And the poolhalls, the hustlers, and the losers
Used to watch em through the glass
Well I’d stand outside at closin’ time
Just to watch her walk on past
Unlike all the other ladies
She looked so young and sweet
As she made her way along down that empty street
Down on mainstreet
“Down on Main Street”
During the 1980s lining the street leading up to the Capitol of Michigan in downtown Lansing, there were a string of seedy establishments — strip clubs and gay bars. They are long since gone, but looking back I realize they never really left, but are now in the guise of values that society views as something to pursue in a liberal culture that accepts everything and denies nothing.
Back then I had a friend, Jane (not her real name), who was a lesbian. She was a nice person and I enjoyed talking with her though I was always a little wary that she might mistake that for something a little deeper and try to get me to try her way of things which I most definitely did not want to do. But I was curious about this of society of gay people.
She talked about the gay bars and I asked if she would take me to some. We wound up at Joe Covello’s, and behind its obscure facade was hiding quite a a colorful interior. We walked inside to strobe lights and loud music. The DJ was a man dressed up like a woman. I had never seen this before, until I worked at a shoe store and would encounter these type of people asking for size 13 in a woman’s shoe. I would feel a little embarrassed for them as they tottered in their high heels, garish makeup and wigs, checking themselves out in the mirror.
I asked Jane about the DJ and why he dressed like a woman. She told me the technical term for this type of person, “transvestite.”
I marveled at the way all the women stayed on one side of the bar and chatted, while all the men ensconced themselves on the other side. I looked over at the men. They were not at all interested in me. I looked over at the women. Some of them tried to catch my eye. I quickly looked away.
Sometimes even now, when I’m feelin lonely and beat
I drift back in time and I find my feet
Down on mainstreet
The seedy bars are all gone now, replaced with upscale shops and trendy eateries. What has moved from the alternative has slipped into the mainstream where it is cultured like a strange orchid strait from a Lovecraftian tale.
Once the haunt of drug addicts and degenerates, the taboo has made its way into the lives of the innocent, the most vulnerable of the population.