A 21-Year-Old’s Diary Entries From Late April, 1973
by Richard Grayson
Friday, April 20, 1973
It’s Good Friday, but I’m not feeling very good myself. It’s nothing physical; it’s emotional. I feel so blue and dirty and ugly. Sure, part of it is because I’m on vacation, but it’s more than that.
Last night with Mrs. Ehrlich, I realized that I like to be busy all the time and to have things structured, so I won’t have time to think. I suppose I’ve been having sexual feelings and fantasies that are disturbing to me.
Last night I was talking to Mrs. Ehrlich about mundane matters when she sensed that there was something bothering me that I didn’t want to talk about.
I couldn’t, last night, because I’m too ashamed – and afraid that she’ll judge me, which I know is stupid. You would think that in 1973 there aren’t any “unacceptable” sexual feelings you don’t want to share, especially with a shrink, but they’re there.
As Mrs. Ehrlich said, “No matter how permissive the society is, each individual is brought up in families and there are taboos and judgments.” My feelings and fantasies run the gamut from Oedipal thoughts to rape to homosexual sadomasochistic fantasies of getting beaten up by some muscular guy, things that excite me and disturb me at the same time.
I’m seeing Ronna tonight and I wonder if I’m being fair to her. She knows I’m bisexual – although, honestly, I’ve never had the fantasy of getting laid by a guy or sucking his penis; that just doesn’t excite me.
Anyway, of course, if I did, there would be nothing wrong with it, not these days. Look at Russell and his dressing up as a woman, or Teresa’s boyfriend or (perhaps) Scott.
Skip actually admits he enjoys getting “smacked around” and even Alice confessed to me that she has sadistic lesbian fantasies. I know I’m not a homosexual because I am very much attracted to girls – I was flirting with one at a lunch counter today – especially Ronna.
Last night I had trouble sleeping and didn’t do much today, although I did spend a long time on the phone with Vito. Talking about homosexuality, he said, “I suspect everyone nowadays.” What I’ve got to do is be more open and honest with myself.
Saturday, April 21, 1973
My body may be very tired, but my spirits are soaring. Last night did so much to lift me out of my blue funk. And it’s not that I’ve hidden those disturbing thoughts under the rug, either. They’re there, and I’m going to face up to them.
But I’ve realized that there are also many beautifully wonderful thoughts and feelings inside me. I’ve never been more sure of my love for Ronna; we are really very compatible.
A year ago, if someone would have told me that I’d stay up till 4 AM to be with anyone, I’d have said they were crazy. But with Ronna, the time flies so quickly.
Last evening I picked her up at 7 PM. She may not be the prettiest girl in the world, but to me, she’s the most beautiful because she’s Ronna. We drove out to Rego Park, where Ronna wanted to show me Newtown High.
She went there for a month, in September 1969, during her parents’ final failed reconciliation, when they lived in Lefrak City. Her father was still getting calls from the woman who he’s married to now, who said she would kill herself if he left her for good.
And Ronna described the day her parents had the final fight: Ivan had slept over, and she leaned on him during the argument, but her sister didn’t have anyone, and Billy was just a baby. Finally her mother called her uncle, who came and took them back to Brooklyn to her grandparents’ house.
It must have been awful for Ronna – but she talks about it with such strength and even good humor.
Back at my house, we watched Wuthering Heights in the basement, and talked, and made out heavily. Even without intercourse, I don’t think I’ve ever felt so close – the oneness – with another person.
She let me caress her naked body as we lay together, her head resting on my chest, and we talked and stroked each other and it felt like heaven.
Instinctively, I know that whatever other sexual feelings or aberrations I have, I love Ronna more passionately than I’ve ever loved anybody.
Finally, it was getting very late, and we straightened up, and I drove her home. It’s great not to shiver with the cold when I take her home early on a weekend morning.
Needless to say, I slept past 1 PM today. Then I went to visit Grandma Ethel for the afternoon. Tonight I’m seeing Ronna again, but we’ve resolved to get in early. Love is great, but there are other things we have to do.
Tuesday, April 24, 1973
I’m totally exhausted, but I do feel an exhilarating sense of accomplishment. I didn’t realize how anxious I was about taping the TV show.
Last night I slept very badly, waking up an average of once every hour. But somehow I survived the night – and the morning, too. Luckily my class was canceled, so I had the morning to myself.
I really was very nervous, but a long drive seemed to ease the tension. Finally, at noon, I put on my blue corduroy sports jacket and a tie, and I went to school.
In front of LaGuardia, I got hoots from the crowd because I was all dressed up – but Susan and Bobby both said I looked good, and Skip actually said he’d never seen me looking so attractive.
Skip said he’s really busy with The Boys in the Band going on this week. He also said Leon came in for Easter. I don’t expect to hear from Leon anymore but was glad that Skip said Leon was “very together.”
Avis walked me to the TV Center and gave me a good luck kiss before I went in. I met the show’s producer, Prof. Schimel, as well as the director, Mr. Ginoli.
