Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A Source of Pride

The first time I ever went to a gay bar I was terribly disappointed.  I had dreamed of oiled up, impossibly tan, muscular guys in jockstraps, deafening disco, and mountains and mountains of cocaine.  Come to think of it, I also imagined a lot of Halston and fur coats and gigantic gold hoops (obviously in the fantasy the women were fully, fabulously clothed).  So maybe I was just sort of dreaming of my idealized version of Studio 54 x Fire Island.  That was not what I found.  Thank god, because who knows what would have become of me.  What I found was normal.  Normal is not a feeling a gay kid knows.  Sure, plenty of the good bad stuff happens.  But for the most part, it's just a confluence of people.  People who sometimes feel on the fringe--breathing a little easier because they feel normal.  No one thought my voice was weird or wondered why such a tall kid would stay home and arrange flowers on Friday night instead of play basketball. Like I would wear baggy shorts?
The story of these flowers is here
I have felt panic scared that someone would hurt me simply because I am gay on many occasions.  Not in a long time, but that sort of elemental fear is a Rubicon.  I've always thought that gay men and straight women are fundamentally compatible because we must protect ourselves with similar cunning.  Therefore we protect each other.   When I was 17, ironically I skipped school to get balloons for my favorite teacher's birthday.  I was wearing tiiiiight ripped jeans, a navy button down, and a Black Watch tartan tie.  Back then I had two hairstlyes.  That day was my "1950s jock look".  As in cleanly swept back on the sides with a little boxy pompadour. It was my typical preppy I might be going to the yacht club or a gay orgy I haven't decided look.  On my way in the store, a fabulous woman who looked like a Bond Girl said to me Oooh baby you are too groovy for the Giant Eagle, honey! We talked about my hair and if I ripped my jeans myself, bought them that way, or if the rips happened organically (it was a combo of 1 &3).  She said I just love you and we went separate ways with our carts.  In the back of the store where the ribbon and fish food were, there were two men.  They were probably buying fish food and I was obviously buying ribbon.  They started saying awful things to me.  I was panicking and thought maybe if I hadn't been wearing such a gay outfit, this wouldn't be happening.  And then I hear I DON'T THINK SO and see my fabulous Bond Girl new friend literally charging the guys with her cart.  She was valiant and victorious and I was submissive and scared.  Strangers can be heartbreakingly cruel and they can be eclipsingly kind.  I repay those karmic debts when I see the opportunity.
The next day I wore different ripped jeans (with a slash under my left butt cheek, a long-retired SAJ signature), a white button down, and a white jacket.  Oh and some loafers I was in overdraft for like three weeks for.  I figured whether I looked gross or glam, I was gay either way.  Might as well do it being too groovy for the Giant Eagle.

In this time of agony and shame, there is still Pride and community to be found.  My heart is broken for the victims, their families and friends, for Orlando--and broadly, for all of us.  My spirit is buoyed by the love, support, and pride that is flowing.  Gay clubs reach far beyond gay people.  I used to work with a woman who went to a gay bar on Christmas Eve every year.  She is straight and married and has a smart, hilarious daughter.  The first time she did this, her mother had recently passed away and she had no friends or family to spend the holiday with.  So she went to Union.  She said she was included and loved and felt real family.  It became a tradition that she still practices.  Except now she brings her family to share with those who might need the warmth.  So I would like to ask you to share your memories and experiences of gay bars with us here in your comments.  Your first time, the most fun time, the time you puked on a drag queen--whatever.  Anything goes.  

100 comments:

  1. I hate to admit that I have only been inside a gay bar here in OKC once in my life, and I really do not remember much of it as I was in college doing what college girls do. Do not make me explain that. But, what I do know about my interactions with the LGBT community is that my brother is gay, and next to my children and my dear daddy, he is the person I love most in this world. He is also involved with a wonderful man whom is almost as great as he is (almost and so far, anyway). In my limited experience, gay men are gentlemen. They are men, but they are also gentlemen who know how to treat ladies. I have really struggled with the shooting in Orlando, mainly as a mother, but also as someone who is fed up with hate and the lack of plain kindness which has seemingly been sacrificed on the altar of "everyone has an opinion, and they are allowed to express it." I won't debate that other than to say I have a bigger mouth than most people I know, and if I can keep a lid on it, so can everyone else. On an unrelated note, I dearly love your writing and experiences. Reading your blog reminds me of my own family and my brother who is 250 miles away. Thank you for sharing your experiences, humor, and heart. Perhaps if you are ever in Oklahoma City, I can take you to lunch or a drink.

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    1. Thank you so much, Lori! If/when I do another California trip I would probably somehow do the long ass drive so I could have Barbie at my side while I'm driven from vineyard to vineyard. So I'd imagine that would put me through OKC.
      Plus I would like to see the whole Oklahoma ranch and barbecue thing. I am right there with you. I feel like no one has bigger opinions than I do and yet I can manage to keep my mouth shut when it's not helpful or rude not to. My mother has been basically in fight or flight since this (except for an Aries it's always fight) happened and I think she'd stand over my bed and guard me while sleeping if if let her. I think with the nature of this it's easy to see how it could have been anywhere and it's very haunting.

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  2. I went to a gay bar a couple of times with some good friends who are gay. It was probably the chicest bar in town. I had a great time, and I'm straight. We just danced and laughed. Who wouldn't love it? Actually, it was a huge relief to just dance and laugh and not be there hoping to meet somebody.
    Your story about the mean remarks is heart breaking. But again, as a straight woman, I've been showered with plenty of mean remarks from guys I don't even know who feel the right to comment about my appearance. And then there are the mean girls.
    What I know is that my kid knows my gay friends and is growing up with that being just another of many ways of life. And a nephew's stepson is trans, and my kid has seen the switch from boy to girl and that's just the way it is. Hopefully someday more people will learn to be just live and let live.
    Orlando is a terrible tragedy, but it's a magnified version of something that goes on in all the time, with people attacked for simply being who they are.

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    1. I do think in so many ways it's so much better than it used to be. It wasn't even that bad for me save for a few relentless (white trash asshole) people along the way. But there was always the feeling that I was on one side of the glass and most everyone else was on the other. How wonderful that your niece has a supportive family. Thank you for your comment!

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  3. I have never been to a gay bar...I have not been to very many bars at all. I did not do the bar scene when I was younger...got married at 19 so I was pretty much a home body.
    I am saddened by the Orlando incident and keep wondering when all this senseless violence is going to stop. So many families have lost loved ones and so many more are seriously injured...I cannot imagine the terror that they would have felt...it is not unlike the Paris attacks.

