Gregory Douglass 00:00
I can’t believe I’m about to tell you this, but here it goes.
K Anderson 00:07
I am K Anderson and you are listening to lost spaces, a podcast that mourns the death of queer nightlife. Every episode I talk to a different person about a venue from their past, the memories they created there, and the people that they used to know. Gregory Douglas is a singer songwriter, born and raised in rural Vermont, though he’s now based in Los Angeles, and he still has a soft spot in his heart for 135 parallel, the only gay bar in the state of Vermont, which closed in 2006. We talk breast reduction parties making out in the men’s bathroom and sealing the deal with the love of your life. Are you feeling warm and limber and ready to open up about bad haircuts and boys that you’ve snagged?
Gregory Douglass 01:20
Only if we only if we continue to always use the word snog, because I never need to say that here. Oh, yeah.
K Anderson 01:27
I’ll throw in some. Some British slang. Yes, just to impress you. So 135 parallel. Yes. So when I first asked if you wanted to have a chat, what was it about that place that that made it the one?
Gregory Douglass 01:49
Well, it really was the one you know, it was the one and only gay bar and in the entire state of Vermont. And, and ever since it’s been gone, there hasn’t been anything that has filled the void. which is surprising to me and a little frustrating, because you would think that someone in the Vermont community would would step up and, and acknowledge what, what an important institution that was for so many people. I think now, a lot of it 135 pearlwas in Burlington, Vermont, which is pretty much the big city of Vermont. I mean, it’s a small state with a small population, but that’s kind of the big city. And so a lot of people in the greater Burlington area, I think, have sort of come to terms that like, Well, every bar is mixed now. And it’s okay. And I think a lot of Berlin, Berlin, Tony Ian’s right in Berlin. Tony Ian’s Is that what you would call someone from Burlington, I think have just sort of like, are thinking of themselves as a rather progressive minded people, and they are for the most part, but I think you go a little too far and thinking like, Oh, it’s fine. We’re a progressive town. And we’re just, you know, we’re cool with every bar being mixed, but it’s just not the same. You know, it’s not the LGBT community does not have a safe space. And it’s especially those that are coming of age. I think that’s really tragic. So that was 135. Pearl was such a huge part of my coming of age years figuring out who I was, and so many stories and memories from, from Knights there, and from being a part of that community and making friends in that community. Yeah, I mean, I can’t imagine. I can’t imagine a life where that wasn’t the case where I was just growing up with apps like Grindr, and whatever. And that was kind of my only outlet.
K Anderson 03:58
So like, I’m really interested in hearing about your story. But for a bit of context for me, can we talk a little bit about Vermont so I can understand so it’s a state in New England, does that right? Yes. My us geography is brilliant. And New England is distinct from other bits of the US for being a bit left leaning.
Gregory Douglass 04:26
Um, yeah, yeah, I think that well, particularly Vermont, I would say that New Hampshire is a little bit different, which is right next to it at New Hampshire looks like an upside down Vermont. And, and it is in some ways, politically, but um, but yeah, I mean, New England is a little bit more. Probably a little bit more like the countryside that you’re used to, and I think that hence the name New England, but you know, particularly in Vermont It’s it’s just beautiful. There are no billboards billboards are illegal in Vermont. So it really wow pronounces the countryside, you, you know, the beautiful Green Mountains and I think it’s as, as European as it gets in, in the States, you know, like that, that kind of vibe that kind of like, rolling hills of Ireland or whatever.
I don’t know,
K Anderson 05:26
Gregory Douglass 05:28
like talk. I’m talking like, I know, but I actually don’t know firsthand. But yeah, you know, and let me rewind and, and say that there are several incredible LGBT community organisations and, and youth centres and, you know, there, there’s, there’s definitely a lot going on to support the LGBT community there. But 135 Pro was the only bar like, you know, nightclub and, and frankly, the only the only real dance club, even outside of the LGBT community, it was the only real dance club in town, and wow, and they’re yet and there plenty of bars there plenty of spaces, but, but nothing has, to my knowledge has really replaced how much fun people used to have dancing there. You know, even again, even outside of the LGBT community, like people just had so much fun. They’re, so it was just such a special place. And there’s still stuff going on. But again, nothing really has has replaced all that 135 Perl brought to the community.
K Anderson 06:45
So at what age were you when you first went there?
Gregory Douglass 06:49
Well, I funny story I was I was actually I got a head start with music. When I was in high school. I you know, I didn’t I actually didn’t go to college, I went to a college prep school, but I did not go to college because I I really started to figure out what I wanted to do with music. And back in the day. This is like, I graduated in 99. And these were like the golden years of music before the internet changed everything. So we had people like Ani Franco paving the way for indie artists like me that that wanted to take the DIY, do it yourself model like, you know, fuck the labels, we don’t need a record label, we can just do it ourselves. And so that’s exactly what I did. When I got out of school, I just kind of moved back home to Vermont. I lived with my mom for a little while, until I realised that like I needed to get to the big city of Vermont, and get started with music because all the the clubs and coffee shops were there. So I moved to Burlington and I got a couple roommates and those are some of my favourite years living with my roommates. And, you know, figuring out who I was, in a lot of ways, laying the groundwork with my music, and it was just a really great place to be able to do that. And I remember I booked a show at 135 pearl before I was even 21 years old. And the owner, Robert Tom’s was very, very supportive of my music and was was cool with me playing there even though I wasn’t technically of age. But because I was the age that I was and I wanted to party with my friends. I ended up sneaking into the bar like I think it was a week or two before I was supposed to play a show there. And my friends just kind of like helped me sneak in and but then I was busted about like, an hour into thing.
