When I moved out of the Flint area to go to college at Central Michigan University, I was about 90 minutes from Flint. Several gay friends whom I met at C.M.U. with the G.L.A.S.S. organization, (Gay, Lesbian Association for Student Support) would pile into a few cars on a Friday night and take a road trip to the Copa. Those trips were exciting as we were all coming out together and finding who we were. The Copa, our Friday sanctuary created long lasting friendships that I still have today.
My very first boyfriend I ever had I met upstairs near the balcony at the "new" Copa. After some convincing by a friend of mine that I was actually being cruised, I asked him for a first dance. The song, "Lady in Red" by Chris DeBurgh. We were together for about a year and it was wonderful to feel the love of another man for the first time. It was something I never experienced before, but had missed so much before I found it.
As the years passed, Flint, Michigan struggled and so did the Copa. Owner Bill Kain died in 1991. After Bill died, the special touches that made this such a great night club disappeared. The carefree and fun atmosphere faded along with Flint's downtown area. Kain's sister inherited the nightclub until she closed it in1995.
On my recent visit home, I went to downtown Flint to revisit my history. To my surprise, the Copa, building is no longer there. In its place is a redesigned corner with a grassy park framed on the side with small restaurants and businesses. A new Flint is trying to emerge.
I can still hear those classic 80's songs in my head on heavy rotation from the Copa. It was a great place for so many gay people and our straight allies to come together and escape the world outside, to find acceptance in a historic club many will never forget.