There’s a Lesbian in my living room…
Lots of unusual people came through the door of my hippie shop in Buffalo, NY. After all it was Buffalo’s first exposure to what was then west coast hippie culture. But when Madeline Davis walked in I was speechless. I was her number one fan. I was 16 and she was a folk singer. My friends and I would sit in the front row, our mouths agape, listening to that big voice come out of that big woman. And now, she casually walked through the door of my business and ordered a pair of sandals.
I exhaled when she left and started telling the story of my adoration. “You know, she’s a lesbian” my business partner said.
I jumped to her defense, “don’t say that about her!”
“I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with it, I’m just saying she’s a lesbian.”
When I was forced to close the shop, I took a lot of stuff home with me, including her sandals. And, now here she was, talking nice to me, giving me money and asking me what I was going to do now that my husband was in jail. The needle was stuck on the record, the only thought running through my head was “there’s a lesbian in my living room, there’s a lesbian in my living room! there’s a lesbian in my living room”
It took a few years for me to find my way to my own revelation. I left the homeland and moved to Sweden, I left Sweden and moved to Canada where I came out with a vengence. It didn’t take long for me to I realilzed that Madeline knew I was a lesbian way before I even had a clue. I had to call her the next time I was in town.
“I don’t know if you remember me…”
“Oh! I remember you, how are you?”
“I’m great! I just wanted to tell you that I’ve come out.”
She laughed. “Come on over, right now, I’ll make you breakfast.”
We appreciated each other from that moment on. I stayed at her house when I was in her town, she and her wife came to my house in Seattle and I arranged a concert for her at the local lesbian bar. The years rolled by. The friendship flourished. We “got” each other. I tattooed an extensive feather boa around her shoulders, and I tattooed her initial on her wife.
Every time a state legalized gay marriage, they got married, again and again. They were married in Vermont, they were married by a rabbi in Buffalo, they were married and married and married. She was the first gay speaker, ever at the Democratic National Convention , she started the Western New York Gay and Lesbian Archives, she co- authored a book about lesbians in Buffalo in the 40’s and 50’s. She was a hyper active activist. And now she’s gone. Left the planet peacefully in the night. I’m grateful for our lifelong connection and am feeling the hole in the universe where she used to be. Bon Voyage Madeline, you were a wonder. A wonder woman, a wonderful friend, and I wonder where you are now.