I just moved to California and my brain is all frazzled and I am in a hotel with three cats, and that is a situation RIPE with opportunities to make fun of myself, but instead I am going to write about celebrities and gay bars and the current state of our nation’s bizarro relationship with gayness, and well, shit. I wouldn’t blame you if you clicked elsewhere either.
So, last week in Seattle, I found myself at The Cuff, one of the gayest of gay man bars, spanning an entire block, littered with disco balls, the best place to spot a gentleman entire clad in leather at 1pm on a Sunday. Anyone can go to The Cuff- it’s not like they check your Gay ID at the door, or anything, but given the decor and the clientele, it’s a pretty reasonable guess that if you’ve walked into the bar long enough to glance around and stand in line to purchase a beer, you’re either gay or so gay friendly that you’d seriously consider a proposition coming from someone else at the bar. Put it this way: even though Capitol Hill is regularly infested with University of Washington frat boys on Friday and Saturday nights, they NEVER end up at The Cuff. NEVER.
But I am gay, and therefore I DO find myself at The Cuff, and I don’t feel bad for assuming that everyone in there is also gay.
TANGENT THE FIRST: and what if I did assume you were gay in a non-pro-gay setting? Like, say, the grocery store? I can’t imagine a situation in which I’d strike up a conversation with two people in the grocery store wherein their partnered status would come into play, BUT HUMOR ME. So, I’ve somehow assumed you’re gay. Is this THAT terrible? Have I offended you in some way?
People do, I’ve seen it, get offended and fall all over themselves to distance themselves from the horrifying assumption that they’re gay, even if they are, in their own minds, not homophobic. Apparently, it’s ok FOR OTHER PEOPLE, but they are not LIKE THAT.
People assume I’m straight ALL THE TIME, and I don’t pitch a fit because they’ve made a mistake about my identity. Two weeks ago, at the dentist (where both J and I go, and have for YEARS, ever since I broke my tooth on a Skittle), I told the hygienist I was moving to California, and she then told the dentist when he walked in that I was moving to California with MY HUSBAND. Note: I do not wear a wedding ring, so the assumptions, they were rampant. I just said, “Oh, she’s not my husband” and we all had a good laugh and continued about the scraping of my teeth with sharp implements.
My point is: someone assuming you’re gay is no worse than someone assuming you’re straight. And furthermore, given that we ghetto-ize (why we do, or are forced to is an entirely other post/tangent, and I’m not going there) ourselves into gay bars and straight bars and leather bars and so on, if you’re in a gay bar, I’mma assume you’re gay. Done.
BACK TO THE STORY AT HAND: I am at The Cuff, and in walks a group of four: two women and two men. I know I just went on a tirade about making assumptions about people, but for the love of Christ, there was no mistaking the two men for anything other than flaming queens, and one of the women was sporting Seattle’s young dyke uniform: super short platinum blond hair, grungy jeans, Goodwill t-shirt, and the swagger. The other woman… Ok, I waffled about it on Twitter, but it was Ali from some season of the Biggest Loser.
And here’s why I waffled. We’d all like to kid ourselves that we live in this super progressive “modern” time, where being gay and famous is no big deal, but it’s not true. Yes, Ricky Martin’s “coming out” (for example) was generally met with a giant yawn, but it did still make magazine covers. It did still spawn long, involved articles about the state of American gayness, and it was still NEWS. And it was still GOSSIP news, tinged with a taste of having uncovered someone’s SECRET, something guarded, something you maybe DIDN’T want the whole world to know, and now, all of a sudden, there it is in the checkout line.
So, my original thought was to tweet that I had spotted Ali from Biggest Loser at The Cuff, the same way I would have tweeted that I saw Britney Spears at the waxing salon, without any thought to (my bad) her privacy, or the nature of the location wherein I spotted the celebrity. But then I stopped. What if she’s not OUT? What if she’s out at the bar on the downlow? What if people interpreted MY TWEET as a salacious piece of gossip- that I thought that being in a gay bar was bad, and that I was revealing something unsavory about her character, simply by attaching her to this gay bar.
My Twitter feed is public, and I don’t have any control over who reads it or how they interpret what I put out there, and generally, I could give a flying fuck about what random strangers think about my whining about anything and everything. But at the same time, I take the Lord’s name in vain at least once a day on Twitter, and get followers with names like @GodsLove and @OurLord (not really, I just made those up, but you get the idea). So if I write that I saw a minor celebrity at a gay bar, does that get interpreted in a positive way? A negative way? Who follows me based on that? You’d have to follow me for a certain amount of time with a fairly critical eye to determine that I’m gay and that I am pro-gay, and you’re not going to get that from a single tweet about someone at a bar.
I ended up writing something innocuous about spotting her out and about in Seattle, but that felt just as wrong as tweeting that I’d seen her in a gay bar. Was I implying that I’m embarrassed about my own gayness? That being gay IS something you should keep a secret or be ashamed of? Why in BLUE FUCK was I spending so much time thinking about a woman who is only famous because she let Jillian Michaels yell at her on national television?
I was a little bit surprised at how long this stayed with me, how I wouldn’t have hesitated for a single second to tweet that I’d seen her in the grocery store, and yet the change of venue made a difference. And I don’t have any big conclusions just that it made me think.
What do you think?