Not for sex or dating, necessarily, just to find someone to talk to. I had made a major discovery, uncovered the Big Lie, and I couldn't tell anyone about it.
No one to compare stories of the hints and signals that helped me finally realize that "it is not raining upstairs."
Or complain to about the incessant "what girl do you like?" interrogations of my family and friends.
Or just nudge on the street and say "Isn't that guy hot!"
But how to find gay people in a world with no dating apps, no internet chatrooms, no gay organizations, and everyone pretending that they had no idea that same-sex desire existed.
There was a gay bar in town, but you had to be 21 to get in. I was 17, and looked around 15.
Asking knowledgeable straight people was a problem. They would answer with a suspicious "Why do you want to know? Are you a fag?"
So I made my inquiries as homophobic as possible. "No, of course not! I just want to know if it's safe to walk down the street in this town!"
That research yielded mostly dead ends, hints and rumors, no last names, no details.
I tried to look for clues: guys who were especially feminine, or who made eye contact a little too long, or who touched your hand by "accident."
That was fruitless, too: I spent weeks hanging out with Jack Kerouac, aka Jurgen, only to discover that he was straight, living with a girl!
As far as I could tell, there were no gay people at Augustana, in Rock Island, in the state of Illinois, in the world.
Then, around Christmastime in 1978, I went to the post office in downtown Rock Island to buy some stamps, and behind the counter was a grinning Little Person.
The rest of the story, with nude photos, is on Tales of West Hollywood.