San Francisco, California – As I'm writing an article sitting at the bar at Q Bar, a gay Castro, the waiter comes over and asks me what I'm drinking. "There is a person who wants to buy you a drink", with the specific bored of this scene who has already seen a thousand times. I refuse politely, I say that my beer is more than enough, and I wave my hand to thank. The bearded man in his sixties end of the bar, however, stares at me and not give in. "From that beer," he says to the bartender with a grimace and a dramatic gesture of the hand. "And you do not be a sissy," he adds with a look as a sailor in the storm, turning to me. I just have to take my Lagunitas and thank raising his glass and nodding his head, before continuing to write my article. Around me there are no women, and after a quick glance at the counter and the tables in the bar I have the certainty of being the only heterosexual present in this dark room and noisy. Well, basically I expected, but I had never been alone in a gay bar.
"You've already done coming out? 'She asks, suddenly my neighbor, a man with a strong Midwestern accent. He wears overalls, a pair of mirrored sunglasses and a beret on his head has. "I'm straight," I replied, laughing. "So not yet," he adds. He laughs and continues to stare at me. "At 22 you still have plenty of time to do it," he insists giving me a look languid and leaning a hand on his back. "I have 30", I reply by telling my project. "You picked a good place to come then," he says. "This is a blue-collar bar, a bar for the working class." The man sitting next to me is the commander Benfield, a veteran of the war in Lebanon, the owner of a construction company and a resident for 27 years in Castro, the gay district of San Francisco. It is also the commander of the American Legion town, the Association of American Veterans, and his is the only LGBT group throughout the organization. "It's called the Alexander Hamilton Post 448," he says with pride.
"Are you sure we've never met before?" He asks again, taking me by surprise. "Not really," I reply. "Then I must have met you in my dreams," he says with a smile piacione, before force me to get another beer. I try to reject it, but there's no way. "I got shot, huh," he says Commander Benfield winking at me and giving me the elbow. "I'm still straight," I replied, laughing. "I would like you to stay for a year in my house to teach the Italian," he adds after he pulled a nice swig of his tequila sunrise biological and giving me the icing. "There divertiremmo a lot." Thank you and decline the offers, but the captain did not give Benfield won. "I'm going to the meeting between the small entrepreneurs gays and lesbians in San Francisco," he says. "Want to come?". This time, I accept.
I can not hold back a smile. Now it seems really to wallow in a clichÃ©: a board a van on the streets of Castro with a gay carpenter who listens Go West at full volume. "I stop to pick up some flowers for Seth, my partner," he says after a couple of intersections. A few minutes later comes out with a huge bouquet of flowers, from which sprout some orchids. His house is not far away and when we tell them that wait for him in the street. "As you wish," retorts, "I still leave you open the door." While the aspect I wander the two blocks around the house, an old wooden building with the steep staircase and a rainbow flag hanging from the porch. But if there's an effect that the beers they had received as a gift on me, well, is to have to go to the bathroom.
Then timidly knock on the door wide open and I look at this house a little 'baroque, a lived and dusty, with two red velvet curtains that welcome guests. On the wall there is a picture with John John Kennedy doing the military salute at the funeral of his father, in front there is an aquarium that mumbles and two colorful fish staring at me through the glass. One looks terribly like the commander Benfield. I walk over to observe it better, then I headed to the living room where I find Seth, Comrade, lying in an unnatural position in the chair, under a white blanket. He polished his skull, and a bit 'of white hair and neatly combed to the sides. She looks at me with sad eyes, without speaking, then close and restart them to sleep. "Seth, greets our guests," says Michael, the man sitting next to him. He is a designer and the afternoon keeps company with Seth, I will explain later the commander Benfield. "Hello", babbles Seth. I say feigning indifference, then – after using the bathroom – I start talking to Michael Benfield until the commander comes out from his bedroom dressed as a cowboy, boots with blacks, faded jeans, a shirt and a bolo tie, the tie leather typical of the territories of the West.
Seth had a stroke while he was in bed and slept beside the commander Benfield. "It was June of 2010," he recalls. "I promised him I would not change anything between us, I'd take care of him," he explains as we reach the Hotel Whitcomb. "You seemed happy?" She asks. Chin. "You know, always cook, but sometimes I bring him a little 'junk food," he says proudly. They've been together for twenty years, they met in a restaurant one morning at breakfast. "Have you had a stroke of lightning?", I ask. "We had sex in the bathroom," he replied laughing heartily, perhaps to shock me. "You know, the passion. A year later we met again and we never left. "
Seth was in Vietnam and, at least to hear the commander Benfield, was one of the best gardeners in the city. When he was admitted to the hospital commander Benfield had no problems in him a visit, as is the case normally with other gay couples. "Seth was hospitalized veterans," he says, winking at me. "And I'm the commander of the American Legion of this county." If it was not for this reason would not be able to stay close to their partner. Among other things, the Doma, the law of giving its opinion, the Supreme Court in late June, in fact prevents members of a gay couple to assist their partner in the hospital. The assistance is in fact reserved only for family members, plus the only authorized to take decisions.
The meeting between the small entrepreneurs gays and lesbians in San Francisco is more like a small fair where they are on display bottles of wine in the county of Mendicino produced by a lesbian couple, Californian champagne that I and the commander Benfield sip with pleasure and appetizers for a catering company Italian, "Very buckets", run by a man of Sicilian origin. While I wander among the stands in the hall I find that there are at least three straight women, as well as a stand of "gay rodeo" on which I will not dwell.
"Have you ever been to Ocean Beach? 'She asks the commander Benfield while accompanied me for Livia. "No," I reply. "Then let's go, I'm only fifteen blocks more." I nod. The truck climbs the slopes of San Francisco, exceeds a Jesuit church and then along the Golden Gate Park, which is beautiful and exterminated. On the right springing up from time to time between the houses and orange pylons of the Golden Gate Bridge, then comes the ocean in front of us. The wind is strong and takes away the dark sand, the waves are tall and thick, the sun is orange and is ending its run in the ocean. The beach is deserted, if only for a couple of guys who watch the sea wrapped in a blanket in the piece. Rest speechless. It's a sight so extraordinary that I fill the shoes of sand to get to the shore, without curarmene.
Let's get back in the car, the commander Benfield sets in motion, I thank him. "I cheated," he says a few moments later, with his coarse laugh of the Midwest. "There were fifteen blocks, but forty. But I wanted to bring you here. "
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