The other participants in the show were Dean Smith; Dr. Eugene Fried, the director of CAP, the Career Advisement Program; Julian Kein, a personnel director involved in the program; Stanley Goldstein, president of the Alumni Association; and Carole Robinson, whom I know from the Day Care Center.
We got our faces made up (our hands too) and our hair sprayed, and then went into the studio. After countless delays – the tape breaking, muffing of lines due to an ornery teleprompter, etc. – we finally taped the show.
I’m only in a 15-minute discussion segment of the program, but I was glad to get out from under those hot lights. We all met back in the control room and saw the videotape. I winced when the camera is on me, but I suppose that’s natural.
It’ll be on Channel 31, WNYC-TV, late next month. Now the work is over, and I get the benefits later. Upstairs in Whitehead, I found Ronna in her ceramics workshop; it was good to see her.
After I drove her to her grandparents’, I came home to eat and collapse. I got a letter from Elihu in Providence. He terms LaGuardia Hall “a model prison: not bad while you’re there, but you’re relieved when you get out.”
Tonight I feel really sick all of a sudden. I guess it’s been an exhausting day and I need to sleep.
Friday, April 27, 1973
If anything, I’m feeling worse than I did yesterday. I had a very rough night. Mrs. Ehrlich called after I left a message canceling last evening’s session. She suggested that my illness might be psychosomatic, but I felt much too ill to go and discuss it with her.
I also spoke to Ronna at the printers, but I was feeling so lousy that I didn’t feel like conversation about school or Kingsman. I got almost no sleep last night.
My legs and arms ached, and my head throbbed with sinus fluid, and I had such chills I couldn’t stop shaking. I felt a little bit better this morning, but now my fever’s up to 101° and I found a couple of pimples on my back, so I think I have the chicken pox.
Just what I need! How much longer am I going to have to stay in the house: a week? I’m going stir-crazy as it is. I don’t want to endure chicken pox, I don’t, I don’t, I don’t. It’s not fair.
Okay, I know life is unfair. And Marc got through it, didn’t he? But still, I don’t think I can make it through the next week; I would rather die.
I know that’s the child in me speaking, but that’s how a part of me feels. I feel so alone and so helpless and so scared. Of what, I don’t know.
The weather is cold and gloomy – heavy rain – and I don’t think it’ll ever be bright for me again. Mom hasn’t been here the whole day, as she’s been out preparing for Bonnie’s Sweet Sixteen tonight. Everyone is going, and I’ll be alone at home.
And our stupid house guests are so annoying. I can’t even get sick in my own house in peace.
When Ronna called from school, she wanted to come over, but I didn’t want her to see me like this. I am in such despair: my body aches with pain and fever. I don’t want to be sick.
I just want to cry, but after that, what’s left except a moist tissue? I feel so lonely and depressed. Please let tomorrow be bright and shiny. Oh, I know it won’t be, but what’s the use?
I want to die, I truly do. I’ve never felt this wretched or desperate. I know how much I sound like a baby, but everything I’m saying, I feel.
Sunday, April 29, 1973
It’s 4:30 PM and my main problem is boredom. The chicken pox blisters have not formed into scabs yet, and there aren’t that many of them. My fever is down, and actually I now feel as though I only have a mild cold and sore throat.
So I’ve been coping – and I found it a lot easier than I thought it would be. Last night I relaxed and made some phone calls. Alice had called me earlier in the week, asking me if I knew how she could get tickets to Boys in the Band.
Alice did get to see it, by claiming she was reviewing it for Flatbush Life. She enjoyed the show and said she thought Skip was good (“He’s attractive. . . it’s a big waste of manpower”).
Alice told me that after Mark scooped her on a rapist story, she had a confrontation with him and told her not to steal her articles. And she said that she’s doing a story on Gay Friends of Flatbush; she attended their gay seder and sat next to Pablo.
I also called Avis last night. She was home because Alan was at New Paltz this weekend with “his obsession”: mountain-climbing. However, she said that she and his brother Carl were going to join him there today.
She said that on Friday, everyone in LaGuardia was crazy. There was a birthday party for Teresa and Peter. Teresa’s boyfriend Roger was there and he took a liking to Skip and they began flirting with each other.
Teresa took Avis over to the side and said how hurt she was: “I knew this would happen if they met.”
And Avis told me that she and Steve Katz and Stanley went to visit her sister in her office at Columbia’s film program, where there were about 15 films playing in separate screening rooms at the same time.
All of this conversation wasn’t that exciting, but when you’re sick and bored, you’ll settle for any gossip tidbits you can.
This morning Josh called, and I asked him to tell Prof. Roberts of my illness. He and Julia went to Boys in the Band on Friday night and he said it was good. (I gave Ronna my ticket to give to Susan today.)
Shelli and Elspeth sat gossiping in front of him, Josh said, and Mason and Libby were sitting in back of him, playing with his hair. After the play ended, during the curtain call, Mandy went onstage to give Skip a bouquet of roses. “Julia thinks all my friends are nuts,” Josh said.
Tomorrow I should start itching.