    Let's embrace understanding, acceptance, peace, and kindness in our every day lives and pray for change.
    Like the lady with the shopping cart we all need to speak up when we see people who are being bullied.
    You have written a thought provoking post today.
    I cannot find the right words and am fumbling trying to respond to this post Stephen...so I will just leave it at that...

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    1. Well you saved yourself quite a few hangovers :) Thank you for responding and such a lovely one at that. I know it was hard for me to write about and I felt pulled to go in a lot of directions. I think the post reflects that but it's okay. There are many facets to this tragedy and there's no right or wrong way to respond. Hope it's a beautiful day there!

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    2. This is so sweet and sums up how I have felt lately since the news broke. I am rarely without something to say, but I think I am just really sad and almost angry about how people act these days. I do not understand why people cannot just be folks. Why the need for adjectives that either point out the obvious or provide information that is really nobody else's business. It is ridiculous. Our Savior does not see differences, so why should we if our goal is to be more like him and treat everyone with kindness and love?

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  4. Ok you asked :)
    My first time was when I was 17 and in Paris a month in from the first taste of exhilarating freedom which was drastically different to my curfew of 10 pm. I was at the Paris version of Studio 54 called Les Bains Douches that I only just barely got in bc I looked 12 and the bouncers nearly didn't let me in - this was gay ( in many ways ) Paris but I looked THAT young. I was having the time of my life and was like the goody too shoes sober Drew Barrymore just after ET and there was a table of suave gay guys who said i reminded them of when they first came to Paris. They took me to a gay club as an after party and I was blown away bc I didn't realise they were gay and I didn't know such things existed. I told my parents on our weekly collect call I made and I asked my mother why there were no gay clubs in Korea and she said she didn't think there were any gay Koreans.
    No I am being totally serious. To this day there is hardly any mention and it just isn't an issue and they are in the dark ages.

    One of my younger close friends is a Serbian who when I first met I thought was metrosexual but not gay and I thought I had great gaydar but the Balkans is not a very LGBT friendly place so he learned to mask it well. He tried to claim asylum here when his student visa ran out because he couldn't bear to think of going back to Belgrade but the EU doesn't recognise this as humanitarian grounds to claim.

    Being in London one can forget that there are still so many places that lag behind in acceptance. Eddie Izzard - do you know him? - he was on a very important news analyst show on the BBC but all anyone commented on was his political attitudes and not his choice of nail polish and pink beret.

    I really know have the words to express just how depressing all these things are...I think it's another reason why I just want a field full of dogs.



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    1. I will join you in canine field! Korea is still like that? I dont know why I thought of Korea as being so progressive and modern. But that's based on basically nothing. Funny I have a friend who fled his very stiff family here and moved to Korea. He left the States very conservative and tapped into his very very flamboyant side in Korea! I'm jealous of your Parisian club days! So I was 16 when I snuck into a bar for the first time but it helped that I looked 30 from age 11 on. I was soooo nervous.

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    2. Yeah Sadie a celebrity came out a decade ago and he got banned for a year from acting etc. But it was only a decade ago that they had there first public gay. Still no lesbian but oddly a transgender hit it big 2 decades ago.

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  5. Well, Stephen, I'm straight...I've never been to a gay bar, not for any reason other than I haven't been to many bars, period. I've been reading your posts since Ellie introduced us, and I have to say I love you too, not because you're gay and I'm straight, but because you are you! The world needs more Stephens! Angela Muller (P.S. Cleo was my pittie mix...the last love of my life)

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    1. Thank you so much!! That is so nice of you to say. I'm not much of a bargoer these days but oh I had my days :) it's funny because now I wonder how I ever loved it so much as I really don't like loud places! Haha

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  6. Thank goodness for Bond Girls and anyone else who stands up against bad behavior. Kudos to you for being your very fabulous self. Cheers, Ardith

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    1. Thank you! I couldn't agree with you more.

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  7. Well I love that Bond Girl! She was a champ. Your outfits sound so excellent by the way. This is bringing back great memories for me of my favourite gay bar in the midst of being completely at a loss after what happened in Orlando- so thank you. When I was 18-19 years old I lived alone in Toronto, small town girl moving to the city. Lucky for me I lived right at Church and Wellesley, smack dab in the gay area. This was my home turf and it was my safe place, I was harassed in different areas of the city, followed, grabbed, had a couple of guys expose themselves to me on the street... but never in my neighbourhood. I remember getting off at my subway stop and breathing easier because I was home in the 'hood, the fabulous gay hood where the outfits were 11/10 and the buzz on the street was friendly not threatening. There was a gay bar around the corner where I would go for a drink, either with a friend (a few straight friends definitely had their first gay bar experience with me!) or alone- it didn't matter because I was safe there and I knew no one would grab my butt. I loved that place!
    Wish I still had a gay bar to go to, two of my best friends are a gay couple but they don't go to bars, they spend too much time in their garden or... arranging flowers. XOX

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    1. Oh my what a wonderful place to live at that age! So I have to admit that Toronto gays are high on my list. I love Toronto anyway though. I need to figure out where I stayed one time as it must have been close to your gayborhood. There were rainbow flags all over. I'm sorry that I'd probably be staying home with your friends to garden and arrange flowers instead of going for a wild night! Thank you so much for your comment!

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  8. I have friends and relatives who are gay, and they are more decent human beings than some of the straight human beings I know. I hate that there is still hate in this world for all the various reasons. We are all HUMANS. Period.. How awful it would be if we were all exactly alike. Love your stories, keep telling them. And I'd love to see a picture of you, too groovy for the Giant Eagle.

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    1. Thank you so much! Haha I need to find my computer from that time and find some of my looks from then. Couldn't agree more!

