I spent Friday evening at a lesbian bar.
I just wrote that first sentence, a lede, as they call it, and then sat here for a few minutes, read an article or two, and then came back to this post, trying to decide how one night of drunken debauchery became, really, an eye-opening experience that will stick with me for a long time. Oh, and how to tell all this without seeming like I'm coming out.
My friend, Carly, had her birthday on Friday, and we went out. There were five of us in the group: She and the girl she's seeing, another one of her good friends and her date, and myself. We went to one of the locations of my restaurant and had a nice dinner, drank some awesome wine (Etude' Pinot Noir. If you get a chance, it's highly worth it), and generally had a good time.
Afterwords, Carly wanted to go to Sue Ellen's, which is the most well known lesbian bar in Oak Lawn area, the Castro District of Dallas (although I'm sure there the Dallas version is quite a bit more repressed than San Fran). We got there, and I just have to say that as bars/clubs go, this is one of the cooler ones I've ever been to. The layout is great, there's plenty of bar areas, a nice sized, but not too big dance floor, a game room, and then an awesome patio (which was made even more awesome by the incredible weather we've been having around here and the really great cover band that was playing. The frontman (woman? person? One thing about being a white-bread guy who likes gay people is that the pronoun game becomes a much more difficult dilemma) was awesome. She was a rock star up there, and it really set the tone for the night).
Let me take a break, here, to mention a few cool things about going to a gay bar.
- When you are buying a shot for your friend, and she doesn't drink straight liquor shots, going up to the bartender and saying, "I need two shots, but I need them to be fruity" induces an eyeroll from your bartender and an hilarious comedy routine for the rest of your friends.
- At a lesbian bar, the men's room is the cleanest I've ever seen, and never, ever occupied.
- There's no real meat-market vibe. Well, there is, but as someone told me yesterday, they just weren't interested in my meat. Consequentially, the strange need to not act like an idiot and to try to appear suave no longer applies. This leads to (when combined with copious amounts of alcohol), an absolute drop in your inhibitions.
Without giving just a straight narrative of the entire night, let's just say that I drank. I drank a lot. Luckily for me, Carly's date doesn't drink, and did the gracious service of making sure that Carly and I got home ok.
Before we go any further, I should mention something:
I don't dance. And the period is there for a reason.
I'm a typical white boy, and it shows on the dance floor. But, as alluded to above, inhibitions were in short supply that night, and I danced. I danced a lot. I danced with my friends, I danced with other people's friends, I even danced with a drag queen.
And here's where I get to the point. Somehow, over the course of the evening, I began to realize that something more important was happening to me. I'm not trying to make more of this than there is, but this was, in some way, a life-altering experience for me.
I'm a pretty open-minded guy. I'm accepting of just about all lifestyles, and as those who've read my blog know, a defender of the gay people. This doesn't, however, imply that I have any sort of gay street cred. My pro-gay attitude is largely in theory, with very little experience to back it up.
Here's the point. It became apparent very quickly that there was a much different vibe going on at Sue Ellen's than I'm used to. I had an absolutely amazing time, and I think it was because, for the first time in my life (and I mean this seriously. I've probably never been in a public place that didn't reek of the typical, patriarchal, "Men Want Pussy, Women Have Pussy, Men Try Every Trick in the Book to Get Pussy" mentality that comes with the typical, hetero-night life experience) I was in a place where everyone was happy with who they were and accepting of who everyone else was, and that included the silly straight guy on the dance floor, dancing his ass off and, in general making a fool of himself. This attitude was pervasive, it was almost tangible in the air and, very quickly, my typical social anxieties and quirky self-esteem issues (the kind we all have) disappeared.
I'm a straight, white male. Being a Democrat in Texas is the closest thing I've ever had to being a minority. But, there I was, in all my straightness, and nobody cared. What I was, how I dressed, and who I wanted to sleep with didn't matter to anyone there. That was amazingly refreshing. For the first time I was set free, if only in my own mind, from the need to "project" a certain quality or status. I was just some guy, having fun just like everyone else.
There is a great debate, even among those who are accepting of gays, about whether someone is born gay, or if they chose to be. I've always been an advocate of the "born gay" side, though most of us will agree that there are people that choose the lifestyle these days. On Friday night, I figured out why. Why WOULDN'T you want to chose a lifestyle in which the community of people is so accepting, so tolerant, and so free of the social complications which bind the heterosexual lifestyle? I, in one night, have a deeper appreciation for those gay people who live their lives in the manner I saw on Friday night. A group of people who are so stereotyped (and believe me, I saw all manner of people there that defied any stereotyping), so defiled and so maligned by the rest of the world, and yet they will accept anyone who walks into the room for what they are: That is remarkable. From now on, when approached with the born as/chose to be question, my new answer is, "Who cares? They are already better people than you and I are." Hetero's aren't born with that mentality of acceptance, and very few of us chose it.
That is more than just a shame, that is the real sin.