A virtual reality photograph of an avatar that represents a 15 year old boy named Bobby

Coming Out: The Stardust

This is my ‘Coming Out’ story.

I was born in South Carolina.

My family lived in a housing project in downtown Charleston.

My Mother was a night shift waitress at a local greasy
spoon: The Coffee Cup.

Unknown to me, she was a ‘Mother’ figure to some of the
younger gay boys who hung out at the gay bar.

In 1967, when I came out at the age of 16, my Mother took me
dancing at the Stardust Lounge, Charleston’s only gay bar.

In writing The Stardust, I’ve used the accent I had at the time.

Geechee, an African-American dialect spoken on John’s Island,
South Carolina influenced my accent.

I wrote ‘The Stardust’ in 1984 as theatrical piece and used poetic
form to shape the lines.

My goal was for the piece to work as performance on the page.

The Stardust is an excerpt from a monologue calledk’ Bobby’.

Portrait of an avatar posed to illustrate a dissociative alternate named Bobby

‘The Stardust’


There was only one queer bar in Charleston.

It was off on a musty alley behind the Old Slave Market.

You had to kiss the doorman the first time you went in to prove you
was queer.

There was this narrow strip of stage of stage behind the bar where the boys would dance when the drag queens wasn’t doing a show.

The first time I went to the Stardust Momma brought me so I didn’t have
to kiss no one.

Momma lent me some creamy Peach Cover Girl and a hot pink blouse.

I sipped my Pepsi and watched the queers gawk.

Aretha Franklin was on the jukebox wailing Respect and I
said: “Hey Momma. Let’s dance!”

Well she hauled me up on that stage and we did the dirty dawg.

There was this one dyke named Roxie.

She sometimes worked the door.

She was so butch she could give the kiss test.

When I went to the bar alone she’d let me in; if the cops came I’d have
to hide in the lady’s room or get “discovered” and get throwed

Sometimes the cops came and didn’t do a bar check.

Sometimes the cops came and took money and left;

Sometimes the cops came to watch the ‘dirty little faggots’ play: three
straight white dudes with mean little smiles on their faces.

One night I was cruising the Battery when this cop stopped me and
ordered me into his car.

“Whatcha doin’ out all gussied up?” he asked, “solicitin’?”

“What does that word mean, solicitin’’?” I said. I had just finished
The Little Prince.

“Sellin’ yer ass to the fags!” he replied.

“Oh that ain’t what I’m doin’” I said. “I gotta little Sister at home and Momma
says I gotta set a good example by screwin’ every girl I see!”

Well, he drove me around, tryina get me to say I pushed drugs.

“I bet you’re gonna turn that little Sister of yours into an addict!”

“Oh I wouldn’t do that at all sir! I warn her every day against such wickedness!

God strike me dead if I don’t!”

I guess we wore each other out.

The cop took me home to the projects. “Keep up the good work with yo’ Sistuh!” he sneered.

Illustration for Bobby and Miss Queen of Hearts
Bobby and The Queen of Hearts

At the Stardust a drunk ex‑priest named Mother Rachel did the weddings.

 One guy dressed like the bride and the other wore a tuxedo.

 At the Stardust the Queen of Hearts drag show was the major event.

The drag queens wrecked every dress shop on King Street.

On the big night the butch dykes wore three-piece suits and their women wore gowns.

Mother Rachel was emcee and he’d open every show with a report on how safe the Greyhound Bus Station was to cruise.

“The place is jus’ hoppin’ with Vice!  He said, “So ya’all be careful. OK?”

There was one drag queen named Miss Tillie who always did My Life.

At the end of the song where Shirley Bassey screams,’ This is myyyy liiiiife,’ Miss Tillie ripped off his wig and thew it at the crowd.

Then at the close of the show, everyone in the Stardust joined hands and sang There’s a Place for Us.

