In the early 1960´s when participating in San Francisco nightclub nightlife it was quite an adventure for someone, me, who was not legally old enough to drink. Gay Bars in San Francisco were mainly ¨protected¨ from the California State Department of ¨Equalization¨ or the local ¨Vice Squad¨ . They didn´t bother the larger Gay bars nor clients (much/mostly). I remember the candidates for city office of San Francisco would come into the bars (with uniformed police escorts) and campaign during election times. I liked that.
My favorite bar was The Rondezvous on Sutter street. Upstairs/over a interior design firm. The Rondezvous was filled with hundreds of underage/undergraduate college students from the Universities in the San Francisco/San Jose Bay area. There was always an older ¨friendly¨ doorman who checked ID´s (and he chose acceptable clients) but he didn´t check our ID´s...ever. Weekends (and sometimes during the week) were endless college parties. Whopping fun Springlike vacations and many of us became close friends as we met in ¨The City¨. We often met for dinner and/or brunch at Gay Restaurants like ¨Jacksons¨or ¨Gordons¨ (older men purchased drinks for us at Gordons) and we went to many parties before ¨going out¨ to the bars...we had after hours parties too.
We, our group from San Jose State, became a larger group of friends after we encountered one another, SURPRISE, ¨I didn´t know you were Gay¨! We became pals with students from Stanford, University of San Francisco, University of Santa Clara, California at Berkeley and San Francisco State too. Our own Intercollegiat dating games began and they went on for all of our College years.
Many of us became close friends for life and our extended Gay family ¨friendships¨ grew up around those friends who gathered under the center chandelier at the Rondezvous. I still celebrate some of those friendships today and those ¨first¨ Gay brothers became the solid foundation for a life, not a lifestyle, that would extend up to this day as I write this. I love my brothers both now and before now.
I extra appreciate my early exposure to Gay life in San Francisco because there had never been any clear understanding for me (or anyone else) of ¨how¨ it would be to live and survive (myself and others) as a ¨Gay¨ person in a still non-inclusive (mostly) culture. I discovered how to live a productive life. I discovered how ¨to be¨ exactly who I was/am (almost) in the dimension quite apart from the heterosexual majority.
I learned from others. I learned through my personal experiences how to capitalize on my own authenticity and personal talent as I shared ¨secrets¨ with other Gay young men who intended to LIVE and not be denied their part at all levels of everyday life. We would survive until the ¨Gay Cancer¨ took many of our friends and loved ones in our mid 30´s into 40´s.
AIDS became a deadly dread as we faced it, campaigned to raise funds/awareness to stop it, became of service to oneanother along with the support of our beloved ¨straight¨ friends and families. We would love one another, mourn one another and some of us would survive the tragic time and tell you what it was like and who we loved and lost to AIDS.
I am jumping ahead in my story again.
to be continued