I am not an eldergay (maybe DL eldergay adj. at 39), but I turned 18 in the late 90's and grew up in LA.
The thought of sneaking out of the house to go out was so exciting and there was just this awesome sense of freedom. Even in LA, being gay as a teen was not what it is today in the 90's. I remember going to "Campus Night" (18 & Over) at Axis (since the Factory) . You could smoke inside, which I liked b/c I was being rebellious for smoking, but then you would stink when you got home. I don't miss the indoor smoking.
I remember sneaking into Probe on Highland w/ a fake ID when I was 17 that I bought on Alvarado St which was really scary at the time and making out with the hottest guys (it burned down shortly thereafter), actually excited to lie about being older than I was.
The Abbey was a little courtyard that was basically just a coffee shop and bakery. That was it. For underage twinks like I was, this was our salvation. Just sitting there drinking coffee, being around other gays was thrilling - that is the best word to describe it.
Naked pool parties in the summer through word of mouth (which Im sure still happen), being a raver boy and going to all the "underground" rave shops on Melrose, when it was more grungy and punk. I would get free day passes to the San Vicente Inn which was pretty awesome. It was like this little garden of Eden in the middle of WeHo. It got shittier as the years went on and is now an exclusive members only club, The Bungalows, but I remember hooking up, hanging by the pool all day, and then going to the old Mickeys for beer busts, KROQ nights on Mondays at Rage. We'd sneak into Skybar which was everything back in the day.
Back then, it felt easier to connect. I used to date lesbian style - meet someone on a night out, actually go on dates, and have relatively lengthy relationships. We'd all bounce from club to club together. There were cell phones, but it was for emergencies only and it just wasn't really a thing that everyone had. You had to make an effort. It did feel like you never really knew where the night was going to end. Instead of social media, there were fliers for parties and events, phone numbers that you needed to call for location addresses. There was really a sense of things being quasi-underground - the illusion of it, but I'm sure not legit underground like it was for those in the 70's/80's.
I didn't feel like my life was "QAF" or "Looking" in terms of having that huge gaggle of gays that were a surrogate family. I made some fun acquaintances, but when you are too trusting when you are young, you can get disillusioned quickly. I have not had many gay friends b/c some broke my trust early on. I've stuck with the same, small group of friends I have. It's fun to go back, but I do remember being terrified of HIV and I think that in terms of sex, it was always so nerve wracking. Education in high school was - "you fuck up, you die".
One main difference between twinks of today vs. my day was that it was all about looking hot and maybe even being "thirsty" to meet a guy in person, just out at a club or bar. All your getting ready and prep work was designed for going out and meeting people, to attract. The generation of today does the same thing, but it's for the ultimate photo or video to post - to get the likes. Social distancing started way before the social distancing that we see today. That's a bummer I think. Having someone come up to you, asking you dance, has got to feel more amazing than seeing likes on insta. But then maybe not. To this day, there is noting better than an in person "like". It feels so good.
This was a long essay, but this was fun just for me to think about reminisce. I hadn't though about it in a while. My one regret is that I let some of the nastier/bitchier queens take away my enjoyment of the scene as the years went on and renounced the gay scene by the time I was in my mid 20's. I like to go out for a drink now and then, but it's very low key and more local bar style than the wild nights. That is aging too I guess.