K Anderson 08:52
So they age but you weren’t. Yes. Yeah, so we had like, you can’t go to clubs until you’re 21 Yeah. Oh, I hadn’t even thought about that. Anyway, sorry. So you would be like 20 What is it for you guys? 18? Yeah. 18
Gregory Douglass 09:11
Yeah, same in Canada. Yeah. And it’s funny because Burlington, Northern Vermont. And so as far as like, true big cities go Montreal is is the closest big city to Burlington. It’s like barely two hours north of Burlington. So a lot of people that grew up in in Vermont, especially northern Vermont would just like go over the border to you know, to to get their drink on at age 18. So, yeah, but so the one of the head bartenders there kicked me out and and I was banned from the bar for a while, in like three weeks until you had a gig. Well, that was the that was what was in question at the time. And I was so embarrassed, you know, because Because Robert was such a sweetheart to even consider booking me being underage. So I called him up and I left him a heartfelt voicemail. Or maybe maybe wasn’t a voicemail anyway, doesn’t matter, we had a conversation and, and I’m like, I’m so sorry, I’m embarrassed, I don’t know what to say I just made a bad judgement. And you know, I hope that you’ll consider keeping the gig, you know, because I’d love to play, I’d still love to play there. And he was like, no worries, you know, like, we’ve all made those decisions before, like he, you know, I remember being that age too, and whatever. And, and it’s fine, you can still play here. So it was a sweetheart about it. And I did I perform there and and once I was of age, I, you know, I celebrated my 21st birthday there. And so that was definitely memorable. And I’ve had several drunken memorable nights there and definitely have gotten home with a few boys there. Oh, good. We will get on to that. Before we do, I have to say first of all, like that is so sweet that you got in touch with him. I
K Anderson 11:16
think the British approach to that would have been just to pretend it never happened. And just style it. Yeah. So that’s quite sweet. The thing I wanted to ask about, say that first time that you went there, as well as all of the anxiety about potentially being caught and thrown out. Do you remember the feeling?
Gregory Douglass 11:36
Yes, no, absolutely. I was I was totally excited to go. I I was. Well, the friends that I went with, obviously, were a little older than me. And it’s just like, I’ve always had friends that are older than me. So I’ve always sort of been in a hurry, especially back then I was in a hurry to, to just be with my people. And and I felt that was like a huge roadblock at the time because I was out on my own. I was I wasn’t going to college. So I was like ready to live my new adult life and find my new sense of independence. So, so yeah, I was really excited and eager and crowl
K Anderson 12:22
and you know, all the things and how did your expectations match up with the reality?
Gregory Douglass 12:29
Well, I didn’t have very long that first night because me out pretty pretty quickly. But it was definitely sensory overload. It was I remember, it was a busy night and it was two floors. The the top floor was the main bar, and there was a pool table in the back room. But what was so endearing about 135 pearl is that it was in this leg. Big old house. You know, it was like this giant house that was converted into a bar and I don’t know all the history behind it. But what makes it particularly fitting is that I believe it actually used to truly be a whorehouse at one point back in the day. And, and so and then, you know, I don’t know what happened in between, but then it ended up being what, being a gay bar. So clearly it remained a whorehouse. And I think that, you know, how, how appropriate how full circle right? So, anyway,
K Anderson 13:46
so your 21st Tell me about that.
Gregory Douglass 13:51
I went It was a very diverse group that I partied with went out to dinner like people of all ages who were just waiting for me to turn 21 already. And we went out for I remember going out for dinner and then I remember going to higher ground and saw a local rockabilly band I remember. And then we, the plan was to just end up at 135 pearl. So Frankly, I don’t really remember what what you know, there’s so many experiences there. I just I don’t remember what happened when you know, but Oh, you know what, I’m sorry. I am having a memory. I don’t think it was the 21st birthday necessarily. I think it was the I actually think it was the very first time that I went there which was the night that I got kicked out so so my grand entrance to pearls, I’ll bring you back to the left. out. So it’s this big old house that was converted into a bar, you walk in the front door, you go up a fairly narrow and tall staircase in order to get to the top floor, which is the main floor and the main bar and then a room in the back with a with a pool table that looks like it probably was a bedroom at one point. So already, like such a quirky space, but I I enter, I go up the stairs and the two of like Vermont’s premier drag queens at the time, were at the top of the stairs, Yolanda and cherry tart. And, and there they are, and I I knew who they were because of their reputation, and they had their own public access show in Burlington at the time. And so I had, like, I was a little bit starstruck with that. But as soon as I walked in, it was like, fresh meat, you know, and cherry tarts hand was on my ass, like, you know, within moments, and both of them like fawning over me immediately, and it was very overwhelming. And it was exciting. But it was also unfamiliar to me. So I felt semi violated, to be honest. Yeah, you
K Anderson 16:18
wouldn’t get away in 2020, would you?
