When I think about my understanding of what it meant to be gay when I was 16, a handful of images come to mind.
- Walking down Stockton Avenue and trying to sneak a quick look into the old Renegades Bar when the door would swing open. I could never really see in, but stories unfolded in my head around the mystery of that worn-down pub with painted over windows and rough-edged leather bears occasionally outside inhaling a smoke.
- Quirky wall hangings honoring/celebrating/mourning//berating dead gays. Loads of them all over the San Jose Convention Center. People everywhere just staring and reading pieces of quilt. Myself included, though I mostly just searched for interesting images.
- Ads at the back of the Metro. Back then there were still M4M ads with strange code words and the often semi-explicit request for sexual adventure. Everyone seemed to be anonymous straight acting men ISO fun and adventure – 7″ minimum.
- My sister at the Billy De Frank Center, I think meeting with counselors. I would sit in the lobby and wait, looking through magazines and staring at the wall. Most of the posters on the wall dealt with AIDS, many were in spanish (SIDA). Complete with pool table, the place felt like a cross between a rec center for runaway kids and an old folks home.
- And then there was Cafe Leviticus on the corner of Alameda and Hester. It was a Bohemian hipster joint before hipsters existed. Even though it was a popular place for my friends to hang out, I only went a handful of times because I was too nervous around that crowd. Obligatory video:
At the time I didn’t know that I was gay. I was just stockpiling information on what it meant to be gay for future reference.
So a month has now passed and with the holidays comes a great amount of change as far the the piece is concerned. I got the call from Stephen and suddenly it went from a trio to a duet. I have to say that I’m definitely saddened by the change in plan, as Stephen had been in many ways a major influence in the initial formation of the idea for the piece. Especially his perspective of queer life in the 1990’s. But the process of exploring this as a duet with Mica & I has excited me, and now with James on board we’re back to a trio. Maybe by the end of the week we’ll be up to a quartet!
I’ve picked out some preliminary costume pieces to bring into rehearsal this month – It’s a struggle to find an adequate sense of image that works for the piece. Tomorrow Mica & I are back in the studio working some of the new text that Mica has been creating – it’s really beautiful language. It’s ghastly and intense and very clear in it’s honest plea – I don’t have a sense of how it supports the work so I need to really keep a critical eye on it, but we’ll play tomorrow.
It’s the start of the uphill crawl to the halfway mark. Onward.