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November 11, 2010
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November 8, 2010
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September 20, 2010
AboveNet Expands to key European Markets
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June 16, 2010
AboveNet's secure fibre network connects to London's Telehouse West data centre
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June 7, 2010
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Good investigative work requires dogged determination. Running an enigma to ground can take years. Occasionally, medical mysteries initially thought solved are found later to have very different truths at their cores. One such mystery concerned the AIDS epidemic in America. As long as the killer remained comfortably within the gay community not much was done to investigate. As soon as AIDS found its way into the heterosexual population, though, suddenly America interest in ferreting out the cause was paramount. Panic stricken virologists and other epidemiologists worked feverishly to isolate the source of this sexually transmitted disease first endemic among homosexual men. AIDS is what defined the decade of the 1980s, a decade that lived in fear beneath the penumbra of a certain and tortuous death from a highly communicable pathogen. Somewhere, there was a Patient Zero, the epidemiological well spring from which this plague spewed forth. At least, there is a publicly perceived correlation as it pertains to airline flight attendants. Credit: Eastern Air LinesThe very first air flight attendants (in the 1920s) were men. These positions were desirable; the men who did these jobs executed their duties more like up scale, futuristic train porters and ship stewards than as menials. As with many professions in that era (especially in service jobs such as telephone operators, bank tellers, et al) the sky porters known as were exclusively male. World War I saw the shift from male to female telephone operators and bank tellers; with a dearth of male workers during World War II, employers turned to the fairer sex to fill their employment needs in the airline industry, too. The commercial airlines recognized the goldmine presented by hiring female Certainly, they were paid less. There was also marketability in women that men did not have women could be hawked by an airline as possible sex partners for the discriminating male traveler choosing its service over another. The airline industry developed glamour. The titillation of a sexy stewardess in uniform, pandering to any business traveler ego, was priceless. These were women without boundaries, women who went anywhere, anytime. Therefore, they must be promiscuous. The unspoken possibility of sex with a globe trotting gal was also alluring. Married women were aggressively discouraged from working as stewardesses. The single women, all within a certain preferred range of body type, height, and attractiveness, were wanton women (in the minds of the average male of the day). Although morbid obesity was not the problem in the 1940s it is today, there were no girls on board. Thus, by the late 1940s male flight attendants were not only undesirable, they were suspect as well. As further incentive to not hire men as flight attendants, the death of a gay steward in 1954 became a scandal sufficiently great to lead to a rash of bashings (both gay oakley eyeshade china men and lesbians were targeted) in Miami, Florida. It was one of the nation worst anti gay outbreaks in history. Homophobia was so great by the late 1950s almost no airlines in the United States would hire men as flight attendants even Eastern and Pan Am stopped hiring stewards. Stewardesses, however, were very desirable. They were marketed as young, beautiful, and sexually available was hardly an acceptable career choice for any he man. In the same way that the sexual orientation of male nurses was suspect, only wanted to be stewards. The discrimination in the labor market meant the United States Supreme Court had to step in and force airlines to hire male flight attendants. This happened in 1971 after nearly 20 years of female dominated service. Even then, the Court decision forcing US airlines to hire men was greeted with derision in the press. It also raised homophobic fears of placing men in such a servile and sexualized role. Air Canada For one gay man, however, being a steward was all he needed to satisfy both his wanderlust and his physical lust. His life was on a collision course with history. In 1972, Dugas first became sexually active. [He would later claim he had over 2,500 sexual partners in his lifetime, whether all male is unknown. He may have been bisexual.] He started out as a hairdresser. Wanting to travel, this French speaking Canadian learned that oakley eyeshade custom flight attendants for Air Canada had to be bi lingual. He moved to Vancouver and learned English to qualify for the job. He found work as a flight attendant on Air Canada. This career choice allowed him the freedom to move around the world, visiting exotic locales, and meeting many strange men for anonymous sexual encounters. In 1977, he was legally married in Los Angeles, California, in an illegal attempt to gain United States citizenship. The hedonism of the 1970s raged unchecked, and by the middle of the decade culture became pop culture. Gay male partiers in the mid 1970s found an outlet on New York Fire Island. Gay men rented time share space in houses on the island and partied their summers away season Gay and straight partiers alike finally found their Valhalla, however, in New York City in a crummy little club in the 1970s called Studio 54. This rat hole was converted into a hot spot known all over the world. Celebrities fell all over themselves to get in and be seen there. Its allure was its faux air of exclusivity. No club before or since carried the cachet of Studio 54. Co founded and owned by a cabaret style, (almost a caricature) flamboyantly gay man, Steve Rubell, and a straight laced heterosexual lawyer, this kitschy club defined hipsters in the Seventies. The music was disco, the dance beat adapted from gay men and their party scene. The mock S dance moves, the sweaty bodies, the throb of the music, the drugs consumed, and the fact that not just anyone could get in heightened its allure. The term rope came into existence then a red velvet rope (as one might see in a museum keeping patrons at a safe distance from a particularly priceless exhibit) became the literal and symbolic barrier between the plebes on the street and the hipsters within. Each night crowds gathered outside Studio 54 doors; admission was granted whimsically by a group of door men and many times by Steve Rubell himself. The criteria for entry were pure sadism: one night only women might be allowed in; other times, a sloppily dressed man might be sent away while another, looking exactly like that man but would be let in. Gay themed parties were held there often, and casual sex in the bathrooms and the privacy lounge was common among attendees. The music scene was fueled by this gay celebration, none more blatantly than by a vocal group of disco hustlers calling themselves Village People They dressed in favorite and stereotypical gay icon costumes a policeman, a construction worker, a cowboy, a gay biker, and a Native American. They were hugely successful for a short time with big sellers the Navy and More subtly, Donna Summer performed her brand of dance music that was embraced by the gay community as was she. In conjunction with Studio 54, other bars for gay men to frequent thrived. Another meeting place was the bath houses still found in many larger cities. Once serving the utilitarian function for neighborhood residents to bathe (considering most homes up until the late 1920s did not have indoor plumbing) these quaint reminders of The Good Old Days were social gathering places for gay men. They were prevalent in New York City and in San Francisco. On October 31, 1980 ominously enough, Halloween night the French Canadian gay male steward Ga Dugas visited a gay bathhouse for the first time on a layover in New York City. The Road to Zero Ga Dugas fit right in with the gay community of the bath houses. He was blond, voluble, and open. Sex for him was a series of anonymous engagements, many times conducted hastily in bathroom stalls. He took on whatever he felt like. As well as many other men, he was developing what would become known as Clone Look close cropped hair, largish but well groomed mustache, muscle shirts, short shorts. [The quintessential version of Clone Look would be Freddie Mercury (rock band Queen lead vocalist who died of AIDS) after about 1981.] A strange disease lurked among the gay denizens and creepers of the bath houses, though. Men began dying of pneumonia and other respiratory illnesses, but only after drastically losing weight and developing horrific skin lesions on their faces, necks, backs, and chests. Dugas caught it early, possibly with his first encounter in the New York gay bathhouse on Halloween 1980.

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