The Killer That Haunted My Adolescence

John Wayne Gacy was all over the news in my freshman year of high school. But worse was yet to come.



Interesting and provocative read. I wonder if you happened to catch the recent Dahmer movie? It seemed to capture the casual cruelty and ignorance of boys of that age and era (I'm nearly the same age as you) pretty accurately


Heartfelt and moving. Thanks.


Thanks for writing that. It's important that that part of our history be remembered.


I'm sorry to hear about your friend, Dan, that must have been terrible.


Thank you, Dan. So many, lost so young. And thank you (and Terry) for the "It gets better" project.


I'm so sorry for your, and all of our, losses, and thank you for this (and for everything, really).


I remember we would go through Rod's (they didn't card) in order to sneak up the back way to Club De Wash.


Candrew: Rod's was where I met Tony.


Long time ago, but I remember living on Mifflin and watching the news footage of the authorities going through Dahmer's apartment. That was awful. Sorry for your loss.


Well written, Dan.


This is my story too. I remember being 11 and terrified of being gay as well as being killed by a Gacy. Once Dahmer was exposed I stopped hitting one of my favorite bars because he cruised there. It was such a fucked up time of being scared of a virus, being scared of being out, and being killed. BTW - my brother's went to Quigley (didn't realize you did) but I went to Notre Dame. Did they still force you to swim naked? Frankly it was the only reason I wanted to go to Quigley. :)


That's good writing.


This is astoundingly good writing.


Shit, Dan...I almost forgot you can actually write. You're so much better at it when you're not sound-bite outrage-voguing.


This was a great piece, although I was stunned to learn that Dan cries. There is absolutely nothing wrong with crying. I cry at fast food commercials. Dan just never struck me as someone who cries. You learn something new every day.


I'm so moved by this, Dan -- both because you experienced it, and because you were willing to share it so vulnerably. Thank you.


As Serena Williams once said after losing a final to Elena Dementieva, Mr Savage should write like this more often.


I've read your column for years. It has always made me think. This is my favorite piece you've written. Gacy, the start of the virus, it's all before my time. I've read about them though. What you wrote really let me see a new perspective. Should I dig more to see what other pieces you've written that aren't your column? I'd love to read more.


A beautifully sad and frightening piece. I’ve loved the whole issue, we are reminded that The Stranger staff are first and foremost excellent writers.


Yes, I remember these living in downstate Illinois in the mid and late 70s. My older cousin was murdered by someone. No one talked about him being gay or his relationship to his killer, but I felt it and it haunted me. I was terrified to 'go home' with someone. That feeling's long passed now. Still all of that against the backdrop of HIV prowling did nothing to make me feel like anything other that a complete outlaw.