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  9. Well, I know this probably will not surprise you Stephen, but I practically LIVED in gay clubs for years. Seriously. It was in gay clubs that I could dance with abandon or stand around and smolder-for the fun of it. It was in gay clubs that a woman could wear whatever she wanted to, be outrageous, without being harassed. (I see London, I see France, you can see my, well f*ck you, so what?! Also, of absolutely no interest to gay men lol) It was in gay clubs that as a half English half Polynesian woman, my colour or rather the fact that I was a "mix" didn't matter like it did (and surprisingly still does) to some Americans. It was in gay clubs that all 5'10" of me, in a 4" heel, so let me change that to all 6'2" of me could strut right up and actually fit in! I have had drinks, dinner and danced in gay clubs from Los Angeles to Nice to London to New York. And I have always felt loved and free (and received some of the best make up and undergarment tips ever!). Some people go to therapy. Me, l loves me a good club...with fabulous company....well dressed and proud...and preferably gay. Although I too am a straight woman, married with a fabulous daughter, I loved the story of your friend who goes every Christmas Eve. Especially now, I too will follow in her heels, and support those who supported me, back when I needed it most, and not let those who hate, keep me from celebrating those those that understand the joy, and the cost, of love. Last Dance, my ass. Turn it up Honey and step aside. I'm ready to go. xo

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    1. I love this too!! I want you to write a memoir! I think you've hit the nail on the head that regardless of the city of local culture, gay clubs perpetuate a culture of openness and acceptance. It's disheartening to believe that people still have prejudices based on skin. Like what the fuck? But I know it's true. Thank you so much for this!

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  10. No gay bar experience either. I'm so old that when I was young, the drinking age in Brisbane was 21 and women were legally banned from public bars anyway. When I was a Uni student (was v young then as started Uni when I was 16) two of our lecturers' wives made the news by chaining themselves to the bar in the local University watering hole, protesting. A huge sensation at the time. Have never been a bar person as even after the law changed the bars were essentially noisy booffy male places with heavy beer drinking men who thought women were invading their territory - except for the barmaids, hardfaced blousy peroxides with heavy black roots and brows and enormous boobs. The men loved them and had no interest in young university girls - and the barmaids sneered and wouldn't serve us.
    There were plenty of fabulous university parties instead in private houses or rooms booked in 4 star hotels for pre- and post-ball parties. Somehow don't remember meeting any gays who were out - in those days it was illegal and they would have been under the radar. Realise now that the older brother of one of my friends of those days was almost certainly gay. He was a sweetie, well read, loved the theatre and music and had such sensitivity. We used to talk for hours. I loved him. But he never once said anything to indicate - at least to someone as clueless as I was.
    So glad to hear about your Bond Girl. So important to do what we can. Best wishes, Pammie

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    1. I can't believe women were not allowed in bars!! That is outrageous! I'd be much happier at the fabulous private parties than in those bars I think! Thank you, Pammie! I agree with you, sometimes even a small gesture is seismic!

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  11. Stephen, thank you for your timely post. I lived in San Francisco in the early 70's. This was a time when gay people were flocking to the city for the acceptance they so desperately wanted. I was a young, straight woman living on my own for the first time. I lived in a building that was comprised of primarily gay men. They were kind, talented and I always felt so at ease with them. I have always enjoyed gay people. My son is married to a twin and her brother is gay. He recently got married in SF. I guess what I am trying to say is why can't we treat all people with kindness.

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    1. SF in the 70s? I can only imagine! Would love to hear more about that. I know--it seems so simple and natural to just be kind. Thank you!

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  12. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, Stephen. I shared this blessing today in honor of my late son's birthday and also for the families and loved ones of the victims in Orlando. It is by Jan Richardson.

    Where Your Song Begins Again
    A Blessing

    Beloved,
    I could not bear it
    if this blessing ended
    with the final beat
    of your heart,

    if it left
    with the last breath
    that bore you away
    from here.

    I could not stand
    the silence,
    the stillness
    where all
    had once been song,
    had been story,
    had been the cadenced liturgy
    of your life.

    So let it be
    that this blessing
    will abide
    in the pulse
    that moves us
    from this moment
    to the next.

    Let it be
    that you will breathe
    in us here bereft
    but beloved still.

    Let it be
    that you will make your home
    in the chamber
    of our heart

    where your story
    does not cease,
    where your words
    take flesh anew,
    where your song
    begins again.

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    1. Thank you Isla for introducing me to this blessing - it is really beautiful. And thank you, Stephen for this very personal post - it makes me sad to think of anyone feeling as though they are " on the wrong side of the glass". I will remember that phrase and hope it helps me to act in a way that never excludes anyone, in any way.

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    2. Isla, that is beautiful! Happy birthday to your son.
      I'm sorry he wasn't physically here to celebrate with you but I hope you felt him somehow. Thank you so much.
      Rosemary, thank you!

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  13. Gay bars? I grew up in them, quite literally. In Los Angeles there was an under-18 gay club called the Sugar Shack I was always at, an 18-and-over gay club called The Odyssey which was basically a second home to me, and over 21 there were just too many clubs to choose from! ALL OF THEM were places where I never had to worry about being sexually harassed, where I had a nice man (or several) who would walk me to my car at the end of the evening to make sure I was on my way home safely, and who I could get drunk with without fear of being raped or taken advantage of. And I could DANCE to my heart's content until the sun came up!! To be complimented on your outfit, told you are stunning, etc. by men who were always gentlemen and held the door open or even bought me a drink YET expected nothing sexual in return was completely liberating to me, and I know it was exactly those kinds of men who were the ones gunned down in this senseless massacre. And my heart aches because of it. Gay bars truly are sanctuaries for those most oft-harassed, and to have that sanctuary violated is a violation in and of itself.

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    1. Beautifully said. Makes me cry actually. Love this. The Sugar Shack! Haha how much do I love that name for a bar?
      I know, it's just so disturbing. I think the universal nature of gay bars does have us all feeling like it really could have been anywhere.

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  14. "My mother has been basically in fight or flight since this (except for an Aries it's always fight) happened and I think she'd stand over my bed and guard me while sleeping if if let her. I think with the nature of this it's easy to see how it could have been anywhere and it's very haunting."

    Stephen, I am the mother of a gay man. Like your Mom, I would stand over my 34 year old son 24/7 if I could. He has a wonderful husband now (whom I would also guard with my life) and they take care of each other, for which I am grateful. But. Still. I'm his Mom and he is my firstborn, wonderful, beautiful, amazing, loving, funny, talented child and I have been in love with him since the moment I knew he was going to be born. So I know exactly how your mother feels.

    I have never once been to a gay bar, but I've been meaning to remedy that. Next time I'm Stateside I'll ask my son and son-in-law to take me out to one. It will be epic!
    Love to you at this difficult time. There are so many of us who love our gay friends, children, and other relatives and we will be out here fighting to protect you in the face of evil. We've got your back, dear Stephen,mand that is a promise.

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    1. How wonderful that your son is in such a happy marriage. Thank you so much! This is so lovely and I so appreciate it. Yes, next time you are here you must go! you will love it.

