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    Words: Resistance, Identity, and Loss

    By Michele Karlsberg–

    Michele Karlsberg: A vivid, no holds barred page turner, Failure to Appear: Resistance, Identity and Loss is a memoir about a lesbian of conscience who became a fugitive who was on the run for over nineteen years using several identities. It is a gripping story about finding your true self and your sexual truth during the turbulent late sixties through the late eighties, against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, the Nixon and Reagan years, the women’s and gay liberation movements, and the HIV/AIDS crisis. The following is an excerpt from the book that was authored by Emily L. Quint Freeman:

    I chuckle as I read a pink flyer taped to The Elephant Walk in the Castro:

                                 Sylvester’s One Night Only Show
                                 Need We Say More, Girls!

    Valentine’s Day 1978, I’m single again, out with Steve to catch the show. The Walk looks like an orange-and-white-striped circus tent, crammed full of exotic night creatures. I find Steve, energetically waving at me at the bar. Alongside him, I spot the freckled face and red spiky hair of Orvis, our mutual friend.

    Steve plants a peck on both my cheeks and says, “Welcome back, tiger!”

    At the far end, a striking black lesbian sips her margarita. I try not to stare and send her a well-behaved smile. I follow Steve and Orvis to a table near the stage.

    I down my G&T, my attention straying back to the woman at the bar. After we order a second round, Steve grins like a Cheshire cat as three guys sit down behind us. I turn around, instantly recognizing the face.

    It’s Harvey Milk, the first openly gay San Francisco City Supervisor who has become a prominent national leader for gay rights. Steve introduces me. Harvey and I shake hands, his fingers speckled with hair. He’s a lanky Jewish guy with tousled hair, a smile broader than the Bay Bridge, deep creases framing his cheeks, bulbous nose, and protruding ears like my father. Wit and intelligence exude from his eyes.

    Harvey has one request. “Please get out and vote this November, Emily. We’ll need everyone’s help to stop Anita and the Briggs Initiative.”

    A fugitive with four felonies. Damn, I’ll have to pass, Harvey.

    Orvis glances at me, a perplexed look on his face. He’s totally unpolitical and too shy to ask who Briggs and Anita are. I fill him in. “Briggs is a gay-bashing state legislator who’s sponsoring the ballot initiative that effectively bars us from teaching in public schools. Anita Bryant is the TV mouthpiece of Florida orange juice and the founding motherf—er of this crusade.”

    “California’s going to come out!” Harvey hoists his beer bottle over his head. His table companions cheer, as well as every shade of gay at the surrounding tables. 

    Harvey lifts my spirits. Like so many of us, I was downcast and pessimistic during the Nixon years. Harvey revives resistance, unity, and hope. Somehow, we must defeat the Briggs initiative. It’s the first round of carving up our civil rights.

    Steve asks me how I’m doing at my San Bruno digs. I tell him it sucks, the worst place to brood after breaking up. He offers to help me house hunt south of the city, where you can find bargains.

    Can I risk using my alias to get a loan? What if the bank finds something fishy? I’m going nuts where I am. The musicians take their seats. Whistles and clapping as the black lesbian from the bar strolls to the mic. “Are you ready to get down?”

    A bass voice, no s–t! I burst out laughing. Steve looks at me quizzically. “Just my luck,” I say, “to get my signals crossed tonight.”

    Emily L. Quint Freeman has appeared on CNN Evening News and NPR’s “All Things Considered.” She was interviewed by numerous progressive radio stations, such as KPFA, and was covered/quoted in “The New York Times,” “Washington Post,” “Chicago Tribune,” “National Catholic Reporter,” Associated Press, InfoWeek, Wired, and “The John Liner Review,” among others When she isn’t writing, you might find Emily planting veggie seeds in her garden or at her piano playing Scriabin. 

    Michele Karlsberg Marketing and Management specializes in publicity for the LGBTQ+ community. This year, Karlsberg celebrates 32 years of successful book campaigns. For more information: