by Ken Stowe
Something alarming happened to me recently after a couple of years hanging out in the Wasatch Front. I was born and raised in the area and moved away for about 20 years to pursue fame and fortune. Fame never happened and fortune came and went. At the risk of making myself seem ancient I want to share the experience. The alarming event happened to be not as a visitor that sees home as a temporary inconvenience created by a holiday or reunion that some try to avoid, but as a returned prodigal son. Not a round trip this time. After being gone for so long my perspective of this place has come full circle.
Once I got settled in and recognized more and more familiar places, I began to wonder about all of the people that were conjured up from digs, hang-outs and past relationships. I was confronted with the good and bad times that are essentially the foundations of who I am today. The glimpses of years ago seemingly don’t come and go so quickly. Fortunately for memories sake, the decades I spent along the Wasatch Front, and the fact that change occurs at a glacial pace, some my of haunts were mostly left unchanged. The most obvious source to catch up on things was the place I cut my young, gay teeth on: The Sun (and then The Trapp … and now The Sun Trapp). In terms of worshiping and tithing, it was my church.
Unfortunately, I have lost a lot of friends from AIDS and other untimely deaths, and the usual accidents or natural causes that we have all experienced. I’ve lost a few friends and family members from some shoot-outs too, but that’s another story. The unsettling thing (yes, I’m getting there) is the number of people I should now be finding that were a big part of my life. A few close friends I have kept in touch with while living in Chicago and Dallas, but others not so much.
Because the clubs and bars are just not the places they used to be (taken out by tornadoes, fires or hostile takeovers), visiting them has left me feeling empty and sad, mostly because they have changed, but also because the faces I’ve been looking for aren’t there. So I turned to social media and the Internet. I assumed most people, straight and otherwise, could be found using the big Web. I was wrong. There are dozens and dozens of people with whom I would like to reconnect but just cannot be found. There are hundreds of sources and I’m pretty good at researching just about anything that is elusive.
Out of frustration I visited a few cemeteries, the very real and permanent resting places of some people that were really important to me. It made me feel better. What I can’t find are people that have moved or possibly passed away over the years. Either way there should be Facebook, Instagram or Linked-In pages or some kind of digital footprint or a breadcrumb from a news article. I guess I learned a valuable lesson – don’t yet count on technology to keep people in your lives. In the meantime I’ll keep looking for headstones.