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What Do You Remember?
Although Running in Bed is mostly fiction, the main character Josh is somewhat autobiographical and I’ve tried to be as accurate as possible with names, locations and businesses mentioned in the narrative. My main motivation in writing Running in Bed was to get the story of my generation told so that others can understand this time in history. I’m not sure what, if anything, will come of it and I assure you your privacy will be fully respected, but if you’d like to join the discussion and share your own memories and stories of that time with others, I welcome your postings. Click here to share your experiences.
I couldn't help but notice much of the same experiences the west coast had during that time. I had moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1977 at 22 years old. The city, the Russian River were alive with wonderful memories. Then at its peek people started to become infected with AIDS related infections. The tent city around city hall housed many of those infected. The Russian River also like Fire Island became a lonely empty place. This was a time those of us still here remember those wonderful experiences in the mid 1970's. We also grieve for the friends and lovers we loved and lost today. It was a time those of us that experienced it will never forget, be it east coast or west coast. I loved the book! I cried because my experience was much like Josh and Tommy's but on the west coast in the San Francisco Bay Area. It really did happen to so many of us that remember those wonderful then horrible years that followed. Thank you Jeffrey for writing this book. John, November 2014, San Francisco
Have just finished reading "Josh and Tommy's story". Could not put it down and think it is an absolutely brilliant recreation and compassionate handling of the early HIV era in NYC and Fire Island. I didn't make it to NYC from Sydney town until 1985, and only walked the shores of Fire Island in the early 1990's when many of my gay friends were already gone to (as we say in Land of OZ) that "great big gay disco bar in the sky", but I still felt the vibes as I wandered through the pathways between Cherry Grove n the Pines on a sunny day. I regularly read gay (and straight) novels now I am retired in Sydney, and our local gay book shop has a good selection of the former. Although I have to admit that many gay novels only have the substance of a "muscle mary or two" on the cover and nothing much in the subsequent pages. Interestingly the copy of "Running in Bed" I purchased had a tanned T shirted guy on the cover and surprisingly great content INSIDE. A truly great "gay", no "life" novel in my view and I hope eventually to read more of Josh as he moves on with his life back in NYC , whilst always being with Tommy, his first love. A great reading experience for me; thanks Jeffrey Sharlach. Bernie, June 2013 Sydney AUSTRALIA
I never got to NYC but the story really touched me. Mostly because I came out in the 80s and many of my friends from that time have passed away. Seldom has a book left me in tears and I just want to thank you for sharing this with those of us who have been there. I was one of the lucky few of my friends who got thru the 80's and remained Neg. I hope the new drugs that have come out will help our community and those afflicted by HIV. Joseph, May 2014
I was born in '48 and I lived in DC '75 to '78. DC was a great place for a gay man to come out in, especially for a southern rube like I am. I made connections with people in New York and would go up there occasionally and, if I could swing it, for an extended week. I helped my friends open up their summer rental at the Pines a week or two before Memorial Day in the spring of 1978. I may have been on the ferry with Josh! I slept on the couch. My most memorable experience was going to a bar where two of my friends owned a share -- in Midtown? -- and seeing Divine in a performance of "Women Behind Bars." We lay on mattresses during the play and later sat a table where we shared a bottle of champagne with Divine. I was speechless. Will, January 2013
Just finished reading "Running in Bed", which I'd read about in an article in a gay magazine here in Toronto. Like others, I devoured this book, and loved how it resonated with me. I didn't live in New York, but I visited during a school trip (in 1981) just prior to my graduation, and escaped from my group of school friends to find Christopher Street, the mecca I had read about after finding a gay magazine in an alleyway, and had dreamed about for years before getting the chance to visit. I had drawn a careful map culled from sleathly trips to the Glad Day Bookstore (at that point in my life (and also being 16) I wouldn`t have dared to buy `The Gay Guide`` back then, so I`d have to look at the page in the book with the map and memorize it.) Those stolen hours, wandering wide-eyed around Christopher street (despite my