There is a photograph in my house that haunts me. It is 100 years old. I don’t really need to look at it anymore because I have memorized every detail. But look at it I do. It is safely in my cupboard of photographs because I fear it might dissolve away in the vulgar light.

The photograph is of my great-aunt who died two decades before I was born. She is holding her not yet four year old son. It was taken by her lover, Lucia Larranga. It is, all at once, triumph and love and dignity.

It is a celluloid talisman against the vampire of lesbian erasure that seeks to bury and discard the corpses of their lives and each time I let my eyes fall upon it I can conjure the power of their lives beautifully led.

Leslie is her name. She was born in 1895 in San Francisco and her mother died before her first birthday. Her mother was Einnim Tucker Miller and she is, I kid you not, interred in a fucking pyramid.

Einnim was named after (you will not see this coming) her mother Minnie by spelling the name backwards. I had suggested this tactic to my wife Kiki who violently opposed the idea of children named Kram and Ikik. Yet she is considered to be *fun* at parties and people *like* her.

Leslie loved her grandparents who sent her little notes in little tiny envelopes asking her to come spend the night at their house. Little. Tiny. Notes.

By 22 (1917) she had met Lucia Larranga who was ten years older. She fell harder than an inebriated first-time snowboarder. They wanted a child...badly. There was no reciprocal in vitro fertilization or artificial insemination. After what must have been unimaginably agonizing

deliberations, they decided Leslie must marry a <shudder> man. They settled on Kenneth Moore, a friend and junior army officer getting ready to go fight WWI in France. Leslie laid out the deal: They would marry and once she was pregnant they would divorce. And that’s exactly what

they did. The little boy in the picture, Robert, was born 7 Feb 1918 and was named after Leslie’s brother (my grandfather). He was a pandemic baby and they all wore the God-damned masks and survived. Because they weren’t idiots. In 1920 they took a celebratory trip to Hawaii.

On the same passenger manifest is Lucia Larranga. And do you know what they brought back from Hawaii six months later? Not macadamias in shitty chocolate for their friends. No. They brought back Louise Taylor. From Hawaii. And now they were three. If the word throuple pops into

your head, please stop reading this thread right now. You are banished. So Leslie and Lucia and Louise raised little Bobby. The makers of the L-word owe them a credit. Leslie and Lucia living together on the 1920 Census, then with Louise on the 1930 Census and 1940 Census

In 1920 Lucia is listed, very elegantly as “companion.” In 1930 crassly as “boarder” and in 1940 as, merely, “friend.” Same address on all: 230 Atherton Avenue, Atherton, CA. Show below in the 1st column is home value $150,000. In 1940. These were lesbians in control.

Leslie always wore white or pastel and Lucia always wore black. Always. I’ve seen dozens of photos across decades. Always.

Leslie died in 1946. Lucia in 1969 and Louise in 1975. They were strong believers in the first in first out inventory control system. They left many little gifts for each other and Bobby collected a few. Here’s one.

I never met any of them. I knew Bobby as an older man when I was young. He would come to our house for dinner dressed in a suit with gold tie-pin and cuff-links and, invariably, tennis shoes. Those three women raised him. They sent him to Stanford. He drew cartoons for

the New Yorker. He played piano. He never worked. He never married He was gay. He was lovely and eccentric and accepted every invitation and showed up slightly less than rarely. “Bit of a sniffle coming on.” He would go to the Balboa Cafe in SF at night and play for hours.

When he was done he took his over-flowing tip jar and gave it to the wait staff. After he had a stroke he was unable to talk but he wrote letters. Beautiful letters with drawing and a hundred cross outs from where his brain kept supplying the wrong word. After several years he

went back to the Balboa Cafe. His hair had gone all white overnight; he didn’t get it cut. He grew a beard. The staff had turned over. The piano was covered in potted plants and pushed to the corner. He sat down at a table. The manager came over and told him that homeless people

couldn’t occupy their tables. He got up and left, leaving a hundred dollars on the table. The L’s raised a fucking champion of a human being. So I see that photo and all that went into its subjects’ becoming and all that they became. And it haunts me

Deleted scene: Bobby Moore knew an endless variety of songs. He had a vast mental library of them. They were tunes from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. Leslie, Lucia and Louise must have played music constantly. For the simple reason that I was self-centered and lacking in

foresight, I never asked him about that. But the genius thing about this was something I thought was borderline insane as a kid. He would start singing snippets of lyrics in the middle of his sentences.

He might begin saying: “Oh yes I was very fond of your Aunt Marian,”then sing: 🎼🎼 If I didn’t care. More than words can say.🎼, then back to speaking. I can recall first become conscious of this and glancing furtively around the dining room table at my parents and siblings

but no one seemed alarmed. (I am number 9 out of 10 children). They all just carried on eating and speaking. After some time I became as nonchalant to this incredible mannerism as the rest. When I was in 7th grade, he asked me before dinner one night:

“Do you have someone special at school?” I must have instantly become fascinated by the relationship of my shoes to the carpet as I quietly related that there was a girl in 8th grade that I secretly adored.

He lifting his drink and sang 🎼🎼 So here’s to you Mrs. Robinson, Jesus loves you more than you will know, oh, oh, oh.”🎼🎼. I had no idea what he was talking about. I certainly didn’t know the song. Only much later did I comprehend.

He was alluding to the obviously predatory intentions, toward a 12 year-old boy, of this 13 year-old goddess-girl whom I can assure you, with complete and utter confidence, was happily unaware that the two of us shared the same planet. Fin for now.