Monday, May 02, 2005

My big gay weekend

On Friday night after work I went to a goodbye party for a co-worker. He found a wee tiny dive bar (the Sea of Happiness Lounge, which in name alone could be either the coolest dive bar ever or the gayest dive bar ever) in an obscure little hotel not far from our office—and for a couple smoke-filled hours, I bonded with my colleagues and said my good-byes among model ships made out of beer cans, dishes of stale popcorn and a prominently displayed photocopy of an AIDS joke so staggeringly stupid that I’d bet even Tom DeLay wouldn’t laugh at it. At least not if he were dead.

I got up on Saturday at some ungodly hour to scrub off the stupidity smoke and road-trip south with the chorus to do three shows in Peoria and Bloomington. And the day was a lot more fun than I’d expected. It’s easy for us big-cityfolk to take for granted the fact that we can live our gay lives pretty openly and without much fear of oppression. So it was especially cool to go be openly gay and wildly fabulous in front of smaller-town audiences that feel compelled to hide most of the time in Dockers-filled closets. We got so many warm thank-yous and so much wild, screaming applause for gay things in our shows that we’ve always seen as no big deal (like two guys dancing together) … it almost brought tears to my eyes. And after dancing six big-ass swing numbers in one day, it definitely brought a burning sensation to my calves and tibialis anteriors (tibialises anterior? tibiali anterior?).

I have to say, though—and I mean this in an amusing-observation kind of way—that I have NEVER seen so many women with unflattering haircuts in my life. We shared the program in Bloomington with a lesbian/feminist chorus whose performance attire came right out of the Lesbian/Feminist Chorus Handbook: baggy black (or black and white) clothes, decorative vestments in Aztec or African patterns, and shortish hairdos. Our audience was mostly women who own back copies of the handbook, and they were distinguishable from the women on stage only because they didn’t limit their base wardrobe palette to black and white. These women were clearly happy with who they are and how they look—and they could NOT have been friendlier to us—but I had to laugh at the fact that they follow a small-town lesbian clone aesthetic that is just as obvious and pervasive as our big-city homo clone aesthetic. And for two-plus hours on Saturday, we were one big happy chambray-and-Lycra mixed marriage of gay love.

Sunday was even gayer than Saturday, but solidly on the faggy-clone end of the continuum. I joined Jim and Jeff and Jason (wow—if only MY name started with a J so I could be in their club too!) Sunday morning for a foo-foo fundraiser in the gorgeous Harold Washington Library Winter Garden (aptly named considering how witch’s-tit COLD it’s been here the last few weeks). The event was a spring-y brunch and fashion show with delicious food, a snooty gay crowd in an explosion of stereotypes pastels, and an army of braless models who couldn’t have been more than 12 or 13 years old. Even the hunkiest (and I use that term loosely) of the male models looked too young to have voted against Dubya, which made me extra-thankful I’d used my eye cream that morning.

And now it’s Monday, and my 37-year-old body is wrapped in couture from the House of Gap and stationed behind my office desk from the House of Formica and I’m happy to be living in the glorious melting pot of polite society.

No comments: