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Transcript of interview with Hanford Searl by Dennis McBride, November 2, 1996


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Dennis McBride interviews Hanford Searl about a number of things: his being gay, his being gay in Las Vegas and other places, religious issues. Also, some information about working at the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and for Bob Brown at the Las Vegas Valley Times.

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[Transcript of interview with Hanford Searl by Dennis McBride, November 2, 1996]. Searl, Hanford Interview, 1996 November 2. OH-01664. [Transcript.] Oral History Research Center, Special Collections & Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada


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An O r a l H i s t o r y Interview with Hanford Sear 12>S>0 University of Nevada, Las Vegas James R. Dickinson Library Special Collections Department 4505 South Maryland Parkway Las Vegas, NV 89154 LAS VEGAS GAY ARCHIVES ORAL HISTORY PROJECT Use Agreement We, fhir^rri jU /r. and £>? w vTq df> ' 1—i * > i w f—l: m i ~ - 's f hereby give to the Las Vegas Gay Archives Oral History Project for scholarly and educational use by the public, the following tape-recorded interview recorded on NcaJ. A1 ^ , as an unrestricted gift. This agreement grants the University of Nevada, Las Vegas legal title and all literary property rights to this interview including copyright. However, it is understood that we or our heirs are freely allowed to use the information in this recording. Date /v'ov-g I'TiQ ~~ki)C r i-,T ALitii J Narrators signature Narrator's address 5^ Date a "YV/ Interviewer's signature As/'e- ^ tS-a-^ O K Aj u /J<aab05 Interviewer's address Accepted f^rthe^I^iversity of Nevada, Las Vegas by H£ad of Special Collections James R. Dickinson Library Date * / o / M l 1 A c k n o w l e d g m e n t s Id like to thank Hanford Searl for patiently spending time with me so that I could complete this oral history interview, particularly since his life at that time was complicated and busy. His friend Allan Chapin had just died and Hanford was in charge of putting together a memorial service at his, Hartford's, apartment, the day after our interview. At the same time, Hanford and his spouse, Keith Todtenhagen, were packing for their move to southern California. With Hanford s help, our knowledge of Nevada's history is greatly enriched. The staffs of the Boulder City Library, the Special Collections Department of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas library, and the Nevada State Museum and Historical Society at Lorenzi Park in Las Vegas were helpful in compiling the annotations. I'd particularly like to thank Leslie Peterson of the National Park Service in Boulder City for use of her transcription equipment. The excellent laser prints were made by Chris Dittman at Desert Data in Boulder City, Nevada. * * * ii Hanford Searl November 2, 1S>S><6 L a s V e g a s G o y A r c h i v e s O r a l H i s t o r y P r o j e c t I n t e r v i e w w i t h H a n f o r d S e a r I conducted by Dennis McBride November 2, 12>2>(S This is Dennis McBride, and I'm spending the afternoon with Hanford Searl, Jr. We're at his home at 7200 Pirate's Cove Road, Building 27, [Apartment] no. 2096. Today is Saturday, November 2,1996. We're going to be talking about a number of things: about his being gay, his being gay in Las Vegas and other places, religious issues. Also, some information about working at the [Las Vegas Review-Journal], and for Bob Brown at the Las Vegas Valley Times1 But to start with, I just want to establish some background.... Don't forget Billboardl Oh, Billboard .'2 Seventeen years. I'm exhausted! And you're starting a second career with them, a second phase. Incarnation, yeah. Tell me first of all where you were horn, when, and some of your family background. OK. Born in Buffalo, New York, and that was March 2, 1947. It was my mothers second marriage, so I have a half brother, but there's a big age difference, like, probably, 15 years. So I pretty much was an only child. And grew up in the suburb of East Aurora, which is 16, 18 miles southeast of the city of Buffalo. It's pretty much a country suburb. It's middle class, upper middle class, mostly white, very few minorities. How I turned out as well as I did, I guess, you know, my parents raised me on the Golden Rule. That was pretty important. Grew up in the country, pretty much. Buffalo at that time maybe had a half a million people in the city, and the county had like a million. Our little suburb—we were in the town—so we had, like, maybe 5,000. The village of East Aurora