or maybe 1981

It was 1980, maybe 1981. I was — 19, living at my dad’s home in Commack, Long Island. My neighbor was housing a relative from England for the summer. We were both gay newbies. There was only one gay club that we knew of. I think it was called Thunders. In French the word for lightning is éclair. How I remembered that from ninth grade French? No idea. I asked my dad if I could use the car to go out. “Where to?” he asked (at 10 p.m. on a Friday night). “The bakery,” I said, “to get éclairs.” Silence, and then, he said “O.K.” Peter and I drove the dented white Volare to the strip mall in Commack. We danced the night away — drinking Bud Light. I felt happy and free. On the way home we made sure to stop at the Candlelight diner — around 2 a.m. — to pick up éclairs. Dad was clueless. From that day on, “bakery” was our code word for gay bar.