Sep 6, 2015

The Cowboy of Sunset Boulevard

Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood, fall 1988.  A small town of tree-lined streets.  Small shops, restaurants, and bars where gay men and lesbians gathered in search of freedom.

The Sunset Strip, only five blocks north, still technically West Hollywood, but big, blaring, glaring, crowded with cars and the clubs where hetero glitterati snorted cocaine.

Five blocks, actually only two blocks up the hill from the house that I shared with Derek, but we never went there.  It was as if there was an invisible force field keeping gay people away.

The Strip was relatively uncrowded during the daytime, the easiest way to get to Hollywood, Silverlake, and sometimes Downtown.  But I didn't even like to drive through: I always felt like an interloper, passing through a wild, alien territory.

Eight years ago, on a visit to Los Angeles long before I moved here, my friend Tom and I drove down Sunset, and stopped at Book Soup, where I bought my first gay-themed book.  Now I passed it with a little frisson of dread.

But one Friday afternoon I thought, "What's the big deal?  It's just a street.  I'm going to Book Soup."

There was a cowboy by the front door, drinking the free coffee.  Mid-20s, my height, muscular, maybe a little chunky.  He had a bright, open, very handsome face.  He was wearing a cowboy hat and a lumberjack shirt unbuttoned to reveal a smooth chest, and very tight jeans with a silver belt buckle.

"Jim Morrison!  Excellent!" he exclaimed.

"Are you a fan?"

"My band covers the Doors sometimes.  We do mostly country, as you can see, but we do some rock, too."  He paused, an unmistakable gleam in his eye.  "So, you live around here?"

The rest of the story is on Tales of West Hollywood.