had 12,000.1 don t think that's changed too much. Bedroom community. BO-RINGl [laughs] That's why there's a lot of drugs going on there now. There's nothing else to do. You went all through school there, then? Right through high school, yeah. My studies narrowed to commercial art and journalism. Commercial art? Yeah. Graphic arts? Yeah. Most of these water colors you'll see around the apartment are mine. They're beautiful. They're OK. [laughs] That one's kind of primitive. But I started up again in 1990. From someone like me, ivho can't draw at all—the best I can do is take a photograph—I really admire people who can [draw and paint]. I usually take the ideas from photographs and cards. I did that one [motions to a painting hanging on the wall above the dining table] for my mom. Near Rochester, New York, it's known as the Alabama Swamps and the Canadian geese go through there every year. It looks like snow instead of water, so I've gotta work on my water techniques. But I think I got into art because I was an only child. I had friends in the neighborhood, but still.... You know. My parents encouraged me to go into the arts. That's an interesting point to make, though, that you feel you were interested in art because you were an only child. What's the correlation? I think because you don't have the brothers and sisters and craziness. I think you just turn to that, some kind of hobbies early on. Like I said, I did have a lot of friends in the neighborhood, but I just ... . I don't know. I guess my grandmothers on both sides were artists, too, and Mom and Dad kind of encouraged me to do that, I think. And music. They gave me my first record player when I was very young, 5 or 6. And it was all, like, Hungarian Rhapsody, classical music. Which I didn't really care for! It sounds like you had a richer interior life than you did an exterior one. Yeah. Or they were about equal. I had good times with kids in the neighborhood, and then in the village later on. I guess they kind of were balanced out. [I] wasn't too isolated. Now, you went on to college afterwards? Yeah. Where? First year in New Mexico at Las Vegas. It was New Mexico Highlands University. And it was one of the schools [you'd go to when] you'd get out of high school and not know really where you wanted to go. I wanted to go to Syracuse [University] but I wasn't ... my grades weren't good enough. My parents were both alumni. So Syracuse said, "Go somewhere, prove yourself, and transfer [back]." And they had college pools. 1 don't know if they still do that. Like in Philadelphia and Chicago you send your resume and all that. And New Mexico was one of the ones that wrote to me. I must have had like 50 replies form the Midwest. I either was gonna go to Wisconsin or New Mexico, and I settled on [New Mexico Highlands]. And this was real stupid. I've always been a big UFO fan and I thought, Ah, ha! I might see flying saucers in New Mexico.3 [laughs] Great criteria, huh! And it seemed more colorful. I wanted to go real far away from home, not just back into snow in Wisconsin. And [New Mexico] had a fairly good liberal arts [program]. Why did you irnnt to go so far way from home? I think part of it was just I was ready to break out and do something new. My parents were both drinking at the time and I just wanted to get away from family. My dad's family was very difficult. I think that was part of it. I don't think the gay thing had anything to do with it. I pretty much had started very early on my being gay in my feelings. Probably at 6 or 7, and I settled down into a semi-relationship with my next-door neighbor, Gary Hager—who we'll talk about later, probably. He went on to become a very successful designer with Parish- Hadley Associates in New York. And his clients became Connie Chung, [the] CBS [news] anchor; Henry Kissinger; Governor [Nelson] Rockefeller. But he always stayed the same and I always loved him dearly. I always thought we'd get back together. You know, that first love ... . But we were very close through high school and college, even though he went to Hobart, then to University of Paris. And I was going the other way, geographically. After New Mexico Highlands University .... Brigham Young [University]. What was it that. Got me there! I knew a Mormon girl at New Mexico. She'd do my wash and we kind of dated. It was just friendship, but oh, if I had to hold her hand, it was very difficult! Her family were from Gallup, New Mexico, they were Mormon, but they were jack Mormons.