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Author Topic: We're heading to a party tonight !....  (Read 768 times)

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Offline J.R.E.

  • Member
  • Posts: 7,099
  • Joined Dec-2003 Living positive, since 1985.
We're heading to a party tonight !....
« on: April 23, 2011, 04:18:15 PM »

There's a small bar in Downtown Clearwater, Fl,  that Ed and I have been going to for over 30 years. Ed and I met here, just about 31 years ago, this coming July, and we've never missed an anniversary.  Well,  Maybe a couple through the years.

Tonight, the Pro Shop pub is celebrating their 35 Anniversary.  The St. Petersburg times had a very nice write up about it, in this mornings newspaper.  Quite a good article:

http://www.tampabay.com/news/humaninterest/pro-shop-pub-a-fixture-of-the-gay-community-to-toast-35-years/1165520



Pro Shop Pub, a fixture of the gay community, to toast 35 years

By Drew Harwell, Times Staff Writer
In Print: Saturday, April 23, 2011

   


CLEARWATER One of downtown's oldest businesses is a smoky, nondescript gay bar named the Pro Shop Pub.

Drive too fast on Cleveland Street, east of Myrtle Avenue, and you'll miss it a garnet outpost, brick and glass block, with only "Pro Shop" in neon lights.

That's by design. The pub's obscurity was a defense mechanism. Decades ago, men who went there braved violent, bigoted attacks. The pub served as a sanctuary.

But it was also something else. Birthed in the disco days of 1976, the pub served as a meeting place. It became one of the few places where its patrons could be themselves.

Today, the bar's gay and straight clientele will gather to toast the pub's 35th year. Dancers and DJs and a small sorority of drag queens will lead the festivities. Bar manager Steven Pearson sent out 300 invitations on the labels of eight-track tapes.

They owe that celebration to the humble beginnings of a small, straight Michigan family a golf lover, his college-age sister and their mother, a spiritual Catholic.



Julius, a tavern in New York City's West Village, is believed to be America's oldest gay bar. In 1966, activists there declared a "sip-in," protesting state crackdowns on homosexuals in bars. Three years later, riots at another gay bar, the Stonewall Inn, sparked the modern gay rights movement.

The Pro Shop Pub's history is much less revolutionary. In the '50s, the building held Wings Restaurant, a glass-fronted diner serving the "South's finest ice cream." In the hippie '60s, it became the Confucius Tea Garden. In the '70s, it was a sandwich shop named Kountry Kitchen.

Each business left after a few years until, in 1976, a young mustachioed man named Mike Anderson decided to use the building for his first pub. His family had fled the winters of Flint, Mich., six years earlier, and he and his sister, Patti, took classes at Florida State University. His mother, Gail, recruited Patti to help start the family business.

Mike Anderson had dreamed of running a country club before deciding the job would impede his game, he told the Clearwater Sun. Instead, he settled for the next best thing: a small parlor and eatery, a kind of golfers' lounge. It had a deli with hamburgers, hoagies and coleslaw, a football room with a 3-by-5-foot color television, and plans for a pool table and a golf-club repair shop. On the bar, to cement the sports theme, he decoupaged cutouts of star quarterbacks.

But the pub was a dud. Few diners ate at the deli. The lounge was barren. It didn't help that the closest golf course, Clearwater Country Club, was a mile away.

A year later, the Andersons hired a woman named Nancy O'Neill to tend bar. Unbeknownst to them, O'Neill was a lesbian, and she invited her friends in the gay community over for drinks. Word spread. A gay bar was born.

The Andersons were taken aback, Mike chief among them, Patti Anderson Lux said. But after nights of standing-room-only crowds, the family grew more accepting. Though she was Catholic, Gail Anderson became especially "protective of the gay community," Anderson Lux said. "In her opinion, God loved everybody."

Not everyone was so welcoming. Visitors faced "gay-bashing" in the parking lots, she said. Gail's car was keyed. The Andersons kept the bar modest, swapping windows for hazy glass blocks. Advertising was solely through word of mouth.

The pub was endangered early on. One Monday afternoon in 1980, a drunk man named Donald Casey punched a woman who rejected him. O'Neill grabbed a pool cue and ordered him to leave, the Times reported.

Casey returned with gasoline, setting wood paneling ablaze. Patrons doused the flames with water-filled beer pitchers. Casey sent apologetic letters to the bar from a mental hospital, asking to be electrocuted or sent to a communist country, according to the Clearwater Sun. He was later sentenced to 15 years in prison.

But the pub's days of controversy were far from over. In 2001, after ordering from Pizza Hut, some patrons saw that the delivery slip showed a code name for the pub: "some fag." The pizzeria chain apologized and offered free food, Pearson said. The bar has yet to call it in.

Years earlier, a church group waged a letter campaign against the pub after claiming that a rusty pipe bracket on its roof looked phallic and obscene. Pearson said the pub staff had never looked at it that way.

