A wedding picture should look happy, someone in a movie once said. Certainly not pathetic. Many photographs were published of the more than four thousand marriages that were so famously performed at City Hall during that false spring. But, among all the joyous faces smiling at their same-sex spouses, the only ones that struck me with pathos were those of Peter Hart and Andy Stone.

The obviously, gravely sick Peter, though barely fifty-five, showed not a trace of the handsome man he had been. With his scraggly white beard and almost bald head, he might as well have been thirty years older. Seated in his wheelchair, he seemed barely able to keep his head up, and his attempted smile seemed the result of a painful effort.

Behind the wheelchair stood a beaming Andy, glowing with youth and vigor, his blond mane blowing in the wind. He had his hands on Peter’s shoulders and was looking down on him affectionately.

The pictures were pathetic enough; they reminded me of some of Goya’s Caprichos, or other depictions contrasting youth with decrepit old age. But even more pathetic were the captions in which Peter was variously referred to as former playboy or erstwhile man-about-town or onetime society squire.

Labels of this sort seem benign when they describe a man who has given up the frivolous life and settled into one of religious contemplation, like Augustine of Hippo, or into one as a happy family man, like Warren Beatty. They betoken mature wisdom taking the place of youthful folly. But in the case of Peter Hart they came across like a form of condemnation, like a Goya caption, as though some moralizing voice were saying, this is what happens when


I knew Peter Hart. He had, in fact, been my friend. I should say, rather, that he was my friend, since nothing had intervened to end the friendship. True, once Margo and I separated, the active friendship – phone calls, social get-togethers and, more recently, hospital visits – continued only with her. But whenever Peter and I happened to meet, our relation was invariably that of old friends.

In the nineteen-seventies, when I was first an undergraduate and then a law student at Berkeley, Peter’s name was often to be found on the society pages and in the gossip columns of the local papers, typically linked to that of some beautiful woman whom he was said to be escorting or squiring. He might have been taken for a gigolo had he not been known to be an heir to a large Midwestern industrial fortune.

I had no interest in the society pages, and while I enjoyed reading Herb Caen, the names of the people that he gossiped about were, to me, just names.

Margo comes from a thoroughly middle-class, liberal family, with whom I always felt very comfortable, including her two older married-with-children-and-then-divorced sisters, Cathy and Jeanne. But she is descended from a French forty-niner – all the girls in the family are named for French queens – and is distantly related to a good number of the of the people appearing in those pages. And she did in fact scan them for names of her relatives. She would then duly point these out to me, with a precise explication of the family relationship. With her help I came to know some of the other names, including that of Peter Hart.


Peter Hart was also my first client, or, to be exact, the first client of the firm that Margo and I formed, foolhardily but in the end successfully, after we passed the bar. I was the one who did most of the work for Peter; it involved untangling some provisions of a trust fund that his grandmother had left him and that had come under his control when he turned thirty. The trust had been set up in Ohio, and later amended in Florida when the grandmother had moved there. The legal bases and the terminologies used in those two jurisdictions differed from each other as well as from what was used in California, and the work was exhausting – numerous times I had to get up before dawn in order to call lawyers working on Eastern time – but ultimately rewarding: In a short time I learned a lot about the drudgery of real legal work, and decided that I liked it after all. Also, it brought us a fee in the form of the biggest check either one of us had ever seen.

Most of Peter’s personal contact, though, was with Margo and not with me. We had agreed in advance that the division of labor in our firm would be of that nature: I would be the solicitor, and she the barrister. Margo not only had charm and wit by the bucketful, but also the skill to explain complex legal issues to lay people simply yet accurately. Later on, as we took on cases requiring litigation, Margo did most of the courtroom work, especially with juries, though I could hold my own in dealings with fellow attorneys.


We met Peter one night at the Opera House, at the time when symphony orchestras still played there; Davies Symphony Hall was still under construction. We had been married for a year, and had just finished our last semester at Boalt; orchestra seats for the New York Philharmonic under Bernstein were our mutual graduation-cum-anniversary present. I got involved in reading the program notes, but when my attention strayed from them I noticed that Margo was chatting with a very handsome, seemingly unaccompanied man who was sitting next to her. His hair and neatly trimmed beard were light brown, and he was wearing a beige corduroy blazer over a white turtleneck. I overheard him saying to Margo, “You always read about me dating so-and-so, but when there’s something I’m really interested in, like listening to Mahler, then I’d much rather be alone.” He noticed me looking his way, and reached out his right arm above Margo’s lap, carefully avoiding contact with her far-from-ample chest. “Hi,” he said, “I’m Peter Hart.”

I shook his hand and said, “I’m Gary Einhorn.”

“Pleasure to meet you,” he said. “Your lovely wife seems to know all about my public persona.”

“Just what I read in the papers,” Margo interjected.

The oboe sounded its A, and the orchestra began tuning. “Let’s continue this at intermission,” Peter Hart said. “Let me invite you for some drinks.”

At intermission, over drinks at the bar, I noticed that Peter was quite tall, and his eyes were blue. After an exchange of comments about how magnificent Bernstein’s Mahler had been, Margo told Peter about our plan to open a small law practice in the city after passing the bar. In response to his question, I told him that our specialty would be family law in all of its aspects – divorce, custody, inheritance and so on.