^ She drank and smoked. And that's really the first I ever heard of any Mormon thing. I knew about Brigham Young and the covered wagons and all that, coming out West. But her mom said to me, "You ought to look into going to BYU. They have a good liberal arts." And I was planning on Syracuse. Well, Syracuse loses my transcripts, all my records. They'd approved my art work, my portfolio was fine. So I was ticked off. My parents picked me up in the car and we drove through Utah. Looked at the campus, and I was really blown away. It was like a Hollywood movie set. You just go, "Oh!" The [Wasatch] Mountains, the new buildings. [I] went to the communications schools and ABC TV had donated all kinds of new equipment, so, you know, I said, "I'll come here and show these Mormons how to do it." [laughs] Duhl Big mistake! We went through Salt Lake City and it was weird. I kind of had some feelings of deja vu, like I'd been there before. And we went through the visitors center, and it was very strange again. It was like, I've heard all this before. I don't know if I was just in an emotional state. Or past life recall. Yeah. I was thinking that, too. Or it was just so impressive. The city was so clean and beautiful, the people so friendly. You know, they got me goin' on campus, too, at BYU. The visitor's guide: "Oh, you'll love it here. It's a very nice school. 25,000 [students]." And they'd just won the NIT championship^ in basketball the year before, so I'd begun to hear about them through the media. And I was kind of a sports nut. I liked being a fan. And went home, took all the transfer stuff from the visitors center at the campus and I thought, "Well, what the hell? Maybe I will go there." I wanted to get out of New Mexico. It was too small. And the poverty was depressing. And it was a very small school. I think it might have been two-year at that point. And a lot of us from the Northeast were not used to that kind of setting. How long did yon stay at New Mexico? Just my freshman year. Most of us were scheming to get out of there the minute we set foot there! [laughs] Although I look back now and it was probably good to go to a smaller school. They accepted me very quickly at BYU. My Presbyterian minister had to send a letter of recommendation because I wasn't a member [of the LDS church]. And I learned more about the Mormons that summer before I went because I went to the Hill Comorah Pageant. I didn't know [the Mormons] had started right there in Rochester. Hill Comorah Pageant? Hill Comorah Pageant, every year. It's like a Broadway production now with lasers. That's where Joseph Smith claims he found the golden plates and translated [them] into the Book of Mormon, so that really is the epicenter of Mormonism, so to speak. Then they were persecuted out of New York State into Ohio, then they went to Illinois, then finally—the Big Migration.^ What year was it that you transferred? '66. Did you learn about Mormonism on your own before you went? No. Except [where] the Hill Comorah Pageant takes scenes out of the Book of Mormon and weaves it together to make it a pageant. Big production. I pretty much was naive. I had no idea what I was getting into. I also was thinking of going to William Penn University before New Mexico. If I'd gone there, I'd probably have become a Quaker! And I laugh—I say if I'd gone to Notre Dame I would have become Catholic. [laughs] I just was at that very impressionable stage. Thank God the Moonies? didn't get me. I went to BYU for 3 years before I joined [the LDS church]. Did you finish your degree before you joined? No, I finished my degree after my mission. I went on my Mormon mission in '70. Then I came back in '72 and graduated in '73. Where did you go on your mission? Pacific Northwest. Seattle. I'd never been there and I just loved it up there. So beautiful, the country. But the mission had begun to sour me on the church, ironically. About halfway through I thought, "Oh, this is a church like any other church." Of course, before that, actually the year I joined, in '69, I had been hauled in on their annual spring witch hunts [for] being gay. I'm obviously gay, you know. I never could hide it. I'd like to get into that witch hunt in more detail a little later on. But meanwhile, you graduated from BYU. And then did you come to Las Vegas? Even before I graduated, the RJ [Las Vegas Review-Journal] had flown me down for an interview. Oh, they had? So you specifically had aimed for Vegas as a job place? Well, it was one of several. It was either them or New York Life Insurance. My dad was in insurance, and they [New York Life] wanted me in Salt Lake. I said, "Oh, now! lt d be like being on a Mormon mission again [and] I can't stand it." And at that time the RJ always highly went after BYU graduates. They usually hired 5 or 6 a year because they thought we were good little Mormon kids. We'd come down and wouldn't rock the boat. And