Sunday, April 03, 2005


I have never liked bars. I do not go to gay bars, and have done so in the past only because friends have wanted to go. Yoshi sometimes wants to go out, and I have gone with him, but I have a very difficult time even pretending to enjoy myself. I remember, a month or two ago, going out at his behest to the Phoenix and to Starlight. At the Phoenix, which was not at all crowded (it was early in bar-time) I waited at the bar to buy a beer and was ignored for a long time by the bartender. A few days later I asked a friend why this might have happened. "You are not the Phoenix type," he explained. Why that would mean that the bartender would resist selling me a beer is still a mystery to me. But I don't like to be in a bar full of nothing but gay men any more than I like to be in a bar full of only straight people.

Back in my post-college days, I would drink in bars with my friends, straight and gay and in-between, but that was not for the setting but more for the company. I have never picked someone up in a bar. I am too shy that way. This is not to say that I am a prude, or have always been "proper." I am, after all, only human. But when I read of debauchery in bars, described in such detail in so many "gay" novels, or hear about it from friends, I am always a little rattled.

This morning in the NEW YORK TIMES there is an article about the rise of new strains of HIV, and how the bar culture, the use of crystal meth, and gay men's mental health issues are intertwined. And I read it, feel concern, and understand even more why I dislike Chelsea, Fire Island, and the "gay scene." I am such a non-conformist deep in my bones that the sight of the stereotypical "Chelsea Gay Boy" makes me wince. Once, only once, I went to the Gay Pride Parade, dragged along in a spell of compliance by a friend. Afterwards, walking through the streets of the West Village which were crowded with shirtless men, I felt panic and had to leave. This does not mean I am a self-loathing gay man; on the contrary, I feel enough confidence in my identity that I do not need to surround myself only with people who share that same, arbitrary, connection. I despise anti-gay sentiment and politics and discrimination in the same way that I despise racial- and gender-based discrimination, because it is cruel and unfair. But I don't believe in segregation either. Maybe it is because I have always, since my earliest memories, felt like an outsider, and now am comfortable in feeling this way. I will never be a sheep in a flock, I think.


Thierry said...

I went to the Gay Pride a few times when I lived in Paris. Partly because some of my friens would suggest to walk together. And mostly because I believed it was one thing to do to fight for gay rights. I don't think anymore that the Gay Pride helps at all. On the contrary, I think it gives of the gay population a false image.
I have participated in the Walk against Aids last year in Central Park. I was happy to raise $1000.
It was interesting to realize that my friends who sponsored me where mostly the ones who are straight and the ones who live outside of the gay world. And some of my friends who go to bars and clubs every week didn't even bother to make a donation at all.
Now, I would demonstrate for the right to gay marriage if there was a demonstration in New Yor. And I would just hope that it doesn't look like the Gay Pride.
And of course, if a crazy mayor wanted to make the gay bars close, I would demonstrate also even though I almost never go and even though I have sometimes felt treated like you have - the bartender ignoring me - when I did go very occasionaly.

buff said...

It always has been a love hate relationship with the bars.
I only go to bars that welcum my type. I have fun there and so does everyone else.
Yea, we would all rally if someone wanted to close the bars. It's still the one consistant way to meet outside the blog and net world.