Gregory Douglass 16:22
No, no, I don’t think so. Although drag queens can get away with anything. But you know, I have perspective on that now. But like, at the time, whenever I get uncomfortable, I always feel I always get a little angry if I’m uncomfortable. So I just sort of felt angry. And you know, Mike, like, Hello, I didn’t give you permission to do that. So I just I tried to get away from them pretty quickly. But it’s funny to think back on that, because Yolanda has since you know, become a really dear friend and, and has been lovely and quite influential at times during, during significant times in life when I’ve had to make transitional decisions and whatever. So, you know, I’m really grateful for the people that I’ve met there. But you know, at the time, it was like, I was like a deer caught in headlights, of course.
K Anderson 17:23
So shall we talk about boys? Always? So I’m assuming that you may have come noodled once or twice whilst there? Yes, absolutely. Where? Where the bar is your favourite place to strike up a conversation on or not? If you’re more into going straight for their kill?
Gregory Douglass 17:47
Well, I mean, it wasn’t a very big space, you know, was really, that there wasn’t really much of a place to hide or anything like that. I think it was just, it was just more what it was. I mean, I the memories that I have are more are more based on just one thing, leading to another kind of thing. And, and, and some funny memories too. Like, I just, I remember, I can’t believe I’m about to tell you this. But here it goes. I remember. I remember one of my first jobs out of high school was working at a Barnes and Noble bookstore, and I worked in the music department and I was there one day. And it was kind of a slow day. I remember this tall, beautiful Brazilian boy was walking around there. And he was definitely he definitely had his eye on me. And I’m a ruthless flirt anyway. So you know, it’s not that hard. It’s not that hard to flirt with me. And I just remember like, he was very shy, but he was like, very diligent about keeping his eye on me and, and then he walked out of the music department. And, and that was that, you know, I was like, just continued working for a half hour, an hour, whatever it was. And then I took a bathroom break, and when to the bathroom, which was in a different area of the bookstore. And as soon as I walked into the bathroom, I the guy was lingering by the bathroom. So he followed me right into the bathroom. And like, rather rather confidently, I might add, you know, it actually scared me. I didn’t really know how to hand did you go into the anger mode? Yeah, yes, exactly. I was unfamiliar. I didn’t really know how to handle a situation like that. And I, I washed in the bathroom. And before I got to the stall, there was no one in the bathroom. Before I got to the stall, I turned around to look at him and he just walked right up to me. And he’s like a knight in shining armour. He He put his hand behind my waist, and he pulled me towards him and kissed me. Which I could not believe. I mean, for First of all, I was just like, wow, that’s ballsy. You know, that’s really, really ballsy. And I didn’t know how I felt about it, because I’m like, I don’t know who this person has, like, you know, part of me felt like how dare he just assumed that that’s okay. And then the other part of me was just like, he, he had totally swept me off my feet, you know. And it was a very memorable kiss, and he was super handsome. And I was like, wow, I’m like, Okay. I just, I didn’t really know what to say. And I said, and I got flustered, and I’m like, I need to get back to work. I didn’t even go to the bathroom, like I held. And so I went back to work. And I sort of wondered if he would come back into the, into the music department. And quite a bit of time had passed. I mean, I want to say a few hours had passed. And then and then he actually did, sort of, he came back, and he was very coy about it. And I, and then he sort of approached me, and, and I talked to him a bit. And he was just like, like, What’s your name? And you know, he was new to town, and if you didn’t really know what to do, and I said, Well, how about we meet for a drink at 135 later tonight? And so we did. So he met me there for a drink and, and it was more, more comfortable in that he didn’t, you know, I just didn’t know whether this guy was like, someone I could trust or not. So I wanted to meet him in a public place, you know, well, we’re public. Yeah, exactly. And, and it was fun, and it was like, it was flirtatious, and we had drinks, and he, you know, I just, I felt, I felt good about him. And, and I did, I ended up going home with him that night. And, and I remember I, we got to his house, and I realised or his apartment, and I realised, like, I’ve been here before, like, this place feels really familiar. And then I realised that it was my, my friend Catherine’s old apartment, and I hadn’t been there in years. But clearly, he lives there now. So that was odd. And I just remembered him, you know, banks, he was like, such a player, you know, it was just like, like, flirting with me in Portuguese or whatever, you know, and I just remember whatever. I don’t know what he was saying to me, but it was sexy. And then that was that. And then, you know, that just was sort of like a classic one nightstand, I guess that began in a very, in a very memorable way.
K Anderson 23:41
So there seems to be an interesting theme here of violation of your personal space. And without victim blaming, why do you think that is? Why do you think people feel comfortable? manhandling you?
