Before I came out in 1971 I had no idea what life as a gay man would be like. There were no clues in the media or popular culture for me. I thought I’d just be lumped together with child molesters, rapists and social deviants–much the way the Republican Party still thinks today.
Then I came out and immediately met other kids who were intelligent, attractive, funny and normal. It blew my mind (as we were wont to say). There was a collective sense that we’d been duped by society and there was nothing wrong with who we were. And we let the world know it.
Not everyone took such a direct approach and during the 70’s there was still a Golden Arches defensiveness to it all. An attempt to achieve strength in numbers and coax people to come out. And a sense of defeat when someone who couldn’t handle it went back in the closet or got married.
Thankfully, that is all behind us and today we are probably on a pace to outstrip McDonalds. I alone can proudly claim over one billion served.
At Williams-Sonoma in 1975 it was such a relief to have a job surrounded by my kind. A real life situation where being gay was not an issue to discuss but a reason to party.
We got paid every Friday and would head across the street to the Starlight Room at the top of the Sir Francis Drake. There we would take advantage of their daily doubles (two for one cocktails) and spent most of our paychecks.
In nicer weather we’d take the ferry over to Sausalito. We drank in the hotel bar and would have so much fun we’d miss the last boat back to the City. Then we had to either figure out nonexistent public transportation, take an expensive cab ride, or find an overnight host. None of those options was easy in the sleepy fishing village.
Our most extravagant outing was a weekend pool party in Sonoma. It was so exotic and undiscovered at the time. Wine country was still a retreat for the locals and had yet to be Disneyfied for the rest of the world.