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Have you ever had someone try to coax you out of the closet by asking the seemingly innocent question ‘is there anything you want to tell me?’?
Do you remember the anguish and pain of simply muttering the 3 or 4 words needed to just confirm their suspicions?
Well, if you have, I have a feeling you’ll love this week’s episode.
I’m talking to comedy writer and actor Lisa Haas about her very first trip to the lesbian bar Three Sisters in Denver, Colorado in the 80s.
We talk about how depressing a lesbian bar can be on Christmas eve, the awkwardness of coming out support groups, and what signal your sister might be trying to send you when she offers to buy you a plaid shirt!
Listen to Lisa’s podcast ‘IN HEAT: A Lesbian Comedy’ wherever you stream podcasts, and follow her on Instagram.
Lisa Haas 0:00
I was sitting there thinking, Where are all the lesbians?
K Anderson 0:06
K Anderson 0:06
I am K Anderson and you are listening to lost spaces, the podcast that mourns the death of queer nightlife. Every episode I talk to a different person about a venue from their past, the memories that they created there, and the people that they used to know. Now, have you ever had someone try to gently coax you out of the closet by asking the seemingly innocent question? Is there anything that you want to tell me? Do you remember the anguish and the pain of finding the strength to simply mutter the three or four words needed to confirm what they have suspected? Well, if you have, then I think you’re going to enjoy this week’s episode. I am talking to comedy writer and actor Lisa has about her very first trip to the lesbian bar, three sisters, which was in Denver, Colorado in the 80s. We talk about how depressing a lesbian bar can be on Christmas Eve, the awkwardness of coming out support groups, and we ponder what signal your sister may be trying to send you when she offers to buy you a plaid shirt, I wonder?
Lisa Haas 1:51
Like, I realised that I was gay, or queer when I was in sixth grade. And I like I felt like struck by a bolt of lightning when I realised that I was like, Oh, my God. And for some reason, I knew it wasn’t good. And and I remember when I realised that I came home from school, and we had a set of encyclopaedias and how I knew to look this up, I don’t know. But I grabbed the H book, and was like, well looked at homosexual. And then right, it says, you know, homosexuals are blah, blah, blah. And I was just like, Oh, my God, that’s me. And I open the book so carefully, so I wouldn’t break the spine on the homosexual part because I didn’t want anyone, my mom or anyone to catch that. Somebody was reading that in the house, and I was just beside myself.
K Anderson 2:47
So so. Okay, so I’ve got a few follow up questions. The first is how old was this set of encyclopaedias? And what information did it give you about homosexuals? And were there diagrams?
Lisa Haas 2:58
Sure, there were not diagrams, but there I know. Right. But the encyclopaedias were published in about, I think they were like a 1975 version of encyclopaedias. So they were they were a little neutral about the homosexual. But they but they also I think they I think they mentioned that it was a deviant psychological situation. Yeah, that’s a real bummer to read when you’re like in sixth grade. And so I don’t remember it being all terrible, but it wasn’t something you would read and going, Oh, that’s amazing. You’re just like,
K Anderson 3:37
five I’ve arrived. And so you said that, like it hit you like a bolt of lightning. And that’s when you realised what was happening at the time that
Lisa Haas 3:50
there were a couple of mean boys picking on another boy in the hallway between classes. And they were screaming at him. You’re a faggot. And I, and I don’t know if he was like, Do you I have no idea they were picking on this kid. And I when I heard them say that, I kind of knew what they meant. And I was like, Oh, my God, that’s me. As in, you know, somebody who’s
K Anderson 4:18
so you say you made someone else’s torment about you?
Lisa Haas 4:21
Yeah. Or I was getting tortured. And I was just like, I’m so glad I’m invisible to those boys right now. Because they’re so focused on the faggot that like they don’t, they’re not gonna see me. I’m just gonna creep away and go into class, because I didn’t want them to recognise that about me, but like, how would they? I don’t know. But so that’s how that’s how I was struck. Like a bolt of lightning. Somebody else was being tormented and I like, slipped under the wire and got away.
K Anderson 4:55
Oh, sorry. It wasn’t that you were in gym class and use your boobs chuckling
Lisa Haas 5:00
No, I know I wish. I wish no, I wasn’t that it was it was like horrible. Followed by running home after school and grabbing the Yes,
K Anderson 5:14
sir. encyclopaedia, no boobs juggling in the gym class. That’s where we were. We were talking about what it’s like growing up in Denver. So after this after the awakening, yeah. What was it like being a cricket?