Gregory Douglass 23:56
Hmm, that is a good question. That’s a really good question. I’ve never really thought about it quite like that. And I’ve thought about this stuff a lot. And I don’t know I mean, I’m sure that I’m sure that there are a lot of layers there. I think that I, I definitely have a history of being bullied as a kid and being made fun of for being you know, I was like, super. I can’t think of the word I just want to say super flamboyant, super. Looking for a feminine, that’s the word. I was super feminine when I was a kid, and I just I didn’t really have any male friends. For the most part. When I was really young, like the boys were afraid of me. I remember even one day and like the second or third grade or something where there was like a new kid and it was a new boy. And the Boys, the boys just kind of like we’re showing him around and introducing him to people. And I remember them saying like, Oh, well, that’s, that’s Greg, but you don’t, you don’t need to like talk to him because he’s basically just one of the girls. So it was very polarising back then, in the small town that I grew up in, and, and music was such a huge outlet for me. I mean, it kind of like saved me in a lot of ways. And I realised quickly even when I was younger, that the people I wasn’t getting respect from particularly men that I wasn’t getting respect for them. Were starting to respect me because of my music. So, so that was a big game changer for me. But there were definitely some hard memories of I’ve just being bullied back then. So maybe that has something to do with just the the violating aspects.
K Anderson 26:06
And are you okay to talk about bullying more? Or should we move on?
Gregory Douglass 26:12
Yeah, yeah, I’m feeling actually better about talking about this stuff. Because I think it could really, I think my truth is only going to help other people feel better about their truths, you know.
K Anderson 26:27
So a lot of what you’re saying resonates with me, because for me as well, music was a big escape, and release and opportunity to connect with people who understood me without having to leave my bedroom. Yeah, it’s so interesting how that forms, your personality, your take on the world, your suspicions of strangers. Yeah, this is a bit raw for me right now. That that last comment. And I suppose that goes back to what you were saying at the top of the conversation about the importance of queer spaces, in that. within that space, there are a few things that you can let your guard down about, because you don’t have to check to see if anyone has noticed that your behaviour doesn’t conform to the gender that you’re displaying, necessarily, if you’re like a faggy kid like me. Yeah. And you don’t have to assume that at least one person is going to have a problem with your being. Yes, yeah. I’m not sure where I’m going with this. Actually, I’m not asking a question I’m just doing.
Gregory Douglass 27:55
Well, no, I appreciate that. And I think that you’re right on. And it’s really, those are the ingredients that make that these type of venues and spaces so important, because we’re not our community is not the same as, as, you know, we’re, we’re, we’re continuing to grow and evolve, in who we are even just even just as specific to, you know, not just the LGBT community, but even like, who we are as gay men, for example, like, you know, how, how fascinating it is to live somewhere, like Los Angeles versus little Burlington, Vermont, you know, where you, you get on an online dating app, like, or hookup app like Grindr, and you see, you see how even that’s evolved, how many people are in open relationships, how, how organised it and responsible everything is these days in terms of like, profiles listing who you are and what you’re looking for, and what position you are and what the status is of the last time you were tested, and whether you’re on prep or not, and, you know, it’s just there’s, there’s a real there’s a real liberation, that continues to expand and evolve, that is also accompanied by a much greater responsibility and, and mutual respect, I feel and it’s really wonderful to see that but in order for that to happen, you have to feel like you can coexist with other people with a community that can relate and knows what you’re going through, because it’s not this hetero normative system that we’ve grown up in and that we have gotten so accustomed to. So we’re we’re all sort of treading in New waters and, and, and operating in ways that really speak more to who we are, then then who we’re not. So it’s important that that the support is there and the structure and systems are there and and, you know support in so many ways support from each other support from the organisations and and venues that exists to provide that kind of support. And you know, the the health support all of it.
K Anderson 30:37
And so you’ve you’ve brought up grinder, so my mind’s going there, and I’m going to take the conversation in that way. So sorry. But I’m kind of fascinated by what a disruptor it has been to the scene at bat as well as the way that people categorise themselves because it enables you or makes you categorise yourself and makes you market yourself, I suppose. Because you’re, you know, you’re looking for a shag? What How do you think things would have been different for you? If you had had that tool when you were coming out?
Gregory Douglass 31:18
Well, it probably would have been a blessing and a curse. You know, I think that I think that I would have been very quickly out of control with it having that kind of access so easily and readily. But at the same time, I think the time always reflect what we’re what am I trying to say? I think I think technology has been a disrupter across the board, really, you know, in, in the online dating community, to the music industry to all of it, I just think that it’s just been a giant disrupter and, and we’ve all had to adapt accordingly. And so it like anything else, it’s it feels like a blessing and a curse, it feels like there are a lot of advantages to to being able to to make use of an app like Grindr, where there’s a lot of information there to, to really have to work with. But on the other hand, you would make very different decisions. because like you said, it’s really more about how well you marketing yourself on an app like that, because it really becomes much more about the marketing. And I think that’s kind of the curse of it as well. Because if you’re not so good at marketing yourself, there’s there’s just so many deeper ways to get to know someone that would totally change your mind about them. And if you’re judging a book by its cover right away, and being dismissive of that right away, then, you know, I mean, my husband and I have been together for 15 years. And we’ve been married for it will be 10 years and September, which is you know, like, what, like a lifetime and gay years. Right?
K Anderson 33:19
Oh, interesting. And in any years, let’s not.
