Jump to content
  • Join For Free and Get Notified of New Chapters!

    Are you enjoying a great story and want to get an alert or email when a new chapter is posted? Join now for free and follow your favorite stories and authors!  You can even choose to get daily or weekly digest emails instead of getting flooded with an email for each story you follow. 


    AC Benus
  • Author
  • 1,511 Words

The Great Mirror of Same-Sex Love - Prose - 17. Martin Greif "Babe slugged anyone tittering at Howard’s petit-point"


Martin Greif – ‘Babe slugged anyone tittering at Howard’s petit-point'

a Selection of notable people born in January,

from The Gay Book of Days




AARON FRICKE, b. Providence, Rhode Island, 1962. ‘The simple, obvious thing would have been to go to the senior prom with a girl. But that would have been a lie – a lie to myself, to the girl, and to all the other students. What I wanted to do was to take a male date. But as Paul Guilbert had shown the year before when he had attempted to take another man to the prom, such honesty is not always easy.’ So writes Aaron Fricke in Reflections of a Rock Lobster: A Story About Growing Up Gay [New York 1981], his engaging account of how he did, in fact, win the right to take a young man as his date to his high-school prom [in 1979]. That Aaron Fricke at seventeen risked everything – the scorn of his classmates, the disaffection of his parents, the anger of his community – is a tribute to his courage and sense of right. That he has written a book without a touch of self-pity or arrogance is a testimony of his humanity. In an age of cynicism, he offers us hope.




Aaron Fricke: Tomorrow’s hope.



LORD GEORGE GERMAIN, b. London, 1716. While you’re cursing that smoky fireplace on a wintry January evening, think a thought or two of Lord George who, while in America as British Colonial Secretary, fell in love with handsome Benjamin Thompson of North Woburn, Massachusetts, who became his literal and figurative undersecretary. When it looked as if the Yankee rebels would win their battle for independence, Lord George and his American pal, now a Tory by marriage, fled to the mother country, where Ben of North Woburn was elevated to the title of Count Rumford. What does this have to do with fireplaces on a wintry night? Count Rumford, who became one of the leading physicists of his day, was famous for having discovered the cause of smoky chimneys, although he was neither the first nor last to gain a title through a smoky hole.



LEWIS CARROLL ( Charles Lutwidge Dodgson), b. Daresbury, Cheshire, England, 1832. What was the author of Alice in Wonderland anyway? Gay? A dirty old man? An Oxford suet pudding? Since the dead are notoriously silent, the psychiatrists and other necrophiliacs have run riot over Carroll’s bones. The Alice books, writes one, reflect much ‘unassimilated phallic problems,’ a phrase composed, most likely, when all mimsy were the borogoves.[i] ‘He had a horror of little boys,’ writes another, explaining Carroll’s attraction to little girls. ‘This great aversion could hardly be anything else than an ambivalent sexual attraction to little boys, with the fear that he might yield to it . . . So little girls it had to be. . . .’ Hmmm. ‘‘Contrariwise,’ said Tweedle-dee, ‘if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it ain’t, it ain’t. That’s logic.’’



CHARLES GEORGE ‘CHINESE’ GORDON, b. Woolwich, England, 1833. A military hero of imperial Britain and a martyr at Khartoum, Gordon worried constantly about his inability to score with women, several times wishing himself either a eunuch or a corpse. His wish to die in battle, which was eventually granted him, no doubt accounted for his almost legendary bravery. Although the record shows that he surrounded himself with beautiful young men, his sense of honor and his religious convictions make it doubtful that his soul was ever sullied, no less his pud. Still, he found a novel way to gratify his senses. He was fond of picking up street urchins, bathing them, feeding them, and mending their clothes with his very own needle and thread. Wasn’t that sweet of him?


GABRIELLE SIDONIE COLETTE, b. Saint-Sauveur-en-Puisaye, France, 1873. The great French writer’s affairs with women are well known, but equally so are her affairs with men. Colette’s was a concept of androgyny in which everyone was pre-disposed to discover within himself, herself, and in other people, a subtle mixture of male and female components. ‘Once the precious tresses are cut,’ she wrote, ‘the breasts, hands, bellies, hidden, what is left of our female façades? In sleep, an incalculable number of women approach the form they would probably have chosen had their life awake not made them ignorant of themselves. And the same for men. I can still see the gracefulness of a sleeping man! From forehead to mouth, behind his closed eyelids, he smiled, nonchalant and sly as a courtesan behind her grilled window . . . . And I, who would have in my stupidity ‘really liked’ to be completely a woman, I looked at him with a male regret.’ Ambivalence was Colette’s middle name.