I didn't know they were very Republican. I mean, I didn't even look into their politics. I just wanted to get a job. And they were very nice on the trip [down]. I always thought Las Vegas would be fun. We had driven through and seen Las Vegas on the way to BYU that first time. Mom and Dad and I stayed at the Tarn O'Shanter8 on the Strip. It's still there! Walked up to the Sands^ and saw Sammy Davis, and I bought his book then.10 I've always been show business/entertainment-oriented. And went to Caesars [Palace Hotel], saw Ella Fitzgerald with Alan King. I couldn't believe I'd eventually be back here, but that's how it happens. All these little connections happening. You were very impressed with Vegas then. Oh, yeah! Showbiz. Liza [Minrielli] was here. You know, I looked and thought, "Who knows? Maybe someday." Do you remember your job interview at the RJ? Pretty much. Who was it interviewed you? I think it was Roy Vanett, and he's still there. He's still on the city desk. I don't remember it even being a formal interview. They would wine and dine us. I don't know if I was the only one or not, I'm trying to remember. I think I was by myself. They showed us around the plant—and it was relatively new then, so it was very impressive. The [Las Vegas] Sun was here, but they [the RJ] just pooh-poohed that as being Hank Greenspun, and he's eccentric.11 I wasn't even political at all. I kind of was becoming involved because of the Vietnam War. On campus I was really kind of considered radical because I was Democratic in nature. We hadn't started the Democratic Club, but they wouldn't have put up with that there. But they were bombing Cambodia the year I graduated and they [BYU] were all cheering Nixon. I remember at our Communications banquet, some of us were sitting and we weren't clapping, and it's like everyone turned and looked at us because we were sitting downl There were some of us who were just kind of evolving and getting there. But no, I don't think [the RJ gave me] a formal interview. They looked at my work and said, "Do you want to come work for us?" And I said, "Sure." As what? Reporter, general assignment. That's usually what most of us were. And [some of us] got into an area of expertise. But I pretty much stayed in that area getting assignments, covering the police, car accidents, fires, running between burning buildings. I mean, the whole bit! Feature writing. And then I kept thinking I really want to do this entertainment writing. But, then, Forrest Duke12 was their big entertainment columnist and he just had it wrapped up. Once in awhile they would hand me an interview to do, or go out to the Strip. But it was really Billboard [that gave me that chance]. I'd been [at the RJ] two and half years, and by then I was very dissatisfied. I saw they were too conservative and they weren't giving me assignments I wanted. And they had let go maybe 10 to 12 reporters ahead of me. Fired. Why? Because their pay scale would get too high. They'd go back to BYU to get more freshmen out of school. I saw the handwriting on the wall. And then, of course, Billboard hired me. They hired a guy [from] the Sun first—Flarold Hyman.. He was a police reporter. Well, after 3 months, Billboard fired him because, they said all his write-ups look[ed] like police reports! [laughs] I said, Duhl They said, "Do you still want to work for us?" I said, "Sure, I'd love to try." And I just had a ball doing their stuff. And the RJ didn't like that, either. They didn't like me having an outside thing. What was it about the RJ that led you to note how conservative they were? I don't know. Here again, I wasn't even watching the editorial page. I was just doing my thing and having fun with friends. I think my gay sensibilities started coming at this point. I attribute [that] to one of the old-time editors on the desk. Doug [Dubois].... And I can't remember Doug's last name. His wife was a nurse at Sunrise Hospital. He was an alcoholic, so maybe that's why I kind of drifted towards him on the night shift and we'd talk. I think he knew I was having a difficult time coming to terms with being gay openly. And he'd sit and say, "Hanford, you've gotta be yourself. You don't want to stay at this paper." It was like he was speaking to me in generalities and I didn't know what he was saying. Meanwhile I was having an affair with the guy that worked in the Associated Press room there, [laughs] I thought everything was fine, but I was becoming very discontented. At the same time I was really not going to the Mormon church anymore here. The bishop was a Vietnam veteran and he was just very conservative. When he found out I was writing for Billboard, he said, "Well, you know we don't