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Southern Babtist Sissy

My stepfather and I had never been more than civil to one another and my revelation provoked from him a frightening ultimatum. Either I would undergo concentrated psychotherapy and "beat this thing" or he would see to it that I had no further contact with my younger brothers and sisters. It was unclear if I would have any contact with my mother should I fail in this assignment but it was clear I would be unwanted in the home my step father owned and in which my family lived. Faced with estrangement from those I loved, I decided to put my fate in the hands of the Birmingham Alabama Psychiatric Community and see if I could rewire myself into something resembling a heterosexual.

Enter Dr. Hainey and the "plan". I began seeing Dr. Hainey in the summer of 1970. His offices were in the University of Alabama Medical Center in Birmingham. I would drive from my parent's home in Jasper for my weekly appointments with Dr. Hainey and my introduction to "aversion therapy." This therapy consisted of male and female pornography and electrodes attached to a large car-size battery and then to me. I was told to look at the male pornography until I became aroused and then dear Dr. Hainey would turn up the juice as I stared at the male nudes and the muscles in my arm would begin to burn and contract. When the pain became intolerable (I was told not to be a sissy about it and to take as much pain as possible) I was then to turn my head and when I looked back the male nude was replaced by a female nude and Dr. Hainey would shut off his little current of torture. This went on week after week and in the meantime I had a new "lifestyle" at home as well. I was put to work recapping tires at my stepfather's Tire and Appliance store in Jasper. It was very hot; physically exhausting work and the theory was that it would make a man out of me. I also was expected, per Dr. Hainey's orders, to have at least one date with a girl on the weekends. Along with this heterosexual-in-training routine I was in my freshman year at the local Junior College and in rehearsals for the college's production of (appropriately enough) GUYS AND DOLLS. I played Big Jule and I promptly fell in love with the actor/student playing Nathan Detroit. This effortlessly heterosexual young man befriended me and was kind beyond the call of duty but the relationship was headed for disaster. We drank cases of gin, listened to The Beatles, roamed the countryside, shared our dreams and one afternoon while sitting in his dorm room listening to the current Kinks hit, LOLA, I confessed that I was a homosexual. I failed to mention to him that I had also fallen in love with him. Although he was understanding beyond my expectations and did not push me away, I went home devastated at my admission.

Glenn and Millie Wallace, one of his regular "dates" in 1969.

It was a beautiful Friday afternoon in October 1970 and my mother was home with my youngest brother Frank. I thought about Dr. Hainey and his battery. I thought about the lake of fire. I thought about recapping tires. I put on side two of The Beatles Abbey Road and I took about thirty pills of the mood elevator called Elavil that I had found in my parents bedroom. It was both my mother's and my stepfathers' supply. I placed the empty pill bottles on my stereo console and I went to bed and listened to The Beatles. When no one came to discover me dying, I decided to tell my mother that I had committed suicide. This led to a frantic drive to the hospital where I fell into a coma for three days. I awoke to see my grandmother Lucille sitting at my bedside. I was never able to tell her the truth but she knew. It was her spirituality as opposed to religiosity that gave me hope. There was no judgment from my grandmother. All she had for me was love.

Lucille Mitchum Livingston circa 1915.