Street graffiti that reads 'There should be a Place for us
Street Art by Eclair Bandersnatch

The Stardust and all other artwork (c) Rob Goldstein 2017 – 2018 All Rights Reserved





58 thoughts on “Coming Out: The Stardust

    1. And I’m just figuring out how some of the pieces fit together. That idea of using context to give the reader a time and a place works. These are performances pieces and when performed the stage and the music provided the context; the solution of writing an introduction on the page is so simple one might ask why it took two decades to figure it out. I love my no-duh moments.


      1. Lol, I too love duh moments! It’s amazing how when we go back in time we notice things we hadn’t and others we develop a new perspective for. Memoir writing will do that. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you like the post. I think the language and structure of the ‘The Stardust’ works. Regarding my Mother; on the surface, it seems she was a good Mother. Everyone in Charleston’s gay community loved her. For the longest time I remembered that night as a fun night; but there was something dark going on. I was not quite 16, so by law, 15, a child. The Stardust Lounge was a gay bar in a small backwater in 1967; our legal system equated homosexuality with pedophilia and criminalized it, gay bars were subject to raids. In South Carolina, sex with another man was subject to arrest and incarceration. The local newspaper printed the names of the men arrested in the raids. Their lives were ruined.

      In retrospect, it was an odd choice for a Mother to make.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Having a late year birthday is still confusing: am I old or very old this year? I thought of myself as 16 but when I do the math on this I was four months away from my 16th birthday. It’s only after years of therapy that I can see why my Mother’s decision was so irresponsible, especially in that era.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you. Knowing the truth of it gives it closure. Most of the gay folks at the time thought I had the best Mother in the World, and that night remains a pleasant memory, even without the illusion that my Mother was doing it for me. I was lucky because in less than two years, the Stonewall Riots would spark the gay liberation movement and I would become a part of that. Thank you again for your comments. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Wow, this is breathtaking Rob! I don’t like to comment much on posts. I feel like I will say something that sounds corny but I don’t quite know what else to say to be honest. The writing, the video. The context in the beginning to set the scene. An all encompassing and beautiful post about life, survival and honesty. Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lynn, Thank you! I’m so glad you mentioned the context I used to set the scene. I have posted this section of “Bobby’ before, but I’ve never quite understood how to set the scene. Your comment made my morning!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Rob, you nailed it. A perfect 10 on the landing, my friend.
    The way you set up the context is valuable. It clarifies the reader’s understanding, and adds to the story. “The Stardust” is wonderful. I could feel the “presence” of the characters, as if my arms brushed their sleeves when I walked past. I could feel the air. It gave me goosebumps when everyone joined hands and sang at the end. That was the best possible way to end the story. I hope this will be in your book (if not the poetry, then another book). Hugs on the wing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Teagan, as someone with DID I see my alternates as the ‘other’ so usually don’t make the emotional connection to Bobby as a younger self. This is the first time I was able to use ‘I’ to describe my accent, my Mother and this experience with her. Explaining the context and ‘owning’ the work adds depth to the story and gives clarity to the reader. This will be in the book of poems. Thank you for your comment and critique.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the worst part about being gay at this time was the sense that the whole world was lying about me and everyone like me. It’s a breach of faith that makes it difficult to trust. Gay people were forced to hide the things that straight people could celebrate. It sucks to be the target of a cultures irrational fears. Thank you for reading the post and leaving a comment.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I was mostly naive. I believed everything my Grandmother told me our democracy in the United States. I believed that we can use our rights in this democracy to change our government and it is true. It’s not easy and we sometimes slide backwards, bigly. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What makes you inspiring you ask? Or maybe not. But if so…. you are true to yourself. Honest. Real. A beautiful human being. And incredible artist. And much more

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am so sorry to read how difficult it was for you during this shameful part of American history. God bless your mother!

    I’m sorrier still that it isn’t behind us all yet. “And the greatest of these is LOVE?”
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to transform a world!

    Liked by 1 person

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