Bobby and the Aversion Therapist

Bobby carries a unique sense of self that functions independently of the rest of me.

His job was to figure out how to survive into adulthood.

To survive, Bobby had to hide his intellect.

He adopted a thick geechie accent.

He was tough and not afraid of his Mother.

His goal was to get away from her and his first strategy was to force a psychiatrist to commit him.

He decided that he would use the systems lies about “queers” to his advantage.

But he wasn’t prepared for how the ‘system’ treated ‘queers’ in
1967.

Bobby writes:

“One day I found a book called, “By Reason of Insanity.

It was all about this guy who goes crazy and kills his wife.

He is sent to the loony bin so he can go sane and stand trial for murder.

Most of the book was about the people he meets in the hospital.

Some of the people scream and see things that ain’t there.

But the hospital also had food and schools.

I thought hell, check it out!

I got Grandma to convince Momma to take me to see a shrink.

I said I had a “Three Faces of Eve” thing goin’ on, an at that time, I thought I was telling a lie.

Grandma called Momma right away an Momma jumped.

The psychiatrist Momma took me to was scrawny.

He looked like Mr. Spock from “Star Trek”: “Is there anything  you’d like to tell me about yourself, bobby.”

“Yeh–I think I’m queer.”

“Why do you think that?”

“Well–” I looked up at him and blushed, “I think about boys when I-you know.”

And that got me sent up.

The shrink told Momma that I needed to go to the state hospital for “observation.”

I got all excited since that seemed almost as good as going to New York.

***

The hospital had a place for kids.

It was a tall red brick building with locks on every door.

When Momma an’ me got there, Momma suddenly got very polite, and she  gave me permission to smoke.

When the doctor came to meet us, she acted all scared, like she was talking to Grandma.

“Ya’all treat my baby good!” she cried.

Then she called me darling, and left.

***

This hospital was nothing like the one in my book.

It was all shiny inside and Muzac played all day long through little loudspeakers in the ceiling.

Everyone looked numb.

I made friends with this other queer who was a year older than me.

He was a rich kid who went on and on about how he hoped the doctors could turn him straight.

Here I was, fifteen and already out.

I thought this kid was crazy and said so!

“Listen!” I said, “That ain’t never gonna happen. So get over it!”

Well he hauled off and slapped me!

Then he got so upset about slapping me he started to cry.

A nurse came over to give him some pills.

She gave me an evil look.

Like I had picked up that boy’s hand and slapped myself!

I thought she’d like me better if she had to give me some pills, so I asked for some.

“Why do you think you need medication, Bobby?”

“I think I’m seein’ people that ain’t really there.”

“Be sure you tell that to your doctor.”

***

“Tell me a little something about your childhood.” the doctor said.

“Well it ain’t over yet!” I said.

“True enough.” he smiled. “Why do you think you’re here?”

“I guess ’cause I’m queer.” I answered. “Howcum you ain’t got no people screamin’ around here?”

He smiled again. “Do you feel like screaming?”

***

That shrink really thought I was crazy.

Now I knew I wasn’t, but I reminded myself that for these folks, queer was the same thing.

When Momma came to visit she always put on the good behavior that she wore for Grandma.

I said, “Momma! These people gonna do some kinda shock treatment on me!”

“They’ll do what they can to make you better.” she said. “I hope you’re smokin’ like I said you could.”

I was in deep water for screwing that rich kid.

A month passed.

“Whut if yew had relations with a man an’ caught the clap in yore mouth?” The social worker asked me one day, like I already had it.

“You can get that from eatin’ pussy!” I said,  “Why don’t you people calm down an’ let me go home?”

That rich kid told me all about the therapy the doctors was doing on him.

“First, they strap you inna chair with your weenie hanging out. Then they put glue on it and stick wires to it. Then they show you pictures of hot dudes an’ shock the piss outta you if you so much as sigh!”

