In defence of.. the gay scene

26 May

Jacq Kelly

I’m promiscuous. Well, I mean, sometimes I write for other blogs. I wrote recently about my experience of ‘coming out’ including a paragraph about the importance of the gay scene. It prompted comment from the editor -she was glad I’d mentioned it as few of her bloggers do.

The gay scene gets its share of scorn – sometimes rightly so. It can seem, at times, to centre around lining bar tills with your hard-earned notes. But it’s not all just test-tube shots and glitter balls. It’s actually really important. Society organises itself in a really weird way. There are things for girls and things for boys; things for singles and things for couples. Most of all, there are things for heterosexuals.

If the scene feels a bit removed from the ‘real world’ it’s because that world (a construct anyway) often excludes us. If you’re a gay living in a small-minded town something as natural as holding hands in the street can earn you a barrage of abuse. The ‘real world’ can truly suck and having a space that’s ours is really important.

It’s not just about bars and clubs – it’s about a community, and being around people who can understand your experience without a game of 50 questions. It’s about people who get that your partner means the same to you as theirs does to them without a lecture on equality. It’s about people who feel able to ask you about your home life and treat you like a normal human being.

For the most part I’ve been lucky with my friends – I surround myself with people – of any sexual orientation or gender identity – who mostly ‘get it’ instinctively. But not every gay person is as lucky.

It’s still not unusual for gay people to arrive at social occasions and find that the met-them-a-couple-of-weeks-ago ‘partner’ of one of the straights has been invited along, while their live-in partner hasn’t. This is partly because same-sex partners often aren’t seen as real partners until you pass that apparently invisible time marker that all queers must reach in a relationship in order for the straights to consider them relevant enough. After a while, you stop noticing. You stop expecting that your partner will be included – it becomes a pleasant surprise when they are instead.

It’s not just social events either – I know a number of gay people who have recently moved jobs, becoming the only gay in their office, and found that colleagues noticeably get uncomfortable when they mention their partner. Banter that skirts the edge of homophobia is quickly hushed (with a side-order of embarrassed giggles) when people remember there’s ‘one of them’ in the room.

If you’ve never experienced this, you might think that to bother about it is to fuss over nothing. In that case, take my word for it – it’s not nothing. It’s completely shit. It makes us feel humiliated, bashed and excluded, whether or not that is the intention.

I have a friend, we’ll call him Duncan (for that is his name) who has expressed unhappiness about the existence of the gay scene. Why, after all, should we be cornered off into separate bars from everyone else?

Partly it’s because when people are out on the prowl, it’s just easier. Also, it’s fun! I love being surrounded by lovely gays. But mainly, it’s because we need it. After a week of sitting in an office with people who, at best, ignore your life or, at worst, snigger at it, all you want is a Friday night pint in a bar with people who get you and know how to talk to you. And at least if you do catch someone staring, it might just mean you just got lucky.

Here’s to the gay scene – open-minded straights also welcome.


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