Skip

Beers, Jocks, and Queers
December 7, 2011 2:08 PM   Subscribe

We call hot wings 'sassy' here,” he explains. “'Cause, you know, we're gay.” Gay sports bars are no longer an oxymoron. But are they part of the death of gay culture?
posted by Diablevert (93 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
I could really use a sports bar like that here in Atlanta. Anyone know of one?

Honestly, I don't quite get the "end of gay culture" argument. Can someone explain how a place that is inclusive for the set whose properties overlap with gay/sports fan is a bad thing?
posted by strixus at 2:10 PM on December 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Nerd sports bars might signal the death of culture, but gays and lesbians are not famously opposed to sports.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:11 PM on December 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


GYM is the big gay sports bar in NYC, the gay rugby league meets there after matches to get wasted.
posted by The Whelk at 2:15 PM on December 7, 2011


seriously, some of my gay friends are into sports. they will go to gay sports bars. Nellie's is the big one in DC.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:15 PM on December 7, 2011


But are they part of the death of gay culture?

No. The occasional terribleness of these places (I'll be sure to avoid Boxers, the comment mentioned in there is fucking awful) is something that has been in gay culture forever.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 2:15 PM on December 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


But are they part of the death of gay culture stereotypes?

Hopefully, yes.
posted by darkstar at 2:17 PM on December 7, 2011 [28 favorites]


Before it was integration and on line hookups ruining gay culture, now it's people getting together with a common interest, make up your mind lazy features writers!
posted by The Whelk at 2:18 PM on December 7, 2011 [19 favorites]


What is this "gay culture" that people keep mentioning? Is it like the "gay agenda" that I was apparently never issued my copy of?
posted by xedrik at 2:20 PM on December 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


It seems like there is more of a market for alternative sports bar, in the true meaning of that word, and the gay sports bar are just filling that role.
posted by smackfu at 2:21 PM on December 7, 2011


As long as it has more culture than a Petri dish, gay it up.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:22 PM on December 7, 2011


Honestly, I don't quite get the "end of gay culture" argument. Can someone explain how a place that is inclusive for the set whose properties overlap with gay/sports fan is a bad thing?

My guess is that, at least in the case of the bar profiled, certain theme nights attract more straight people than gay people hence (I guess) turning it into a straight bar.

But, honestly, (some) gay people like sports. (Some) sports fans like to congregate in sports bars. Hence, gay sports bars are a thing. This doesn't seem weird to me at all. In fact, since jock culture still tends to be quite homophobic, gay sports bars appear to be a necessity for gay sports fans who want to go to the bar and watch the game in a safe space.

And, in the case of the bar attracting as many or more straight people than gay people: as long as they are all accepting and cool people, what's the big deal? I would really love if there were more bars where my straight friends and gay friends (and everyone in-between) could fee equally comfortable.
posted by asnider at 2:23 PM on December 7, 2011


But he acknowledges that athletic culture sometimes attracts self-hating gays who “wouldn't dare be caught sipping from a martini glass, and would never admit that they have a Lady Gaga remix on their iPod.”

I am not gay, so perhaps I am not entitled to ask this, but: isn't it dumb to worry about whether or not a gay person is into Lady Gaga and sipping martinis? Isn't that kind of self-Otherizing? And why should masculine/feminine notions even relate to sexuality?
posted by Apocryphon at 2:25 PM on December 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


I live a couple blocks from Nellie's (which is, contrary to what's stated in the article, in the heart of a gay nightlife area in DC). During the day, there are a few straight people there and people watching sports - but on a Friday or Saturday night (or Sunday afternoon in the summer), it's indistinguishable from any other gay bar.
posted by awesomebrad at 2:27 PM on December 7, 2011


If gay culture really was just the sum of its stereotypes, than goddamn is it a good thing that that is dying.