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  15. I was in college, and I loved the music and especially the videoes. I was on cloud 9. I think I went back every weekend for years after my first time. This was a great post.

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    1. Thank you! Haha I know I remember being shocked I actually liked the music I was hearing. It was like "ooooh my god they do make music for me!" :)

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  16. Oh dear Lordy me, where do I start?

    Hmmm...well, how about being just over 17 and moving to Manhattan while knowing ab-so-loo-tely noone. Thank goodness a friend of a friend (truly) came to the rescue with a phone number of a friend of hers for me to call.

    After a few weeks of moping around at the Metropolitan Museum every day I got a bit restless in the evening and did so. Was invited to come over that night. At 11pm.

    Now, this was for the pre-pre party. Although no one was doing much partying, just a lot of primping. So when I walked in and saw this group of beautiful young men, I just about fainted! Until I realized that they were all as gay as the day is long. Damn. But...they adored me! Welcomed me with open arms without a question and stood by me through thick and thin. I had moved around all through my childhood and what straight girl had ever done that for me? Nada one, let me tell you.

    This was 1987 and the end of an era but the beginning of my life in NYC. Because little did I know that these guys were all VIPs in the Club Kid world. For a year, we went out every night of the week, save for Mondays. No one went out on Mondays. I would go over to my friend William's apartment and one guy would do my makeup, another my hair, maybe there would be a fabulous outfit borrowed from a photo shoot or a hat. Sometimes I would just show up already done in my "Marie Antoinette" look of hair pulled up into the hiiiigh 18th c twist, powdered white with baby powder (wow did that itch the next day), face kabuki'ed and the beauty mark on my cheek darkened. I never looked or felt mediocre. Not in that anything goes world.

    We never waited in line, I never paid for anything, not even a drink - and those were White Russians in the day. Cocaine was everywhere but I never did it - nope, not even once, it wasn't my thing even if I did drink like a fish - and neither did my friends although they ALL did X when that became a thing (again, I was too busy drinking).

    It was the end of the big clubs like the Tunnel, the World and Limelight, the Palladium and MK but also there were so many amazing dance parties in smaller joints and bars that went on for days.

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    1. This was also the period of "Outlaw Parties" the pre-cursor to raves, that were held illegally in places like subway tunnels. I have a FANTASTIC memory of two beautiful drag queens literally pushing my besequined *ss up a fire escape ladder (I had on my fabulous Stephen Sprouse sequin jacket on top and Dorothy red glitter 50s heels on the bottom with fishnets - there was no such thing as too much in those days) to get to a party at an abandoned rail platform near Little West of 12th that is now part of the High Line. *happy sigh* There was so much joie de vivre. And everyone was welcome.

      Dancing was...Heaven. As the other ladies have said here, I could shake it with all of my might and I would only be asked to get up on the table or the tower or to swing from the pole - nothing bad EVER happened to me ever.

      While I didn't go to bars like Rawhide or the infamous Vault, I did see plenty and that time was a priceless part of my education in the human existence. I am so incredibly grateful to have been in the right place at the right time.

      It was all fabulous but exhausting. I kept it up even when I started at NYU - and would show up to movement class still a little drunk - until I couldn't anymore. By that time, things were shifting. Some of the guys were "going home" and it wasn't until later that I realized that quite a few of those lovely souls left because they had AIDS. Word would spread back later on.

      Those men all helped me to find and spread my wings. They gave me confidence that I would never have found on my own. I swear I still have an inner gay man in me - that is the one who gave me the courage to play Cleopatra and Salomé (it is mighty chilly when that 7th veil comes off) or to charm a king in a far-off foreign land with a raised eyebrow when later I worked as a travel writer.

      I have a deep love for the LBGTIQ community. When I first moved to France and realized how homophobic it was, I was shocked. How, how, how could anyone be against someone for being who they are? How?

      I still don't understand and this tragedy in Orlando makes us all a little lesser than who we are...but only if we let it.

      May love continue to unite us and never to tear us apart.

      Much Love to you too, Stephen. Thank you for this and for being such an amazing friend.
      xo
      Heather

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    2. Oh my gosh I looooooove this. So I didn't even know Tunnel was real! There were so many references to it on Sex and the City! I had some experiments wth powdering my hair too. How heartbreaking to be among the AIDS crisis. Beautifully said. Love hearing about your NYC days.

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  17. Have never been to a gay bar in my life - being 62 now and living in a very small Australian country town growing up I would be lucky to get to a small country town dance let alone a bar of any sexual persuasion. So naive I never realised then that I did actually know a couple of gay boys that I went to school with. Feel very envious of your other readers who obviously led a much more exciting life.
    Your story today is very moving of your younger days, and like somebody else has already said - there is no excuse for treating anybody badly due to their sexual persuasion.
    Take care,
    Love Cindy F
    xx

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    1. Thank you, Cindy! Oh I'm sure your life has been very exciting in so many other ways. I totally agree with you!

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  18. I'm not a bar person, but I am a Stephen Andrew person. Like your Mom, I want you to be safe and happy. Even tho I have never met you, I just know that you are a very decent and thoughtful human being. Your words mean a lot to many.

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    1. Thank you so much, Lori! You are too busy to ever go to bars! Thought of you and Gary the other day when I made garlic scape biscuits. So good! I added a little lemon zest too.

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    2. UUUmmmmmmm! Garlic scape biscuits. Email me the recipe, would you? We have an enormous number of scapes coming off 2000 plants.

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  19. I used to go to a bar in Brisbane called the Sportsman (don't know if it's still there now I've moved away) with a gorgeous gay friend of mine who was a drag queen (styled Di Monte). Used to borrow my 1980s formal wear for performances. Loved loved the atmosphere as a then-single woman. Interestingly the bar was also a big hangout for the hearing impaired community - perhaps there's that general acceptance again. it was in a fairly rough part of town and i knew if i ever felt scared on the street for any reason, i could go in there and I would be safe.

    In the early 70s my parents were friends with a great gay couple who had lived together for years, I used to try to explain to my grade school friends that they were just like a mum and dad couple, but they just happenned to both be boys. I think a couple of parents didn't want their children to be friends with me after that - small town old time stupid "values". At least my parents through that friendship gave me the opportunity to learn 'love is love' very early on, unlike some people who seem to have been innoculated with hate. Loved your words in this post.

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    1. Thank you so much! I think you make a great point about how actually having face to face experience makes a big difference. I think it's easy for hate to grow in isolation but having experiences with other types of people makes it all human. Your club days sound so so fun!! It says something very fabulous about your wardrobe that a drag queen wanted to borrow it!