Gregory Douglass 33:21
Yeah, yes. But it took almost two years for me to take that relationship seriously. Because you there’s a lot to manoeuvre through, there’s a little, you know, we were on and off for, for the first year and a half at least. And a lot of that was just due to me not feeling comfortable with someone with a healthy relationship, you know, as someone that that truly has the emotional sophistication that he has. And we came from very different upbringings. And, you know, I jumped to conclusion about a lot of things that, that I have since learned, where we’re not accurate. And there’s, there’s a real process involved in, in making a good relationship good and making it work. And I would not want to be dating and I would not want to be single and dating in Los Angeles in 2020. Because it’s it’s just too easy, especially out here where everyone is just so is so pretty, you know, everyone is pretty in LA and so it’s very easy to judge a book by its cover. And it’s very easy to dismiss someone because you know, there’s a million other options. And that’s really tragic in some ways, because no one is taking the time that is truly actually required to to get to know a person before you can even make a true judgement call.
K Anderson 35:01
Yeah, like if I was a teen and had Grindr I mean, oh, he’s kidding, I would have downloaded it. I’d like 15. But I had it at that age like, wow, I just think that’s kind of, yeah, it’s that it’s like exhilarating, but also crippling in terms of what that gives you access to? And I think, also, yeah, as an artist, like, you need to be bored, you need to have lots of time with your thoughts. And I imagine I would have turned out a lot differently a lot differently. That’s not very well, you know, if, if, if I had that, like, I wouldn’t have had all those points of reflection, I wouldn’t have had that opportunity to, to develop and really think about who I was because I would be thinking so much about who I wanted to be for other people to accept me. Mm hmm. Weird. Anyway, sorry, that that was a bit of a detour, shall we get back into the, you know,
Gregory Douglass 36:11
I think that is a really, really good point that you just made, because and it’s, it’s helping me to better understand younger generations, you know, like, I have a 17 year old nephew. And, you know, I have friends that have kids that are now in their early to mid 20s. And, and they grew up with this technology. That’s all they know. In fact, I have a couple High School songwriting students that when I first asked them like, Okay, well, what do you guys, what artists are, what bands are you guys listening to right now? And they were sort of stumped by that question. They’re like, Well, me, I guess I like, you know, I guess there might be a couple, like two or three songs that I liked from the same artists or the same band. But for them, it’s all about playlists. Yeah, they grew up in there growing up in this in this world of playlists. And so, you know, it’s not about a single art, it’s about songs. And, and how they are experiencing that is so different from, from, how I grew up, and how you know, so it’s just like, it’s because,
K Anderson 37:31
because like, when you were a kid, and you had like you didn’t have any money? Well, maybe some kids did. But I certainly didn’t. And you bought an album, like you had invested in that album. So even if you didn’t enjoy it, you had to keep listening to it, you just put it on and on and on until you learned to like it, because you’d seen so much money on it. And now you can just be like, Man, this doesn’t grabbing me now. I’ll just go to the next one.
Gregory Douglass 37:58
Yep, exactly. It And doesn’t that reflect the dating? experience? Yes, full circle there. Yeah, I mean, that’s just did I think everything has been disrupted, and everything has changed in those ways. And so I’m fascinated to learn how are to observe how younger people are, are manoeuvring this and how it’s affecting them. But I feel like I want to go back to what to the point that you made before, which is now escaping my mind because my short term memory is terrible. Because you said something that made me that I wanted to
K Anderson 38:40
spending time on your own reflecting. grinder? Hmm. spending time on your own and reflecting, figuring out who you are
Gregory Douglass 38:55
figuring out who you are. That’s so so. I mean, you’re absolutely right, I’m seeing what I’m observing so far of, of these younger generations are, are, are almost the stunted emotional growth in the ways that you just touched upon, like, you know, it seems to me like younger people are having a harder time figuring out who they are, because they’re not having the same experiences with the same opportunities we did to have that alone time and to have that the time to get familiar with the people we’re meeting because we’ve met them in person and not online, or to get familiar with the album that we bought because we spent good money on that. And that’s, you know, that’s what has deepened our appreciation for the artists that we love. I think it’s all very parallel.
K Anderson 40:05
So So, so I’m aware that we both sound like really grumpy old men right now. So I will say that flipside of all of that is that, you know, at least you’re not having kids that are experiencing this complete disconnect between the feelings that they’re having and the heteronormative world around them, because there are some examples that they can see of other people, other other genders and other sexualities that doesn’t make them feel so isolated. Yeah, right. Yeah, that’s my TED talk for today. So so if we get back to the bar, one of the things I was really interested in talking about is small town. So like, a small town, queer space. Or just you know, being in a small town means that there is a far higher likelihood that someone you know, has slept with someone that you might be about to sleep with. Or that if you’re in the bar, and someone is hitting on you, your ex boyfriend might be five metres away and throwing daggers at you. Yeah. Have you had any examples of things like that happening to you?
Gregory Douglass 41:25
Oh, absolutely. I mean, I think that those those examples were what? what triggered the, the most heated and upsetting memories that I have, you know, like, absolutely, like, having a, having a boyfriend who then dumped me to date my ex boyfriend
K Anderson 41:53
went out, so Oh, wow. How did you find out about that?
Gregory Douglass 41:59
Well, like you said, it was a small town. Like, it didn’t take long and I and it’s not like it was even really being intentionally concealed. For me. It was just how it was, you know, slim pickings. So, you know that Yeah, that was tough.