“Would that include trusts?” he asked.

“Of course,” I answered.

“In that case,” he said, “I would like the opportunity of being your first client.” He paused to let us overcome our amazement. “I have a matter that’s not urgent,” he went on, “but will require the utmost discretion, and I’m not sure I can trust the big established firms that way.”

“But we won’t even get the bar results until November,” Margo said.

“That’s okay. As I said, it isn’t urgent. And, by the way, if you need financial help in setting up your office, I’d be glad to give you an advance on your retainer. Here’s my phone number,” he said, suddenly seeming hurried as he pulled a card from an inside pocket of his blazer and handed it to Margo. “Let’s keep in touch. But there’s someone here that I need to talk to. Bye!” He rushed toward a corner where a bearded, slightly older man seemed to be waiting for him.

Intermission was over, and we returned to the hall for the second half of the concert. Peter’s seat remained empty.

As we were walking back to our car, Margo suddenly said, “Peter Hart is gay.”

“What?” I exclaimed. “He told you?”

“He didn’t have to. The guy who was waiting for him, and the way he walked over, and the fact that he didn’t come back… it’s obvious.”


Peter Hart came out publicly about a year later, after doing so privately, to Margo and me – his attorneys – a month before, when he told us that he expected to be disinherited by his parents. The expectation came true amid great publicity. The trust on which we had worked was now his only asset, but he was still a very wealthy man.

I suddenly understood why he had wanted to keep its existence secret. “I guess he wouldn’t be such a gay hero,” I said to Margo, “giving up family wealth for his sexual preference, if it were known that he’s still rich.”

“You’re such a cynic!” she said. “As a matter of fact I agree with you, but I’ll bet all heroes have secrets that, if they were known, would make them less heroic.”

“That’s why I don’t believe in heroes…”

“But…” she began.

“Not the ones of the heroic type. My heroes, as you know, are the people who just do what they’re good at in spite of hardships…”

“Like Rembrandt or Bach,” she finished for me with a smile. I smiled back as I opened the passenger door for her.


It didn’t take long for Peter Hart to transfer his playboy habits to the homosexual world, but, with his looks, social position, articulate personality and heroic status, he also became a leader in the gay community. It was the time of the first inroads of AIDS, and Peter emerged as a champion of those opposed to the closing of the bathhouses. At the end of the decade, on publicly acknowledging that he was HIV-positive, he became an advocate for “safer” sex. Later still, when he announced that he had AIDS, he was prominent in the campaign for the development of anti-retroviral drugs.

It was about that time that Margo left me, having found herself in love with our friend Joyce, with whom she is still living. Our divorce was amicable; she left me our house in the Sunset, and let me have effective custody of Greg, who was fourteen. When we separated our practices, we more or less split our client list evenly, with the clients’ consent, to be sure. Peter Hart, naturally, became Margo’s client, though after our work on the trust there was no longer much lawyering to do on his behalf; management of the trust, once it was under Peter’s control, was given to the trust department of a small bank whose president was a friend of Peter’s. Margo also got to keep the firm’s name, Dufresne Einhorn, since she intended to go on styling herself Margo Dufresne Einhorn – something she did for a year or so (until, as my friend and fellow-attorney Jerry Brucker joked, she ran out of stationery).


And now, barely a year and a half after the wedding, Peter Hart was dead.

After a long illness. Champion of gay causes. Survived by his long-time companion. Andy Stone had been Peter’s companion for barely three years, but by Peter’s standards that was a long time.

Peter’s wealth was no longer a secret; it was Margo who announced it to the media. Oddly enough, he had left no will, an absence that she explained as due to the fact that, after Peter’s friend’s bank had been bought by a very large one (Wells Fargo, to be precise), its trust department was merged with the latter’s, with the result that Peter’s account no longer received the personal attention it needed. (The friend, who had been one of the small bank’s chief stockholders, received a great deal of money and became a Silicon Valley venture capitalist.) Margo, as she reported, had over the years urged Peter several times to write a will, but had been met with evasion on his part.

Now Margo declared that she would fight for Andy’s right to inherit, as Peter’s spouse, the bulk of his estate.

After the scattering of Peter’s ashes over Corona Heights Park, a memorial gathering was held at the Randall Museum, one of Peter’s pet causes. Here the straight – including the mayor and other politicians – mingled with the gay, and among the gay, those who were ostentatiously so with those displayed their orientation only by their choice of companions. Margo and Joyce were of this second category, while the bereaved Andy was, most flamboyantly, of the first.

Not much seemed to be known about Andy Stone, except that he was from the South. Even Margo, who was now his lawyer, was evasive when I asked her how much she knew about him. No one seemed to remember him before the time that he suddenly showed up, seemingly out of nowhere, accompanying Peter Hart in Peter’s manifold activities at a time when Peter, though already ill, could still participate in them. But it did not take long for Andy, displaying the charm and humor of a genteel Southerner, to become a popular figure in the community. His devotion to Peter was exemplary, and I wished him the best of luck in inheriting Peter’s wealth. When I told him so at the gathering, he sighed deeply, and then smiled, saying, “With Margo on my side I’m halfway there.”


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