Sunday, April 12, 2009

Raymond and Russell

Brad and I have some good friends in Fresno, California, Ed and Jay, that we see fairly regularly either on one of their frequents trips to San Francisco for a weekend in the city, or when we drive down there for a quick weekend away.

Brad met Jay and Ed while he was an undergraduate at Fresno State University at one of the local gay bars and he had lost touch with them for many years until a few years back when Jay called out of the blue to reconnect.  I've enjoyed getting to know them both since they're successful and chic, but very down- to- earth and fun.

About a year ago, on one of their outings to San Francisco, they brought along some friends (in a big van!) to help enjoy the long weekend.  That particular group included two amazing fellows, Raymond and Russell, a gay couple in their 80's who have been together almost 30 years now.  We had a wonderful dinner with our big group in San Francisco and I was frankly amazed at Raymond and Russell's energy and enthusiasm as we moved from dinner to after dinner cocktails at one of the Castro's hippest spots, Lime, and at midnight, Raymond couldn't stop moving to the thundering house music!  All that evening, they told us fascinating stories about their lives as gay men, before they were together, how they met, and the almost 30 years since that day.  I sat there just in awe of their candor and the incredible history of gays in America through their personal experiences.

Here's a few nuggets that Jay and I pieced together from their stories.

Eighty four year old Raymond came out at a fairly young age and he recalls that his mother believed that homosexuality was an illness that could be cured with penicillin.  He was one of the few "out" people in Fresno as a young adult, and he worked as a hairdresser.  He's only had three "long term" relationships in his life, but there was a time when he was quite "busy" sexually, according to his own stories, especially before AIDS.

Russell, now 87, never came out to his family.  He was in the military for a while and then became an attache for the US Government in Thailand before returning to Los Angeles where he worked for the city of LA before he retired.

Raymond and Russell met in a bar they affectionately dubbed "The Wrinkle Room" in Santa Monica in the early 80's and it was love at first sight.  They've been together ever since.

A few weekends ago, we went back to Fresno for a visit, and I was determined to captured some of their sparkle on some video.  Ed and Jay hosted a dinner for us and invited Rick and David and Raymond and Russell over and we spent the evening having cosmos and encouraging R & R to tell us some stories.

Here's one of the favorites on how they met.  Raymond is one on the left (farthest away) and Russell is on the right.  Russell begins the story.  Enjoy!!

1 comment:

RambleRedhead said...

Such an amazing couple! I would love to talk with them for my show! It would be so great!