Gay Culture

Gay Culture

Summer Heat

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2005—While most people think of Fire Island at the gay summer escape from the New York City, there were other places just as special and unique. In this case, Andrew Ruth’s annual summer birthday celebration at his home upstate New York. More chill than Fire Island but all equally hot.

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Group Travel, Rio–1990’s style

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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.

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Unlimited Possibilities

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March 1976: The year was 1975 and I was 23 at the time, living in D.C. I was working in the U.S. Treasury Department for a Republican administration and hiding my attraction to men from others, as well as from myself.

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Same Sex Marriage, 1972

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Spring, 1972 – As a third-year American student at the University of Manitoba (UM) in Winnipeg, Canada in the early 1970s, I was eager to find other gay men and to participate in the energetic wave of gay rights activism that immediately followed Stonewall. At that time, Winnipeg was quite conservative, with only two “discreet” gay bars and a private, gay social club that did not have a liquor license. Neither the bars nor the private club appealed to me. The folks at both bars were pleasant but, except for those in drag, most guys seemed closeted and fearful of being outed. One of the bars even disallowed close dancing by same-sex couples because of Manitoba’s strict liquor laws. I wanted something more than forlornly staring into my beer behind blacked-out windows.

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The Barbarian and the Gay

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1998-1999—In 1998, my investment bank offered me a position heading up a group in its Tokyo office. I was reluctant to go, but it was the only way I was likely to remain on my career path, so I agreed to move there for several years.

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Just Another Day in Chelsea

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A rainbow flag on a Chelsea block in that neighborhood’s heyday (1990’s)

2004ish – I was staying in a friend’s apartment on 17th Street off Eighth Avenue in Chelsea, then Manhattan’s gayest neighborhood, while visiting NYC from Miami in 2004 or so. I returned from a day spent running around town to find the block cordoned off and a number of NYC firemen standing nearby preventing bystanders from getting too close.

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Group Travel, Mykonos—1990s style

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Leisurely lounging (nude) on Super Paradise Beach!

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 several different trips to Mykonos in late summer, they found what they were looking for in that magical meeting place on the Aegean.

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Me and Michael

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A few pictures of Michael Dowell and me in the early-to-mid-90s. We lost Michael in 1995. The last shot is a self-portrait he drew of himself coming back to me after an extended stay with his family. It actually captures his happy, adventurous “let’s go” gait. He was hilarious, sweet and always game for a new experience. We’d met in late 1989 at a bar called Trunks in West Hollywood. He was wearing a beige cowboy shirt under a mink vest… yes, mink. He winked at me and I laughed a little, but thought he was cute. I’d like to say those six years were non-tumultuous ones in my early 20s, but there were quarrels, money issues, struggles over our future stability and ultimately a health scare that would become increasingly evident and then eventually take him away from me. It’s difficult for me to think of this as ‘just’ gay history, though our fashions would suggest otherwise. But history is just life as seen through a lens from the future. And tumultuous or not, this was a lovely part of mine.

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The Bodyguard

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1985 – During a solo vacation in Ibiza in September 1985, I met a muscular hunk, traveling with his younger boyfriend, who professed to be Freddy Mercury’s bodyguard.  It was the first indication I’d received that Mercury was probably gay.  And, I remember thinking, “Boy, he has good taste in men!”

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news

The Closing of Chicago’s First Gay Bathhouse

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One of our members, Alex Kacala, has generously contributed the linked story below, which he’d recently written for online gay publication Hornet (where he’s editor).

Bathhouses, which historically have had a reputation as being places of debauchery and orgiastic pleasure, were for many years communal gathering places for gay men to just socialize and relax. Many had restaurants and bars and featured live entertainment. The most famous of these was the Continental Baths in NYC, where Bette Milder and her pianist, Barry Manilow, got their big break and why Bette will forever be in the hearts of so many men who saw her there or heard stories about her shows.

https://hornet.com/stories/mans-country-chicago-bathhouse-tour/

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