I’m From South Bend, IN.

by Bob R.

State Satellite overhead image from Google Earth 2022

It was the fifties, I was in my 20’s and gay bars were scary. You always had to worry that the guy you were trying to pick up might be a cop.

But there were other places to pick up men. Downtown at one such place I was sitting in my parked car watching and waiting. My patience paid off. The car that was stopped at the intersection had already circled twice. I started up my car and when the other car passed I followed. The other driver drove out of the city and into the country finally pulling off to the side of the road. I drove past him and pulled up a little further ahead.

That’s when the waiting game started. It was the ’50s and nobody wanted to be queer. The unspoken rule was that the first guy out of his car was the queer and the other guy the real man. It was a mental tug-of-war until someone gave in or drove off. Usually I was the first to give in and this time was no exception.

Afterwards, I got ready to leave. In the three years doing this I hadn’t exchanged more than a half dozen words with the men I tricked with, so when he asked if I wanted to talk I was wary but I heard myself say, “Yeah.” He was my first gay friend.

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