Don't ask me how it happened; I have no clear recollection. I have always had this brazen habit of coming right out and directly asking for whatever I want; I always figured "no!" was the only worst possible outcome, aside from a good cussing, perhaps. Either or both I can handle.
My best friend, who had invited me to this event, wasn't even a speaker; she was just present for class credit and I had nothing better to do so I happily joined her. Her professor was the director, or MC, of the night's festivities and proceedings and Jill introduced us soon after we entered the banquet hall and before the speaking commenced.
I also have this horrid habit of mentioning that I am an artist to anyone of any importance or significance whatsoever, hoping to sound gallant and impressive. I can only surmise that Jill's teacher asked me what kind of artist I was, and I must have boldly stated, with an air of haughty confidence no doubt, that I was a de facto grand poet of the ages. I was only 19 at the time and thought I was Poe! My style was sloppy and unrefined, but I didn't know it yet.
Given that this was a "Women's Studies" organization and all guest speakers that night were, obviously, going to be female, I don't know how I convinced, finagled, schemed, bulled, or mechanized my way into making myself an impromptu speaker as well that evening. It was an "anything goes" type platform, from women reading poetry to short stories, to essays or presenting artwork. I was, I kid you not, the first male to EVER be a speaker at this "Women's Studies" gathering.
Having committed many of my poems to memory, I just quickly jotted down four or five particular favorites, and when it was my time to speak, impertinently stepped right up to the platform, adjusted the microphone, and recited my horrible poetry to a group of...I'm not sure if "feminists" is quite the word for which I am searching. Let's just say that if Gloria Steinem or Gertrude Stein had been in the audience, I might have been yanked off the podium. So there I was, babbling about, having basically crashed this Feminist rally. That I wasn't mauled or had my eyes scratched out can only be attributed to luck, progressive-thinking, guardian Angels or plain ol' polite courtesy. In retrospect, I blanch at the thought of my shameless, unabashed audacity.
I would love to know whether any more males ever took part in anymore of their events, but I guess I'll never know and can only hope that little bit of history I made that night remains intact. True story.