promise to myself that I would be "cool") .. I will never forget them. In many ways, they confirmed for me that I could be happy, that the boy who was crushing at 12 on male classmates had a place to be. But, I ended up staying in Toronto, because when I graduated from school, I found the Gay Village there. And so, when Jeffrey writes about the emergence of the disease, the back and forth, seeming certainty and then, well, nothing, living in fear....my friends and I lived through it in a very similar way in Toronto, Just wanted to thank you for your novel. I loved it for its steady, direct style of writing that encouraged (no, compelled) the reader to go back and remember that time, and that also (for me) provided a clear, uncluttered mental space for the poignant moments to burst, happiness or sorrow, without being trapped by extraneous words. I`m no book reviewer, and I certainly don`t mean to sound like one, but that`s how your book struck me. And I know it`s going to stay with me for a while. Rob, December 2012, Toronto
In fact, everything was so accurate and close to my own experiences that I find that I am haunted by it all. The pre-Tommy part is so similar to my life. In fact, when I got the courage to go find a guy, I went to Christopher Street, walked into Ty's, and felt so different and turned off by the crowd that I decided that maybe I wasn't really gay. (What a relief!) But then, knowing the truth, I went to a place called Identity House (on 6th around 16th Street) where I met with a counselor who asked me what I was looking for. When I replied, "someone collegiate like me," he suggested I go to Uncle Charlie’s on 38th and 3rd. I went, and I met my first date (and sexual encounter). And, where did I take him on our first date? To 12 West! It was a magical night and the first of many at 12 West, Flamingo, Les Mouches, Crisco Disco, Paradise Garage, The Saint, Studio, Xenon, etc. etc. Oh yeah, I also used to go to Company after work! I worked in advertising too (for a summer). And, I went to the Barefoot Boy as well....for instance, how about....every weekend! Reading all about Fire Island brought back wonderful (and sad) memories. I never went to the Sandpiper, but we used to go to the Copa in the Grove and the Blue Whale (and had blue tongues too). And then, your description of the onset of AIDS in the Village and FIP was exactly the way I remembered it too. Steve, May 2012 New York City
I also have fond memories of Greenwich Village during the 70s and totally enjoyed reliving them when a book-reviewer friend of mine shared an advance copy he had received of the paperback. I think the book does a great job of capturing the atmosphere in the Village at that time. I moved to West 10th Street in 1975 and a block away, Christopher Street was the epicenter of gay life not only for New York but for the U.S. (or at least it seemed that way to us!) I can close my eyes and still remember walking down Christopher from Sixth Avenue with the Oscar Wilde bookstore and Rumbul’s bakery across the street, a precursor to the ubiquitous coffee places that now dot the city. Amazingly enough Boots and Saddles and Ty’s are still there, still in business, and from the looks of things the last time I went in, the same customers! The 1970s were an amazing time to be out and young and gay in New York: gays were the trendsetters, everyone had to show off their gay friends, and then came Studio in the late 70s and we were just the hottest thing around. Everything changed once AIDS came and the book captures that beautifully too. Lots of memories, not all good, but it’s great to see the story told. Edward, June 2012, Washington DC
Like the previous post, I received an advance copy of Running in Bed from a friend in the publishing business. It will be interesting to see what others post once the book gets a wider readership after May. I was at Fire Island Pines for the first-ever Pines Party in 1978 which, like in the book, was called “Beach” is pretty-much portrayed the way I remember it with Franz Joli singing “Come to Me” and Bonnie Pointer arriving by helicopter to take the stage. This was before AIDS and after Stonewall so Fire Island, which I guess always had a reputation for being somewhat wild, was probably at its wildest. Don’t think it was any less regimented however. Tea Dance ended at 7:00 sharp so they could get the place ready to serve dinner and no one dared go out at night before 1:00 AM. I was last on Fire Island several years ago, in the Pines, and it still looked beautiful to me….the dunes, the wooden boardwalks, and the houses, most larger and more elegant now, but still a peaceful, special place. Check out the Fire Island Pines Historical Society on Facebook if you haven’t before. Joe, June 2012, Leonia, New Jersey
