After the big SCOPE orientation in Atlanta, where a speech by Bayard Rustin instantly converted me to pacifism, I spent seven weeks in Williamston, North Carolina (Martin County) doing voter registration work with Sara Small and others.
I definitely think we did some good things. But at a certain point, one member of our group unwittingly responded to questions from a plantation ownerby showing him our list of people in his fields who had expressed interest in registering to vote. A day later, we learned that all them had lost their jobs. At that point, I realized that as well meaning as our actions were, we had the potential to do more harm than good.
I was a white person who had the choice to avoid the draft by returning to Amherst College on full scholarship, while the people I was trying to help were, at least in short haul, stuck with the consequences of our actions. Thus, I decided it best to leave the work to people who were more integrated into the community I was trying to serve, and better understood how to proceed.
I left North Carolina a week before the SCOPE summer project ended, and not long before Stokely Carmichael began speaking about Black Power and the need for Black people to take control of the civil rights struggle.
Besides, I needed to address my own struggle as a closeted gay man who, with no positive role models, latched his own struggle onto the struggles of others. Coming out took several more years. I became quite active in SDS. After graduating Amherst and spending a summer in the SDS teacher/organizer institute, I became an SDS campus traveler in the midwest where I organized the midwest's first draft resistance conference with Benjamin Spock as keynote speaker.
In the winter of 1968, I headed to New Haven where I did community organizing work, met my first lover, and pretended he was my apolitical artist roommate. Starting in November 1969, I spent 10 weeks in Cuba on the first Venceremos Brigade in Cuba. I returned to live collectively and work on the Bobby Seale trial.
In the spring of 1970, I came out with a bang, founded the New Haven Gay Liberation Front and, in the early summer of 1970, moved to NYC to work in the Gay Liberation Front, live in the pioneering 17th Street gay men's collective, and march in the first Pride parade.
In 2009, my husband and I participated in the 40th Venceremos Brigade. Now, close to 51 years after Louisburg, I'm about to join the Pride Board on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state.
Along the way, I've had numerous careers, including my current one as a music/audio critic and writer for Stereophile and and other publications. In 1986, I edited a major book on holistic healing of AIDS. Some years after I changed my name to Jason Victor Serinus — it's a long story — I became the whistling "Voice of Woodstock" in the Emmy-nominated Peanuts cartoon, She's a Good Skate, Charlie Brown, and had the joy of whistling Puccini's "O mio babbino caro" for tens of millions of people. Yes, I survived an appearance with David Letterman on The Tonight Show.
I also had a 30 year career as a bodyworker (on people). The journey continues...