The Next Step Forward: Evolution of Gay Space

One thing I think is often the next step forward in gay progress, is what we do with our unique culture and space. We see a mixture of frustration at the slow death of gay bars and a growing complacency about it. Some of us are sad to see gay bar after gay bar close and/or get over run by sorority girls and brital showers to a point there isn’t enough homosexuality in them to make them worth going out too as a homosexual looking for homosocial oppertunity. Yet heterosexual insensitively taking over the space is only partially to blame…there is also a less motivation for new generations to be proactive and out going due to two things. The prevalence of gay apps and less persecution from heteronormative society that drives one to seek out safe gay spaces. Many guys I talk to of all ages seems to reduce the slow death of gay culture to one of these three reasons. I do not think this problem one of these things alone…but rather a big combination of all three. After all plenty of guys have Grindr, Growlr, Scruff, and the like…but still go out to the gay bars on weekends too. While yes we are getting more comfortable in a heterodominate society…that doesn’t change the fact that society remains heterodominat and because of this we will ALWAYS require spaces dedicated to homosexual socialization. 

As far has hetero gay bar take overs…well that’s just a lack of sensitivity on their part…more conversations need to be had with our allies about how important it is for gay spaces to remain homosexually dominant. We want them to feel comfortable with us, but at the end of the day a straight person never feels isolated from other straight people in everyday life in society at large. They may struggle with dating oppertunities for various reasons, but thats not because of a lack of heterosexuals around them that’s due to other issues which they need to work out amongst themselves. Gay people do feel isolated from other gay people…no matter how many supportive straight friends they have, their supportive straight friends are not gay and do not provide homosexual oppertunities. Gay bars must remain focused on their purpose, which is to provide a space for homosexuals to socialize and connect. Heterosexuals have literally everywhere in society for that. They are not being victimized when we ask them not to invade our homosexual spaces. So perhapse they should be thankful they don’t need to dedicate special spaces to connect to other straight people because of lacking that oppertunity and respect what gay bars are actually about. Gay bar tangent aside, my point is no matter how much social progress we enjoy in society, we will ALWAYS need spaces dedicated to gay socialization. Not because of persecution alone…but rather the need of having access to oppertunities to sexually develop, find romantic oppertunities, and develop a comrodery with those that share homosexuality in common and relate to the nuances of homosexual experiences and perspectives. Thats the next frontier of gay culture.

Thats going to be what the next generations need to talk about. Instead of focusing on gay rights as a political issue alone…its going to become more and more about socialization. How do we create a better future (and present) where homosexuals feel more connected and have more oppertunities to have social experiences togeither? In more metropolitan areas there are more then just gay bars alone, there are gay sports teams, gay special interest groups, gay cafés, and even “gayborhoods.” But not every homosexual has a desire for big city life, we need more things like that in small metropolitan areas. I know in my own hometown of Asheville NC, we have a small amount of gay special interest groups (that frankly often struggle to stay alive). We use to have a plethora of gay bars and all but one has pretty much become hetero-dominant or closed down. We have an annual pride and a LGBT center that is in its forming stages. For better or worse we are a decently small-sized metropolitan area with resources that make up a simi-gay culture. But sometimes I feel there is such apathy to actually participating in that culture. Aspects of it have slowly declined (like the amount of gay bars that can actually be called “gay”). Others have slowly begun to grow (like our annual pride and the proto-formation of an LGBT center). But when I talk to other gays in our area, a good number seem to have a complacency about it all. Feeling comfortable about how gay friendly the general population of Asheville is…why do they NEED gay friends and gay community? To that I answer…why do you always complain about never having a boyfriend? I don’t know maybe because you don’t care enough about there being a thriving space, culture, and community of people where that oppertunity is accessable? Sure in a progressive place like Asheville if your outgoing enough you’ll run in a few fellow gays every now and then…but still the ratio of gay to straight in any given crowd is still going to be 2.5:20 on average. Is that really a “thriving” homosexual social experience? Better then it could be else where…but still not “thriving.” Not all gays feel this way obviously…but just enough of us are complacent and lacking in motivation to care about having a thriving gay community…that its barely able to stay alive. Its not only in my hometown…its happening all over the USA. While I cannot speak for other developed countries at similar phases of social progress in gay rights…I am sure its a similar issue for them too.

We need to challenge each other to think about our needs as more then just political progress. Our needs in society don’t just stop with anti-discrimination laws, marriage equality, and adoption rights. Having those things established are seriously just the beginning to making a better tomorrow for homosexuals in society. Simply not being treated like shit in society and having supportive heterosexual friends are not enough to having an optimum and functional homosexual existance. Having a fully realized thriving homosexual life also includes homosexual relationships and easy access to them. So we need to change how we think about what the purpose of a gay community is. Its not simply to fight a political battle to be accepted in a hetero-dominant society…though that certianly is important…its also about homosexuals meeting other homosexuals and developing relationships with each other. That’s certainly not limited to sexual and romantic ones alone, its also friendships with people that share a common experience. We need to stop limiting our ambition for progress to simply being accepted by straight folks…we need to add the ambition of having more and better oppertunities for homosexuals to connect to each other. 

No body said this would be easy, that you even have to like every homosexual you meet, or that any true community of people sharing common identities is a perfect flawless experience. I certainly don’t “like” every single gay person I meet simply because they are also homosexual. However, I know the value of them being apart of a larger community we share…regardless of my feelings about them personally. Gay people are just as diverse as any community. Some of us are masculine, some femme, some don’t even care to own a gender identity. Some of us are geeks, blue collar, white collar, academic, rich, middle class, or poor. Some of us only want monogamy, some of us want the freedom to explore non-monogamy without judgement or disapproval. Some of us are into kink and BDSM and Leather, others are vanilla. Some are liberal and even though it boggles my mind and makes absolutely no sense to me some of us are conservative. Most of us are some grey obscurity of all these things and more. Having a gay community is not always about having perfect and ideal personal connection to everyone you meet. Its about a diverse population of homosexuals uniting in a common goal. Which I think needs to evolve to become more and more about having oppertunities for homosexual relationships. While some of those relationships are not always going to be an ideal connection…the point is the oppertunity for them is there and that there is more then just one or two rare oppertunities.


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