K Anderson 42:18
And, and so would like, were you suited? Were you far enough over each of them? Or not?
Gregory Douglass 42:27
I mean, oh, no, not at all. Not at all. Yeah, it was tough, but that’s a headphone, you know. Yeah, I’m not proud to say that I’ve, I’ve been in quite a few. Quite a few of those type of quagmires actually, and in some cases, it’s been, I was the one that was screwed over and in other cases, someone else got her so.
K Anderson 42:56
And so did you throw any tantrums in the bar that we can talk about?
Gregory Douglass 43:02
You know, I don’t think that I think all of my tantrums were in private. But I’m trying to think of some trying to think of some some good memories that are bar related. Okay, I got a good one. So I do remember being at pearls one night and I I got really flirty with with an adorable blue eyed redhead boy. And he, he was very, very, I don’t want to say aggressive, but he was very forward. And it didn’t take long for for him to talk me into going home with him that night.
K Anderson 44:05
So here’s an animation of that theme we were talking about before.
Gregory Douglass 44:11
You know, you’re right. And it’s interesting to me, it makes me think that I haven’t really been very honest with myself because I’ve always I’ve always felt like I was the one to be. I I’ve always felt like I’ve been the one to to be to put on the you know, to be forward about what I want and who I want to who I want to flirt with or who I want to hook up with. But I don’t think that’s true, actually, because I’m bringing up all of these stories, but that’s not the case. But it is interesting that these are the stories that that stands out the most to me, probably because I probably because they weren’t the majority. Yes, yes.
K Anderson 44:59
They’re no No, no. Yeah.
Gregory Douglass 45:01
Yeah, so maybe they did make me feel good about, you know, made me feel a little bit more desired than I tended to feel, especially at that time. But anyway, yeah, just trying to piece that together. So, redhead, blue eyes adorable. I went home with him that night, and proceeded and having the most awkward sexual experience with him. It was just, it just was it was just not good. It was just bad. It’s just we were not compatible. I think he maybe he thought we were more compatible than I thought we were. But it was just awkward. And it was not fun. And I could not wait to get out of there. There was no flow, there was no passion. It was just it was just awkward. Yeah, yeah. And I’m like, oh, why did I? Why did I do this against my better judgement, you know, I thought he was cute. But like, intuitively, if I had trusted my instinct, I probably knew deep down, it wasn’t going to be very good. You know, I think I knew it was going to be a kind of a train wreck. And so I kind of rushed out of there afterwards. And the next morning, I realised that I had left a ring like I at the time, I had this thumb ring that I wore a lot that I really loved. And I left it there, I’d forgotten that there which, which First of all, I was like, I was like, God dammit. Now I have to like, go get this ring from him. And I don’t want to, I don’t want to deal with this guy again. Second of all, he probably thought that I left it there intentionally, because I wanted to see him again. And I’m like, oh, man, this is not good. I sort of avoided it for a few days. My best friend and I went to pearls to 135 Perl on a weekend night, you know, a couple days later, I guess. And and it was pretty busy there. And what do you know, that blue eyed redhead showed up and he was there. And he had been there for a while he had, he was already like three sheets to the wind, you can tell right away that he had already had quite a few drinks. And I was I was trying to avoid him a little bit. It was busy enough that I was that I could kind of avoid him for a bit. I at least needed a drink before I was ready to confront him. And and so we talked for it. He’s like, Yeah, he’s like, you know, you left your ring and whatever. And like, I’d love to see you again. And you know, he was sort of blissfully ignorant to it was not reading my energy at all.
K Anderson 48:05
And don’t you wish you had that ability?
Gregory Douglass 48:10
I mean, I think I’m pretty good at reading people’s energy, which is why I’m always amazed when other people can’t
K Anderson 48:16
at all. Oh, yeah. But I think I’m pretty good at reading people’s energy, which is why I’m always crippled with fear.
Gregory Douglass 48:23
Oh, well, I don’t know, I think I think it can be a blessing. Because when you know how to read a person’s energy. It’s a I think it can give you an advantage if you choose to.
K Anderson 48:43
Yes, yeah. But Likewise, if you’re just completely ignorant to the way people are responding to you, you can just kind of go about your business without worrying. I don’t know.
Gregory Douglass 48:53
That’s true. Yeah, that is true. I remember I remember getting progressively more intoxicated throughout the evening trying to avoid him but also trying to have a good time and it got busier. I remember it was like a particularly packed night. There are a lot of people there was like hard to even walk around. And after one too many cosmos it just sort of hit me all at once. I was like, Oh, I haven’t drunk. And I just remember going downstairs and I’m thinking like, Where is my friend Allison, you know, like, and I went to look for her. I went downstairs, I went into the dance floor area, and karaoke was happening. And there is my friend Allison onstage like in the middle of singing the sun, Queen of Hearts by juice Newton, which I thought was the most hilarious. I mean, I guess you had to be there, but it was like the most hilarious memory that I had. Because of my Of all songs that you pick to sing. It’s Queen of Hearts by juice, Newton, I thought it was the most random song she could have picked. And so I’m laughing, I’m standing there laughing hysterically. And the song started singing crazy for you by Madonna. And, and I turn around at one point like mid song, and the blue eyed redhead is behind me. And he’s like, and he’s so drunk at this point, he looks at me. He’s like, I listening to these lyrics, because I’m crazy for you. For something like that, and I was like, and I just could not even hold back. And I said to him, I’m like, that is the cheesiest thing anyone has ever said to me. And I’m like, Look, I’m sorry, but the feeling is not mutual. Like, I think you’re a really sweet guy. But it’s just, it’s not gonna happen. And, you know, I wish you the best. And he, I mean, it was fine. It was fine after that. But it was it was awkward.