Lisa Haas 5:30
mortifying. Right. mortifying, because I knew that. I couldn’t tell anybody. And the message that was being sent from parents and just people in general about homosexuals were that they were bad people, and that they molested children was kind of the overriding message and they would, you know, like molest children and make them like them. Like they could turn them gay. And I thought to myself, Well, I’m not gonna molest any children. Do you know what I mean? I was like, Well, I’m gay. And or I think by that time, I realised, well, I’m a lesbian, and I’m not a bad person. And I’m not, you know, that’s a little bit of hooey. You know, and at the same time, I didn’t know any, I really didn’t know any gay people. I definitely didn’t know any lesbians. And then I, you know, in high school, like I, there was a guy who, who was out who was gay and who was out. But yeah, I really didn’t know. I think that was the only gay person I knew in high school was this one particular guy. I didn’t know. Any lesbians. Like, I was always on the lookout for somebody who might be a lesbian. And I’m sure there must have been, but I
K Anderson 6:43
criteria were you using to do define lesbians in your myths?
Lisa Haas 6:48
Well, the criteria was like just sensing people’s energy, really, you know, cuz I didn’t know there were things like, like, you could wear Doc Martens, or get a really short haircut, right. Like, and we’ll talk about your pet cat. Right, right. Right, right. I didn’t know that. Those were the signs, you know. So I was like, looking for Pete, you know, just trying to pick out people’s energy. And I was I did not pick any. And to this day, I still don’t know anybody from high school. Who was a lesbian I Word has it somebody two grades below me that my sister knew is a lesbian. I mean, that’s for my height. That’s it, like this rumour of one person.
K Anderson 7:29
So in sixth grade is an early time to figure it out. What was the journey from there to meeting your first real life?
Lisa Haas 7:41
Well, the journey was sad and lonely. And, and it was, it was just sad and lonely. But it’s also comical. It’s also comical, too. But I used to go watch the girls basketball team practice. And I would sit in the bleachers, like, like an idiot, applaud if somebody made a basket, you know, I and I, cuz I was like, Oh, I’m gonna go watch the girls basketball team practice and show my support thinking that some of them were lesbians, but that just didn’t yield. That was like a waste of my time. And so I, I just was like, wow, I don’t know any lesbians. I was always like, on the lookout for them. And then I went to college, and I thought, Oh, my God, surely there’s going to be lesbians in college. Right? surely surely that I’m going to meet all these lesbians. And then it turned out, nobody seemed to be a lesbian. And then there was this one woman I had a crush on, whose name is Cheryl, and I had a crush on her. And I thought maybe she’s kind of a lesbian, I don’t know. But so we were in some, I think a couple classes together for in the first year, the first year that I was in college. And then after that first year, she dropped out of that school and moved, I believe, to Oregon, to get a job and to eventually go to school there. So I think so she left but we stayed in touch. Like she wrote me a letter and I wrote her a letter back. And then like that, a following year over a Christmas break. She called me and she’s like, Oh my gosh, I’m here at home for Christmas break. And I was like, Oh, that’s so great. And we’re like, oh, let’s get together. And we were talking. And then she said, There’s something I have to tell you. And I started to think like, oh, and she was like, and I don’t know how you will feel about it. And I hope you’ll still be my friend afterwards. So I knew I kind of knew what was coming and I was on a landline at my parents house in the basement, you know, and these landlines, anybody at any time could pick up the receiver somewhere else in the house and listen in and sometimes they did. But I was just going oh my God, I hope nobody hears this. But so Sherlyn said, I’m a lesbian. And I was like Don’t Don’t don’t. First of all, I was so impressed that She had the guts to tell me. And then I was like, Well, I have something to tell you too. I was like, I’m, well, I’m a lesbian, too. And she’s like, really, she was like, Let’s go be lesbians together. And, and I was like this, I was over the moon. And we were like, Let’s she was only here for like a week for Christmas break. And we’re like, let we’ll get together and go do something lesbian. And she didn’t have a car, but I could borrow my parents car. So I was like, I’ll drive and she’s like, I’ll find a place for us to go. And we figured out and then I think over the subsequent phone calls, figured out what day we were going to meet. And weirdly, we were both able to meet up on Christmas Eve. So we’re like, okay, great. We’ll meet up on Christmas Eve. Like I had no idea what we were going to do. But I went to pick her up in my parents, Ford station. waggon. It’s called a Country Squire was the maker model of it. I don’t. And so this old station waggon. You know, like, I went to go pick up my friend in the soul. She didn’t care. She didn’t care. It was an old station. waggon. But she, she came out and got in the car. And she was and she had this, like little newspaper with her. And she was like, Oh, she’s like, This is amazing. I found where we can go. And she opened it up. And she was like, Look, here’s a lesbian bar. And they have they’re having free hors d’oeuvres tonight. until like, 10 o’clock tonight. And we’re like, Oh, my God, the cocktail, we means that we will just oh, so excited that there was hors d’oeuvres at this lesbian bar. I didn’t even know there were lesbian bars. Like, I didn’t know where we were going to go. But she was like, we’re gonna go to this lesbian bar.