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  20. Hi, loved this post, thanks for asking.

    During my single years (post divorce pre settling down with Mr FF when I had a lot of boyfriends etc) I used to go to this gay bar in the Valley all the time called the Beat with my gay friend boys and also my straight girl friends so we could dance and dance and dance and drink our selves stupid and smoke our heads off. I loved it sick and I felt safe and happy. I really miss those days. From 1998 to 2004 I basically went out 6 nights a week. True story. One Monday my gay friend M came into my office and I had my head on my desk and he said what's wrong and I said "I literally cannot keep going out so much ay more"!!! It took so much stamina!

    I don't get gay hate. I have lots of gay friends, gay cousins, gay colleagues etc and it is just no big deal. Why are people so confronted by it? Why?

    I know this is a massive generalisation but everyone knows the gays do the best homes, the best hair, the best gardens and have a way with soft furnishings that needs to be seen to be believed.

    Stay safe Angel xxx

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    1. Thank you! That's so funny! It is hard to keep up! It does take stamina and even with that it can't last forever! I certainly don't want to be the one to break the the generalization! I've been a pillow and bed and tablecloth and napkin arranger since I can remember. Starting with when I would take my mom's scarves to use as area rugs for my Barbies.

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  21. So I'm a little old lady these days, and I never knew a gay bar to go to when I was young and fancy free - I suspect they were well-hidden in this conservative state. BUT - I always hung out in the worlds of the arts, performed in stage musicals, knew lots of ballet dancers, studied piano at the conservatoire, art at art college - and there were always lovely gay people around. And there still are! My gay friends are delightful. I too am incredibly shocked and saddened by Orlando, and do not understand it at all. The world might see itself as more enlightened these days, but such violence and hatred is beyond my comprehension. Thank you for your insightful post Stephen.

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    1. Thank you so much, Patricia! I just started piano lessons! Haha so far I am bad. But I figured I would give a try for a while as I've always wanted to learn.

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  22. We have a part time home in St. Petersburg in a wonderful liberal neighborhood. Over the years we have made friends with many neighbors, many of which are gay. In fact, our neighborhood is sought out because everyone socializes together, young or old, gay or straight, we all look out for each other and enjoy each others company.

    My husband and I often go to a gay bar with our gay friends because the love Kareoke and invite us to go with them. The first time, we had no idea it was a gay bar, just that we were going out with them. And it was great fun, great people, great music and we go often with them now. The only thing "different" that I noticed was the lack of girls "tarted up" to impress men, that you get in most bars. And the biggest thing was no one was on their phone. They were chatting and dancing and singing and laughing and that awful bar scene crap that I hate was absent. Much more fun in my opinion. People seemed more into the experience of being out with friends than what they looked like.

    I am hurting for the families and the injured and I keep thinking of my wonderful friends and how shook up they must be.

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    1. I love that! I actually think that is the beautiful thing about vacation/retirement communities. People tend to be ready to open their minds and connect with people all over the literal and figurative maps. What is your go-to karaoke song? :) thank you!

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  23. Gay bar, no ... I'm more of a sports bar type. :)

    You already know that some of my dearest friends are gay. Let me tell you a story of meeting one of them.

    In 2007 or 2008, my now-friend Jim came here with one of his friends to buy roses at my first rose sale. I was smitten instantly, and we talked and talked and talked ... while his friend wandered the garden, Jim and I got to know each other. All of the sudden, his face took on a serious expression, and he said, "How do you feel about people with alternative lifestyles?"

    "What type of lifestyle?"

    The 'alternative lifestyle" he meant was his, of course ... a 25-year loving, monogamous homosexual relationship.

    I was sad to think that he felt that he had to come out, to gauge my reaction before we could take our budding friendship any farther. My heart hurt for him.

    My response to his admission was, "I adore you already and I seriously intend to keep you!"

    Though we have never met in person, Stephen, dear, I feel the same way about you.

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    1. Isn't it amazing how people really just do connect sometimes? I'm not surprised at all that your rose sale would be a source of creative and interesting friends. My heart breaks for him too that he had to ask that! I hate that term so much. Everyone lives an alternative lifestyle in some way.

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  24. No gay bar experiences for me, Stephen, just a lot of sad taverns with my father and a lot of old drunks when I was a little girl. (Which cured me from ever wanting to sit in one for the rest of my life.) Where I live, there's not much going on, which is good and bad, dancing would have been wonderful!

    The older I become, the more I wonder why everyone can't just live and let live. If a man loves a man or a woman loves a woman, what is the difference? The common denominator is love, not the vile hatred spewed by those who proclaim themselves to be judge and jury of all humanity.

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    1. Couldn't agree with you more! Thank you. Yes I understand why you wouldn't care to be in bars at all. I like them less and less as I don't really like the dark and loud! Now a patio with a view and the sun and g&ts. That's my thing!

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  25. Dancing with my bestie Mark at the club.. Well it was all glitter,sequins and beautiful men. Oh my gawd, the hotness. He told me I was beautiful, introduced me to exotic foods (snails!) and died of AIDS. Haven't danced like that since.

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    1. Oh I'm so sorry. I don't know how one ever gets over the loss of a friend in that way. It's kind of a cool/crazy thing but I actually have an accidental/coincidental namesake. My best friend had an uncle named Stephen who died of AIDS shortly before I was born. He collected china like mad and loved art and was the go to florist for the family. He also had a streak for trouble! Anyway it's a special, understood thing and her family really is also my family. I really should post about him. Would be a little worried about asking permission and for use of the photos as I wouldn't want to put anyone on the spot. But he dated Rock Hudson and had a really, really fascinating life. His parents never thought twice about him being gay and were there to absolutely take care of him in the end.
      Thank you for your comment and I'm very sorry.

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  26. Stephen, what a beautiful post. I think we are all fumbling what to say at this time, but you said it perfectly. I lived in Toronto for most of my adult life and there is a terrific gay village. I've not been in a gay bar since uni but spent lots of time in the village with my kids. After my divorce and some awful experiences dating, I came to feel safest when I was there. There was a respect for family and women that I found few other places. Bless the Bond Girl. As they say, look for the helpers. Glad she was there for you that day. xo

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    1. Thank you so much, Jen! I love Toronto and really do need to visit again. Love that you were able to find some healing there! Luckily the helper came to me! It's amazing how people really are often at the right place at the right time.

