I have known A for 40 years. We met back in the 70s when we both belonged to the same socialist group. In those days the group was trying to organize the auto workers in Detroit as a way towards a working class revolution. We never dreamed that Detroit and its factories would become empty ruins. We also never dreamed that gay people like A would gain the rights and the social acceptance that they have. Most of his working life A lived outside of Atlanta, Georgia. Back in the 70s he had many tales of nasty comments and confrontations when he and his friends went out to restaurants to eat.
Knowing A, however, not all these incidents happened as he was just quietly enjoying his meal. I describe A to my other friends as my gay-Armenian-socialist-Episcopalian. A flaunts all of them. And not quietly. We have had many arguments over the years over how he can reconcile his marxism with a church that one of my other radical friends called the “opiate of ruling class.” I left our group more than 30 years ago when I got fed up with an internal dispute over which miniscule faction should be supported in some minor party in Portugal. A has stayed with the group as they have had to become less sectarian in order to keep at least a few hundred members. One reason I stay friends with A is to remind myself to stay true to the dreams of my youth.
I’m writing this as I wait for A to arrive for one of his fly-by visits on his way up and down the East Coast. We’ve already exchanged loud words over the phone this morning when I tried to give him directions on which exit he should take to get into Princeton. We’ll have more before he leaves, but I’m looking forward to seeing him again. He’s 81 now so I appreciate every remaining chance to yell at the top of our lungs at each other.