Dec 27, 2017

Searching for Beefcake in Grand Island, Nebraska

When I left Rock Island for the safe haven of West Hollywood, I took Interstate 80 through Nebraska.  You go through the big city of Omaha and skirt around the college town of Lincoln without seeing anything, and then it's 400 miles of wilderness: endless flat fields of corn and soybeans broken only by occasional exits with Shell Stations and McDonalds, and the signs for cities that the Interstate skirts around: North Platte, Grand Island, Gothenburg, Ogallala.

I wonder what is it like to live in these small towns, to wake up every morning in a square frame house with cornfields in the back yard, to pass tractors and dogs on the way to work, to eat in the town's one diner, where everybody knows your name and where your daddy went to school. 

I chose Grand Island, because it's the first city you reach after Lincoln (population 48,000), and because it was founded by immigrants from the Quad Cities.  They named it "Grand Island" after an island in the Platte River,

It's the site of the Nebraska Law Enforcement Training Center, the only police academy in the state, and the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneers

Most of the restaurants are along the lines of "The Great U.S.A. Steak House," but there's also Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, and Somali, plus a Thai-Lao market.

There are two high schools, Catholic and public, with swimming and wrestling.  No colleges except for an extension of the conservative Doane University

There's a used bookstore, the Tattered Book, on the same block with three antique malls and the Primitive Touch Antique Warehouse.

The Grand Island Little Theater is doing "A Trip to Bountiful," "Wait Until Dark," and "In One Bed and Out the Other" (a sex farce about 19th century marital infidelity).

According to the "Butch Wonders" blog, Grand Island is a 'steaming pile of homo-hatred.'  The City Council recently rejected an anti-discrimination ordinance, 8-2, because they didn't want to give anyone the impression that Grand Island was "gay-friendly."

Did anyone think it was?

I imagine that most of Grand Island's gay men have already left, or will leave soon, just as I left Rock Island in 1985.  30 years and 450 miles, and not much has changed.


  1. Well, there are always a few left, just because gay people are always being born. And foreign oligarchs have made living in SoCal pretty much a millionaire's game. (And as I always say, it wasn't that long ago that all of southern California outside of West Hollywood was basically the worst elements of the South on gay issues. And even today, West Hollywood IS the worst elements of the South on race. Seriously vanilla, that town is.)

    But seriously, there's a reason I use the phrase "coastal urban master race". I'm only being half ironic, I really can't shake that a certain class of pundit sees pretty much anyone who doesn't live within an hour of the beach as inferior. Too much listening to whining centrists who can't accept Clinton's loss and move on to next year's midterms. Even if they are literally every reason she lost.

    Sorry, I'm just venting.


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