Gloria Bates, I’m remembering Harriet and Mary, a couple who lived across the street from Lenny and me in New York. They were in their 50s and early 60s when I knew them, and had been together forever.

Harriet was a buyer for Macy's, a true brash New Yorker with the accent to match. She called herself a lesbian.

Mary, on the other hand, drove a yellow cab and dressed like a cabbie. She always called herself a dyke, and Harriet always called her one too — affectionately, of course. When I read your article, I think of how Harriet definitely emanated a lesbian vibe, while Mary was all dyke.

The word is certainly useful if people are cool with continuing to reclaim it. I have the sense, though, that the reclamation isn’t as far along as the reclamation of “queer.”


Writer. Runner. Marine. Airman. Former LGBTQ and HIV activist. Former ActUpNY and Queer Nation. Polyglot. Middle-aged, uppity faggot.