Bill, in his own words: “I am writing this from the perspective of a gay man who was born in 1943, and is now comfortable and self-respecting, but I remember that when I was very young I had crushes on other boys, and I also knew that I could draw well and was artistic.
I discovered that the world around me thought of crushes on boys to be queer and thus to be shunned . I also found that although it was fascinating to people to be artistic, that too, was suspect because it wouldn’t be something you could do to make money and be taken seriously. Two strikes against you! Well you either hide what you are or struggle to understand yourself, something most people don’t seem to do because they follow the acceptable conventions thinking everything will come out “normal” and they’ll be socially successful. So I developed my talent, which as it grew, revealed my inner self to me and to the world, and this is very fulfilling. The more difficult struggle is to accept your sexual difference until you realize that this is who you are and other people’s opinion should not determine your value. I” came out” to myself at around age 20, accepting that I was gay and no magic was going to happen to change me , and then slowly testing the waters with my most trusted friends I revealed my “secret”. Since most of my friends were caring and intelligent they were not shocked or repelled. I also entered the art profession as both an artist and a teacher where among such professionals these things didn’t matter.
I also” came out”,( here in New York City where I was born and raised), in the late ’60’s, at a time when the sexual and political revolts of all youth were beginning to happen, so it was easier for us than for earlier generations of gay men who could be arrested for their activities. We had “The Village” to cruise, and meet friends, and feel solidarity without harassment. I was also beginning to show my work and teach, so those successes gave me more strength to feel pride in myself and believe the choices I had made were right.
Reviewing my life now in my 70s, it is mostly through my analysis of my development as an artist that I realize that we are who we are to be from birth; our talents, our intelligence , and our desires and drives. If we are free to explore ourselves without constraint, we use these abilities to reach the fruition of a satisfying adulthood with a calm but not arrogant pride. If I were to be able to speak to my younger self I would say,” keep doing what you’re doing, it’ll be fine”, and I’d borrow the line from George Gershwin’s song, I Got Rhythm, and say, “who could ask for anything more?”