Naming a Gay Commentary
Business is Not an Easy Feat
Jan. 6,1984 / The Star 5
By Peter Harrison
If you want to open a business, better
think up a name right now. One of my
oldest, dearest and beet-hung friends
recently went through the trauma of going
to the county clerk's office to register a
name for his new plant store: he thought
"The Green Queen" was a good one. But,
no! Someone else somewhere else in the
state had beat him to it.
I tried to soothe him with a combination
of warm caresses and cold gin. I even suggested a better name, I thought: "Sod 'Em
and Grow More Rye." But he went into
terminal wilt until he came up with "How
Does Your Basket Hang?" and ran off to
the courthouse to try that one.
I'm beginning to think that I should
open a business of my own, a kind of advisory service for people like him who need
names for new enterprises. After eating at
a couple of new gay restaurants, I'vecome
((": I'^s f% S]
4 1 1,
to the conclusion that more time was spent
planning what to call those places than on
any questions of food preparation or
decor. "A Quiche Before Dining" did offer
quiche as an appetizer, a bouncy little item
that prophesized the latex-derivative
steak to come.
"Tomorrow's Manicotti" had papered
the walls with old physique magazines,
it's true, but the pasta tasted more like
yesterday's. Raw fish has never appealed
to me, so I can't honestly comment on
"Name That Tuna" and "If You Knew
Obviously, the gay community puts
great store in originality. Others don't
seem to care quite so much. In both New
York and San Francisco, there are "Old
Original Joe's" and I believe that there's
even an "Old Original Joe's Number Two"
in one or the other.
Having lots of money seems to work
against catchy names, too. You won't find
service stations called "Don't Pass Our
Gas" or "The Lube Your Joint Joint."
Movie moguls are very happy with
"Superman III" and "Rocky Infinity."
Hilton and Sheraton just keep on throwing up "Hilton Hamtramcks" and "Sheraton Sheboygans."
But our people suffer from what I call
the Rumplestilskin Syndrome. You gotta
have a name or the magic's not there. Let
me tell you the true story of two men who
went to Russian River, fell in love with the
place and decided to open a gay guest
After tramping around (and I emphasize tramping) for three days, they consulted a real-estate office and found a
charming old building with ponds, trees,
ducks and flowers. It was going cheap,
because it was near a railroad siding
where two abandoned cabooses were baking in the sun. No one wanted them, and
prospective buyers considered them an
Our heroes, truly creative sorts, realized
that the cabooses could be easily lifted off
the tracks onto the property and made into
charming (a key word in gay business)
little (another key word here) weekend
hideaways (that's called a literary hat
trick—three key words in one phrase).
They checked with the railroad—sure
enough, cabooses went more cheaply than
new construction. Zoning was right. There
was adequate water, sewage and a ready-
So they sat back and started planning.
There would be little Roger & Gaillet
soaps, big bath towels and complimentary
shampoo. They started making lists of
things to check: is KY available in tin}
little tubes? Can you grow watercress in a
And, they considered the name. "Take
The A Train," "Loose Caboose" and
"Orange Blossom Special" were all discarded. "The Right Track" and "Club
Car" just seemed to prove that the railroad
motif wasn't the way to go. "Wanderlust"
and "Loose Ends" killed a travel theme.
Meanwhile, interest rates crept to 12 percent.
"Yo' Mama's," as in "Where are you
staying?" "Yo' Mama's!" nearly caused
an argument. "Mother Ducks" was offered
rapturously by one of the partners and
received coolly by the other. Interest went
to 13 percent.
To cut a long story short, by the time
they arrived at a name—"Boys R Us"—
mortgage rates had gone through the ceiling. Instead of realizing their dreams of
welcoming hunks to their soignee orgy
parlor, they found themselves overwhelmed with mountains of brochures for
kitchen implements, souvenir matches
and lawn furniture. Instead of happily
sharing their work as well as leisure time,
they found themselves with a severely
strained relationship. ("If we'd called it
'Gandy Dancers' like I wanted, we'd be
operating now." "If we'd named it that,
we'd be out of business now.")
All of this could have been avoided if I
were in business, offering help to those
who need it. A quick consultation with
Peter Harrison, and you'd be off in a flame
with a name. Vital with a title. All systems
a-go-go with a logo.
A gay video arcade? "Shirley Booths."
Gay farm chemicals? "Weed 'Em and
Reap." Gay storage system? "Closet
Cases." Dry cleaners? "Pressing Concerns." Footwear? "The Shoe Must Go
See how easy I could make it for you? If
you're interested, keep watching this
column, and I'll let you know how to get in
touch. I'll be open for business—as soon as
I can think of a name.
Harrison lives in New Jersey. His column
appears here and in other gay publications. I lffH3 Stonewall Features Syndicate.
Glenn No Longer the 'Right
Stuff for the Gay Community
continued from page 1
especially important to lesbians and gay
men, including immigration, AIDS, violence, social service delivery and discrimination against gays and lesbians in the
military. The group also challenged
Glenn's contention, made earlier in the
day, that lesbians and gay men were unfit
to work as "teachers or YMCA directors."
While the dialogue was cordial, the Ohio
senator continually focused on the idea of
sexual orientation as a choice rather than
a pre-existing condition like race or
"The Senator acknowledged the existence of discrimination," Apuzzo noted,
"but was unwilling to support any remedy
for that discrimination. This intransigence is unacceptable."
Vogel added, "He offered no new departures from his previous positions."
Glenn, himself, stressed that he wanted
a "continuing dialogue with the gay and
lesbian community," and conceded that
"this iBsue (gay and lesbian civil rights)
has become an item on the national
Two days later on Dec. 15, Senator
Ohrenstein announced his resignation
from the Glenn campaign because of
Glenn's "refusal to support homosexual
rights legislation ... (which) called into
question his otherwise superb record on
civil and human rights by engaging in a
prolonged debate on lesbian and gay
rights, an issue which has broad-based
support within the Democratic Party."
Former Houston Gay Political Caucus
President Lee Harrington, Association
Vice-Chair for the South Central Region of
the National Association for Lesbian and
Gay Democratic Clubs, issued the following statement:
"While the meeting Glenn requested ...
was a frustrating one for our association's
co-chair, Peter Vogel, and for Senator
Ohrenstein, we are very encouraged by
John Glenn's desire to continue meeting,
as well as by his very sincere desire to
more fully understand the issue of civil
rights for gay citizens. Ohrenstein's resignation may reflect a feeling that he can
better educate the open-minded presidential contender from outside the campaign
structure, rather than from within it.
"It seems to all of us, and I find it to be
the case so often with so many other well-
intentioned persons, that John Glenn's
level of understanding here is directly
related to the lack of exposure he has had
to the people and the issue.
"As you get to know us, the myths about
us, I think, begin to fall away. If Glenn can
learn fast, and he appears to be willing to
try, he'll still have a shot at in excess of 5
million gay votes in 1984."
Harrington also stated that realistically
he does not expect Glenn to progress that
fast, as "he's still in the 'what causes
Harrington felt that his willingness to
talk, however, may be a good example to
other 'middle Americans' in reference to
the gay issue.
Ohrenstein's resignation is significant,
however. As the New York Senate minority leader, he has influence with many key
Also, New York brings to the Democratic National Convention, to be held in
San Francisco in June, the second highest
number of delegates after California.
Walter Mondale, front-runner for the
Democratic Party's nomination for President, has already stated his support for
gay rights legislation "across the board."
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