There were no gay bars in Grand Forks - indeed, there wasn't a single gay bar in the state of North Dakota (Fargo gays had to tromp across the Red River to Moorhead, Minnesota for sodomic socialising). The one gay night I had out was when the University of North Dakota gay & lesbian organisation arranged a night at a local hotel. I went, and the day after I wrote about it, squeezing as much venom about my situation into it as I could (and as many exclamation points and as few returns, apparently!!!!!!!!). Russ recently found a print out of that letter and typed it up for me last night.
So, below, a peek into The Life of Shaun 1998.
Date: Saturday, 18 April, 1998 12:57:46 PM
Subj: Gay Grand New Greater Grand Forks!
OK, I have lived in many different places of varying degrees of gay life. Las Vegas was no mecca, and Fairbanks was merely a drop in the bucket, but never have I been to as sad a gay function as last night, here in Grand Forks, North Dakota, the Sunflake City, the Heart of the Red River Valley…. It was actually about what I expected, but maybe a little worse! First off, the dance is held at the end of the Westward Ho. Yes, it’s held in the Chuckwagon Room in the Westward Ho. The Westward Ho is “frontier” style – nasty looking wood trying to be Western. Didn’t work. Anyway, it was an unreasonable $5 to get in (if you added up the cover charges of every other place in “Great New Greater Grand Forks” that night it might have totaled a quarter…). We paid since Brent had med school friends that were there. Anyway, the people. The PEOPLE! They were… well, you know what it means when someone tells you someone they met is “interesting” – well, they were ALL interesting! ;P Most were 40+, overweight, dressed like you’d expect an overweight 40+ North Dakotan to be… About a 1:8 gay man/lesbian ratio. The dancing… Ugh! There was this one man who insisted on hopping the whole night. He was wearing a flannel with the arms cut off, and would stand with his hands in his pocket and HOP. Of course, he hopped off beat too. Well, not that the music was good anyway! (Surprised?!) Fairbanks had bad music too, but this was out of control! At one point the DJ played Madonna and people danced some, so after that for quite a while EVERY OTHER song was a Madonna song! Finally that stopped and she actually played a couple decent slow songs (Sarah McLaughlin and Jewel – Yay!), and STARTED playing Robert Miles. However, the CD was skipping, so then she tried to fast forward past the skip! Which sounds REALLY great on the dance floor! :-) So that CD went off… A little later she played “I Will Survive” (is that by Donna Summers?), then the next song was Supermodel, then the next song was “Express Yourself” (Madonna again), then – GET THIS – she played “I Will Survive” *AGAIN*! Just 2 songs later! We also heard YMCA twice within one hour, and then to add insult to injury she played “Macarana”! The North Dakotan version of the dance seemed a little different! At least at this dance! Here they do one part where they put their hands on their butts and swish it from side to side, and then they crouch down with one hand in front and one behind and rock back and forth touching the floor in front of and behind them. It was truly, truly sad. And I couldn’t event drink myself into apathy! The LI Iced Teas had so little alcohol in them they tasted like Kool Aid!!!! Obviously, I did something very, VERY bad in this life to have had to endure this, and I promise to any forces that be, I won’t do it again, whatever it was, cause this is TOO MUCH! So, that was my experience with gay Grand Forks… Anyone still wonder why I am 100% willing to transfer to my 6th undergrad university? :-)
Shaun H. Coley
Shadwell, Tower Hamlets
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