K Anderson 11:51
Yes. So this newspaper that she had, how did she find her? If she
Lisa Haas 11:56
that’s what I wanted to know. And I said, I was like, I was like, hey, well, so what’s that magazine? And she’s like, Oh, it’s just some gay rag my friend Robert gave me. So she must have had a friend named Robert who was gay. And then I was like, oh, oh, yeah, I’ve seen that. Like, like, I want her to think I knew I was in the know, I was so not in the know. So I was like, God, she’s so sophisticated. She has this newspaper, little rag thing. And she was like, Okay, we’re gonna go to three sisters. And we figured out where the address was. And it was in kind of North ish Denver in a neighbourhood that is now because I looked it up because I was just like, Whatever happened to called Highland Highland, I think is the neighbourhood which maybe it has been four years, but I it’s called Highland now. And it’s a neighbourhood that’s been gentrified and is like, nobody could afford to live there in the world. I not sure who’s living there. But it’s amazing. But then it was not it was not gentrified. And so we drove there, we figured out how to get there. And we saw it, we drove up to what we thought was the there was a building kind of in the back of a parking lot. And we were like, is that it? And so and so we were like, okay, so I like drove the car really slowly and circled around the front, so we could see the address. And that was the address. Like they didn’t have a sign that said, the three sisters, you know, because they didn’t want to advertise, but there was an address. They’re like, okay, and so I drove the car and parked it way in the back of the parking lot, because I was worried like, what if it broke? Or what if the starter went out? And I’d have to call my dad and then I didn’t want didn’t want him to think that the thinking ahead, right. I didn’t want them to think that the car was parked by this particular establishment, you know, but I don’t and maybe that was the first time Cheryl and never went to lesbian bar. I’m not sure. But we were both sitting there going, Okay, what should we do? And we’re like, okay, let’s just sit here for a couple minutes. And then we heard some gunshots in the neighbourhood. There was there was yeah, there was there was a neighbourhood known for crime. And we were like, are those gunshots? And we were listening. We’re like, not near us. But somewhere in the neighbourhood. We’re like Okay, those are definitely gunshots and so we were like, Okay, let’s just sit here for a while and like wait for it to blow over. And we did and then the person there was no more gunshots and then we’re like, Okay, we’re gonna have to get out of the car and make a run for it to this to the front door of this place. So we don’t get like before
K Anderson 14:27
you got there. Did you ever find out what those gunshots? Were?
Lisa Haas 14:31
I I mean, no, I at the time, like there wasn’t like on the news on the news tonight. There was a shootout in I think I’m pretty sure they were gunshots because they weren’t firecrackers and it was like Christmas Eve and there was snow on the ground and I don’t think people were out shooting off firecrackers.
K Anderson 14:49
But they were shooting their fellow man. Okay.
Lisa Haas 14:53
Somebody was getting shot at you know, for sure. Wow. Making it all the more scarier. First, we didn’t go into This deviant place, you know that you could get like, picked off by a sniper on your way to the front door. And so we so we went to the door and I was just like feeling like so. I so nervous, like, I just felt like I was gonna it was gonna be revealed to the world that I was a lesbian. And I was just like I was afraid to even touch the doorknob, and Cheryl and was acted like it was just normal. She’s like, okay, and she opened the door, and the door opens into to this bar, right, that’s kind of small and kind of cosy. And there’s like a bar, and then kind of in the centre of the room, there were some tables and chairs, and it was completely empty. And I, I didn’t that’s not what I expected. I thought there were gonna be people lesbians, that there, it was empty. And we kind of we walk in and we look around, and there’s one woman who was quite elderly, sitting at the end of the bar, and looking like she was like, drowsy and over her drink, and we were like, okay, and then the bartender is like, hi there. You know, we were like, Hi. So we went up to the bar said, Okay, sure. I was like, I’ll take a beer. And I was like, I’d like a Diet Coke. And this woman was like, okay, it served us and I was, I was sitting there thinking, Where are all the lesbians? You know, not thinking that Christmas Eve was maybe not a good time to go to a lesbian bar. But I was just like, where, what? Like, my fear was being affirmed that there were hardly any lesbians anywhere. And I and I was just like, mortified. And then and then we didn’t see the, we did not see the order bar.
