On my first visit to Russia, a fan took me aside and, lowering his voice, said, "Tell me. Is it true that your Samuel R. Delany is... of a different persuasion?"
"Queer as can be!" I said cheerfully. "He's written entire books about how gay he is."
And my friend nodded in a way that indicated he was taking my theory about Chip's sexuality into consideration.
Russia is anything but enlightened on the LGBT front. So you can imagine how surprised I was last month to discover a simple way of evading the current, entirely-unnecessary debate over which bathroom transgendered people should use.
I was in a convention center in Moscow when I felt the call of nature. So I followed the signs and found myself suddenly standing before a large open space with free-standing sinks at which women were washing their hands. Beyond them was a wall of doors with behind each door a toilet.
You don't often find yourself in an unfamiliar category of public space. So I stood a distance back from the arrangement, watching while several men hurried past and into the little rooms. Then, when I was clear on the rules -- that all the rooms were available to people of all genders -- I did my business.
Unisex bathrooms. This was the dire, society-destroying threat that sank the Equal Rights Amendment decades ago. And yet, they're nothing new. I grew up in a house that had one. You probably did too.
Above: The men's room door at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia. Another pretty simple solution.