No, gay culture was at its core an attitude of acceptance and love that for a long time was forced to take on everyone opposed to it, which was nearly everyone, up to and including the entire NYPD. I don't see the former going anywhere anytime soon, and the fact that my gay elders/ancestors once beat the shit out of the NYPD so that I could one day see something so beautiful as this is an amazing and deeply humbling thing.
posted by Blasdelb at 2:29 PM on December 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Although, the whole "no drag queens allowed because this place is about men" is kind of fucked up. Can't drag queens also be sports fans? (Also, would a drag performer actually bother getting all gussied up to go and watch a hockey game? Is this potentially a non-issue that simply ends up making the owner look like a dick for even bringing it up?)
posted by asnider at 2:29 PM on December 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Nellie's is the only sports bar I have ever found more than marginally tolerable, but then it exists in a strange place between gay bar and gay club (drag trivia, drag bingo, bands and dance nights all feature). It's just a friendly sort of place, and the disco balls set off the wall of TVs nicely.
posted by EvaDestruction at 2:30 PM on December 7, 2011


awesomebrad - I think the writer is referring to Dupont Circle/17th as "the" heart of DC gay nightlife. Town and Nellie's, while incredibly popular, don't really constitute a nightlife center.
posted by troika at 2:32 PM on December 7, 2011


"The end of gay culture" - that depends so much on how you think of gay culture.

There's a viewpoint that being gay/lesbian/queer actively creates queer subjectivities - that we aren't just regular folks who happen to sleep with other queers. Sometimes this is "we have critical distance on mainstream culture, plus we have to actually think critically about our gender expression and place in the world, giving rise naturally to a more interesting and progressive set of queer cultures". Here, queer cultures can pretty much vanish if allowed - if we are allowed to blend into a mainstream society which no longer cares who we sleep with. Sometimes it's "there is actually something in being queer itself - how sex and bodies and reproduction and relationships work for queer people - that is always radically different from how straight people experience the world. Even though straight experiences are diverse, they are deeply different from queer experiences." Thus, queer people get assimilated when things go wrong - when we pretend, for privilege or just to escape homophobia - that we are just like straight people.

Thus, there is often a critique of queer misogyny (as with the Boxers manly men chestbeating routine, apparently) that says "queer misogyny derives from homophobia -hatred of men and women who do not perform gender 'straightly' turning into hatred of queers who are too queer, gay guys who aren't 'straight-acting'. There's this desire to bring about a queer culture that is free of misogyny and assimilation.

I guess the whole question of "is this the death of queer culture" to me boils down to "are the people going to these sports bars assimilated and/or queer misogynists?" And that's pretty difficult to tell without going to the bars in question. "Can gay people like sports and still be gay?" is a silly question.

(My own take tends to be that queerness opens up the possibility of a radical critique of mainstream culture, a radical anti-misogyny, but does not guarantee those things.
posted by Frowner at 2:38 PM on December 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


Gay sports bars are awesome. The death of gay culture is being brought about by two things. One: social acceptance. And two: the Internet. Why bother going to some dingy bar with watered down drinks to get laid when you can just fire up Grindr and be on your way to a hookup in 10 minutes?
posted by Nelson at 2:38 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am not gay, so perhaps I am not entitled to ask this, but: isn't it dumb to worry about whether or not a gay person is into Lady Gaga and sipping martinis? Isn't that kind of self-Otherizing? And why should masculine/feminine notions even relate to sexuality?

It's called "internalized homophobia" and it's not exactly uncommon, even these days. LGBT people are not immune from the effects of gender/sex policing.