The furor died down. The pipe still stands.



In the late '80s, Christopher Binns visited his first gay bar.

At 21, he was no stranger to drinking halls. He had often played the part of a straight man, hiding that he was gay. Finally, he decided it was time to try something different. He and a friend from Dunedin High School went one night to the Pro Shop Pub.

"It scared the bejesus out of me," Binns said. "Heart thumping, everything like that. You open the door, it's like, oh my God, oh my God, oh my God."

But what he found was anticlimactic, he said the crowd was just like he was. Patrons were friendly. They made him feel comfortable, "not like some kind of freak." Over years of Bud Lights and shots of Jagermeister at the bar, Binns made some of his closest friends. Five years ago, he was hired as a bartender.

"If you've never been to the Pro Shop, you can't officially be gay," Binns said. "It's a rite of passage."

Binns helped decorate the pub this week for its anniversary, hanging white and yellow petal paper. Today, the pub will put up tents and balloons.

Anderson Lux, who still owns the pub, will be there. After years as a teacher at UPARC and a manager at Neighborly Senior Services, she left to oversee the pub full time. Mike Anderson left years ago, opening bars in St. Petersburg before buying a farm for race horses in Brooksville.

The last of the founders, Gail, won't be in attendance. She died 10 years ago, right around the pub's silver anniversary.

Soon afterward, the pub began flying a rainbow flag.




Current Meds ; Viramune, Epzicom, 40mg of simvastatin, 12.5mg of Hydrochlorothiazide.
Metoprolol tartrate 25mg



http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=40802.0

http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=45159.0

http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=39722.msg495621;topicseen#msg495621

http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=46806.0

http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=39414.msg491701#msg491701


 In October of 2003, My t-cell count was 16, Viral load was over 500,000, Percentage at that time was 5%. I started my first  HAART regimen  on October 24th,03.

 As of 6/4/14,  t-cells are at 423, Viral load <40

 Current % is at 13% 

  
 62 years young.

Offline tednlou2

  • Member
  • Posts: 4,763
Re: We're heading to a party tonight !....
« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2011, 01:56:28 AM »
Smoky?  They still allow smoking down there?  Even here in tobacco country, all the gays have to shiver out in the cold.  Anyway, found the article interesting.  I'll have to check that place out sometime.

Offline J.R.E.

  • Member
  • Posts: 7,099
  • Joined Dec-2003 Living positive, since 1985.
Re: We're heading to a party tonight !....
« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2011, 06:12:35 PM »
Smoky?  They still allow smoking down there? 

Oh yes, smoking is still allowed.  I am not sure of the exact law, but if food is served, and is at least 40% of your revenue, smoking is not allowed.  Otherwise, if food is not served smoking is allowed.  And it can get smoky at times, which is one reason, we don't go down there a lot.

They keep their smoke eating machines buzzin though.

If your ever down this way Ted, private message me, and I will show you our little smoky, hole in the wall bar.  :)     There's a few other bars around also...





Ray
Current Meds ; Viramune, Epzicom, 40mg of simvastatin, 12.5mg of Hydrochlorothiazide.
Metoprolol tartrate 25mg



http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=40802.0

http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=45159.0

http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=39722.msg495621;topicseen#msg495621

http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=46806.0

http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=39414.msg491701#msg491701


 In October of 2003, My t-cell count was 16, Viral load was over 500,000, Percentage at that time was 5%. I started my first  HAART regimen  on October 24th,03.

 As of 6/4/14,  t-cells are at 423, Viral load <40

 Current % is at 13% 

  
 62 years young.

Offline weasel

  • Member
  • Posts: 1,638
Re: We're heading to a party tonight !....
« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2011, 06:27:57 PM »


       Sounds like a great place to spend Easter night or any night  :)

              Hope you guys  have fun !

                                                      Carl
" Live and let Live "

Offline J.R.E.

  • Member
  • Posts: 7,099
  • Joined Dec-2003 Living positive, since 1985.
Re: We're heading to a party tonight !....
« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2011, 06:40:09 PM »

       Sounds like a great place to spend Easter night or any night  :)

              Hope you guys  have fun !

                                                      Carl

Hi Carl,

We had a great time.  We only get down to this bar once a week, anymore.  Usually it's on Saturday afternoon.  So last night was great, got to catch up with some people we haven't seen in a while.  8)
Current Meds ; Viramune, Epzicom, 40mg of simvastatin, 12.5mg of Hydrochlorothiazide.
Metoprolol tartrate 25mg



http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=40802.0

http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=45159.0

http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=39722.msg495621;topicseen#msg495621

http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=46806.0

http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=39414.msg491701#msg491701


 In October of 2003, My t-cell count was 16, Viral load was over 500,000, Percentage at that time was 5%. I started my first  HAART regimen  on October 24th,03.

 As of 6/4/14,  t-cells are at 423, Viral load <40

 Current % is at 13% 

  
 62 years young.

 


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