Once upon a time, in any metropolitan city or small town far away , Gay pioneers had to endure many hardships that today’s millennial generation will never understand. If you remember using an actual pay phone, bought a cassette tape or cd, or watched your favorite artist on Soul Train, you know the struggle it was just to be, gay, single, and trying to find yourself prior to today’s more inclusive (somewhat) climate. 

 

It wasn’t easy and it took a lot of work just to exist in a world that would not let you be visible. Forget about HBO’s monster hit True Blood, Gay men at the turn of the millennium were the original vampires. We were creatures of the night. Beautiful beings circulating through shadows, house parties, and not to mention what would be horrifying to today’s twenty something, having to engage in actual human interaction to get a date or even get laid.

 

 

As pay phone booths began to disappear on street corners like little Judy Winslow on Family Matters, these vampires came out of their coffins and or closets, and  embraced Noah’s arc on television, Ricky Martin coming out, and being able to wear comfy sweatpants with a hole in the crotch, and still get a date for the evening via your smartphone. This is all while never having to leave your sofa. The only effort to be made is choosing the best well lit, and intentionally posed profile pic to seal the deal.

 

I for one, love technology and all that is has to offer. I can order movie tickets, food, and an Uber to a Netflix and chill to avoid giving up my coveted parking space on the urban streets of northern New Jersey. Every once in a while however, my buddies and I still get a kick about reminiscing about the good, or not so good ol’ days of trying to be yourself in a pre- social media era.

 

Here are 5 things same gender loving men of a certain age will get a chuckle about but are happy to leave behind in yesteryear:

  1. Bookstores – We are not talking about Barnes and Noble here.  It’s your neighborhood adult book store where you could pick up necessities such as on sale VHS tapes and eventually DVD’s of porn. Yes youngins, there was no xtube or skin flicks for free. We had to put in some work to get our late night viewing pleasure . I’m sure folks took part in other adventures here but this is a classy website and I was too boring, and too much of a scaredy cat to have a story to tell. Move along kiddies. Nothing to see here.
  2. Dating Phone Lines – Now I actually liked this one. Before the days of Grindr and Jac’kd, grown men were subject to being voice catfished. You could actually call a 1-800 number and hear profiles of men, many of whom used fake voices much like fake photos on dating apps today. Men were often duped like ignoring the weather forecast and being caught in a torrential downpour without an umbrella. Although it seemed as if you met better quality men back then, whether it was a fake voice, or over exaggerated stats, even in today’s world, some things never change with us.
  3. The Time When Magazines Were Life – Tumblr, Snap Chat, and hot boy Instagram accounts may be where we get our eye candy fix from today but way back when, magazines were the go to source for chiseled bodies and salacious stories. I didn’t know anyone who didn’t have a copy of Black Inches. If you didn’t, I can assure you, one of your buddies did.
  4. The Hole In The Wall Club – Okay so this is not actually a relic of the past. It is however, a much different experience today. There was a time when men would gather in some of the nation’s most iconic night clubs. You were dressed to the nines, doused in John Paul Gaultier, and you knew nothing of your crush other than he looked like a Greek God in his tight sheer shirt. The only good thing about leaving this version of the club life in the past is that now, there are so many options at upscale venues that you no longer need breadcrumbs to find it, a crowbar for protection , and a disguise so you won’t be seen by coworkers or your Auntie.
  5. Bringing Stationery Supplies To Social Events – This was so sad but it was the truth. As men would get ready for an amped up Saturday night, it wasn’t enough to be fresh to death, you had to actually have a pen and paper nestled inside of your oversized jeans. You would be hating life if you finally got the courage to speak to your crush and had nothing to write his number down with. This was serious business and a must have. I’m still finding little pieces of paper in old boxes with numbers and names of men I’ve long forgotten and for the life of me, couldn’t understand why I thought they were hot in the first place.

 

 

Well that was a nice trip down memory lane but I am happy to move on. These are all fun, yet often unbelievable tales of a time long gone. It is however, always a blast to now be on a beach with life long friends who knew you when you got your first cell phone. As we sip our drinks, drown each other out with belly aching laughter, we think fondly of our collective, crazy, and once upon a time moments. I know I only touched the surface here so please feel free to share some your favorite, yet forgettable flashbacks. I know you have them.