When I was just dipping my toe into gay life as a senior in college in New Orleans, there was a man who frequented the triumvirate of the most popular gay bars in the French Quarter. He was inevitably fall-down drunk, often inappropriately flirtatious to an embarrassing degree, and clearly too old and feeble to be anywhere but somewhere warm, having a nice nap and an early bird dinner.
We called him ‘Fighting the Stroke.’ He was a talisman, a cautionary tale. At 22 and on (as he remained a fixture on the scene for many years after I graduated and would see him during my many visits to New Orleans in my 20s), he represented to me exactly what I did not want to become. Some sad old desperate queen trolling gay bars, ignorant of how depressing I looked.