As part owner of U4IA, David A. Pecjak Jr. helped make the gay club so popular in the 1990s that it often exceeded its 800-person capacity. For the past two years, he's owned Bounce where he's tried to match the same popularity of U4IA by becoming a major sponsor for the Gay Games and hosting events that are inclusive to all members of the LGBT community and its allies.
I sort of came out in 1981 while I was a student. Back then, there were those bars that catered only to men. You could find somewhere to go every night of the week, and there would be several hundred people. The bars didn't have signs on them like they do now. None of them did. You had to know where they were.
Traxx was on West Ninth Street where the streetlights didn't work. Nobody lived around there — it was all warehouses. It might have been busy during the day, but it was all run-down. It was very well-known in the community as the place for gay people. If somebody found out you went to Traxx, they immediately put the label that you were gay.
When I went to Traxx for the first time, I walked in and said, "Oh my gosh, I want to do this for a living." It was the music. It was the energy. It wasn't necessarily the fact that it was gay — it was infectious for me. I wanted to be able to be that person to create that fun for people.
The gay community in Cleveland is tough. It's like having a tough audience as a comedian, and I never could figure out why. A lot of people in Cleveland moved away, because the gay community was not to their liking. They went to Miami and Atlanta and Chicago — to the big cities where the gay life was more appealing.
When you lose a good portion of the population, part of that social scene starts to collapse a little bit. Our community is fractured, but we're trying to do things to make that better, trying to, you know, mend fences and bridge people together. — as told to James Bigley II