My story is a bit unusual but I KNOW what the feeling/vibe was like back in the early 80's regarding HIV/AIDS. I was a 23 year old flight attendant based out of Houston, Texas. I chose to live in Montrose...Montrose is to Houston as towhat Castro is to San Fransicso. My life was brilliant. Surrounded by gay men that ADORED me...I was their little darling and was spoiled rotten. Never have I felt unconditional love like that...sex didn't get in the way of friendships/love. They made me feel beautiful, smart and special for just being me. My friends were gorgeous, successful, vibrant men..living their lives out loud and very proud of it. The first friend was Tommy. He was a waiter at a very exclusive restaurant...I worked there while on furlough from the airlines...a good friend owned it. I remember it was Thanksgiving 1983 and Tommy said he was "sick and tired of being sick and tired" He was losing weight, couldn't get better...it was just after Christmas that he died...and so it began. So many of my friends started to get sick, rumors were infesting our community...the most outrageous was that the disease was being carried by pigeons...I saw a dead pigeon on the sidewalk and freaked out...I am still terrified of dead birds to this day..the fear was insane...no one outside of Montrose seemed to know what was going on, and at the time...didn't seem to care. My flight attendant friends started getting sick and dying...Pilots were refusing meals served by gay flight attendants...I remember grabbing boarding passes in LA and a young man with his very sick partner was helping him on the plane..he was going home to die. I couldn't do my job...I was in tears the entire flight and sat by the young man trying to make him as comfortable as possible...the majority of people on the plane didn't understand what was happening at the time...I did because I was seeing it in my community. I have many stories of the friends that I lost. The hole is my heart is huge and will NEVER go away. I fill it with volunteering at Denver Colorado AIDS Project...I help onTuesdays and am a Regional Council Member. Just recently I coordinated a fundraiser with Josh Flagg, Million Dollar Listing start to come to Denver and help me raise money...it was a lot of work, expensive as I sell real estate and it took me away from my business for a couple of months....BUT it was the BEST thing I've ever done in my life besides having my two kids....IT IS NOT OVER...keeping the message alive is very important to me. I couldn't save the many friends that I have lost along the way...but I will never forget them and never stop fighting for a cure!!!! Kathryn, July 2012 Denver, Colorado
Rarely have I ever read a book that so absorbed my attention and captivated me as this one. I can't say I was ever visited Fire Island, but certainly hope to visit there someday, but the whole story was so compelling. Like another person's post that said he felt as if the main characters were right there with him in his living room. I felt the very same way. I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes as Josh was returning home with the remains of Tommy on his lap. I struggled for many years about me sexuality. Praying that the next day I would feel different. Of course it didn't happen. One can not change their orientation. I was so closeted that I even got married and had two children. I regret getting married but I don't regret my children for a second. They are my greatest joy. But I can remember those early and exciting days after coming out in 1993. I was in the Toronto Village ALL THE TIME. I was making up for lost time I guess at the bars and getting picked up and having a good time. But like Josh, after sowing my wild oats, I was ready to find that special someone and to fall in love. This was a wonderful book. I look forward to more work from Jeffrey Sharlach, perhaps even a sequel to Running In Bed. Thank you for proving a beautiful albeit happy and sad story. This story will speak to the hearts of many. Will W. September 2012 Toronto
I came to NYC in 1972 to got to college. In 1976 I graduated and got my first job at a Madison avenue ad agency (Y&R). I love the book. It too k me back to all the same places I once went to. In my closet is a novel that I wrote in 1995 closing the door on my years 1972-1990 in NYC. A fortune tell in Italy told me I need to write everything down and look at and this would help be heal. Just this past summer I took the book out and read it for the first time since 1995. I too like the author looked back at that era from a distance with a different view. Today I am a NYC teacher in Queens, my life is light years past the days of AIDS. I lost all my friends from the 70's and 80's. This book was a great reflection of those times and events that have certainly shaped my life. I am an AIDS survivor and maybe one day my book will come out of the closet to show the world what great friends I had and the many happy times we shared. A piece of the cities mosaic is missing from all the lost of friends from those years. Love the book...Wish their were more voices from that time period. T.F. September 2012 New York City