approve of this. You're out there associating with immoral people." Because they were in show business. I said, "Excuse me. You're an attorney, you represent the casinos, and they're controlled by the mob and they kill people. Hellol" I said, "At least the people I'm with entertain." I didn't even know if [the bishop] was trying to infer the gay thing or not. Billboard Magazine was based in Las Vegas? Los Angeles. But they had a full-time correspondent [in Las Vegas], never a bureau. Just one person? Just one person. At the time you were working at the RJ and for Billboard, were you their single correspondent? Yeah, I was the only one. See, Billboard was the bible of the business, but they really had not established anything here on a long-term basis. And they would always go to one of the papers to hire someone. They always liked you having an in already. Or a calling card. But I was with them... let's, see. I was with the RJ in 73, left them in '76, so it was like from '76 to '79 here. And I really kind of gave them a real foot-hold here. They went on and wrote me letters of recommendation, said I was their best full-time correspondent anywhere in the country. I just enjoyed it! I would cover the Strip opening nights, I would cover the recording studios, I would do retail, things on the record stores. And that's what they said, "Do anything you want." The musicians local [labor union]. I just had a field day! I didn't know there were recording studios in Las Vegas then. Oh, yeah. Two or three. Las Vegas Recording Studio, I'm sure that was one. And it wasn't a big deal. They would do, like, promos for the shows, or the radio spots. I don't think many records were made here. If they were, they were like jazz. Like Mel Torme, big bands. None of the pop stars would really do much here to my knowledge. Were you comped at the shows'?13 Oh, everywhere. Never paid anything. In fact, that was the only requirement I had when I asked friends to go with me. "You pick up the tip." And you go backstage, [laughs] And some people were really tightwads! I'd take them once or twice, they wouldn't pick up the tip, that was the last time! And if they really tipped well and were good friends, they'd usually go to the private parties with me. Might meet Julie Andrews. She made her debut here in the United States when I was here, at Caesars. It was really a magical time. There was still the dinner shows. The old-time entertainment directors. Of course, I had no idea it was the end of the Golden Era of Las Vegas. I just happened to get there. I was in the right place at the right time. What did Billboard pay you, or how did they pay you? Per inch. $7 per inch, [laughs] Big-time money! So when I left the RJ I was struggling for a few months. I don't know how I got to the Valley Times. I think my friend, David Dearing, who was gay, he covered the Gaming Commission [meetings] and all that stuff. David's still alive.14 I heard he's back home in Tennessee. He became publicity director at the Sahara eventually.And I think David said, "Why don't you come see Bob Brown?" I knew the Valley Times. I saw David at City Commission meetings and County Commission [meetings]. He covered that boring stuff, wrote obits, you know, the whole thing. He said, "Come meet Bob." I thought it was a fun newsroom. It was small, and we could come and go. And then I began to understand the different political things between the papers. Which were? Like, the RJ was much more right-wing and Republican. Bob Brown.... I never understood if he had a point of view, [laughs] A lot of people wondered thatl And I began to see the Sun was more liberal and Democratic-leaning. It was also during the Watergate era. Oh, I remember they broke into the safe at Hank Greenspun's office, and that was our connection to Watergate.1** There was a lot of weird stuff going on here. I think this one guy I got assigned to was like a CIA operative, and he said, "Oh, I have to tell you about the JFK assassination." And this and that. I drove around with him a couple of nights and then he disappeared. And I said, "I don't want to hear, I don't want to know. Unless you can substantiate it. I won't be killedl" [laughs] It was a wild time. But the Valley Times. Bob was never complaining or difficult or nasty. And the RJ people were. Their management sucked. They were nasty to everybody. David [Dearing] was fun. It's funny, that young sports reporter, I just called the obit in [to] for A1 [Chapin]—Ed Koch—he's at the Sun now.