Tuesday, May 25, 2010

That Fateful Night--Revisited

As a ward clerk my shift rotation meant I was off one weekend out of three. Lynne was a nurse assistant on another floor with the same rotation. We'd gone to high school together, had a lot of mutual friends and often got together on our days off.

About a year after Sheila broke me in, Lynne and I were off work. We'd had a rough week and wanted to go dancing. But being a Monday, every club in town was dead.

Lynne suggested we go to the gay bar where the dance floor was always hopping. I absolutely did not want to go. But Lynne begged and pleaded and promised we would leave if I felt the least bit uncomfortable. I finally agreed.

That I might be gay still had not occurred to me. Gay people were either pedophiles (i.e., my scoutmaster or the manager at the movie theater), flaming queens or perverts. I was none of these things, therefore, I was not gay.

Besides, I thoroughly enjoyed sex with women. With a continuous string of girlfriends dating back to the fourth grade, how could I be gay? It just wasn't possible.

Rather than gay or bi or straight, I preferred to think of myself as honest. Surely every man in America sometimes wondered how an attractive male friend or coworker would look naked. I was just honest enough to admit it. Right?

The gay bar in Lexington had been in the same location for decades under many different names. It was Johnny Angel's then, and more popular than any time before or since. The location operates as The Bar Complex today.

We presented our IDs, paid the cover charge and started up the big spiral staircase to the disco. The thump of the base hit your ears long before the music. Through a brick arch at the top of the stairs was a huge marble bar with mirrors behind it. Reflected in the mirrors was the dance floor. My heart was in my throat.

Nothing in my life had prepared me for what I saw on the dance floor. There were a couple of drag queens, and some other straight people, but the overwhelming majority were guys around my age. More than a couple were downright cute! I was shocked, speechless, and absolutely certain I was gay.

I kept my eyes on Lynne, avoiding any possible eye contact with any of the cute boys dancing all around me and danced like I had never danced before. My mind raced as the implications of my new awareness sunk in. I was gay.

Was I ashamed or mortified or suicidal? Not at all. I was excited, curious, and oddly at peace. Everything made sense now. At long last I'd found a label that fit.

I noticed a coworker from McAlpin's across the dance floor. He was dancing in a circle with a group I believed to be the cutest guys in the bar. I didn't know his name, but vowed to meet him the next time we worked together. I did, too.


Anonymous said...

To this day - I adore the "Bar Complex", which put back the neon sign that say's "Johnny Angels" - obviously pulled out from the basement.
I drag (giggle) friends there all the time - it's still the best place in Lexington to dance uninhibited.
No one care what you look like, what you wear, how you dance, because they are all freakier than you...
I love the place.

Joseph Griggs said...

Good description of The Bar (Johnny Angel's). And it is the perfect place in Lexington for people who like to dance. Last time I was there, I brought my sister, cousin, brother and three other women, and they all got on the dance floor and danced together and had a good time.

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