When I first arrived in NYC in 1976, the LGBTQ Pride Parade was a half dozen years old. In those days, it was just called the gay march. It was all about gay liberation—the freedom to be different.
August 1991/1992: One of the more enjoyable phenomena to emerge from the 1980s, a challenging decade for gay men to say the least, were “circuit parties.” These were organized weekends taking place in various cities around the country and revolving around a specific theme party or event. For a few days, they provided gay men with a needed escape from the burgeoning AIDS crisis, or simply from their routine and closeted lives.
1999: I stumbled into this “chat room” innocently enough thinking how cool it was that I could talk to other people in my small part of the world right there on my work computer. AOL literally changed my life.
We found each other in this “room” and arranged to meet at a busy Shell oil station late one afternoon. I rationalized in my head that I was not getting the sex I needed at home. After all, my wife and I had one toddler keeping us busy and another kid on the way. Her feet were swollen, her back ached, and all she wanted from life was mashed potatoes and a good night’s sleep. Having sex with a man was not cheating. And, I was not gay because it was just a blow job.
1989 to mid-1990s– My husband, Ron Oyer, had a travel business in the 1990s that catered to gay men, geographically mostly from California and New York, though also from many other states. Puerto Vallarta (Mexico), Mykonos (Greece), and Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), were the most popular destinations. The groups featured handsome men looking for excitement and fun. As you can see from the following pictures taken during 12 different trips to Rio for Carnival, they found what they were looking for in that fascinatingly “alive” city populated by some of the handsomest men in the world.
Jackie Yordan was, according to many who knew him, an “incredible sweetheart and an amazing person… He was truly one of the biggest heartthrobs of the period in New York. The thing about him was that he had no attitude at all and he couldn’t have been sweeter. So, everybody loved him. “And, he was “the hottest guy… top of the ‘in’ crowd.”
July 1983—I was seventeen years of age when I first met another gay person. My dad was an executive with a company in Ireland, which was owned by a Canadian multinational headquartered in Toronto, and each year he’d head away to the AGM. The night before he was to leave, something urgent came up at work, so he asked me “how would you like to go to Canada tomorrow?” That was a no brainer, and next morning, not having slept all night I left Shannon with an older colleague of his called Kevin. Dad would join us in a couple of days. His advice was not to discuss Northern Ireland or politics with anyone there because Toronto was mostly Protestant, and things in the Northern Ireland were pretty bad just then.
1974—We’ve just bought tickets to see “Love Simon,” the new, gay coming of age film that we expect to make us happy. The first such film I saw was in 1974, called, “A Very Natural Thing.” It was about a gay seminarian who leaves his priesthood training, and goes to New York in search of self. I remember it being very uplifting.
1981—After my intense three-month affair with Bill Masi, a successful male model, had run its course in early 1981, we became “friends with benefits” and then morphed into just being friends. During that middle phase, he also became friends with a guy from New Jersey, a teacher also named Bill, who was married to a woman and had a teenage daughter.
August 1972: I chose this photo for a reason. It was taken one month after, at 20 years of age, I’d had my first sexual experience with another man (In it, in August 1972, I’m dangling my legs in a pool in Panama City, Florida.).