Friday, September 2, 2016

Trying to Find a Quiet Night in Gay Heaven

San Francisco, March 1997

What is it like to live in Gay Heaven, to know that you have achieved something that most gay people can only dream of?  How can you go about your everyday activities, buy groceries, pay rent, work out at the gym, knowing that thousands of people would give anything to be in your position?

It's a big responsibility to live as a stand-in for a thousand gay men.  Every moment has to count.  Every night is a mad rush of beer busts, bear parties, AIDS benefits, book signings, art openings, film premieres, special events so frequent that they're not special at all.

Plus at least one party per week, probably two or three, to welcome new residents; to say goodbye to those who are leaving; to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, new jobs, and new apartments; to introduce new boyfriends; to entertain a constant stream of out-of-town guests.

(Every gay man you have ever known, even if it was just a brief conversation ten years ago, will eventually show up on your doorstep, bags in hand, hoping to stay with you while he tries to move to Gay Heaven.)

Plus a round of holidays that require planning and discussion: the Castro Street Fair, Halloween, New Year's Eve, The Gay Film Festival, the AIDS Walk, Dore Alley, Christopher Street West

Plus constant dates and hookups, partly because there are so many men to choose from, new refugees from the Straight World arriving every day.

Partly because when you're a stand-in for a thousand gay men stuck in Straight World wastelands, it's your duty and obligation to have as much sex as possible.

I leave the apartment at 8:00 am, meet David at Orphan Andy's for breakfast, and am never alone again until I return at 11:00 pm -- even then, I usually have a date or hookup with me.

My computer and tv sit silent.  My kitchen is for storing sodas and snacks.  Books that I buy but don't have time to read accumulate in uneasy stacks by my bedside.

I'm an introvert. I hate blaring music, flashing lights, and especially crowds.  I need quiet and solitude to recharge and energize.

March 14: Friday Night.

I've been asked out to dinner by Roger, a guy I met at the gym -- he had a very impressive shower erection.  Plus my sort-of boyfriend Kevin wants me to go to a "open mike night," I've been invited to a party to help my friend Corbin welcome his visiting ex-boyfriend, and there's the usual Bear Party south of Market.  But I've had it.  Tonight is my night to relax!

I write in my Calendar "Quiet Evening at Home!!!," refuse all invitations, and turn off the answering machine on my phone.  After work and the gym, I pick up Thai food and a pint of ice cream.  I go home, draw the shades, and lock the door.

For the next 12 hours, I will not see, talk to, or interact with another human being.  Sheer solitude!  Heaven in Gay Heaven!

7:30 pm.  I put on my bathrobe and turn on Nickelodeon to watch while I eat.  Kenan and Kel, a teencom about a pair of Laurel-and-Hardy fat-thin bickering-buddies played by Kenan Thompson (who gets them involved in crazy schemes) and Kel Mitchell (who groans his catchphrase, "Here it goes!").  he guys believe that their friend Roger (Malcolm Jamal-Warner) is a jewel thief.

The guys have a strong gay subtext, and Roger is rather cute.  What a coincidence -- a cute guy asked me out to dinner tonight.  We would probably be eating right now.  Then we'd go to Corbin's party, then cruising at the Eagle, and back to his apartment....


8:00 pm: I turn the channel to Sliders, about college boy Quinn (Jerry O'Connor) trapped in an endless voyage among parallel universes, accompanied by the Girl, the Professor, and the Jazz Musician.   This week they're in a world where all 18-25 year olds must become organ donors for the oldsters.  Meanwhile there's a subplot about Maggie (Kari Wuhler), an team member they picked up a few parallel worlds back, having a parasite removed from her body.  It takes a hot guy to lure it out so it can breed.

Heterosexist -- even alien parasites fall into boy-girl categories -- and disgusting.  Besides, Quinn never takes his shirt off.

At Corbin's party tonight, the entertainment will be a guy stripping and going down on the guests, or maybe a "guess the penis" game.

9:00 pm.  Nothing good on tv.  I go to the bedroom, lie down on the bed, and pick up a book.

Kevin is probably at the open-mic night by now.  One doesn't expect a dour, sarcastic vampire to be a singer, but he is, with a wide repertoire of torch songs and show tunes.  "Cabaret" starts playing in my head:

Put away the knitting, the book, and the broom.  Listen to the music play.
Life is a cabaret, old chum.  Come to the cabaret....



9:30 pm.  I turn the tv back on.  Step by Step, a TGIF sitcom about the blended family of Frank (Patrick Duffy) and Carol (Suzanne Sommers), formerly of Dallas and Three's Company, respectively.

In this episode, Frank's son  J.T. (Brandon Call), Carol's daughter Dana (Staci Keanan), and  their friend Rich (Jason Marsden) end up in a Mexican prison over burritos.  Back home, Carol teaches Jean-Luc (Bronson Pinchot), her partner at the beauty salon, how to drive.

Strong gay subtext between J.T. and Rich, and I'm pretty sure Jean-Luc is supposed to be gay.  But...I don't need to worry about subtexts and stereotypes anymore.  I'm in Gay Heaven!

The bear party is usually busy about now.

There are thousands of gay guys trapped in the Straight World tonight, with nothing to do but watch Step by Step and dream.  But I live in Gay Heaven.  It's my duty to go out, whether I want to or not.

I pull on my clothes and catch the Muni to South of Market.

10:00 pm.  I arrive at the bear party.  My friend David is there, going down on a muscular guy in his 30s with a short beard, a tight hairless chest, and a nicely shaped Bratwurst+.  He moves aside and motions for me to take over.

Just a quiet night in Gay Heaven.

See also: The Amazing Invisible Boy






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