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  27. You know, I lived in Chicago from 1977-1983 and in San Francisco from 1983-1990, and I somehow missed going to gay bars. And now I am old and really dislike the bar scene....

    But one thing has never changed for me: I do not understand homophobia. It's as though it fries my neural synapses. I just don't get it.

    And dang, if I ever have a chance, I'm channeling the Bond Girl.

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    1. Thank you! Oh my gosh well I hate to instill a sense of regret but you might want to regret that! Haha you may have very well witnessed my club fantasy in the flesh!

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  28. I read this last NIGHT but that ITALIAN was hollering for dinner...........he had found green beans in the garden and wanted to show me!So, NO comment......
    I have NEVER Been to a GAY BAR and I live 20 minutes from SAN FRANCISCO.I have never been to a BAR unless it was attached to a restaurant.My BOSS was GAY and he flew to ITALY to walk me down the aisle in an ancient church!We actually had to walk UP STAIRS and my dress was tight so he lifted it UP and said, "Honey get to it or we are going to be late!!"I adored HIM..............Then there was another GAY Guy in the office ED...........He called me BUFFY THE DEBUTANTE!I adored HIM TOO!He died of AIDS at a very YOUNG AGE!!!!LOVE YOUR STORIES........BE STRONG!XO

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    1. Buffy the Debutante!! Haha I like that! Where did Buffy come from? I always love it when you post photos from your wedding! So gorgeous! Glad your garden is providing forage for the Italian as well as the chicks!

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    2. I have NO IDEA but I knew YOU would get a KICK out of that!
      30 years is coming up FAST........maybe another photo just for YOU!XX

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  29. First gay bar I went to was Patches on Oxford street, Darlinghurst( think that was it was called) when I was about 18 or 19. Whilst waiting for my friend, 2 lovely guys came up to me & chatted away and it was fantastic. They were so positive about how I looked ( tall, long hair & then very thin & wrinkle free but aren't we all at such a young age!).
    Shortly afterwards met my now husband ( yes been together since uni days) & as he had long days & nights at med school unlike me, I would go to the dance parties organized by the gay community with my best friend who was gay. We would dance until the sun came up and we have never felt safer in a sea of dancing men including some interesting leather clad men.
    One of the best friends I made at work is still one of my good friends. Your sentence about gay men & women having so much in common resonated with me because the particular law office we worked at was very homophobic. My friend never let on at work anything about his sexuality. I felt very safe with him. It wasn't until he invited me & hubby to his Christmas drinks party that year that I got it. I realized I was the only female and all the other invited guests said hi to me but kissed my hubby on the cheek!
    Unfortunately, the haters are still around and not just in Orlando. A friend who is mum of one of my son's friends has sent her son to her husband's old high school and told me a horror story. Her son made friends with a boy whose mum is gay, so he has 2 mums. At the year 7 camp earlier this year, 8 boys surrounded the boy with 2 mums and assaulted him because he has 2 mums. Disgusting. All because he has 2 mums. These are learnt behaviors and must be coming from the parents and families of these boys. Otherwise where else do 12 or 13 year old boys learn such hatred. I'm scared and concerned for the future. Den xxx

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    1. That is just a horrible story Den - that poor boy. I hope the school did something? They are so concerned about bullying these days and the legal/pr implications... Same sex parents are now so common, I think almost every school would have at least one or two couples at a minimum? Particularly in Sydney

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    2. My friend said they suspended 3 of the 8 boys. Personally I think this needs to be discussed more to point out that this is so very wrong. My friend is outraged and the school which has had a number of incidents is sweeping it under the carpet. Every school has its issues but this behavior should be given zero tolerance. The bizarre thing is this school expelled 8 boys about 3 years ago for taking drugs at its school fair.

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    3. Oh how wonderful to have those evenings with your friend! And to have a husband who is confident enough to incorporate to a gay Christmas party seamlessly! How absolutely enraging about that incident. You're absolutely right. It must come from somewhere. Kids can be accidentally cruel with their honesty or curiosity but that is easy to spot and forgive. However vicious incidents like that clearly have a hateful source.

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  30. I used to go to a gay bar very occasionally that my older sister frequented a lot (she is straight, but used to wear crazy outfits like Pucci catsuits out clubbing, so felt more appreciated at a Gay bar). I loved the feeling of fun/ happiness and not being hit on constantly by drunk sleazy men.
    The Orlando shootings are just absolutely awful. Such a waste of life. Such devastation for so many.
    So glad that grocery store lady came back and stood up for you. And you're right - as women we're always vulnerable. I never feel safe walking a street after dark on my own, and never will. I think perhaps that's why we do understand a little more that feeling of a wide open chink in the armour.

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    1. Ah! A Pucci catsuit! I need to see that! Also I need to track one down for my sister as that is exactly the kind of thing she lives for. It is terrible how careful women must be. My thoughts on gun control have always been that it should be illegal for male civilians to have guns but legal for female civilians to have them. Of course impossible to actually enforce as the loser boyfriends of the world would just take them. I'd never, ever want a gun but I do encourage my sister to get one. A gold plated Charlie's Angels one maybe.

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  31. I grew up in West Hollywood, Ca, where I lived with my immigrant -- and initially homophobic -- parents. Because you know, "Iran has no gay people." Well, they got over their issues pretty quickly, as our neighbors were wonderful, kind, sweet people, we had the best Halloween parades, and the gay couples who rented units in our buildings made the best tenants. My mom engaged in a sort of reverse discrimination by preferring to rent to gay couples hahah. Anyway. One of my best friends in high school was a closeted gay guy. (We are still super close now, 20+ years later.) In college, we'd hit up Rage or Micky's, sometimes 2 or 3 nights a week. No wonder my body was bangin in those days. I loved to dance and did not have to worry about being assaulted. I danced with the hottest, sweetest guys, who were fun AF and always told me how cute I was. Oh, I also hooked up with a girl on the dance floor every now and then -- and the gay dudes told me how hot we were. Oh, to be young and bold again. You are a treasure, Stephen Andrew. I'm a mother of a son and 2 daughters now, and I would cut the nuts off of anyone who dared to even look at them the wrong way if they hated them for being gay. Thank you for your lovely words.

    Natalie in L.A.

