This year’s NYC LGBTQ Pride Parade falls on the 45th anniversary of the fire at the Upstairs Lounge in New Orleans in 1973, which up until the Pulse massacre was the the deadliest attack of the LGBTQ community in modern history. ABC News has released a new documentary on this horrific event.
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.
1982—Max was at work at the point station, his head down deep into the jockey box scooping up ice in the cups taking orders three and four at a time. We were slammed. I was in my station picking up some of his to keep up. I looked over at him and saw his whole body was shaking, and heard him yell this “oooooooohhhh” sound. The barback and I ran over. He was being electrocuted by the metal jockey box touching an electrical outlet. I got him to drop the soda gun and his body relaxed. He staggered into the barback, who grabbed him under the arms and started to drag him to the back of the bar.
Pope Francis, speaking to the Forum delle Famiglie on Saturday an Italian lay movement representing Catholic families, stated that only heterosexual families can form a family.
“It is painful to say this today: People speak of varied families, of various kinds of family,” but “the family [as] man and woman in the image of God is the only one,” Francis said in unscripted remarks.
I beg to differ!
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.
1977—I hated my first job. I was spending long hours in a rigorous bank training program in Manhattan and, besides infrequent and random pick-ups in gay bars, I had little social life except with a few college fraternity brothers and their girlfriends and my fellow trainees. Frustrated with my situation, I decided one day to place an ad in the personals section of the Advocate national gay magazine:
“ALL-AMERICAN AND GAY – Honest, good-looking, athletic, educated, and very muscular ‘normal’ American male wishes to meet same. Object: friendship. Just coming out; at ease with being gay, but uncomfortable in the gay world. Send informative letter with photo to…”
Life was good for a 19-year old kid. I was a Division 1 athlete, attending the same top tier university as my grandfather and uncle. I had made it out of my small rural hometown—where holding down a 4.2 grade point average, competing year-round in sports, and serving as student body president all came too easily. Getting out of this mediocre environment made me proud and excited. I was now attending classes taught by some of the brightest professors in the country. And when it came to my sport, water polo, I was playing for one of the top programs in the country, being coached by two Olympians and competing against many players who would go on to represent the United States in Beijing, London, and Rio.
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.
Sunday was my favorite day to go out. Friday and Saturday shifts were over. I could go out on my own down to the Quarter and hang with one or two of the bartenders. We’d hang in the part of the Quarter below the Lavender line, a boundary of sorts at St Ann Street where the straight bars ended and the gay bars began. If straight men crossed this line, then they were fair game.