I met Stanley at gay night at the roller skating rink in San Mateo, a few miles south of San Francisco. I was going there regularly for a while with friends and it was great fun skating around the rink to disco music.Stanley came up and asked me to skate with him during a “couples only” segment.
I had actually seen Stanley before on muni in San Francisco and he had made a face at me and I thought he was being antagonistic or that he might be crazy but when I got to know him, I think that the face he had made was just typical Stanley, trying to be cute. I just had to get to know him a little before I got that. Once I fell, I fell head over heels. I just thought he was the cutest thing.
At first we dated for a week or a few weeks. I thought I was in love and it wasn’t long before I was planning to give up my high rise studio apartment on Bush Street to move in with him in his cockroach infested apartment on Baker Street.
Stanley worked at Clown Alley in the financial district of San Francisco and got off late in the evening and would often bring me a burger and shake from there. Back then, Clown Alley truly had the best burgers and best Tuna sandwiches in all of San Francisco. Stanley would come home, excited when celebrities like Diana Ross would stop in there for food when they were in San Francisco. Clown Alley was a San Francisco institution for as long as I could remember but finally met it’s demise.
Stanley’s real dream at the time was to be a cosmetologist. He had a passion for “doing hair.” That meant that he wanted to cut hair and because of his passion for it, I let him cut mine once but it turned out terrible and I never let him cut it again. Other’s came to the house to have their hair “processed.” Chemicals are applied to black hair to straighten it and then it is styled. I think this was also the era of “geri-curls” which was “relaxed” black hair with an oily substance applied to give it a wet look.
At first I thought we might be monogamous but that didn’t last very long. This was still pre-Aids and most gay men I knew did not require monogamy in a relationship. We were sexual young gay men and we understood the needs of sexual young gay men. We understood the difference between meaningless “recreational” sex and meaningful relationship sex.
No, it was not the lack of monogamy that ended my relationship with Stanley. I just don’t think he was ready for a “live-in” lover. Although we remained close friends until he died, I never saw him with another live-in lover after me.
There may have been a fight somewhere along the way that I don’t remember the details of now but it does seem to me that I moved out quickly. Regardless, Stanley was a dear friend. He had his struggles through the years after we broke up. He got pretty strung out at one point on some kind of amphetamines, although I am not exactly sure if amphetamines in the seventies were exactly the same as those in the sixties that I had come into contact with and discarded as something I wasn’t interested in, or if they were exactly the same as the “methamphetamines” I read about so much in the news today? Maybe it has always been the same.
Stanley was into all the black disco diva’s of the time and had all their albums. Diana, Pointer Sisters, Patti Labelle, Donna Summer, Thelma Houston, and Gloria Gaynor to name a few. We both loved to dance and the I-Beam was the hot place to go about that time. Up until this time, I had probably bought mostly rock albums. I wasn’t even aware of some of the diva’s that Stanley would turn me onto. He was all about disco diva’s and I learned to love them too.
Regardless, there came a time that Stanley was calling me frantically to come over as he was being watched. I went and he was a mess. The apartment had dirty clothes everywhere and he insisted that someone was watching him from another building. He pulled the closed curtains back a little and insisted that if I looked, I would see them, but there was no one there.
Although Stanley was fairly articulate with a Brooklyn accent, he was functionally illiterate. At one point after we broke up, I bought some learning aids for phonetics and worked with him. He had been a victim of “sight reading” that was taught in some schools rather than phonetics. I have never known anyone that was taught “sight reading” that could actually read. Everyone I have ever known that learned phonetics, were good readers and could sound out words they didn’t know. Sight reading was a disasterous mistake in the educational system. Stanley did improve his reading by leaps and bounds after he learned some basic phonetic principles.
Even though Stanley had some drug problems at one point, he always seemed to endure… until he was diagnosed with AIDS. At that time in the course of the AIDS crises, few endured. He gave up his apartment in San Francisco and went back to Brooklyn to live with his mother. He did come back out to San Francisco for Gay Pride once after that and seemed to be happy in New York. He and Milton had met previously. In fact, Stanley was the one that helped Milton get his job at the Holiday Inn on Van Ness in San Francisco. He had worked at the front desk and let Milton know when there was an opening in the housekeeping department. On that last visit, he showed us a video of himself in drag as Stanlietta. I had never known him to do drag before that.
After Stanley returned to Brooklyn, after his visit to San Francisco, I would never hear from him again. My assumption is that passed away at some point. I called the number that I had at the time but it was disconnected or nobody answered.