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    1. Thank you so much! I love this! Hahaha "I'd cut the nuts off"! That really is heartwarming about your parents. That is what America represents in its heart. Growing through exposure and tolerance. How I wish that held true for everyone. Love that your fitness regimen was dancing in gay clubs! Don't think 8AM jazzercise can compete with that :)

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    2. 8 a.m.? I scheduled my classes for noon or later so I could sleep in. And I thought back then...mannnn, it's so HARD to wake up at 10 a.m. What a brat I was! Can we talk about the word "tolerance"? Why is THAT the word? We have the "Museum of Tolerance" here in L.A. (a Holocaust museum), we have "Tolerance Week", everyone talks about tolerance. To me, tolerance describes the situation when I am sitting in coach next to someone with dreadful B.O. I tolerate them for the 6 or whatever hours it takes to get to where I need to go. I don't want to be "tolerated" by anyone because I am Jewish, or Middle Eastern, or carrying a YSL bag from 8 seasons ago. I want to be accepted. Not loved, or liked, even, just accepted. Isn't it time to change the vernacular from "tolerance" to "acceptance"?

      Natalie in L.A.

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    3. How interesting. I totally see your point. I guess I would say if anything I lightly favor tolerance because it doesn't imply one person is the gatekeeper and the other is lucky to be let in; as acceptance sort of does. But that's really interesting and I have used tolerance a million times without ever seeing it from that angle. Now if I were stuck in coach next to someone with BO I would refuse to accept it :)

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  32. gosh SA i'm just speechless. what a beautiful story. funny and heartbreaking too at the same time. God bless your mother. you so have a way with words and i curse the day i didn't get in the prius and drive 700 miles to visit you. what a dumbass i am!

    but i have never been in a gay bar. so there's that.

    xo

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    1. Thank you so much, Janet! I remember that! You were at wit's end with your hair! Haha. Well before you start planning your Ohio vacation I might make it to California. So you can hop in the Prius up to wine country!

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  33. Stephen,
    This has all been so heartbreaking! I have never been to a gay bar, but I have many gay friends and acquaintances, a few gay relatives, and my husband's best friend is gay. Just this past weekend, I went to see Kinky Boots with a friend--she had broken up with her girlfriend and I was the fortunate recipient of her extra ticket. She had bought great seats and there were two empty seats next to ours; a few minutes before the show Harvey Fierstein and a friend sit next to us! It was just all so ironic to go to this musical about acceptance on Saturday and to wake up to horrific events in Orlando on Sunday. I am continually saddened by the spewing of hate.

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    1. T, I'm so sorry that your comments always go to spam before they are published. I have no idea why that happens!
      I'm sorry your friend has had a breakup! But glad you got the seat instead! I haven't seen Kinky and want to. Did you talk to him?! That is so funny! How exciting. It really is an ugly juxtaposition between such an affirming evening and such a bleak morning.

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    2. No, I didn't; I wanted to thank him for his positive message, but I didn't really have the opportunity.

      I won't take the spam thing personally! Stay well!

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  34. Such a beautiful,sensible post! I always watch the news when something horrible like this happens, to make myself see what the vilest humans can do, perhaps as a vaccination against it. MLane and I were in tears seeing the likes of Anderson Cooper and Charlie Rose losing it on air.

    As it happens, our favorite gay couple is coming for dinner tonight and I have already done the flowers!(White peony and double white rugosa roses, deep blue lupine and siberian iris, and chartreuse lady's mantle, all from the gardens). One is a theater director so we will get to talk about "Hamilton" which I will never get to see...Now to the menu, hmmm.

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    1. Oh god I saw that too and cried and cried. I almost always force myself to stop after a few minutes so I am informed but not tortured. I have watched way too much of the coverage and read too many things. I made the mistake of listening to the Hamilton music without seeing it and now I have a bad attitude about it. I didn't connect with it or like it at all. I've only talked with two people who have seen it and they both were in that emphatic YOU HAVE TO SEE IT YOU MUST IT IS AMAZING stupor that everyone seems to be in. So it must come to life in some way live that it cannot otherwise. Ohhhh you have all my favorite colors together! I just love that combination and never tire of its extreme, aggressive freshness. Have a wonderful evening!

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  35. Hi Stephen, we had a neighborhood gay bar, and by neighborhood, I mean my neighbors, and by bar I mean our houses; Their house/my house for drinks/dinner/barbecue/movies. Our little 'burb had barely any bars. Think 'dark dirty dives', and there you are.
    No thanks.
    Kudos to your avenging angel, once upon a time. There really are more good people out there, it's just that the nasty trolls are so much louder, they seem to take up more space.
    What I hope people get around to is enjoying people for who they are and how we feel when we are with them. Not my gay friend, just my hilarious friend. Not my Hindu friend, just my friend who tells me straight when I need to wax my facial hair. (How rude, by the way. Even if it was true...)
    Your wit makes me laugh out loud. We've never met, but myself and so many of your readers would love to be your neighbor. Compassion and good will overcome. Just read your comments. It already is.

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    1. Thank you so much! Truth be told I like the sound of a revolving barbecue/happy hour much more than a bar! You're absolutely right. The kindness and grace and compassion in the wake of the attack has been reassuring and wonderful.

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  36. I never liked bars in my single days because I am afraid of drunk men in public places. I wish it had dawned on me to go to a gay bar! I love to dance and have fun and that would have been fabulous!

    Most of us are respectful and kind. The thugs, bullies and idiots of the world create so much sadness with their acts of hatred and coward. So difficult to accept that this is a part of our world. How anyone can hold a gun and shoot at a person or animal is just shocking to me.

    Ditto on wanting to take trips with Barbie. I recently mapped out a future driving trip around Colorado to visit our oldest son so we can have Bodhi with us. So many hotels allow dogs now, makes it much easier and Bodhi is fine cuddled in his crate in a hotel room when we go out to dinner.

    I always love your stories and your great sense of humor!

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    1. I'm not much of a bar person either. I had a few years where I was all about it but it's not really my thing. I know what you mean! On dogs, I'm glad I'm not the only one! I know I'm so ridiculous but I just can't help it. I had a bad experience boarding my yellow lab and I just won't do it again. Plus Barbie is so well behaved that there isn't much of a downside to bringing her! I like a passenger that has no opinions on music. Thank you!

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  37. Sorry I have no story about my first time, not because I wouldn't go into a gay bar but that I just don't go in to many bars. I stopped drinking at 21, no fun after I was legal.
    What I can say is this weeks horrible actions are a result of hatred. Whether it was life style, religion, color or even self loathing, it was plain, ugly hatred and that has to stop. I just don't understand why if someone has a different point of view about anything, people can't just say I don't agree instead of you are wrong, I hate you for it, I must scream my point of view and if I feel like it I might just kill you. SMFH.

