Gay men are telling their stories for National Coming Out Day.
This is mine.
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 named,’ Bobby’.
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
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 out.
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
reading 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.
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.
The Stardust and all other artwork (c) Rob Goldstein 2017 – 2018 All Rights Reserved