by Marti Smith

I once had a T shirt that read “Farm Grown and Illinois Good.”

I grew up on the seat of tractor,on a farm homesteded by my great great grandparents.During the late 1950’s and early 1960’s there was no information to be found about being gay. Besides I was naive and would not have known what references to look for.

Only when I had grown up to be a lesbian did I begin to get it. I understood the double meaning carried in the words on that shirt and I wore it until the words were faded. And then I continued to wear it to shreds. In my mind I remain “Farm Grown and Illinois Good”.

And so at the age of twenty, I find myself living and working in Houston, Texas and trying find out if I am as I suspect a LESBIAN. Unlike back in my farm town, I at least now have a name for what I think I am. I had a good job in a hospital laboratory and was soon approached by another woman who also worked there. Conversations took place, she later told me had found me using something called “gaydar” which is a sort of sixth sense that queer people seem to have for each other. She offered to show me where the gay bars were. It was clear to us both that 1968 Houston was not the time or place to risk having a relationship with a coworker. But off we went to the bars where I soon met my first lesbian lover. I soon learned the formula of lesbian love and moved her in with me less than a week after meeting her. Life was good. A job that I liked, early evenings spent in gay bars and home for great sex. Things were about to change.

So. I have by accident…I think while fending off my ex who was beating on me…she retreats crying and howling to lock herself in the bathroom and stayed there for some time. She eventually emerged and went to the corner to pick up her old rusted three shot rifle. In the late sixties all Texans kept some sort of loaded guy somewhere. Probably they still do. She ordered me to sit on the bed and I did, I remember thinking that if that rusty gun went off, it might blow up and hurt us both. Next the pulled the phone cord from the wall and then shot the gun . The bullet passed over myhead and out an open window. There we sat when the police started pounding on the door several minutes later. She ran to the bathroom and I opened the door to the police. I have forgotten several important points. Neither of us was dressed, a severely bitten ear lobe produces loots and loots of blood and she was still bleeding some. I pulled on a pair of jeans and flannel shirt. The police enter. She comes out of the bathroom wearing baby doll pjs spattered with blood.

Did mention that I am 5’9″ and she was about 5’2″ tall. She is covered in blood and I have not a drop on me. One officer takes me outside and I hear the other inside saying to her, “Do you want to press charges Maam?”

She says no, I grab some things in a bag and spend the night in my car, not in the apartment where I HAVE THE LEASE. Worse still is my poor overactive libido which results in moving her in and out of my bedroom several more times until…I finally allow my lease to expire, pack my car with my clothes and stero and run home to that Illinois farm.