Friday, 8 April 2011

The Gay Village: a GREAT Place for Straight Men

Chef: What's the matter Stan, you seem down.

Stan: I just, I can't concentrate because my dog is gay.
Chef: Well, you know what they say. You can't teach a gay dog straight tricks.
Mr. Garrison: Oh, stop filling his head with that queer-loving propaganda.
Chef: Say what? You of all people should be sympathetic.
Mr. Garrison: What do you mean?
Chef: Well, you're gay aren't you?
Mr. Garrison: What? What the hell are you talking about? I am not gay.
Chef: Well, you sure do act like it.
Mr. Garrison: I just act that way to get chicks, dumb ass.

-An exchange from Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride, South Park Season 1

Here’s something you might not know about me: I used to work in a gay bar.

My first bar job was on the very heterosexual Deansgate Locks, an upmarket bar strip housed in the arches of a viaduct. I took the job in Baa Bar knowing the possibility that I might be moved to their Sackville Street venue in the heart of Manchester’s Gay Village, a network of watering holes for… well, you get it.

Lo and behold- within two months the management moved me. I thought about quitting. But I also knew that acting on assumptions is stupid. Yes, I might be molested by gays who cannot accept the fact that a straight man would work in a gay bar. But if you quit before you’re moved to the bar in question, you have nothing with which to back up your argument. So I gave it a shot.

What men hadn’t latched onto in 2002 was that women- straight women- go to the Village to get away from the violence and the relentless pesterings of straight men on the likes of Deansgate and Peter Street. When I moved to the Village, gay men, lesbians and straight women made up the bar's clientele. There were a few straight male employees, but most had girlfriends. So this left me- a straight, single guy- in a bar full of gay men and straight women.

Let’s just say I did better than usual.

A young black girl approached me one evening while I was picking up glasses. She asked which way I swung. I made it clear to her that I was a fan of beef curtain rather than sausage. More into walking the red carpet as opposed to the bristled dirt track.

My friend has challenged me,” she said, pointing to the guy in the skin-tight t-shirt and orange-tinted sunglasses and slicked-back hair- “to kiss ten gay men tonight. So would you mind pretending to be gay so I can kiss you?”

And that, my friend, was one of the most bizarre pull scenarios I have ever been in. And there were a few in the Village. And yes, they were definitely girls. You learn to check these things: the bulging Adam’s apple. The trap muscle under the armpit. The hair on the arms. The lack of defined hips. This girl didn’t have any of those. That said, she wasn’t anything special either.

Thankfully, her friend didn’t try it on given that I’d “proved” my sexuality to him. In retrospect, it was a risk that I took. But through those months working at Baa Bar’s gay outlet, I learned that the Village is a prime venue for birding. Baa Bar was one of the straighter venues in the area, and a good place to start if you don’t want competition. Provided you’re comfortable with the wrong sort of competition competing for you.

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