Gay & Lesbian Lost Fresno

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Come back with us now to those hot summer nights when half of Fresno's teens were driving up and down Belmont. Or remember what it was like on Fulton St. before Belmont took the title of "Fresno's Main Drag" Remember the Rainbow Ballroom? Post you night life memories here.
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Christopher Stone
Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Apr 19, 2010 12:53 pm

Gay & Lesbian Lost Fresno

Postby Christopher Stone » Mon Apr 26, 2010 2:40 pm

Vintage members of Fresno's gay and lesbian communities may remember Fran's Pine Lake Lodge, near Old Highway 99 and Ashlan, as well as The Girl of the Golden West, somewhere out on Highway 41. Downtown was the Orange Ogre. It later morphed into The Bit. Both were owned by Carol "Gussie" Gustonian.
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lgbt_fresno.jpg
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cabeef

Re: Gay & Lesbian Lost Fresno

Postby cabeef » Sun Sep 04, 2011 1:49 pm

Since the topic is called "Gay & Lesbian Lost Fresno," I wanted to add: GORDICK'S BOOKSTORE (!!)

While it later moved to Fig Garden Village, it was Gordick's original location in the OPUS 1 shopping mall (corner of Bullard & Palm) that really had influence in the local gay & lesbian literary world. I was a young teen when I first started regularly hanging out at the bookstore and became close friends with co-owners and partners Gordon and Dick = hence the name "Gordick's" - back in the early 80s, they were just about the only legit bookstore in Fresno that had its own dedicated gay & lesbian lit section - and often hosted local and out of town authors - for example: I remember going to a book signing for "The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life & Times of Harvey Milk" with the late author Randy Shilts and similar events.

This wasn't just a place to buy books, it the subtext of the store is that, in plain sight, it also served as a meeting place/hub for like-minded gays and lesbians searching for a community to call their own - it was one of the few open/welcoming spots to ID as gay in the early 80s in Fresno - but still appeal to mainstream consumers/audience - and for that, I think that Gordick's was vital to local Fresno gay/lesbian scene. When Gordicks moved from Opus 1 to Fig Garden down the street, it was into a bigger space, but I believe the store went more "mainstream" then - it later closed in the late 80s (?), as I recall that either Gordon or Dick (or both?) passed away. RIP

christone

Re: Gay & Lesbian Lost Fresno

Postby christone » Wed Apr 23, 2014 11:29 am

Carol Gustonian owned The Bit, which had previously been called The Orange Ogre. Fran and her spouse Gail owned and operated Fran's Pine Lake Lodge. I worked at The Girl of the Golden West, and it was owned by Bob Benson, in partnership with his spouse Jerry. And that's the way it was in Retro Fresno.
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The_Fresno_Bee_The_Republican_Wed__Nov_6__1963_.jpg
Orange Orge Ad at upper right / Freno Bee - Nov. 6, 1963

christone

Re: Gay & Lesbian Lost Fresno

Postby christone » Wed Apr 23, 2014 12:33 pm

Using a fake ID that I had purchased for ten bucks, I worked After Hours as a bartender/waiter at The Girl of The Golden West. Miss Benson, as Bob was more commonly known, had us dress in short shorts topped by tight-fitting tanks. I can still remember driving home from The Girl in the foggy, pre-dawn hours, listening to the instrumental "Love is Blue," and Dionne Warwick's "Theme from Valley of the Dolls," on KYNO, in my car. Wonder whatever became of Bob Benson and his Jerry?

MrJeff
Posts: 1
Joined: Sun Apr 12, 2015 8:49 am

Re: Gay & Lesbian Lost Fresno

Postby MrJeff » Sun Apr 12, 2015 9:06 am

Hi Chris: I'm confused - an earlier post says that Carol Gustonian owned "Girl of the Golden West" and "The Orange Ogre." You say that "Girl of the Golden West" was owned by Bob Benson and spouse Jerry, and "The Orange Ogre" was called "The Bit" when Carol owned it. Was "Girl of the Golden West" a bar, and where on 41 was it located?

I had heard that Carol Gustonian owned Fran's Pine Lake Lodge, but you say it was owned by a Fran and Gail and you seem to be in the know. What exactly was "Fran's Pine lake Lodge," a bar and motel, or just a bar? I remember seeing it along 99 as a kid in the early 60's. Very improbable with those tall scraggly Pine Trees out in the middle of nowhere. The Bee reported that on the property there was a "Cloak and Dagger Leather Shop" (I assume catering to leather fetishists) which burned down in 1969.
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orange.jpg
Orange Ogre Ad / Fresno Bee - July 2, 1965

chris3dog
Posts: 7
Joined: Sat Jan 15, 2011 1:23 pm

Re: Gay & Lesbian Lost Fresno

Postby chris3dog » Sun Apr 12, 2015 2:12 pm

Mr. Jeff, Fran's pine lake lodge was a gay bar that had cabins for rent to the left of the building. As a married, philandering heterosexual I would meet my mistress there for sexual liaisons. The place was out of the way and my married friends would never have been there to catch me. As I recall the place had a small creek running through the bar with a small foot bridge near the front entrance.

I remember they had a deer head mounted on the wall behind the bar which had false eyelashes and ruby red wax lips. My female friend and I would have a drink at the bar before heading for the cabin. Everyone knew we were "straight", but we were treated with respect. This was about 1969.
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pine lodge.jpg
Pine Lake Lodge Ad / Fresno Bee - Oct. 14, 1973
pine lake lodeg.jpg
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Lost Fresno
Site Admin
Posts: 217
Joined: Wed Dec 30, 2009 7:08 am

Re: Gay & Lesbian Lost Fresno

Postby Lost Fresno » Sat Apr 14, 2018 2:56 pm

I found this article on the Old Pine Lake Lodge from 1973. The story is about the owners donating the furniture before selling the property. I wonder if this is when Fran purchased it? I don't recall the Pine Lake Lodge but perhaps some of you do. To readers of this thread, please also read the "PENNY CANDY ON BLACKSTONE" thread in the Retail and Markets forum. Carol's obituary is posted in the Penny Candy thread.
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pinr lake furnitur.jpg
Click to Enlarge / Fresno Bee - Oct. 4, 1973

Jeffery

Re: Gay & Lesbian Lost Fresno

Postby Jeffery » Thu May 10, 2018 3:37 pm

Hi Christopher

My name is Jeffery Robinson of Community Link and Fresno Rainbow Pride Parade. We are working on a major project with the help of Fresno State and the community of gathering the history of our community. Would love to talk to you. Please give me a call at 559-486-3464 when you have time. I also loved Gordick's, and loved it when they had the Tales of the city author down for book signings. Would love to share memories with you.

In PRIDE

Jeffery Robinson

Guest

Re: Gay & Lesbian Lost Fresno

Postby Guest » Tue Aug 14, 2018 10:43 pm

As a kid,our urban legend was that the Red Lantern on Belmont was a gay bar. Never went there but that was the legend among the under 12 year old boy set.


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