GloriaIn this next phase of Gen's Richmond life, she joined Parents without Partners, the First Unitarian Church of Richmond, dabbled in Unity, took the est training, developed contacts and friendships with people from the Richmond Science Museum, and developed a friendship with an elderly and gentle man named Lon, whose daughter desperately wanted Gen and Lon to marry, thereby taking the daughter off the hook for Lon's declining health. Gen dodged that particular bullet. Gen also met Gloria, an LPN on the floor where Gen worked at Westbrook. The two became good friends and Gloria moved in to Gen's Parham Road apartment.

Becky and I met Gloria in 1981, when we traveled to Richmond to spend Christmas Day with Gen. Becky was accompanied by her husband, Bob, and her daughter, Jessie, who was just beginning to walk. I took Jessie outside to explore and noticed a slender African American woman getting out of a pickup truck and walking into Gen's building. That woman was Gloria.

Gloria. Nurse, auto mechanic, aunt, diabetic, handyman, problem-solver, the Midlothian Motormouth, lesbian. She worked at Westbrook Hospital with Gen in the 1980s. Gloria gave Gen a pamphlet called "Loving Women," and Gen, always the experimenter, took the dare. Gen was reluctant to tell her kids about this startling development. When Gloria nagged Gen that it was high time she came out of the closet, Gen replied "But I only just got INTO the closet. I need time to get used to this."

It was certainly fine with me if Gen took her time about it. This wasn't a part of Gen's life I wanted to know about; not because it involved homosexuality--who cares about that? I just didn't want to know anything about Gen's sex life, any more than I want to know about anybody else's or than I want anybody to know about mine. One's private life is, well, PRIVATE! Don't ask, don't tell is a really good policy. It's time for us all to get a grip.

Ok. That's out of the way.