On Harvey Milk, lesbians in the trades, and coming out

“Come on you can tell me,” says Bobby. “Are you gay?”

Bobby is a machinist who usually works in the machine shop but today he is helping me change light fixtures in the warehouse at the corporation yard. I’m the only electrician and sometimes I need a helper. There was no laborer available and I am up on a 16-foot ladder.

The song by the Police, Every Breath You Take, is playing on the boom box Bobby carries around with him.

“This sounds like a song about stalking,” I say. “It’s a threat.”

“Hmm, I never thought about it that…


What does a nonconforming, revolutionary lesbian wear to a heterosexual wedding?

Photo by ColeKenTurner (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

“Jesus Christ, it’s 1979. Why do they need to get married? They’ve been living together for five years. No one in the family disapproves. Why do people feel compelled to have the state sanction their relationships?”

Don let me rave. Neither of us could answer these rhetorical questions. He couldn’t have been any less enthusiastic about our brother Tim’s wedding than I was. We knew neither of us would ever have a family wedding with all the attendant fussing, well-wishing, presents and cultural sanction, not that either of us would want one.

“You don’t suppose there’s any way we can…


Singing our hearts out

In the 80s, when she was still drinking and cocaine was plentiful, Pat and I used to frequent piano bars in San Francisco.

The Mint on Market Street near the Castro was our favorite, a magical showcase where every night was a surprise. The piano player was a bearded mustachioed man who nevertheless enunciated so clearly that I could watch his lips and learn the words as he sang. Pat already knew the words to the songs in the Great American Songbook. She was seven years older than I, a generational difference in her mind. I had come of age…


Photo courtesy of the author

65-Year-Old Leprechaun Seeks Sex With Any Female

Al and I first met when I walked into the open door at Summit pump station. He was kneeling on the concrete floor painting one of the pump motors that supply water to the city of San Francisco. When he saw my figure standing in the doorway he jumped back, like I was there to assault him. That gave me a little jolt of power — that a man might be startled by me.

Yeah, I thought to myself, I’m a big strong woman and men flinch at the sight of my form. But there was a safety issue. The…


A gay woman in the trades tells it like it is

courtesy of author

“I don’t get it,” I said. “Why would you want to be a woman? We are discriminated against. The men we work with hate us. We get paid less. Why choose that?”

Jesus thought for a moment. “When I get in the shower and look down at my penis, I hate it. I feel like it shouldn’t be there.”

We were standing out in the corporation yard, away from our coworkers in the shops.

Jesus and I had worked together at the San Francisco Water Department for a couple of years and I was glad we’d become close enough for…


How Do You Say Goodbye?

Photo credit: author

Joe is talking about death. “I don’t know how to say goodbye,” he says.

I look up from the electrical outlet I’m installing, bending a piece of half-inch pipe.

“Say you have a good friend who’s dying,” he continues. “How so you say goodbye?”

I’m suspicious. These men think because I’m female I’ll mother them. I’ll listen to their problems. Let them cry on my shoulder. Tell them everything’s alright. I resent the emotional drain on me. What do I get in return? They wouldn’t listen to my problems, and I wouldn’t trust their intuition anyhow. Besides, I wouldn’t risk…


Spring Equinox 2021

Looking into ways that humans celebrate the turning of the seasons I discovered the Hilaria (plural of Hilaris). They were spring festivals celebrated by the cult of Cybele, the great mother of the gods, in Asia Minor and Greek and Roman cultures from about the 5th century BCE onward. Cybele’s consort, Attis, was born of her via a virgin birth and resurrected in the spring (sound familiar?). The day of this celebration was the first day after the vernal equinox, or the first day of the year which was longer than the night. …


The Fight Fight Fight for Decent Treatment of NFL Cheerleaders

From Source

I admit I was prejudiced. I was one of those feminists who thought cheerleaders were the antithesis of feminism, sucking up to powerful men and athletes, embodying or seeking to embody the male ideal of woman.

But then I saw the PBS film A Woman’s Work, about the struggle of the NFL cheerleaders for better wages and working conditions. Now I think some cheerleaders are feminist heroes.

The film documents their years-long campaign against wage theft by their employer, the National Football League. The NFL and its 32 franchises are worth $80 billion and yet, rather than do the right…


I just learned about something called burrowing, where appointed officials make their way into the civil service and become career employees. You can’t get rid of them. Apparently there are a bunch in the federal government left over from trump. I wonder how long the citizenry will have to live with them and how much damage they might do.

Then I wonder about our own burrowing animals right here at Hylandia. One day last summer, covid-confined to our back yard, Holly and I saw the ground start to move. It was not an earthquake. Some animal was making its way…


World War Two, the defining feature of my parents’ generation, affected my generation too. Maybe more than we know.

The Sound of Nazis

I was 15 going on 16, a sophomore in high school. It was 1965 and the Sound of Music was opening at the Capitol Theater in downtown Yakima. My mother offered to drive me and three girlfriends to see it.

Did my mother already know the story of Maria Von Trapp? Probably she knew of the post-war memoir or the 1959 Rogers and Hammerstein stage musical (she subscribed to the New Yorker magazine after all.) But whenever she learned of the…

Molly Martin

I’m a long-time tradeswoman activist and retired electrician/electrical inspector in San Francisco.

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