CHRISTIAN VIl, b. Copenhagen, Denmark, 1749. Sometimes, being king isn’t any fun at all. Rejected by his father as effeminate and slightly feeble-minded, Christian was systematically debauched in his youth by nobles who schemed to control him once he gained the throne by supplying him with rough-trade bedmates who regularly beat the living daylights out of him. By the time he succeeded his father at sixteen, he was virtually insane. But his troubles were just beginning. Christian’s personal physician, a German named Johann Struensee, took Christian’s queen as his mistress, began to run the government, and assigned the king a lover of his own, a brute named Brandt who got his kicks by locking Christian in his room and pummeling him with his fists. Talk about pushy! But the villains eventually got theirs. The queen was summarily divorced, the physician and the brute each lost their right hand and head and were then drawn and quartered. Wouldn’t this make a great musical?



HOWARD OVERING STURGIS, b. London, 1855. Howard who, you say? Sturgis was a millionaire American expatriate who passed his life in England knitting, embroidering, and writing novels in the company of his live-in stud W. H. Smith, better known as ‘The Babe,’ who presumably slugged anyone tittering at Howard’s petit-point. Not surprisingly, Sturgis failed as a novelist and would not be remembered were it not for his pallid – but for the time courageous – novel Bedchamber, about a young English nobleman who is both a Uranian and a Utopian. George Santayana, himself Gay, modeled the character of Mario in The Last Puritan on Sturgis. The famous Harvard philosopher, who like the rest of us could be a bitch at times, once called the knitting novelists ‘the perfect Victorian lady.’



TALLULAH BANKHEAD, b. Huntsdale, Alabama, 1902. What can be said about this remarkable character that hasn’t already been said? She liked men, she liked women, she especially liked herself. She could be a great actress on opening nights, and a parody of herself when she grew bored with a long run. She was the toast of London in the ‘20s and a flop in Hollywood in the ‘30s. She was a bit of a drunk, a bit of a junkie, a holy terror, and a saint. She could play the aristocratic Southern belle or out-curse a drunken sailor on shore leave. Of all her famous one-liners, this one perhaps sums up her the best: ‘I can say ‘shit,’ daaahling; I’m a lady.’



Tallulah Bankhead: ‘My family warned me about sex, daaahling -- but they never never mentioned a word about women . . .’


FRANZ SHUBERT, b. Vienna, 1797. Far more is known about this great composer’s music than about his life. Because his music became widely known only many years after his death at thirty-one, our knowledge of Schubert the man is based completely on the memoirs written by friends who lived long enough to see him famous. These are the recollections of the old, who, looking back at their youths, bathed the past in a glow of golden sentiment. No wonder Schubert has emerged a character out of Viennese operetta –a bohemian artist, poor but happy, who composed delightful melodies as the sprint moved him. But there is no knowing the real Schubert without knowing the friends with whom he lived from his early teens. Almost all never married, with the exception of one married at the age of sixty. The others were suicides. That Schubert travelled In a circle that was predominantly Gay seems fairly certain. That he suffered for years from syphilis that eventually killed him is also certain. That he himself was Gay is more than likely. There is no evidence to prove otherwise.



Franz Schubert: At 16 one of the beauties of his day.


—Martin Greif[ii]






[i] “mimsy were the borogoves” is a reference to a line in the author’s famous nonsense poem Jabberwocky

[ii] “Babe slugged anyone tittering at Howard’s petit-point” Martin Greif The Gay Book of Days (Secaucus, New Jersey, 1982), a selection from “January,” ps. 30-33



Copyright © 2021 AC Benus; All Rights Reserved.
  • Like 1
  • Love 1

Recommended Comments

Chapter Comments

I could devour this book, as I did this entry. It is fascinating reading, and one can only wish it had been able to cross my path when I was a young man. 

  • Love 1
Link to comment
24 minutes ago, Parker Owens said:

I could devour this book, as I did this entry. It is fascinating reading, and one can only wish it had been able to cross my path when I was a young man. 

Thanks, Parker! That's exactly what I was thinking -- wishing I could have seen it (and not "Buns") at the really fine bookstore at Westport Plaza in 1982 (although I'm pleased to say I finally got my copy of "Buns" too ;)

  • Love 1
  • Haha 1
Link to comment

For anyone -- like myself! -- laughing out loud when Greif refers to psychiatrists as necrophiliacs running riot over the bones of the dead, you may want to see this Mirror entry in the Poetry section. Published at same year as The Gay Book of Days, poet Jim Everhard takes on the Jabberwocky nonsense of Freudian sex-crazed BS. Both Greif and Everhard celebrate the Gay Experience's resistance to laugh in the face of organized oppression, pseudo-medical and otherwise :yes:


Link to comment
View Guidelines

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Newsletter

    You probably have a crazy and hectic schedule and find it hard to keep up with everything going on.  We get it, because we feel it too.  Signing up here is a great way to keep in touch and find something relaxing to read when you get a few moments to spare.

    Sign Up
  • Create New...

Important Information

Our Privacy Policy can be found here. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue..