Louis had vanished. Iʼd look for him but he kept out of the bars, strange hours, whatever jobs he picked up. Saw Jeff again who came on to me at Jewel’s and weʼd play around some with his big beard and arms and was kinda hot but he was not Louis. I couldnʼt make out with him. Louis was in my way. He knew it, didnʼt offer any information. I worked my shift regular and fucked around now and again, hangin with my bartender friends. Iʼd get off work at 5am, count tips and be home around 7am to pass out and get some sleep. I just worked a Sunday beer bust and was feeling good and frisky. I parked myself on a stool in the back of Lafitte’s by the fireplace, had my stool leaning against the bricks, and kicked back having had a lot of drinks and shots and shooting bull and cruising hard.
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.
1978—Werner Seelig and I met in the South of France. He was twenty-one and from Indiana. I was twenty, a hippy from California. We were both staying in a commune up in the mountains of the Languedoc. I was immediately attracted to him and over the course of a couple weeks of exploring the wilds of the countryside together, we became inseparable buddies.
Without a doubt, New York City is a veritable cornucopia of hot men. However, sanity and stability are for sure not qualities that the gays possess in their early 20s, regardless of how successful they seem.
Take, for instance, one of my most recent encounters upon moving to NYC in 2010. His name for the purposes of this story is “Mr. Hi.”
1976 – When I first moved to NYC in 1976, as far as the world knew, I was a 24-year-old straight guy, former college jock, and up-and-coming banker. All my friends were straight, at least during my first few years there, and served as my New York “family.” They knew I was gay, but it didn’t matter. We regularly hung out at “Eddie Condon’s,” my dad’s world-famous jazz night club on 54th Street; we shared picnic baskets at summer evening concerts in Central Park; and we threw surprise birthday parties for each other.
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.
I moved to New York City in the fall of 1980 and quickly landed a job at a top corporate design agency, making $15,000 a year. It wasn’t much to live on, but, fortunately, my rent was only $250 a month for an Upper Eastside tenement—a 3-room railroad flat, complete with bathtub in the kitchen.
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.).