I started writing my Parting Glances columns in 1990 or thereabouts. The premise was simple enough. Choose an important LGB — and occasionally T — historical event that actually changed things for us, or challenged us to speak out on behalf of our Rainbow Pride human rights, during the mid-20th Century (and many times, earlier).
The initial Parting Glances columns were 125 words in length. Many of these included my first-hand reminiscences of what it was like to be gay — but highly, highly closeted — way back then.
I came out during my senior year at Cass Technical High School in 1956. I was a commercial art major. Being creative helped, as well as daily contact with art and music students as friends.
As for my art, I estimate that I have completed about 2,000 art pieces and design images or more since my CT days. (But who’s counting?)
I average a new art piece about every other month, in spite of my stroke and compromised vision. Storage is becoming a problem. Several hundred unframed pieces are in on-going storage at the Affirmations LGBT+ Center.
I have lived a very fortunate life. I have, because of my artistic talent and being a first-responder gay, so to speak, for more than 65 years, met many creative and gifted gay and hetero men and women in my life: musicians, dancers, artists, poets, impersonators, LGBT entertainers.
Fortunately, I had the guidance of wise mentors — one, my first partner at 19 — who stressed the importance of choosing and making a career and continuing my education at Wayne State University, where, in 1959, I started my writing career at the Wayne State University Collegian.
My professional writing and ongoing creation of art might not have happened if one life-saving event had not taken place for me. Choosing sobriety.
In 1981, I came face to face with the realization that my alcohol abuse, including daily bingeing, had gotten out of control. I stood at the edge of a nightmare pit.
Hospitalization, rehab and group therapy made up the next year of my concentrated recovery. While in recovery at Cottage Hospital, an unexpected, ultimately rewarding door of opportunity opened.
In initial therapy, we were told to go through magazines and cut out pictures indicative of our feelings.
In my alcoholic haze, I misunderstood. I created several collages. A nurse actually wanted to buy one. A year or so later I had my collages matted and framed. An artist friend suggested I enter them in competition for the Detroit Artist Market exhibition jurying. I did. Three pieces were accepted in a 1983 showing.
I have since then been creating art and writing articles to share. One creation at a time. (Sometimes two.)
One blessed — and happily sober — day at a time. Forty years come this December.
And! I have a current art piece in Detroit’s Scarab Club 108th Gold Medal Exhibition (Nov. 17 to Dec. 31). Enjoy. And thanks!