Thursday, 1 July 2010

Gonna take you to the gay bar.

"There's no place like home." - Dorothy Gale.

I love the Newcastle gay scene more than I can begin to explain to you. It is where my heart lives. In fact if it hadn't been the scene of so many debauched gropings in my past, I'd be more than happy to have my wedding reception at Powerhouse (I'm not quite sure how my parents would feel about sitting at the top table in a club that smells of poppers and excrement, but that is another matter). The scene has some regulars (and, to quote Chandler's drag queen father on Friends, plenty of "irregulars") and in general it's a canny little community we have going on just past the Life centre (or as I like to think of it, Somewhere Over The Rainbow Letters).

The scene was, for the most part, up in arms recently when it was announced that plans were underway for a lap-dancing club to be opened on the scene. Personally, I could see both sides of the argument. The gay scene is probably the most sexually liberated part of Newcastle, so it makes sense that it would be the ideal place for a lap-dancing club. I could imagine strippers and the filthiest of gay men getting along like a house on fire, with something for the lesbians amongst us to enjoy while the men could even call in on their way to The Eagle for a laugh at the titties. Of course, we do not live in an ideal world and that image of harmony between the local LGBT community and the patrons of lap-dancing clubs would not last in the real world. Instead we'd have drunken hoards of testosterone-fuelled men grunting at one another and starting fights with men holding hands on the streets (perhaps an unfair judgement of straight men and visitors of lap-dancing clubs, but as someone who is hollered at and mocked on a daily basis I know it's pretty accurate.

In my last blog I wrote about the birth of the gay "scene" and how it is almost a sanctuary for gay people. We can be who we want in the gay scene, we can express ourselves and behave how we want free from judgement. Of course, people are a lot less judgemental nowadays than they were in the times when homosexuality was kept hush-hush (I even recently got felt up in a local rah bar which was an eye-opening experience for the art students and pretentious gap yarr takers surrounding me, let me tell you), which begs the question, is the gay scene still necessary and, more importantly, is it still relevant?

For me, the answer is a resounding yes. I'm sure there is a Liquid nightclub near where you live. Perhaps you've been in, perhaps the smell of foot odour and underage vomit isn't for you. Personally, I love Liquid. It is, in truth, camp as a row of tents and what is not to like about that? What I will say, though, is that I have never been to Liquid and not been laughed at or insulted or whatever. Someone once had me by my collar ready to punch me because he wasn't comfortable with a gay guy being in the same club as him. It's as I always say; just because homophobia is largely frowned upon by the majority of people doesn't mean that it doesn't still go on.

But what of the people who were against the introduction of the night club because the scene is "ours", and not for straight people to enjoy. I have a strange and somewhat hypocritical relationship with straight people in the gay scene because I can not stand groups of silly, straight girls wandering around and treating it like a safari park. I'm sure you know the type of girls I'm talking about. The Paris Hilton-esque lasses with their tiny handbags who "love the gays" but are conveniently busy on the day of their commitment ceremonies. My rule is, if you're not willing to be eyed up by lesbians then you shouldn't be on the gay scene.

Conversely, I was out in Powerhouse with my best friend Catherine a few months ago when a gay guy we both know approached her and asked "What are you doing here?" in an accusatory manner. For one thing, she was there with me but even if she wasn't, Catherine is free to venture out on the gay scene if she likes. She doesn't act like a tourist, she just likes the atmosphere of a club that will play Adam Rickitt and Rachel Stevens for her. Surely hostility towards straight people taking advantage of what the gay scene has to offer is utterly hypocritical, and every bit as bad as someone making me feel uncomfortable when I'm busting a move outside of the gay scene.

What I'm trying to say is, one day the lines between the gay scene and every other bar out there will be blurred and it will be lovely. Lap-dancing clubs will be able to open on gay scenes without causing problems, and I will be able to shake my arse at Liquid without being threatened with physical violence. Unfortunately, that is not the world we live in yet, and that's why I breathed a sigh of relief when Carla told me today that the plans for the lap-dancing club had fallen through. It'd be nice if we lived in a world where the two could co-exist but, sadly, we don't. And because this town is in fact big enough for the both of us, they can take their club elsewhere and still make a success of it.

More importantly, this means there's going to be a new gay bar in town so everyone's a winner, really :)

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