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    1. I get that! I know it's absolutely ridiculous how people are with opinions now. Especially political shit. I can't believe we still have so much longer until the election! I'm not sure what it's like in other stars but it's always so intense in Ohio since we are the ultimate battleground.

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  39. I really appreciate you writing this post. It touches on some very important points, in a marvelous style that only you could bring us. What really struck home for me was your mention of fear. I think sometimes this fear is overlooked when it should not be. There are people who legitimately feel fear....afraid to hold hands, afraid to go to "the wrong" bathroom, afraid to be stopped by the police, afraid to jog too late at night. We have to acknowledge this fear, we have empathize with it, and then we have to confront the very real conditions that are creating it instead of being in denial.

    Orlando broke my heart. I have cried many times about it. I would like to blog about it but just don't know what to say. It makes me sick to my stomach. You have written a wonderful post and I thank you for that.

    My first time at a gay club was in college. I accompanied my newly out best friend to a drag party. He was still not comfortable in his own skin, and going helped him to feel more safe and secure with who he is.

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    1. Thank you so much! I'm sorry I'm just getting back to you here. I completely agree with you. Fear is a monster with many heads and can lead to unpredictable behavior and feelings. How wonderful about your friend and that you were there to support him. Happy 4th of July! Hopefully there is a good parade to take your lovely daughter to! 4th of July parades trump all other parades in my opinion. Although the random surprise parades that are seemingly a daily occurrence in New York are fun.

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  40. Well, you asked . . .

    There was one--literally one--gay bar in my college town (and that was progressive considering it was a rather conservative city in the south). It was always full of gay men and straight women because, yes, kindred spirits. What you need to know about me for this story to make sense is that I do a fantastic Cher impersonation. I'll just set humility aside to tell you that my voice, hair flip, and tongue-to-upper-lip move make Cher look like a cheap imitation of herself. Anyway, somehow one of my gay friends got hold of this information and immediately decided that I needed to perform at said gay club. I will never forget listening to his side of the conversation with the owner. They'd already talked about it a bit in person, but we were now working out the final details. At some point, it became clear to my friend that the owner was under the impression that I was male and not the straight, boring sorority girl I actually was. My friend clarified this fact. And then he became indignant. The owner said he was on board when he thought this would be a drag-type show but that my being female changed things. I distinctly remember my friend's response: "Given how much we've fought for equal treatment of homosexuals and how we take care of drag queens, I just don't think we're in the position to go discriminating against anyone!" We laughed nonstop at that one (once he got past his heated anger, of course). Anyway, I never did perform, but I greatly enjoyed my experiences there regardless.

    Much love, Stephen Andrew. You are a gem.

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    1. Hahaha! Oh that is a good one. And I would love to behold your Cher. When I was little I had a headdress (I know I know so politically incorrect but let me just say that through my ignorant white person act of appropriating a headdress I did learn very much about and gain tremendous respect for Native Americans and Native American culture...but anyway...) and I would alternate between dressing like a Native chief and Cher. My mom found me in my headdress and my sisters long black wig and asked "are you...going for Cher?" So she got me some gold clip on hoops and that pulled it all together. Your story also brings up a good point that sometiiiiimes gay bars need to remember the mission statement is to accept and welcome all! It's never too late for a Cher performance though! Happy 4th of July to you!

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  41. I have never been to a gay bar. It sounds like I missed out on a lot of fun. I have had dear friends that were gay, but didn't go to bars anymore. It is very sad that now crazy people are targeting specific groups of people to shoot at. Not like they just snap and can't control it, but cold blooded, plan ahead, brag about it, MURDER! All those people were just out on a Saturday night to have fun. Senseless!

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    1. You could still go! I know. It's a sick sun culture and I just can't even understand it. I think it shows the dark side of the Internet as things like that are fostered somewhere in its depths.

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  42. I don't think I have ever been to a gay bar which is kind of odd considering the majority of my friends are and have always been gay, but I can tell you about the first time I went to the Limelight in NYC. I walked in with spiked hair, a leather jacket covered in safety pins with just a bra underneath, an itty bitty ripped up mini skirt with equally ripped up thigh highs and a garter belt (all in true punk rock form) and was taken aback when the first person I spotted was a man wearing a babydoll dress and a dog muzzle. He was also carrying a headless baby doll around with him. I was like, "and people think I'm a freak????" :)
    In all seriousness, as a punk rocker living in the burbs through the late 80's and early 90's my friends and I witnessed intolerance almost everyday. We were laughed at, ridiculed and harassed both physically and verbally by all sorts of people. Young, old ~ cruelty seems to have no age restrictions, it just comes out strongest in people who don't know how to process what they don't understand. Sad really.
    Fortunately for me, I had a super sassy mouth and a short temper which would also unfortunately get us into physical danger. Like the night my friends and I were chased by a band of jocks with baseball bats out of a diner parking lot. (Theye started it - I just leaned out of the car window, blew them a kiss and told them that I love guys with bigger tits than I have ~ it's not my fault the truth hurts)
    I so would have been your WingGirl and saw to it that no one fucked with you. You just would have needed to be ready to run for the hills as fast as you could when I sassed off to the wrong person. ;)

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    1. Hahaha the baby doll dress and muzzle is kind of a look, isn't it? I've seen some of that too. Whatever floats your boat! I was always drawn to the punk kids because I liked their hair and tartan! One of my friends used to wear black ripped jeans and like a highland tartan sash. I never had a true punk look or phase though. I was too tan! Haha. It is sad that people are so threatened by looks alone. My point particularly with punk people was always that they didn't spend that much time on their hair to have it crushed in a police car so they'll probably behave!

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  43. Hi Stephen: I was just over on Ellie's blog about returning home to the USA. I saw where you mentioned gathering up a basket of junk food representing her readers and where they lived. Is this a go? If so, I will send something from my hometown in MS. The penal farm makes a particularly delectable hot sauce, appropriately named "Serving Time". I like it sprinkled on local pork skins. Bet Ellie couldn't get either of those in France. Her taste buds will be in for a treat!

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    1. I don't think so. As I thought more about it I imagined a giant box arriving to her of things she can't eat or taste and then just feel bad throwing away.

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    2. But it would be so fun learning about every state's signature junk food! Haha

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    3. I think you are right about the giant box...it could be overwhelming. I'll try to send you a picture of the Serving Time bottle. Pretty funny. take care...been thinking of you.

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