K Anderson 16:42
And that was gonna be my follow up question. I was gonna say, like, if there’s no one there, then you get more or whatever. So like, it’s kind of an All right situation. But I know, that’s
Lisa Haas 16:50
what we were thinking, Cheryl and was like, Okay, there’s no d’oeuvre bar. And I was like, there’s just like, what should we do? And then Sherilyn was like, she took her little newspaper, and then went over to the bartender and opened it up and showed her the ad. And the bartender, like, had no idea that that the ad was there. And she saw and she kind of jumped in, she grabbed a bag of chips, and went out to one of the tables in the middle of the room, and just open this bag of chips and set it on the table. fancy, fancy, and show it was like, mag, bring some potato chips. I was like, yes, thank you. And so she got a couple cocktail napkins and, you know, got some chips for us, and, you know, brought him back and we were sitting there like eating these chips and drinking our drinks. And, and I was just like, any minute, all the lesbians are gonna burst through that door, either that or my parents who do who in my, you know, horrific Fantasy was like, telling me, but at any minute, it’ll either be my parents or all those lesbians.
K Anderson 17:58
So what is the collective term for a group of lesbians and leap of lesbians?
Lisa Haas 18:05
I don’t only a gaggle of a leap of a herd of lesbians
K Anderson 18:09
needs to be in the territory of a litre No. I feel like this is something we should know.
Lisa Haas 18:19
I know, a litter of lesbians, that litter, lesbians.
K Anderson 18:27
There’s some of that kind of relieving there about going like, you know, like this build up and this fear and this, like, ah, and then going through the door, there’s something that is a bit of a relief when there’s no one there because it’s like, Ah, I can just relax.
Lisa Haas 18:42
Right, right. Right, right. And we waited, like, we were there about an hour and, and Sherlyn was like, you know, where the lesbians? And I was like, I don’t know. And, you know, we’re not and not thinking and so what is kind of sort of sad in a thought thinking that the senior woman at the end of the bar was a lesbian, right? Because she wasn’t my age. I didn’t think she was a lesbian. I just was like, oh, there’s an old lady at the end of the bar drinking too much. But she was a lesbian, you know, and not really thinking that the bartender was a, you know, she was also a lesbian, but we were like, there’s no lesbians here. There were. And so Sherlyn was like, she was like, is there? Is there any polite way that I can ask the bartender if there’s any other girl bars open tonight? And we were just like, wow, there’s no way that we could say, you know, say like, Hey, your bar sucks, do you? More exciting lesbian bars that we could go to tonight on Christmas Eve at nine o’clock at night, and it’s snowing. And so we were like, okay, all right. So we’re like, well, We’ll go to Denny’s or Denny’s, which is the diner, a chain diner. And so Sherline we had, she was like, okay, she’s like, wow, I am really hungry. And I was like we said, I am sure.
K Anderson 20:13
You didn’t fill up on the cherubs. We
Lisa Haas 20:17
were trying to get the bartender to hear that we were, oh, well, now we have to go on to our dinner, the dinner portion. And we’re like, Oh, I’d like some pink, it’d be too and so we, you know, get up and get our little coats. And we say goodbye to the bartender. And we’re like, thank you. And she was like, Okay, Bye, girls. You know? Like, I don’t know what I thought like, like, why didn’t the bartender come over and talk to us? Hey, I haven’t seen you gals. Here. What’s your, I mean, like, it was like, we were kind of invisible.
K Anderson 20:47
The flip side of what I’ve just been saying about like going into a bar, and it being empty means that you’ve got that space is that you feel this immense pressure to either have a good time. Or like, stay for some reason, because you feel guilty that it’s empty, until you’re just kind of like, what am I gonna do here?
Lisa Haas 21:05
That’s exactly right, we felt incredibly guilty, we felt incredibly guilty and disappointed, because there were no other but we were just like, in now we’re gonna be rude and walk out of the bar after the bartender open their bag of chips worse. Like, you can’t, you know, we have to sit here and eat some chips and kind of act like we’re here to enjoy this space.
K Anderson 21:26
And meanwhile, the bartender probably doesn’t give a shit if you’re there or not.
