In 1993, two life-changing events tilted the see-saw of my life from the clouds (a spectacular love affair) to the Slough of Despond (surgery for a non-cancerous brain tumor, followed by the end of said romance). Late in the latter period I was poring over the magazines at the old Glad Day Bookstore on Boylston Street in Boston, when I came upon the zebra-striped cover of Volume I, Number 1 of The Harvard Gay & Lesbian Review. I knew the name of no one in that issue. Andrew Holleran? Phil Gambone? Alistair Williamson? Diane Hamer? Never would I have imagined that one day I would be chatting with Andrew at literary festivals, dining with Phil before a reading from his new book, developing a close friendship with Alistair, or joining Diane on the Board of Directors of the newly organized the Review.
On the back cover of that first issue of the Review was the notice: “Eligibility [for prospective contributors]is not restricted to Harvard alumni/ae or other Harvard affiliates.” I was definitely not an alum and my affiliation was, I thought, tenuous, being an employee of a Harvard teaching hospital. I was casting about for something to help fill the spaces in my life, but had written only a couple of brief book reviews for small-circulation publications in previous years. So it was with not much confidence that I submitted my first review to the HGLR. I had seen Craig Hickman’s one-man performance piece, Skin and Ornaments, at the theatre of the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, loved it, and reviewed it. Much to my delight, it was published in the Spring 1994 issue. Emboldened by its publication, I went to each production of Boston’s Theater Offensive “Spic Out,” a festival of Latino lesbian and gay theater, and wrote a slew of theatre reviews—all rejected because their interest was “too local,” as Richard Schneider informed me by phone, and “the Review is a national magazine.” Richard, whom I had yet to meet in person, invited me to write a book review. In the Fall 1994 issue, my review of Kate Bornstein’s recently published Gender Outlaw appeared. I’ve had one or more reviews or essays in every issue since.
By the Winter 1995 issue, Richard had put me on the masthead. It is impossible to overstate what his vote of confidence meant to me. Following a few tinkerings with the titles on the masthead, I was named (along with Alistair Williamson) as “literary editor” in the Summer 1997 issue. In that issue, Lucy Jane Bledsoe was featured; since that time we’ve had great conversations at every literary festival that’s come along. Tom Bianchi was featured too, and though few people believe me when I tell them that he produced a photo book for lesbians (Among Women, 1996), I have the signed copy to prove it.
The past ten Review years have rushed by, and I’ve loved every minute of every aspect of them. Who wouldn’t, though, when it mostly revolves around “stuffing salons,” dinners, readings, and the excitement of advance page proofs? I’ve met and become friends with an engaging group of poets and writers, editors and publishers, and people who love to read.
Thank you, Richard, for inventing this magazine, and thank you, dear readers, for supporting it. I look forward to the next ten years with buoyant anticipation.