It wasn’t too long following my coming out of my gender closet when I began to try to go to gay venues to express my authentic self in a relatively safe space. There were several I began to frequent quite a bit. Then there were others I was made to feel quite uncomfortable in. In other words, if it wasn’t drag night with a show, what was I doing there anyhow. Back in those days there was very little recognition in those places of what a transgender person even was. Not even a drag queen. The whole atmosphere of the music and discrimination led me to try out the big sports venues I was comfortable in. What did I have to lose?
From the Jessie Hart
Archives. The wig I wore that night.
Even though, with a lot of persistence and a lot of luck I was able to establish myself as a regular in several establishments where I could go in peace, watch sports on a big screen television and drink big cold draft beers. Actually it wasn’t too difficult to establish myself because I was a one of a kind addition to their clientele. There were not many single women and/or transgender women who came in to enjoy a drink. I found out fairly quickly which venues leaned to the redneck side and hated me and the ones who didn’t. Of course I made it easy by minding my own business and tipping well. My visits to gay venues became rarer and rarer and mostly were going to a couple small lesbian bars. One of which hated me and the other I found I was accepted for the most part or just ignored.
Even though I nearly exclusively stayed out of the male dominated gay venues, there was one big one in downtown Dayton, Ohio I did go to on occasion to socialize with friends. By doing so I managed to have a couple memorable evenings. One of which occurred when I went to meet up with a transgender man friend of mine (who I had my first dinner out with a guy previously) and a lesbian friend of his. I remember now how long I labored over what I was going to wear and finding the prep time to get ready. I finally decided on going all black with a sleeveless black tank top, long black flowing skirt with a cut which extended up to my thigh, my black sandals topped off with my long straight black wig. Unlike several of my other outfits I had to make sure my legs were freshly shaved and my makeup was properly done. So time was of the essence. Once I finished dressing, the mirror was really singing my praises and out the door I went, savoring the feel of the summer night air on my legs and arms. For once I thought I had…