^ I think he was that young, really attractive kid [at the Valley Times]. And I said, "Oh, Ed, are you still as cute as ever?" He said, "No, I got married because everybody thought I was gay!" [laughs] I said, 'Too badl" Because David and I used to kind of ogle. He said, Oh, yeah, I felt those stares." I said, "Good." He said he's going bald now. I said, "Good, join the crowd!" [laughs] We don't care! As I said, Rob Schlegel18 used to be production manager for the Valley Times. See, he must have been in the back. I would go back there once in awhile with David. I don t remember any good-looking guys, so I don't [remember Rob]. [laughs] Isn't that terrible? [laughs] So it's all blankl Except for that cute little sports writer. And Jim Seagraves was there, and Jim was a nice guy, too. He went on to be PR. Yeah, he's at the Stardust. How long were you, then, at the Valley Times? Id say maybe 2 years, '76 to '78 or '79. I had three columns a week and wrote features and broke a few stories. Paul Anka's nightclub, Jubilation, we got that in our paper before anybody else.W I could see it was kind of advertising-driven there, too, like the RJ, but not as blatant as the RJ. The RJ had no desire to have any kind of editorial credibility, and I learned more [about] that when I was with Bob [Brown]. And David [Dearing] was always breaking stories on gaming and stuff. It was like a small investigative newspaper. I think it kept me interested n journalism, along with Billboard. I think the RJ really could have killed my desire to write. Billboard then invited me to LA to work for them in the bureau and I jumped at the chance. I said, That's a dream come true, to work in LA." The main job was West Coast Editor [for] Radio and TV. Which, I don't know how I ever did that, but that was everything from California back to the Mississippi. And, of course, if that wasn't enough. Then they had me covering Motown, the label; Ariola Records; again, the musician's union down there, the local. I had to write headlines. Little by little, I was doing the job of 4 or 5 people. Oh, and reviewing records every week, 45s as well as LPs. 20 Concerts, reviewing concerts. * * * You mentioned briefly that you had begun to understand that you were gay quite early. Right. Tell me in a little more detail about that. How early and how did you at that early age recognize it? We didnt know what the term was. I'd never heard the term homosexual. But you just start acting on your feelings. I think they're emotional as well as intellectual. And, of course, affectional. Physical. I think my first experience was with Gary [Hager]'s oldest [brother]. There were 4 boys in the family next door, and Tim and I played around a couple of times. I thought it was great, but, of course, he went on to girls. I got very jealous. I was a little spurned queen. Hell hath no furyl And I started bad-mouthing him all over town, saying, "No, he's a bad person." But I didn't say he was gay or homosexual. We didn't even know the term. How old were you? Oh, this is 6 or 7. And you don't do much then. It's just like playing doctor. My mom caught us upstairs the first time, so we went down to the creek the next time. And she handled it pretty well. I mean, you know, she said, "What are you kids doing?" And I think she downplayed it because she didn't want to make a big deal. And then when I knew he wasn't gonna continue on, I said, "Well, there's the next son, the next oldest." Tim was my age. Mike was like a year behind us. It turns out he's gay-slash-bisexual now. Tim got married 2 or 3 times. I think Mike has been married twice. And Gary and I would just laugh about that. And Gary was 4 years younger than me. I think we started out just being friends, and then I thought, "Oh, my gosh! I'm going to be involved with three out of the four!" [laughs]. I missed the one in between. Age-wise, [laughs] I think Gary and I grew very close because of my parents' drinking, and he felt he was gay, too. You would just fantasize about everybody in the school, especially the athletes. It became a very emotionally close friendship. His dad worked and was very stressed out. I wouldn't call him abusive, but he did discipline the two older sons. I could hear them screaming and yelling from our house, being spanked and stuff. I think finally he calmed down because Pat and Gary didn't get much of [that discipline]. I don't think Gary got any of it, but it traumatized him. It scared him. So I think, you know, it was a natural thing [between us] physically and everything else—emotionally, mentally. I was frankly stunned to find out the whole world wasn't gay. I said, "Why do guys want to do that with girls? Ooooohl I just thought that was unnatural, [laughs] And we were in the country. We didn't know gay bars. You didn't know the terms? No. Nothingl And in a town as small as that.... It was pretty prevalent. My mother would tell me