Jan 22, 2016

Date from Hell #2: When Neither of You Have a Place to Go

Des Moines, June 27th, 1981

The summer after my junior year at Augustana.  I drive out to Des Moines, where Thomas, the gay Episcopal priest I met last year, is holding a strategy meeting for the Gay Rights March tomorrow -- the first in the state of Iowa.

It's not a Gay Pride Parade, it's a Gay Rights March.  We will be marching through hostile city streets, carrying signs that say "Stop Gay Police Harassment," "Gay People Are Not Criminals," and "We Are Your Children."

Gay men and lesbians from all over the state are sitting in Thomas's living room, discussing how to respond to screamers, what to do if we are arrested, where to meet if we must scatter.

I sit next to Mickey, the only other guy my age: short, tan heavily muscled, very attractive, with dirty blond hair and a round boyish face.  We chat a bit, but don't exchange any personal information -- in those days you are circumspect, even among gay people.

"I want Boomer and Mickey to hold the banner that says "Gay is Good," Thomas says.  "We want some muscle out there, to show the straights that we're not all weak little sissies!"

Mickey grins at me.  "Up for being partners?"

"You know it."  We clasp hands briefly.

Then he and the other townies go home, and the out of town visitors bed down for the night.  It's a little crowded: the two bedrooms are full, and four of us get sleeping bags on the living room floor (nothing erotic happens).

June 28th, 12:00 pm

Mickey and the other townies arrive just after noon.

Do you remember those mesh half-t shirts they wore in the 1980s?  You might as well not be wearing a shirt at all.  Your pecs and shoulders were visible behind the sheer mesh stuff, and your abs were completely exposed.

They were hot if you had a perfect body.  A centimeter less than perfection, and they looked stupid.

Mickey is hot.

2:00 pm

The march is a little disappointing.  The media refused to publicize it, so no one knows about it except gay people, and they're mostly too closeted to come.  Our only spectators are the police officers watching us carefully to make sure we don't have sex on the street, and a few passersby.  Some run into the stores and offices to fetch their friends to gawk. No homophobic attacks, no screamers, just some laughter and an occasional  "Look at the fags!"

Afterwards, we take down our signs and pack them into Thomas's car.  "Great job, everyone!  We  let them know that we're not going to hide anymore!"

Mickey is standing next to me, smiling, muscular.

"I'm spending the night -- it's too late to drive back to Rock Island"  I tell him.  "Do you want to get together for dinner?"

"That'd be cool," Mickey says.  "Let me go home and change, and I'll meet you at my favorite restaurant in town.  Chicago Speakeasy on Euclid, say 7:00?"

5:00 pm

Back at Thomas's house, I shower and change clothes. I go into the kitchen, where two of the marchers, Paul and Erik are preparing lasagna and garlic bread for dinner.

"I won't be home for dinner," I tell them.  "I'm going out with Mickey."

"You landed Mickey the Muscleboy!" Paul exclaims.  "What's your secret?"

Erik adds "There's not a queen in Des Moines who hasn't tried to get into his pants."

Word of my "conquest" quickly passes through the group.  I hear hooting and hollering as everybody starts to tease "the kid."

7:00 pm

The Chicago Speakeasy is festooned with pictures of gangsters and bootleggers from the Roaring Twenties.  I ordered a "Dillinger Delight,"  a grilled chicken breast "wid all da grub": a baked potato and a side salad.

Now that we're alone, we feel more comfortable revealing personal information.

Mickey is in grad school in Russian at the University of Iowa, about two hours away.  He also speaks German, Czech, and Polish.  He figured "it" out two years ago, and hasn't been in a relationship yet, although he's dated a few guys.  He's out to his older sister, but not to his parents or straight friends.

9:00 pm

"Want to go to the Garden?" he asks, naming one of Des Moines' gay bars.  "So we can, you know, kiss and stuff?"

"Um...I'm only 20, too young to get in."

"Back to Thomas's place, then?"

I imagine a roomful of guys teasing us and making rude comments.    "There's no privacy there.  Could we go back to your place?"  I assume that he has his own apartment.

"I guess.  Follow me home."

 He waits in his car for me to pull around, and then starts driving down Euclid, across the Des Moines River.  Suddenly he turns left without signaling.  I follow.  He drives faster and faster, swerving across a busy intersection, then turning right, again without signalling.

"Slow down!" I yell.  Of course, he can't hear me.

We're on 30th Street, zooming toward Drake University.  He's a block ahead.  Suddenly he turns right.  I follow, but by the time I get there, he's gone.

I didn't get his phone number.  Or his last name.  There's nothing to do but go back to Thomas's house and face the teasing.

Why did he ditch me after inviting me over?

The full story, with nude photos and the answer, is on Tales of West Hollywood