K Anderson 51:17
I mean, I’m writing this down as a potential future pickup line. So I mean, it wasn’t a waste.
K Anderson 51:28
And so do you remember hearing about the bar closing? Yes. We used to living in Burlington at the time.
Gregory Douglass 51:36
Yep. And, you know, what is heartbreaking about this story is that Robert tos was the owner of 135 pearl. And he, he actually was very vocal about needing to move on from the business. You know, it was it was a personal choice. He was, he had been doing it for a while and he was ready for someone who was ready to pass the torch to someone in the community. He was very vocal about that. And he kept he kept the bar on the market for a few years, I believe, at least two years. And he turned down a lot of offers from people that a lot of good offers from people that wanted to turn it into something else. And he was very vocal about like, Who’s going to step up and keep this bar in business? Because this is important, you know, I’m not I’m not walking away because I don’t want it to remain an institution in the community. He was just ready to pass the torch, but no one would step up to the plate. And so he finally caved, you know, and sort of was in an announced that too, like, this is your last chance, you know, cuz I can’t hold out for much longer. So sadly, he finally just caved and and he sold it. And it became a Papa John’s pizza. Oh, isn’t that tragic?
K Anderson 53:04
Oh, yeah, that’s no, great. Yeah. And why do you think no one stepped up?
Gregory Douglass 53:12
I really don’t know. I, I really don’t know. And I, I’m a little I’m still very sad. You know, I remember feeling very disappointed in the community. At the time. There wasn’t really much I felt like I could do I mean, I didn’t have the money to to step up and do anything. And that really wasn’t what I felt like my calling was anyway. But I can only imagine a lot of people probably felt the same way. But I wonder. I wonder if the right people were informed. You know, he was very vocal about it. But you know, who knows how many people know the truth about that story? Because I remembered the reaction in the in the community once it once word got around that it was becoming a Papa John’s pizza. People were really appalled by that and really disappointed by that. But it’s like, well, you know, it’s not like he didn’t try to keep it what it was. So I really don’t know.
K Anderson 54:22
Yeah, it’s that got till it’s gone, isn’t it?
Gregory Douglass 54:25
Yeah. But I will also mention that there were so many stories and so many memories and so many friendships and significant things that happened for me, that that were tied to 135 parole. Things pretty much sealed the deal between my husband and I at 135 parole, and that’s a great story too, because he I had met him at a show. One of his best friends at the time was a big fan of my music so he surprised her and brought her to a show of mine. And he was not that familiar with my music. And I had never met him before. But he was a little bit familiar because of his friend Melissa had played some of my stuff for him and whatever. So they came to my show. This was not at 135, bro. But it was more of like a listening room type of venue. And he was rather obnoxious at the show. Like, he was just sort of like, a little bit of a heckler in the back. And I remember he said, like, play son, play son number nine on the theatre album. And I was like, really, like, I don’t know what number the song, you know, like? And I said, I’ll tell you what, if you, if you tell me, if you figure out what the song title is that, that you want me to play there, now, I might play it for you. So he ended up going and figuring it out. And then he yelled out, like a song later that he wanted me to play a song called I wonder. And I’m like, Oh, you mean the song that I just played like, a couple months ago. So clearly, he wasn’t paying attention. And he was kind of obnoxious. And, but I didn’t, I couldn’t really see him that well from because he was, like, in the back. And afterwards, I met up with him and his friend, Melissa introduced me to him and I was with my boyfriend at the time, the four of us were meeting each other and, and we all decided to get drinks after and I sort of, I sort of changed my mind a bit once I once I was up close meeting him because he was just such a handsome guy. And, and all four of us went out for a drink. And I got to know him a little bit better realise, like, what a family man he was, you know, his sister had just given birth to her first child, and he was going to go home for the summer to help her out and raise help raise his nephew. And I thought that was really sweet. And, you know, I, I just remember, he made a good impression on me. But so I didn’t see him again until the end of that summer. And by that time, my boyfriend and I, at the time were no longer together. And I had run into Glen. Mike, in downtown Burlington, and, and I was like, Oh, it’s great to see you. And, you know, I have a show coming up, if you want to check it out, maybe bring your friend Melissa again. And, and they they came it was just, I think it was like the next night or something. And they came and I I talked to them both after the show. Now you have to understand that Melissa is like, a very honest, you know, she doesn’t hold back on anything. She’s, she’s hilarious and, and outspoken and whatever. So at one point, Glenn goes to the bathroom. And she looks at me and she’s like, so what do you think Glen? Gay, not gay? Like, what? What? What? What is your read on him? I don’t know. Like, you’re his best friend. You tell me. And she’s like, well, we we all think that he is but like, we’re not sure like, you won’t come out with it. I’m like, Oh, well, I’ll let you know, by the end of the night, you know? And he came back from the bathroom and and I was just like, Well, you know, I gotta go because I have to go to this party. A friend of mine is having at 135 pearl. And it was a friend who was it was a going away party. But it wasn’t because she was going away. She was just having a she was having a breast reduction surgery. And so she threw a going away party for her boobs, basically. I mean, which was hilarious. And you know, a perfect theme party for 135 Perl. So I was going to go there and make an appearance. And I said, Well, you guys are happy to, you know, are welcome to come along if you want and Melissa had other things to do. So she she decided not to go but Glenn was very quick to say, oh, I’ll go. So I’m like, Okay, well, you realise that 135 pearls a gay bar, right? He’s like, Yeah, I know. Like, okay, all right. So he accompanied me to the party. And we both proceeded in, you know, drinking quite a bit. And the more he drank the more hands on that he got with me the more sort of clingy he got. And which was, I was a little bit surprised with but also kind of not surprised, like, Okay, well, that explains a lot.
