Gay culture contracts into an unrecognizable permutation:
The reasons for what everyone agrees is a noticeable contraction in club life go way beyond the digital revolution into even more fundamental changes. Younger gay men might be more concerned about meeting Mr. Right to marry and start families than the perpetual search for Mr.Right Now. Even the ones still on the prowl have less expendable income after paying for a rabbit warren of a room in a shared apartment in a funky neighborhood far away from Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen, or the East Village. Who wants to be cooked at 4 a.m. while anticipating a long wait for a subway train and a longer walk from the station?
Besides, gay men don’t define themselves by the clubs they frequent anymore. Nor do they have to. In the years after Stonewall, clubs like the Firehouse and 12 West represented safe spaces in a hostile world where we could flirt, make out, and hook up (usually on site). With gay men coming out earlier and being comfortable hanging out with straight friends, even Blair and his partner in life and work, Beto Sutter, disagree about whether an unspoken, discriminatory door policy still works.
“At the Roxy, people complained about too many girls,” Sutter says, adding, “eight girls for every guy! Now they want diversity on Saturday night.”
A couple weeks ago a professor lamented how gay students care too “goddamn much” about marriage. They can’t help it, I explained, that they want to emulate the joy — the legitimacy — this institution confers on their straight buddies. My friend was having none of it — he wanted more danger. The trouble is, my friend is one of those older men whose homosexuality is another crochet, an idiosyncrasy like his penchant for pastel bowties, yet can’t see how this is precisely how many young gay men and women see it too. Riven by contradictions, some of which go back decades, gay culture was bound to crash against recent developments.
I was so enthused about Pride that I spent a night at a world famous Coral Gables resort after swimming in a rain-filled pool with a close friend and attending a wake. The thought of spending a muggy evening chasing meat and enduring Guetta and Tiesto remixes left me soft, not when I could eat short ribs at Palme D’Or. A product of the post-internet gay hookup scene, I’ve grown accustomed to ordering out. For my most recent hookup we met at a bar not known for m4m tongue action, to which I’ve taken every trick since the summer George W. Bush declared stem cell research a national threat but where so far I’ve seen nobody getting peed on, unless you count splashing the Puma of the dude next to the urinal waiting for you to finish.
Yet we needn’t let our ambivalence about Pride turn us into Simeon Stylites, as Rich Juzwiak discovered. Finding a hickey as “mortifying” as Karposi’s sarcoma might be the truest sign of the gay apocalypse.