~~ My First Gay Leather bar experience ~~


    My first in person introduction to the 'Leather World' came about in the spring of 1983 at the Bachelor Forum in Rochester, NY. That day is etched in my memory. I drove past the bar a few times that afternoon to familiarize myself with the neighborhood. Not knowing if I had the balls to stop in later in the evening, I telephoned the bar from a public pay phone next to a Burger joint across the street. Guess I just wanted to listen to the voice on the other end to determine if the place had masculine overtones or not. I introduced myself and explained that I was in town visiting relatives in Penfield (a suburb of Rochester) and that I had heard of the Bachelor Forum, but had never been to a 'Leather Bar'. When he asked me where I was right at that moment, I told him I was across the street. He said to come on over and knock at the side door of the Bar. When he let me in, he explained to me the Bar didn't open for a short while, but to come on in anyway. I felt a little more at ease. I think he said his name was either Arnie or George.

    Later in the afternoon, after the bar opened for business, an older gentleman came in. We chatted at the bar over a few beers. Then we moved to the back for a more private conversation. He asked me, 'What have you always wanted'. Well, me being the cautious one, I said a Leather Jacket or a camera, which was true. He said, 'Wait right here'. He left for a short while, and came back with a box on a strap. He showed me a camera and explained to me how all the dials worked. He then said, 'This is yours'. He said he worked in the 'Collections Department' for one of the local utility companies, and that he had a lot of cameras taking up space at home. It dawned on me later that Rochester is (was) knick-named 'Kodak City', and everyone probably has at least 3 cameras. I don't recall his name, but I hope he's still around.

    The Bachelor Forum has since moved. I liked the original location on the corner of Goodman and Main Streets. The building was torn down to make way for traffic improvements. The building had a nice layout. The second floor was such a beautiful place. DARK... BLACK... and at times, cramped. If only the walls of that second floor hallway could talk! The third floor of the building were very nice too, if you know what I'm referring to.

    That evening happened to be Bar Night for the Rochester Rams, M.C.. During the evening, I meet an older Leatherman... older than myself. Bob Fuller. Bob was in his 60's, I was in my mid 20's. He was a member of Syracuse 'Northstar MC', from Syracuse. We hit it off pretty good. Bob was special to me.

  (I travelled to Syracuse at least every other weekend for several years. Bob and I went on several 'Runs'. We went to all the runs sponsored by the 'Rochester Rams' and a few sponsored by the 'Toronto Spearheads'. We took vacations together to a few other places too. On a weekend trip to the St. Lawrence Seaway, my new vest (with a few pins), Bob's vest (with lots of pins) and his chaps were stolen from Bob's car. A few weeks later, we went on a one week vacation to see a friend of mine (Jacques Carle) in Connecticut. It was there that Bob gave me a 'new' vest that I still use to this day. A few years after knowing Bob as my weekend Top, he explained to me about the age problem between us. I cried and cried for days. We still spoke to each other on the phone every couple of months. About a year went by, and Bob developed Alzheimer's. He was placed in a nursing home by his children (Bob had been married for 40 years and had 8 children). He had a lot of Gay friends right up to the end. I recollect that his children (whom I had met) saw to it that only his blood relatives were allowed to visit him in the nursing home. Bob passed away as a very lonely Man. 'Godspeed to you Bob'.)

    I had left the Bar mid-afternoon to go back to my relatives place in Penfield to do a few things. One thing I did was to drive to an address of someone I had been corresponding with. The address was also in Penfield. It had the same house number as my relatives. I knocked on the door to explain that I was looking for a particular address... and also hoping to get a glimpse of the person I had been writting to. Nobody answered the door. That evening at the Bar, the bartender I had meet earlier in the day, introduced me to his lover, Jack. When I found out who Jack was, I literally broke down in tears. I apologized over and over again about how sorry I was for what I'd done earlier in the day. It was Jack's house where I was knocking on the door. He comforted me and said, 'Everything will be all right'. Probably if I hadn't looked and felt as humiliated as I did, Jack probably would have punished me right then and there.

    And that was my first, yet simple, introduction into the 'Gay Leather World'. Thank you Bachelor Forum. Thank you Rochester Rams. Thank you 'camera man'. Thank you Jack. Thank you Arnie (or was it George?). And yes... thank you Bob.