Lisa Haas 21:30
I don’t think gave a shit. She didn’t seem mean or but how do you not give a shit on Christmas Eve when there’s these 219 year old girls in there, you know, who look like that’s the first time they’ve ever gone to a bar. But yeah, she was just reading a newspaper or something I always think about, and there’s other bar stories, too. But I always think about that bar, which no longer exists. And I never went back. I mean, I’m in then because I was in school, and then I moved out of state. And so I never got to see it with people with no more than like a couple of people inside of it. And I think for the longest time because I’ve searched online, and I’ve like, tried to find a historical information about the bar. And I think it was the only lesbian bar in Denver for a very long time. And I think they must have closed. I don’t know maybe in the late 80s, early 90s. When this is making me think of like a couple of other places that I went to that are no longer there. One was the gay and lesbian Centre, which actually moved to a new building a new location and stuff like that. But in the in the 80s, the gay and lesbians centre was in like this old house, that they’ve just turned into a centre. And I like how did I I didn’t even know there was a gay lesbian centre. And when I found out I looked them up in the phonebook, and I was like, oh, like hot. And there was the address. And so I, you know, the first time I went there, I just drove by, you know, and then the next week, I parked in the parking lot. And then the week after that, like, Okay, this is it. I’m going to go into the gay and lesbian, right? Because I’m still like looking for lesbians. Like, where are all this? Surely there must be. I imagined there must have been tonnes of lesbians, but where are they? And so I decided I was gonna go in, I thought I was gonna faint when I opened the door. And I walk because I didn’t know what, what it looked like or where I could go. Or if I could sit down or so I walked in, and it was just like this hallway. And there was like a little desk that had flyers on it and some flyers on the wall. And there were a couple people there. And they were like, Hi, how’s it going? And I’m like, Oh, really good. And they were like, Okay, how can we help you? And I was just, and I said, Oh, I’m just looking at the flyers. Just looking for some lectures, just some of interest, you know, and I was looking at the flyers. And what I was really looking for was something about lesbians, right? And I saw this flyer that said, lesbian support lesbian coming out support group, like Tuesday nights. And like, I kept looking, I was like, I got a Tuesday nights, see 630 And I didn’t want them to even know I was looking at that. But so I was like, Okay, I’ll come back for the for the support group. And and I did and that’s that. I’ll just say that. That’s another last space. The small an air conditioned room that the lesbian set in the circle over the hot summer, like so all summer long. I went to the support group and
K Anderson 24:39
oh, so hang on, hang on. So the this is like six months after. This is
Lisa Haas 24:45
years after years after after. This was probably like four years after the three sisters was that during that time I figured out there was a gay and lesbian centre, and then I had moved to Montana. I have to go to school there. But I was home for the summer. I was back for summer. So I was like, I’m gonna go to the support group all summer long,
K Anderson 25:06
because I bet so Had you not come out? Let
Lisa Haas 25:09
him know not to anybody except Cheryl. And she was the only person who knew who I officially had come out to. Yes, no, I hadn’t, but I was like, I want to meet lesbians. And, um, where do you get some pussy in this town type of thing?
K Anderson 25:25
So like in Montana, was there any pussy waiting for you? Or was not
Lisa Haas 25:29
any. And, again, I know that there are I know that there are lesbians there and I went to school at the University of Montana. And there was in the in the paper I read while I was there. During the time I was there, there was a lesbian couple who somebody tried to burn their house down. And we don’t and it was never known. Is this a hate crime or not? That was never discovered. And there was a veteran’s bar in town. Like one night a week, they were the gay bar. And I went there one time with some friends were like, oh, let’s go to the veterans bar, because this is the gay night, you know, and nobody who went was gay. But so we all you know, we all win. And there were, you know, no lesbians. There a few gay men, but lesbians. Again, again, I know they existed. And and now there’s like a, because I’ve looked online, there’s like several less lesbian organisations and groups in Montana. That sound really awesome. The sound really awesome. But I don’t think they existed then. Which would have been like in the late 1980s.
K Anderson 26:33
So then, was your coming out delayed? Because there was kind of no reason for you to come out? I mean, I know that that’s an oversimplification. But or was it like that you were afraid?
Lisa Haas 26:46
Well, both, you know, both. Yeah, I was in Montana alone with an old car. Do you know and so, so I was afraid. And also I was, you know, it consumed. I was going to graduate school. And I was just like, Oh, my God, this is my one and only chance to go to graduate school. And I need to get through this. So then, during the summers, a couple summers, when I was back in Denver, I was like, I’m gonna go to this support group.
K Anderson 27:15
So you plucked up the courage and you got there on the Tuesday and the 630. You walked through the door? What was it like going to the group for the first time,
Lisa Haas 27:25
it was terrifying. It was also exciting. And, and I was like, I’m actually going to see lesbians because I assumed that lesbians were gonna, like, I’m gonna, I mean,
K Anderson 27:34
there was no one there. Well, there was.
Lisa Haas 27:38
I was I was on time, I was on time. And there was like one other person there on time sitting sitting in these chairs, folding chairs that were in a circle. So I sat down and kind of smiled, and the person kind of smiled, and we sat there and waited, and the two moderators came in, and I don’t remember their names, but they were they were very nice. And they waited. And finally, the room filled up, filled up as in like, eight people showed up. That’s a good number. That’s a good number. And the moderators were very nice. And they had a sense of humour. And, but and I’d never been to a support group. So I didn’t quite know how it went. And so, which was you start out by everybody goes around the room and says how they are, you know, and so everybody was going around the room and like, Hi, I’m Mary. And, well, I had a rough week and somebody else’s, you know, I was like, Hi, I’m Lisa. And my week, it was okay. You know, and then so on, right. And then the support group went on, and nobody said anything about being a lesbian. And I was, again, another blow another blow, right? And I was like, God, and so I went back another week, same thing. Everybody went around, how was your week? And and then I went back a third time. So when it got to me, I said, Well, you know, my week was fine, but I wasn’t really here to talk about my week, I was hoping we would talk about lesbians. And it kind of broke the ice for that particular group, you know, for that particular and everybody’s like, Oh, yeah, yeah. And then people like, like, then started talking about their experiences as lesbians.