K Anderson 1:00:19
But you said earlier that you’re a massive flirt. So had you not been flirting?
Gregory Douglass 1:00:24
Oh, absolutely. Okay. Okay, but I just didn’t think he would be that quick to risk to be affectionate, especially in public. If he was this, like total closet case that Melissa was explaining that he was no, didn’t take him long to feel comfortable being affectionate with me in public. So I think that in many ways, it was like, it was like, Okay, well, this is definitely his comfort zone now. And, and he invited me to come home with him, which at the time, I was, like, I had gotten you, I know, I told you a lot of other stories that were from, from way back in the day, but at that time, I had gotten pretty used to feeling discouraged in my love life and feeling like I was always the one that had to make the first move. So I was impressed that he was making the first move, and, and he was very respectful and gentlemanly about it. And, and so. So, you know, the rest is history, I guess. I mean, we, we spent a lot of time together, but I didn’t take it too seriously, at first. And at one point, I said, you know, look like I’ve been out of the closet since I was 14 years old. And I’m not interested in being your secret boyfriend. So. So either, let’s call it a day, or, you know, like, I just wasn’t taking it too seriously. And then he quickly came out of the closet to everyone. He said, Well, I, I want I care about you, I want, I want you to take this seriously. And so he came out to his friends and his family, like all within the same week. And he’s sort of he really stepped up to the plate and was determined to win me over. Oh, wow. So So obviously, that’s like a hugely romantic, big thing. But my instinct go to, in that kind of scenario would be to
K Anderson 1:02:34
panic, freak out that someone had done something so momentous for me. What was that? What? How did that feel?
Gregory Douglass 1:02:44
Oh, absolutely. I freaked out. And I didn’t, I couldn’t take him seriously for like, a year and a half, you know, like, you know, we were on on again and off again. Because I just once things started to get too real, I would freak out again. And, and, and break up with them. I know. And, but I couldn’t keep my hands off of them. You know, I after enough time would go by I just kept thinking about him. And, and he’s so adorable. I mean, I still have a crush on him. After all these years. He’s just like, you know, he’s just, I don’t know, he’s got such a magnetism to him. But each time that I would break up with him, he would handle it. Well, you know, he’d be like, Okay, well past it. I know, he’d be like, Alright, well, this is not what I want. But like, if that’s what you need, then I understand. And you know, that really, it made it harder in the moment, but it also made me realise just how much just the level of his emotional maturity. And, and I have since learned how much that stems from his upbringing. And, you know, he just is he had a really, he’s got a really good loving family and that net, he never had any reason to, to, he just, he wouldn’t. He wouldn’t take it personally, quite like most people would. So I was really impressed with that. And, you know, clearly I knew I had a lot to learn from that. So and we’ve been together for a long time now, and I’m still surprised and amazed at he always surprises me, you know, like, we were on our own individual journey of like growth and self expansion, but we continue to grow and expand together as well. And it’s always an interesting ways that that I’m really I really appreciate and, and we’ve kind of learned how important it is to have Have a really high level of open communication at all times. And that’s gotten us through all sorts of stuff. So, you know, he’s he’s become like my best friend in ways that I, I just never would, in ways that I’ve never known before with anyone else. And I do think again that that that can be credited towards giving each other a chance and, and that higher level of communication even when it’s uncomfortable, especially when it’s uncomfortable. And and it all, it all really happened. You know, it all really started at 135 Perl.
K Anderson 1:05:43
Did you ever go to 135 Perl? Well, if you did, I would love to hear from you. Tell me your stories and sharing your photos or anecdotes through social media. You can find me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter under the user name K Anderson music. And you can find out more about Gregory Douglas at WWW dot Gregory douglas.com. And that’s Douglas with two s’s. Law spaces is not only a podcast, but a concept record as well. I’ve been writing songs about queer venues and the people who used to live their lives there. And we’ll be releasing songs over the coming year. You can hear the first single well groomed boys which also happens to be playing underneath my talking right now on all streaming platforms. If you like this episode, I would really appreciate if you subscribe, left a review on Apple podcasts or just told someone who you think might also be interested in listening. I am K Anderson and you have been listening to last spaces