home to Rockaway to bring a pair of Jonny’s pants he fixed.
Tuesday, December 29, 1970
I woke up from a deep dream-filled sleep late today. Marc and Ronnie went down the block to Julie’s house this morning because Julie’s an artist and Marc wanted to show him some of his work.
Dr. Wouk said that I should ask for love when I need it (like I should have after the election) instead of throwing tantrums or getting nauseous. He termed my defeat “a minor triumph” and said, “The boy who came to me a year ago would never have run at all.”
I know Dr. Wouk cares about me and I want to continue to see him.
At school, I helped Ruth with the teachers’ evaluation stuff she’s compiling. Jerry stopped by, and we went for lunch at the Four Kings, which he very generously paid for.
He works in the Mayor’s office and is glad that he got away from his parents and has his own apartment. I like Jerry. I used to take Elspeth’s part in the story of their broken engagement, but now – I don’t know.
Elspeth, by the way, has a mild case of the German measles, and everyone who smoked with her is scared.
After lunch, I went back to work with Rose and Shelli, who asked me to spend New Year’s Eve with her, and I said okay. Juan joined us for gossip.
Tonight was the farewell party for Stella. She and Consuelo have furnished their basement apartment as fantastically as everyone said, with junk from the streets.
They served delicious food: I had fondue and port. Mark was there, as were Jerry, Lou, Ray and his girlfriend, Freda and her husband, and a lot of others.
Mark said he decided to have a New Year’s Eve party at his place, so instead of going over to Shelli’s house to hang out there, I’ll take her over to Mark’s for the party.
He also asked me to call Juan and Marty and Ruth to invite them, but they said they’re not able to make it. But a lot of us should be together this New Year’s Eve. Next stop, Coney Island!