Keith C.

November 1997

Rites of Passage?

According to popular belief, a rite of passage when coming out is to venture into a gay bar or dance club. This practice introduces the gay person to an environment that is almost exclusively gay. It may be dreadfully scary or quite possibly a lurid fantasy come to life (or a wicked combination of the two).

I have encountered one gay bar. One. It ain't going to happen again unless I'm dragged into one or I suddenly lose my mind. (And besides, I don't drink...)

I have never been to a gay dance club. I don't plan to. I don't really want to. I've already heard enough from friends to sufficiently deter my ass away from any gay club.

I would also like to point out that I avoid gay bars and clubs not because I am in any way hiding my gayness. I came out in 1994. Everyone and their Mom (even my Mom) knows about me.

My aversion to almost exclusively gay establishments is because of two reasons. Reason one: I'm not fond of having to travel to an establishment that is exclusively gay only to meet other gays. I just have a problem with relegating myself to a location where everyone is gay. I would just rather meet guys in a traditional environment, like work or school. This is where you say, "But Keith, isn't it hard to meet gay guys unless you are in a place where it is easy to identify who is gay and who isn't?" I respond, "God yes it's hard, but I'm not going to change my beliefs just yet."

Reason two for avoiding gay establishments: West Hollywood. If you live in Los Angeles (or heck, even if you don't), you have heard of WeHo. It is easily one of the largest gay ghettos in the United States. WeHo is where most of the gay bars and clubs are situated in Los Angeles.

While generally speaking, there is nothing inherently wrong with West Hollywood. It is a clean city with many great establishments. The population of WeHo runs the gamut. Though surely, a major portion of the population is gay. At night, on Santa Monica Boulevard (essentially the gay strip in WeHo) the population takes on a different image.

Now let me just point out that I do not pretend to be a spokesperson for West Hollywood or gay people in general, this is only my opinion.

The streets of WeHo at night are filled with buff, tanned, great looking gay clones. Flaunt it if you've got it. If you don't... well, you are in the minority my friend.

I know I am overgeneralizing. But to me, this is what my impression of WeHo is. And it doesn't make me happy. If there is no room in WeHo for the normal guys who don't religiously tan themselves or monitor their fat intake, where are they to go to meet other gays?

This is the dilemma I face. I have found that the conventional way of meeting gays (i.e. WeHo) just doesn't cut it for me. I know that I could certainly go out and weed my way though the muck in WeHo to discover datable material (or hell, friend-material). But, after the horror stories I have heard from friends and acquaintances, the likeliness of me venturing into WeHo gradually decrease with each passing day.

Maybe I'm not giving West Hollywood and the "gay scene" a fair chance. We'll see.

©1997 Oasis Magazine. All Rights Reserved.