K Anderson 29:10
But so it was pitched as a coming out group
Lisa Haas 29:13
was, and it was this group that had existed for a long time. So I was a newbie, so I think they they’d gone through cycles of what they were talking about. And they were you know, when I joined them they happen to be going through a cycle of of people were having really terrible jobs. So they were talking about their jobs. And and also the group of women were so incredibly depressed looking like everybody was so depressed and you know, be probably because of their job because of being a lesbian because they maybe had depression as well, but it was like this very depressed group of people.
K Anderson 29:49
Oh, yeah. You came back week after week. And I came back after week
Lisa Haas 29:52
but well, I got him talking about being lesbian so that’s so when I came back the that summer like the rest of the summer, we talked about lesbians. And finally. And finally, towards the end of the summer, the two moderators said, Hey, after this meeting, why don’t we all go to the gay bar down the street? And I was like a bar down the street. I didn’t know there was a gay bar down the street. And everybody was like, okay, yeah, you know, because I think most, if not all, the people had not been to a gay bar. And they were like, and I’m glad the moderator said this, let’s just go and like, and have a drink and just see what it’s like. And they knew that people were afraid to walk into a gay bar. So I, you know, I appreciate that. So we did, we all went, gotten our cars and drove like two blocks down the street to park in this other parking lot, to go in the back door of and I don’t remember the name of it, but it was like a Western gay bar. And the moderators were very, very funny. They go, and then when you come through the door, we’re going to announce you, like, daughter of they were, they were joking. They didn’t. But they, you know, it’s like, here you are, and now the world will know that. And so so we were in a gay bar and stood around a pool table.
K Anderson 31:12
What? What did you explore in that group?
Lisa Haas 31:15
I think the things I talked about was that, that I was afraid, like I was afraid of, you know, what my parents would do you know, when they disowned me, like, I didn’t feel safe, like it didn’t feel like a safe thing to do. Because just, you know, all the messages that I got, you know, from really the world. And, you know, my family was that, you know, homosexuals again, were deviants. who molested children. You know, nobody likes that. Right? Nobody likes a child molester. Right. So like, yeah, so that’s, I think, mostly what I talked about, and I think I didn’t talk as much as listen to what other people had to say, who had been coming to the support group for much longer than than I had. And there were actually two women. I think on that second summer, there were two women who were a couple who moved from Texas to Denver, and they were both teachers, like they were public school teachers. And I think they must have been in their 30s, or their 40s. And they came and they they were like, we can’t at all be out in Texas. And they were like, We cannot be out at our jobs, you know, but we want it to come to Denver, because we know there that we heard that it’s a better and they were happy that they were there. And one time when I said something about being afraid. The one woman in it really I’ll never forget it. She just said you know what, there’s nothing wrong with you, and you’re gonna be all right. And I really appreciated her saying, like, that’s what I needed a parent to say to me. But I really appreciate it that she said that, do you know?
K Anderson 32:50
And that’s just stuck with you ever since? Yeah, yeah.
Lisa Haas 32:54
I really appreciate that. That woman. You know, verbalise that, you know, there’s nothing wrong with anybody in the room, and we would all we would all be okay. I hope everybody else is okay. I mean, I’m okay. But and I hope that was true for everybody else.
K Anderson 33:10
And they’re not still in their miserable jobs.
Lisa Haas 33:13
Right. Uh, yeah. That’s what I was thinking to is. I hope they have new jobs.
K Anderson 33:18
And so did you come out to your parents?
Lisa Haas 33:21
So I, yes, my dad actually passed away. So I never came out to him. But I moved to New York City in the night teen like 1995 96. Well, and I should back up and say my sister, my sister, suspected I was a lesbian. And like, before I moved to New York City, I was packing up some stuff and going through some things, and she was talking to me, and she’s like, you know, is there anything you want to tell me? Because you better tell me now. And I and I was like, my sister’s very, very aggressive. And she’s, and you better tell me now. And I was like, I was like, Oh, no thing. And she’s like, Are you sure? Because you better tell me now. And then she was like, Let’s go shopping. And I’ll buy you some shirts before you move. And so we went to the mall. And we walked in this one department store. My sister was like, Would you would you like a plaid shirt? And I was like, well, well, no. And she’s like, look, let’s go into the men’s department.
