You know how you can get in a rut, doing the same things and going to the same places, and when you break out of it you're pleasantly surprised that there's a world of people out there beyond your scope of personal experience? That's what happened to me last night, when I discovered the delightful world of lesbians.
Paul had invited me to join him last night for A Taste for Every Palette, a food-sampling social event raising money for the women's services programs of the Howard Brown Health Center, which is best known for serving the health needs of Chicago-area gay men. As with every expensive fund-raiser serving the Chicago gay "community," the see-and-be-seen homosexuals were out in legion force -- though not at the Stepford levels you usually encounter at the events serving specifically men's interests. The wonderful twist at this event, though, was the prevalence of gay women. I just never see gay women in my usual social tracks that take me from home to work to Boystown to the Chicago lakefront trail, and it was so great to be in a room filled with gay women unafraid to hold hands and smooch and socialize and have a great time together just like us fags do.
And I feel the need to make a few comments about stereotypes here: They exist for a reason. Gay men -- at least the ones I encounter at bars and social events such as these -- tend to dress on the trendy side of normal, use copious amounts of hair product and go out of their way to show the world they've spent a lot of time at the gym. (I realize this is an overgeneralization, but by and large it's a very observable truth. And I am more than guilty of helping perpetuate this image.) In contrast, the women at the event last night tended to have short, sensible hair and dress in pants and conspicuously unsexy tops. And they were far more gregarious around strangers than the status-conscious gay-male stereotype allows. Just an observation.
One more observation: This lesbian gender-bending stuff was seriously jamming Paul's and my gaydar last night. There were a couple times when we commented on a cute guy across the room, only to discover that he was really a boyish woman with a sexy haircut. ACK!
The event itself was a lot of fun. There was an amazing variety of foods, and I think I sampled every dessert available. (Of note were a chocolate cr�me br�l�e with fresh raspberries and a chocolate ganache cake with a raspberry pur�e. And I'm not even a big fan of chocolate and raspberries together. But I am a fan of including diacritical marks in the names of foreign dessert foods. Such fun!) It was held at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, which I've always wanted to check out. The exhibits that were open to us party-goers weren't all that amazing, though. There was a large butterfly sanctuary that was kind of cool, but everything else seemed to be artificial representations of things -- an odd curatorial choice for a place that bills itself as a "nature museum."
While I was there, I even got my picture taken by a Joe Photo guy from boystownchicago! The Joe Photo guys never take my picture at the events I go to, and my photo op makes me suddenly feel so relevant in the gay Chicago social scene.
After the event died down, Paul and I headed over to Sidetrack for some lesbian-free show-tune fun. The place wasn't as crowded as usual, but we put in a good couple of hours of musical theater therapy and then headed home to sleep with our heads full of kicklines and our bellies full of chocolate.