Now, Momma had to understand how bad that was!

“Lissen up!” I said at her next visit. “These shrinks is gonna “lectrocute me!”

“They say they only use a lil’ “lectricity, darlin’.”

“And how would you like it if every time you sat onna barstool some one zapped you off?”

Momma got that dark look she always got when she wanted to hit me.

“Have a little respect for your Momma!” She said in a tight but polite tone of voice.

***

“Do you want Bobby to be a hama-sect-ual?” The shrink asked Momma at the treatment meeting.

“He was always a tad girlish, but I have always maintained that it is important for men to be men.

“Let em fry my dick off, ” I said, “see what kind of man I’ll be then!”

“The shrink ignored me.

“I think that Bobby can be cured. These deviant behaviors are not set until adulthood.”

“But I don’t wanna get cured!” I said. “I ain’t got nothin’ to cure!

I glared at Momma.

She sat there like the best little girl in the world.

Then I knew what I had to do.

“Momma! You let this fool shock me an’ I’ll call Grandma and tell her all about you. Every. Thing.”

Momma blushed.

She looked down and twisted her wedding ring.

Then she looked up at the doctor with such wide, innocent looking brown eyes:

“I do want what’s best for Bobby. But it’s such a big decision! I think I should consult with his Father first.”

***

(c) Rob Goldstein 1985-2018

After the Storm

This has been a difficult
week, so this post is for
my partner.

Thanks for being here.

San Francisco’s Public Art

Some of these shots date back to 2010, the year I began to take pictures.

I first used a Blackberry, then an inexpensive DSLR, and eventually a Canon T3 and finally a Canon Ti4.

 

Madre
Madre

 

Padre
Padre

 

Wisdom on Haight and Webster
Wisdom on Haight Street
Featured Image -- 8562
The Wheel of Justice
Por favor

Strange Dream #14

Mental Illness and Art
Why?
Collaborative Self Interest
Collaborative Self Interest
Pure Energy
Bugz

Seen in the Mission District

 

Portrait of Malcolm X
Portrait of Malcolm X

 

Featured Image -- 8637

 

Audre Lorde
Audre Lorde

 

Picture of a mural in Clarion Alley that shows people of every race, creed and nationality united in common cause
…And we are everywhere…

 

(c) Rob Goldstein 2015-2016-2017

Save

Save

Save

St. Mary’s Hospital, November 1986

I take the pills and go numb.

I drift across the day room and settle on a couch in front of the
television.

Lucy and Ricky slug it out in the gender wars of the 1950’s.

“I juss wan’ choo to be ma wife, Loosy.” Ricky croons; and so she
is, with all the weaponized femininity she can muster.

My doctor arrives.

He’s an arrogant middle class macho who tells me I define
myself by pain; that I just lost two friends to a virus killing
everyone I know is incidental.

No one in his world is grieving the death of fags.

In his world, fags are cautionary tales on the evening news: this is
what happens to perverts.

“You moof from walla pain to walla pain,” he says, with a vaguely
German accent.

I want to shove my fist through his skull, but I widen my eyes and
agree like a good little Lucy about to put the hit on Ricky for a new
hat.

I’ll be whatever he says I am; I just want to get out of here.

I will suck up to the staff like a five-year old who’s discovered he’s cute.

The staff will like my mind, it’s smart enough to stop trying to make
them care.

I will swallow their pills and get fat on hetero-sexist sanity.

I will sit here, watch ‘I Love Lucy‘, and let them take my blood.

Animated Gif from the I Love Lucy Show in which Ricky tells Lucy that he's the man and she's the woman and she does what he says
found on GIPHY


In 1986, HIV was spreading quickly;  by the end of that year, 11,932 people, most of them gay and bisexual men, had died from AIDS.  

Rob Goldstein (c) 2018 All Rights Reserved

Still shot from ‘I Love Lucy’ is in the public domain
Animated Gif found on GIPHY