When I was in 8th grade I started dating guys as well as girls. I continued to do that until I was 22. At 22, one of my friends/tricks came to see me where I worked and told me there was now a gay bar in town at the Willard Hotel. He said I should stop by some Friday night cause the place was crowded then. I thought, who me, I'm not gay. I went that Friday night. I remember sitting outside the bar in my car and trying to talk myself into going in. It was a struggle. Hell, I figured I'd just go in for one drink and if I wasn't comfortable I'd just leave. There was an English woman behind the bar named Barbara (in retrospect she could have been transgendered) who was very friendly and there were more than a few faces there I recognized. Remember this was my home town. My graduating class only had 1,028 kids in it. I knew a lot of people. I had a great time. The jukebox was playing the new Elton John hit Philadelphia Freedom (just to give you a sense of when this was). I made some new friends that night and even ended up with a boyfriend for a while. Ah the good old days when I was young and pliable. Two of the guys I met were Bob and Jim. They had a house on the street I grew up on but on the other end. Never knew they were so close. They took me to my first gay bar out of my home town. That's where I met my friend Bellotti. We've been friends ever since. Bob and Jim introduced us and then a bunch of us got into their huge Oldsmobile and drove off into the country sort of beyond Kittanning, Pa. I thought it was kind of a strange way to head to a bar, but what did I know. We drove for about an hour and turned off the main road onto a small rural road past a few nice ranch style houses and then plunged into the woods heading down towards the river. This was Schenely Road (it was a dead end) and at the bottom of this road were 3 or 4 small houses and an old distillery which made Schneley Whiskey. Before we got to the end of the road on the right there was the Schneley Hotel. Imagine a large red with white trim, clapboard building sort of shaped like a Swiss chalet. There was a dance floor as you entered, a bar to the right and stairs in the back of the dance floor leading up to the rooms. Smart idea. If you got too drunk to drive back you could always stay overnight for a small fee. I spent many a day and night there partying and dancing and making lots of gay friends.
One day I was there and one of my friends named Ron said come on up to the attic I want to show you something. I walked in and hanging upside down from the ceiling in three rows, running the whole length of the building were huge pot plants. They had evidently been growing them somewhere in the woods. Hey this was the 70's. Nowadays, if that happened I'd run away from there as fast as I could. Too paranoid in my old age or just too smart. Somewhere around that time I found out about the bars in Pittsburgh and that's where I ended up most of the time. Ah the good ole days.