West Hollywood, California
I am Ken Bruce, resident of West Hollywood since July 1969. I had moved here a few days before the first walk on the Moon. My friends and I had been in New Orleans earlier when we heard about the death of Judy Garland and days later, while on the road to Los Angeles, we were stunned and suddenly emboldened by the news of the Stonewall Riots. When we left Kentucky to head to Hollywood, we had no idea it would be such a busy summer for the likes of us.
I was born and raised in Central Kentucky and the eldest of six children. I remember that time as though I lived in a black and white movie. I always knew Hollywood is where I wanted to be. I had sent a letter to Walt Disney requesting an audition for the Mickey Mouse Club and was sure I’d get the job but my parents weren’t willing to move the family to Los Angeles on that hope alone. I was only 9 at the time.
Once I entered high school, I was able to get into acting in the local Children’s Theatre and eventually got some roles at the Guignol Theatre at the University of Kentucky. Most of my friends were older students and I suppose they recognized that my comedic flair had translated into more of an ‘orientation’ than I did then.
So a move to Hollywood seemed like a no brainer after leaving college. Besides, I was out of place in Kentucky. Let’s just say that. It was an unreasonably conservative environment for me. I knew about diversity having spent some time in New York and Florida and the way I wanted to express myself just didn’t fit in with anyone else’s plan. I was recently looking at some photos from that cross country trip and I had never been happier and certainly haven’t been that thin since.
I loved music. After all I was a product of the 60’s. I had albums by Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and also The Supremes, The Beatles, Rolling Stones and Aretha Franklin. I loved listening to most music, still do and was quick to identify with a cultural and political movement which demanded civil rights and freedom for individuals long oppressed and marginalized.
I worked as a production assistant at the building just south of the little park on Robertson Blvd. #666.. Only steps from what would become the Abbey years later. Eventually I got a call from a friend asking if I’d like to go ‘on the road’ as an assistant to Neil Sedaka. Well, of course. Sedaka was back and I wanted to be a part of it. This adventure, while fulfilling and foreshadowing a long career in the Travel Industry was not good for relationships or one’s serenity. I can tell you that over 35 years later, I still hear that from many people who spend their lives touring.
After an exhausting 3 years touring and hearing “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do” every night, I decided to take a job on the other side of the desk and I became a Travel Agent specializing in Concert Tours.
This has become a career for me since 1977. And I am now looking to retire from a most fascinating adventure which has taken me all over the world. I have worked along side many amazing colleagues over the years, people who specialize in logistics, geography, mapping, budgeting, hotel efficiandos, airline negotiators, tour guides, translators, experts in world religions, a guide who could recognize over 300 bird calls, environmentalists and safari drivers. To have the privilege of interacting with people from so many different cultures and backgrounds is something I would never have dreamed of the night Neil Armstrong said “One small step for man”.
I am partner and co-owner of Bruvion Travel and Concierge Service. We are specialists in production travel and luxury travel. Our success has come from only a few things, principally hard work and a commitment to service. Recently we have launched a new division of our Company called ALT by Bruvion. This Service will be geared to the LGBTQ community who are looking for experiential travel anywhere in the world. We grew from 1 to 2 to now we are now a staff of 9.
So what does this have to do with Being Gay and Becoming Gray? Plenty. Life hasn’t been easy for anyone. I believe that as LGBTQ people we have had a different series of obstacles to overcome as we have matured. We have lost a generation of male mentors to AIDS. The Community has had more than its share of addiction disease and young suicides. We are still here. We have been able to find the resources among ourselves to advocate for our health, groups like ACTUP and AHF, The Trevor Project and others. The political advances in the last few years are moving so quickly it’s hard to keep up. Who would have thought that we would be able to serve openly in the military, marry our partners or receive federal benefits in marriage-like our parents have done.
I am profoundly grateful for those who have come before me. I am humbled to have lived in the time of Harry Hay and Harvey Milk, Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon. In 1969, there were so few high profile LGBT people to identify with and now countless noble men, women and transgendered people are contributing to this juggernaut of human rights. We are now empowered by LGBT contemporaries in all livelihoods.
Oh, yes, I’m getting married on August 7 to my partner of 11 years, Jose Gomez. You’re the first to know. It’s a long and winding road and lots of hiking trails.