Coconuts and Trumpets

Notes from my (mostly unfabulous) gay life in Palo Alto CA: drinks yesterday with folks from QUEST (the Stanford LGBT staff group) at Coconuts, the Caribbean restaurant just up the street from my house (posted about here), wearing a notably gay t-shirt from Trumpets, a celebrated gay bar and restaurant in Washington DC in the 1990s. A shirt from 1995, a shirt not only past the age of consent, but one old enough to vote.

Coconuts is a pleasant unpretentious place, not at all gay-oriented — there are no such places in Palo Alto (for gay life, you travel 34 miles to San Francisco or 17 miles to San Jose) — and flourishing; Trumpets was a serious restaurant with an interesting menu, with a major gay bar in front, and it’s long gone, though for Pride month this year, there was a reunion celebration; a lot of people remembered it with great affection.

Coconuts. From the outside, featuring the wonderful neon coconut palm:


From the inside, showing the first of three spaces in the restaurant, the one with the bar in it:


Part of the menu, highlighting the restaurant’s specialties:


And part of the drinks menu, showing fancy cocktails; there’s also wine and beer, of course.


Trumpets. Start with the t-shirt, which I got in 1994:


In those days, I went to Washington on academic business very often. In 1995 I was at the end of a lecture tour that took me through Cambridge MA, NYC, Philadelphia, and Washington (I talked at Georgetown), and also brought me to the motss.con — the annual gathering of folks from the Usenet newsgroup soc.motss, for LGBT folk and their friends — in a motel by Logan Circle. And brought me to Trumpets.

From the Washington Blade on June 8th this year, “With the sound of Trumpets” by Mariah Cooper, announcing the reunion:


with a photo from 1993:


Description from the event’s Facebook page:

If you were gay and living in DC in the mid to late 90’s and knew anything about anything, you know that Trumpets was everything. Nestled in the heart of the (then) gayborhood (17th street between Florida and Rhode Island), Trumpets was a safe place for the wildly fabulous and beautifully queer. There was a wonderful feeling of not knowing what to expect at Trumpets, but you did know one thing; you’d have great food, great cocktails, and undoubtedly, a good time.
Join us as we resurrect this gem for one night only at the Trumpets Pop-Up Reunion at Quarter+Glory on June 10th, immediately after the pride parade. Hosts David Hagedorn and Janet Williams will bring back the one and only DJ Kostas, put familiar faces Jeanne Topper and Francki DiFrancesco behind the bar, and throw in a few other surprises throughout the evening.

Didn’t make the reunion, but I have the (now vintage) t-shirt.

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