K Anderson 34:25
What about some dungarees?
Lisa Haas 34:27
I know, right? No. And she’s like, look at the plaid shirt. Don’t you like this? I’ll buy this for you. And I was like, Well, no, I’m okay. And then we go on to we ended up so we ended up in the gap. And my sister was like at the sells rack all the way across the room. It was sort of a big storm. She was screaming look at this plaid shirt. I found Lisa. Don’t you like it? Don’t you want to try it on like screaming across this hole? Do you know the store? And I thought I was gonna die. I thought I was gonna die. And then so anyway, we had some clothes and we went into a dressing room and I, the whole time I was there, I thought, Okay, this is the time for me to tell Julie, this is the time for me to tell. Well, by the way, I am a lesbian, you know, and I didn’t. I didn’t tell her and I really missed an opportunity to tell her. Right, because that like, she was like, You better told me now I should have told her now. But I missed that opportunity. But so
K Anderson 35:23
but isn’t that the most annoying thing? Yes. Isn’t that the most annoying thing when people are like, Oh, is there something you want to tell me? Like? Why can’t they just like, actually say what they think it is that you want to tell them? So then it makes it easier to do? So all you have to say is yes or no rather than actually say the word lesbian? Because that’s,
Lisa Haas 35:45
I know. That is a big step. That is a big step to say that if I’m going to
K Anderson 35:51
spend 10 minutes going, Are you sure? Are you sure? Rather than just big like, this is what I think you want to know.
Lisa Haas 35:58
Right? Right. Right. And are you sure? Are you in kind of angry, violent manner? Very angry manner.
K Anderson 36:07
I love it. I love thinking about you going through the mall with your sister and her being like, Oh, do you want a pool table? Oh, hey, do you want these Doc Martens?
Lisa Haas 36:16
I know, I know, it was it was mortifying, it was more defined. And so in my sister who I love, right, and who’s a huge supporter of me, right? I mean, instead of like her version of taking somebody out for coffee or something and sitting down in a cafe and having a little heart to heart, her version of that was taking me to the mall and screaming look at this plaid shirt. Don’t you like it? Well, I
K Anderson 36:41
mean, she definitely got her message across.
Lisa Haas 36:44
She did. She did. And I was also a little mortified, too. I was like, wow, is she getting this message across to every single person in the gap?
K Anderson 36:56
Do you think everyone in the gap would have made the same assumption?
Lisa Haas 37:00
I probably not, you know, but I it was like one of those moments where you felt like the spotlight was on you. And you were like, I felt like the spotlight was on me. And I was like, caught?
K Anderson 37:10
Everyone must know. Yeah. And but so then you didn’t come out. You move to New York?
Lisa Haas 37:16
Oh, yeah. So I moved to New York. And I was just like, oh my god, I bet New York City’s crawling with lesbians. And it was it was crawling with lesbians. You know. So that was that was exciting. I was like, Finally, good. Let’s be here who say I’m a lesbian, you know. And in the, the support groups were more exciting. And in the other things, other groups and stuff like that to be a part of it. In this by this time. All my friends. Oh, here in New York City, I did come out to them. In fact, the my first friend I came out to I was actually staying with her one, right before I moved here. And her name’s Lisa, too. And I was like lease I have. There’s something I have to tell you. And she was like, Oh, great. She was just crazy. Because is it something we should also tell your mom? And I was like, and I was like, no, maybe you know, no. And she was like, well, let’s put the phone right here. And if we just we decide together, we want to call your mom like she was trying to help me come out to my mom, God lover. And so I told her and she’s like, Oh, she’s like, okay, she’s like, now we have to celebrate and go to a lesbian bar. And her roommate came home. And she’s like, guess what? Lisa’s a lesbian and like, the other roommate was like, Oh, wow, that’s sexy. You know? And so it was like, it’s like, wow, they think it’s sexy. I’m a lesbian, then we have to go to a lesbian bar. And so we decided they’re like, you find the lesbian bar, and we’ll take you there next Saturday night. And so I went to the centre. And there was always this one particular lesbian who worked at the quote unquote, front desk. And I had asked her several questions in the past and she, every time I would ask her a question, like, where are there some lesbian bars or what? You know, she would like roll her eyes, like another person asking where the lesbian bar is. And I didn’t even want to ask her because I was just like, because I have to face the eye rolling in the sign in the gasping but I did. She told me about a bar named Henrietta Hudson’s that does exist. Yeah, and I saw I told my friends, this is where we’re gonna go. And on that Saturday afternoon, my friend my two friends started, like, getting ready. I was like, What are they doing? And they were like, they put on dance music and they, they were fixing their hair, and putting on makeup and then laying clothes out on the bed. And I was like, wow, what are they they’re getting ready. Like this was a whole thing. Like they were getting dressed up to kill to go out to the spar. And I was like, Hey, you guys, does