Last night I went to a club where people peed on each other for fun. I was wearing REALLY nice shoes. They’re in the bin now.
It wasn’t entirely intentional. There was a moment in the bar upstairs when I convinced myself that the rancid smell of ammonia was coming from the peroxide queen lip-syncing terribly to Marina and the Diamonds.
London’s Central Station bar was a ten-minute walk from my hotel and on paper (or iPhone screen to be more precise) was the ideal solution to my pal’s request to ‘meet in a nice gay bar’.
Saying that gains in equality have killed the gay scene is an understatement.
Every day that someone steps out of the shadows kills the need for a place of shelter.
Somewhere boyz go exclusively to be boyz is no longer a necessity in today’s poly-sexual world and that’s definitely something to be thankful for. But I’m going to go out on a limb here and say those words that many fear.
I want my gay scene back.
Not just any gay scene.
I want my cake and I want to eat it too.
I want a gay scene where there’s no need for a gay scene. Where you can go out for a night and not think about hate crimes. A gay scene like the one I fell into at 15. A smorgasbord of cock loving totty of all shapes and sizes
I also want a gay scene where handsy hen nights aren’t welcome. Where gay men aren’t manhandled by chubby girls wearing sashes with ironic slogans on them. Where the only tiara in sight is on MY head and all the men are men who like men and all the women are lesbionic.
I want a scene where I can discover a nice gay bar with some bad drag and not end up sodden up to the shins in other people’s piss because it’s such a niche market now that fetishists are now piggy-backing to support the rent.
Just a nice bar would do.
Maybe a chandelier or two and a framed Keith Haring print.
We now live in a world where David Beckham is a style icon. As such, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate breeder from bum-bleeder, and though I’m happily married, I still want to know that the guy across the room from me might have considered letting me tickle his pickle in a past life. That’s the scene I want.
It’s just comfort.
Last week, Camden’s infamous Black Cap joined the ranks of hundreds of other gay bars going out of business across the country.
Sold to a new “leisure tenant’ the iconic venue closed it’s doors Monday after having a planning application to convert the top floor into flats rejected. It was a shock to many, but as today’s protests suggest, they won’t go quietly.
But here’s what I’m thinking.
What if those bars aren’t going out of business because there’s no longer a need for them? What if, (and here’s the not totally unrealistic leap I’m making), what if they’re going out of business because they no longer feel like home for the community of gays who grew up thinking of them as a safe place?
What if they’ve been ruined by equality?
As someone who used to work in a bar in Fife that originally didn’t have a female toilet I’m well aware of how ludicrous it sounds to say I want my gay bar to be gay. You’d never get away with saying women aren’t welcome anywhere now. Well, maybe that members club attached to the Golf course; but they’d never say it out loud.
And herein lies the rub.
As much as I want my pony, I’ll never trade equality and rights down for a nicer time drinking martini. Maybe this scene thing is over. Maybe it’s just a natural progression. Maybe my crowd should have moved onto dinner parties by now.
Either way, I miss it. Though it was borne out of necessity, the gay scene played an incredible part in my formative years. There was a sense of community that is now missing and it makes me feel sad for the next generation of little homos skipping through town that they’ll never truly know the thrill of slipping through a side door to experience something exclusive and special.
I know my glasses are rose tinted. But they’re allowed to be right now – and as rank as last night was… I’m pretty sure my athlete’s foot is cured.
Barry Church-Woods writes opinion pieces and listens to a lot of pop music. His dad once sent his head shot to the head of the BBC and told them he’d be perfect for Eastenders. He wasn’t. He knows all the dance routines to all Madonna tours 1985-2001.