I often read blogs that focus on the sweet, sickening aspects of gay life, where adorable little queens are romping and flitting, with picnic baskets and pink ribbons. If they aren’t baking cookies, they are picking out fabric samples.
So I figured, for once, I’d post something different. I normally don’t post about anything connected to my personal life. The photo above revolves around an interesting gay man I once knew. His name was Les Dille…I may have the spelling wrong, but the accent in Dille is on the second syllable, Dill-LAY, which made it sound French. Les liked a little drama in his life.
Let’s go back in time for a moment. And please remember this is hearsay, stories I’ve been told. Les opened a gay bar in my town, New Hope, back in the l970’s, when New Hope was still a huge gay destination for the NY theater crowd. NH is still a gay destination, but not quite as much as it once was. The gay bar Les opened is still around and going strong. It’s had many owners. At one time, there were at least five gay bars withing walking distance of town. One of the recent owners of the bar Les opened was a multimillionaire who owned and ran one of the most successful vitamin companies in the world. When he passed away at the untimely age of 51 in 2008, a group of investors purchased the bar and it still remains, in tact, almost exactly as it was in l970.
When Les sold the bar in the 1970’s, he opened a smaller business about five miles north of New Hope, not far from the town of Lumberville, PA. For those who don’t know much about the area’s history, Julia and Paul Child were married in Lumberville. Pear S. Buck owned a home not far away. The legendary Dorothy Parker owned a home a little further north. Odette Myrtle owned a restaurant cabaret. And, many of the greatest artists of the twentieth century lived and worked in or around New Hope and Lumberville. When I owned my gallery in New Hope, I was lucky enough to meet a few before they passed away.
Needless to say, New Hope has always been a tourist destination for weekenders and people who love and appreciate all the arts. Les was a smart businessman and he knew this. So he opened a small custard stand and called it “Dilly’s Corner.” He did so well with the custard stand he would up starting a side business of buying and selling Rolls Royce’s. This was also before my time, but good friends tell me they used to see Les driving up and down Main Street all the time in his Rolls Royce, waving and smiling at passersby.
When I drove past Dilly’s corner earlier this afternoon, I took the photo and put it on foursquare. When I saw how much I liked it, I decided to write a small post about it. Les doesn’t live in the area anymore. But his first lover still does. I know him well. I spent New Year’s Day with him and his partner, along with other friends. Of course the conversation turned to the old days and they started talking about what New Hope used to be like, especially with regard to gay men.
Though I didn’t get to experience this time period, what I am experiencing right now is just as valid. And I wanted to write a post that wasn’t pumped up with hype or politics. I didn’t want to write about the underbelly of gay life, where gay men lurk in dark corners for sexual encounters, risking their lives and their health. I didn’t want to write about rainbows, unicorns, and gay men baking chocolate chip cookies either. I wanted to write about something real, in this condensed version, that doesn’t get as much attention as it should.