About the Post

Author Information

J. PATRICK REDMOND was born and raised in southern Indiana and recently returned to his home state after sixteen years of living in South Florida and teaching for the Miami-Dade County Public School System. Presently he teaches English Composition at the University of Southern Indiana. Patrick holds a BA in English from Florida International University in Miami and an MFA in creative writing and literature from Stony Brook University in Southampton, New York. He is a contributing blogger for the Huffington Post, and his writing has appeared in the NOH8 Campaign blog, the Southampton Review, and in the Barnes & Noble Review’s Grin & Tonic. He is also the 2012 recipient of the Deborah Hecht Memorial Prize in Fiction. Some Go Hungry is his first novel, and when asked about it, Patrick says, “It’s about God, guns, gays, and green beans.” Additional information is available at jpatrickredmond.com.

My First Gay Bar

In 1989 I was 20 years old and attended (ever-so-briefly) a university in Indianapolis, Indiana. I was not “out” and I remember being alone in the bedroom of the apartment I shared with two straight, totally unaware friends from my small southern Indiana hometown. There I was sitting on the edge of my waterbed looking through the phone book for anything that might, perhaps, reveal something or somewhere gay. I had no idea where to look. I had no resources. Yet, almost instinctually I knew it must have existed somewhere in Indiana’s capital city. Four years later and three hours south of Indy I found and walked through the front door of the Sho-Bar in Evansville –my first gay bar. I was frightened and exhilarated. What if someone in there recognizes me? I thought, my heart throbbing in my throat as I lingered outside near my parked car in the bar’s gravel lot. Finally I approached the front door, opened it, and went in. The need to find those like me, a community, overpowered my racing pulse and skyrocketing anxiety. That first step, my first gay bar, was the first night of the rest of my life. I was born again on the Sho-Bar’s dance floor under its silver disco ball moon and multi-colored stars while remixed Whitney sang “I Will Always Love You.”

Some say increasing acceptance of the LGBTQ community as well as the digital age are death knells for our beloved local gay bar. Are they? If so, perhaps MY FIRST GAY BAR stories will reveal to those still struggling for acceptance that they do indeed have a fabulous future in store, that their community is out there somewhere waiting for them under a silver disco ball moon.

J. Patrick Redmond is a Midwesterner living in Miami. Information on his forthcoming novel Feeding the Christians, coming 2014 from Kaylie Jones Books, is available at jpatrickredmond.com.

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One Comment on “My First Gay Bar”

  1. travis December 24, 2014 at 6:25 am #

    I hope that more gay bars will open up we are still outcasts and unwanted in small towns like mine in vincennes Indiana. Theres no safe place for people like us to go and be or selves without being judged I have to make a hour drive to evansville just to go to a gay bar we shouldnt be satisfied with tolerance we should be accepted as the new norm but the gay bar should always be a place of our own Its getting harder to tell straoght guys from gay ones and I hate to try to figure it out or get punched by a homophobe in a mixed bar. So we need a gay bar in every town in america if ihad the money It would be a dream for me to open my own one day. Thanks your not alone

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