later, especially as a teenager—and I think it's because she knew I was gay—but she would say, "For some reason there's a high incidence of homosexuality in our suburb." And I said, "Oh, it's gotta be the water. Or the dirt." [laughs] Who knows? It doesn't sound like it was a particularly traumatic context for you to be gay in. No. And, again, I was frankly surprised .... I don't even know when I first was told it was sinful or sick. It wasn't in the Presbyterian church. I remember they didn't talk much about it. But I think some of the stupid books your parents give you about teenage sex, you know. I would read that and I'd go, "Well, I don't feel sick. I don't feel perverted, deviant. What are all these words?" I just dismissed it. And then I did have a little guilt. When I had an affair with Michael in between Gary [and Tim], I thought, "Maybe there is something wrong with me. I'm not being loyal to Gary." I think it was more that, not being monogamous. And that must be how my parents raised me. And the Presbyterians. I remember [my parents] were gonna come back from a convention in New York and I was gonna talk to them. And then 1 thought, "Oh, that s stupid. I like this, [laughs] Those books have got to be stupid." And there weren't a lot of fag jokes when I was in high school. Nothing was happening. The Gay Movement hadn't really started. I began to hear about gay bars through Gary. He started going to the bars, I think, when we were in college. In Buffalo? Yeah, and there were quite a few. Maybe 5 or 6. 7 wouldn't go 'cause I didn't drink. I was scared away from drinking because of what was happening at home. And I was very jealous because then [Gary] met someone. And ironically, David Savisco—he was from Iowa Falls, he was an ice skater; well, David's [in Las Vegas now]. He's got a leather business, he did all the shows here. [laughs] He's a sweet guy. I was so jealous. I haven't connected with [David] yet. I don't even know if he knows Gary died of AIDS in '91. But it was those experiences of being jealous and being hurt. And we kept being friends, and we played around a few more times when he was at Hobart. That was a big step for me. I had joined the Mormon church, been through the temple, wore the garments—but I was still in love with Gary. And I said, you know, "These garments aren't going to stop me from loving someone." [laughs] They came off real quick! But I remember I had to stop and think about that. I said, "This is a conscious decision. It doesn't make sense. I lave this person." And garments are not a shield from love. They were symbolic of your commitment to the Mormon church. But I did struggle with that. Of course, when I saw him, you know ... . I don't think I even took them to Hobart. I think I left 'em at home! [laughs] I was becoming inactive [in the church] even then. Even before my mission. I think the witch hunt at BYU had really upset me. Here I was joining, I'd just been baptized, and yet.... This guy from Buffalo, New York had accused all of us and turned in 75 names. He was in my creative writing class as well as oratorio choir. He had self-hatred for himself, and he said, "Why can you accept yourself?" I said, "I don't know. I don't really think [the church] teaches it's wrong." And they really didn't. It was kind of not the number one question. Now it is. They won't even teach you the missionary lessons unless you agree to be celibate. In any context? Oh, yeah. Definitely. But especially gay. That seems to be a separate thing there. It was weird. They said, "You have to go up and see a General Authority before you commit to BYU the next fall." I said, "Well, good, 'cause I have questions about [lack of] Blacks in the priesthood. I don't accept that, either." I mean, it was just certain things. And I'd been praying to meet a General Authority and I said, "Well, this is a strange way to have prayer answered, getting pulled into a witch hunt." [laughs] Weird! So I went up there and I felt like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. I was very intimidated. Spencer Kimball was the head of the Council of the Twelve21 then. And he was one of the two apostles that dealt with homosexuality. It was the standard line. He was saying words to me, like he said, "Do you commit fellatio?" [pronounces it fel-ah-tee-o] I had no idea. I thought he was speaking in tongues. He was mis-pronouncng fellatio [pronunces it correctly]. And he says, "Saw-do-mee." And I thought, "What the hell's that?" I said, "I love someone in New York. I go home summers, and he is my lover. And it's really none of the church's business." So I was surprised he let me come back [to BYU]. Maybe, in a way, he shouldn't have. I said, "I s