Over the coming weeks, I frequented Patchs and it became my regular haunt. I noticed the same regular crowd on the dance floor each week and somehow it felt like family. I soon became part of a culture that started early in the evening at the pubs like the Albury, The Exchange or the Flinders Hotel amongst others, and then made their way to continue partying in the clubs to the wee hours of the morning…

I was beginning to wonder if my parents noticed any changes with me of late as I sat with them for lunch. If they did, they certainly didn’t let on, even though I had mentioned that I had been going out a lot lately and the occasional trip to Sydney for the weekend. They were happy that I was enjoying what it was I was doing and never questioned it. Even if they asked, I couldn’t tell them exactly where or what I visited and what I was doing or even come out to them as gay. I knew deep down they wouldn’t understand or accept it. So, I kept that part of my life secret, another act to play out…

For the first time in my life, it felt truly amazing that I had come to a point where everything appeared to be coming together in that I was searching for. There were so many experiences and emotional needs and wants being explored that my boxes were being ticked off and more. Sometimes life takes you on a strange turn and journey and things just pop up when they should for whatever reason, and more so when you least expect them. This somehow certainly felt like one of those moments in my life and I was more than overjoyed in grabbing hold and going along for the ride and experience…

In the early summer of 1989, there was again a noticeable difference in the once vibrant community in Oxford Street. It appeared to be thinning out compared to the previous summer. I still took the occasional night out and it didn’t bother me in the slightest to include Matt or not. I too had secrets in what I was doing which would never be revealed. Nor would I divulge them to any of my work colleagues and my family as they would certainly be repulsed with my chosen lifestyle and what I did and got up to on the weekends in Sydney…

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 People’s attitudes towards the gay community from outside was disturbing as the AIDS infection rates climbed and spread out. Noticeably some of the regulars and other people began disappearing from the clubs and pubs. The whole hysteria frightened me as there was an alarming momentum for gay hate crimes that ran rampant throughout Sydney. I read in the papers of bashings and disappearances along with other gay hate crimes that were on the rise. I even witnessed the abuses and hurled objects being thrown out from moving cars as people drove up through Oxford Street late at night. I saw some drag queen pick up the thrown objects and hurl them back at the cars as they sped off. While the community fell apart in one arena, another was being supported along making for a stimulating environment…

Everything was a disturbing mess and with all that turmoil, my weekend clubbing nights waned and so too did my relationship with Matt. I continued to be a little reckless in my adventures, but I never steered away from the venues that lined up Oxford Street by going to other pubs and clubs in surrounding areas.

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