this t shirt look okay? And they were like, no, no, you have to wear something That will get you laid. I was like, Okay. And it was just it was really awful because they had me trying their clothes which didn’t fit because they were both really tall and thin. And I’m not I’m short and fat, right but so I didn’t fit in any of their clothes. And all I had was like some dumpy dress clothes for temporary jobs being like a temporary secretary, and you had to have dress clothes. And I had this kind of a cool thing. I don’t even know why I had it. But I bought it at a maternity store. It was and I bought it because the lady said it was versatile, like put a sweater on it and it would look like an entirely different outfit with a sweater. Anyway, so do cool lots and they somebody gave me the black tights and then I had these tie shoes on. It was just really put makeup on. They put makeup on me I don’t wear it. I don’t wear makeup, but they did it with the best intentions. I don’t you know, they, but I was just like, I’m like feel like a freak, but I don’t care. We’re going to a lesbian bar. And we go to the bar and my, we get drinks and we get a table. And then my two friends say they were like, Oh, we want to dance. We watch our purses. And I was like, of course and they get up in the end like so for two hours, they danced together. And we’re flirting with each other and other women on the dance floor. And I sat there alone with my diet coke. And their two, whatever their two drinks were like holding purses and coats.
K Anderson 41:32
Whatever it was, you’re coming out and they went down and left you learn.
Lisa Haas 41:36
They did they did God love them. God, they had the best time ever. They had the best time ever and and before we went to the bar, they wanted us to all go to peep show. And I was like Okay, great. And then we we went to go to a peep show. And they wouldn’t let us in because they wouldn’t let single women without a male escort into the peep show. I don’t know why I don’t know if they thought they were gonna try to try to solicit customers or whatever. And so and then we just moved on to the to the bar, but they they tried to show me a good time.
K Anderson 42:09
So if we could circle back then yeah, and go picture ourselves in the Denny’s. Yeah, with Sherif lamb. After that first night at three sisters. Yes. What was the what was the feeling? Well,
Lisa Haas 42:23
the feeling then was elation. Felt like seen. I’ve got to have a conversation with her that I never got to have with anybody. Like she had been dating women. And she was telling me about and then I went on a date with this woman and like all these things that that I wanted to do, you know, but that wasn’t available to me. But she Wow, Portland, right? She made the right choice when she moved there. But she had we just talked about like, women and women she was dating and what? Yes. So the feeling was I was completely elated. I felt like myself. I you know, it’s like this, you know, it felt like a very hopeful it felt really hopeful. It didn’t I didn’t feel perverse, right? Because I also knew that she was not a child molester. Do you know what I mean? That she wasn’t this perverted child. And here I am sitting with this really cool and wonderful person who’s also who’s also a lesbian and yeah,
K Anderson 43:29
so if you were to go back in time, and you had an opportunity to talk to Lisa just as that lightning bolt hit her when she saw that kid being called a fag, and she realised Oh, that’s cool that that resonates with me. What advice would you give her
Lisa Haas 43:49
I would say don’t waste your energy on feeling like a pervert. And and I would say you can totally get away with finding out about being gay without anyone knowing it as long as you’re you know when you’re in the danger zone like you can get away with it and not have to worry about it and not have to worry about it until like it’s it is safe to quote unquote come out don’t wait you know you’re not a pervert. Don’t worry about it. Clearly everybody else or you know, clearly their their their perception about it is really distorted and get as much information as you can. You could totally sneak around you can totally get find these places. You can smooth it down.
K Anderson 44:32
Don’t worry about creasing the spine of that encyclopaedia, just do it.
Lisa Haas 44:36
Just go ahead, just do it.
K Anderson 44:40
Do you have any memories of three sisters or clubbing from your own cuisine that you want to share? Well, if you do, please get in touch. I want to hear all about it and help create the biggest online record of people’s memories and stories from queer clubbing, go to law spaces podcast.com and find the section share a lost space and tell me all about what you got up to. You can also find me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as last spaces pod. Check out Lisa’s podcast in heat a lesbian comedy wherever you stream podcasts and make sure to follow her on Instagram. Lisa Hass actor, all of this will be in the show notes. Don’t worry, I’ve got to LA spaces is not only a podcast, but a concept record as well. I have 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 is also playing underneath my talking right this very second on all good streaming platforms. If you enjoyed this episode, I would really appreciate if you subscribed, left a review on your podcast platform or just told people who you think might be interested in giving it a little listen to I am K Anderson and you have been listening to lost spaces