So, in the abstract, yes, it's a dumb thing to worry about. Doesn't mean people don't worry about it, and it doesn't mean that saying "Quit worrying about that" is all it will take to fix it. LGBT are raised (speaking specifically of the U.S., since that's where I was raised) with just as many fucked up messages about sex, gender, and sexuality as everyone else.
posted by rtha at 2:39 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure that I would agree that gay sports bars signify "the end of gay culture," but I do think it's a fairly radical shift. The sports bar is one of the few places where it is societally permissible for men to express emotion: (1) Sports are involved, which is a common avenue for homosocial bonding and displays of raw emotion, and (2) people are drinking, and drunk people are allowed to be more emotional. I don't mean that men are going to sports bars thinking, "Gee, I could really use a good cry today, I'm gonna out for a few cold ones with the boys and watch the game," but rather that a sports bar can be a highly valued place for the traditionally stoic American male to finally let go, have some fun, and make friends. And by participating in outings at sports bars, men also reaffirm their masculinity to their peers and to themselves. In short, the sports bar is a highly important institution for many heterosexual American men.

Since masculinity is so central a sports bar, and since in many cases masculinity manifests itself as homophobia (i.e., if you're gay, you can't be a man--and if you aren't gay, you continuously need to prove to your peers that you're not gay to maintain your manliness), then the question of "What is a queer sports bar?" is actually pretty relevant. Within American culture, a queer sports bar is fundamentally paradoxical in nature. It makes perfect sense that gay sports fans would seek out their own safe place to watch sports, since there's nothing inherently "heterosexual" about sports.
posted by thermopoetics at 2:40 PM on December 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


troika - I like to think I'm pretty up on DC gay nightlife, and while 17th Street probably has the highest concentration of LGBT businesses, for men in their 20s you'd be hard pressed to find a more top-of-mind location than 9th & U NW.
posted by awesomebrad at 2:41 PM on December 7, 2011


Nerd sports bars might signal the death of culture, but gays and lesbians are not famously opposed to sports.

There's plenty of nerds into sports! Though, admittedly, this nerd that likes sports isn't really into sports bars, but I'm not really into bars of any kind.

(Interesting side note, some sports bars are now showing Starcraft matches: Barcraft.)
posted by kmz at 2:45 PM on December 7, 2011


some sports bars are now showing Starcraft matches

That's not the death of culture. That's the death of sports.
posted by Apocryphon at 2:48 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


What is this "gay culture" that people keep mentioning?

Non-normatively-gendered culture. It's typically been an easier leap for gay people to make, because when something profoundly counter to gendered behavioural norms is innate to you, the arbitrary and nonessential nature of the whole thing shows through all the more clearly. And it isn't dying: it's spreading and changing and yes, becoming less necessarily associated with who you're attracted to.
posted by emmtee at 2:49 PM on December 7, 2011


Was going to go on a bit of a tear about the whole "Gay Culture Dying" bit, but Emmtee and others have beaten me to the punch.
posted by Slackermagee at 3:06 PM on December 7, 2011


The 'end of gay culture' is an Andrew Sullivan thing, I think. It's just about gay people not being separate from the rest of society and complete integration -- gay soldiers, gay marriage, no more gay bars, etc. So that being gay has no more bearing on who you are, and who your friends are, what kind of music you like, what party you vote for, which church you go to, etc, than, for example, being blonde does.
posted by empath at 3:12 PM on December 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


(and, btw, it's about mainstream culture getting more 'gay' as well as the other way around)
posted by empath at 3:13 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Interesting side note, some sports bars are now showing Starcraft matches: Barcraft.

I think more generally sports bars and venues like them are coming to realize that there are more people out there than their usual crowd who aren't being served. There is a local bar here that put on Zombie nights when the Walking Dead aired last season, and there have been other nerd nights as well.
posted by selenized at 3:14 PM on December 7, 2011


Sports is killing culture, straight or gay.
posted by SirOmega at 3:15 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's just about gay people not being separate from the rest of society and complete integration -- gay soldiers, gay marriage, no more gay bars, etc. So that being gay has no more bearing on who you are, and who your friends are, what kind of music you like, what party you vote for, which church you go to, etc, than, for example, being blonde does.

This is a good thing, right? Are there really people out there who feel this is a bad thing?
posted by Jimbob at 3:16 PM on December 7, 2011


Recently featured in IRL
posted by Blasdelb at 3:16 PM on December 7, 2011


Just my feeling, but if "gay culture" can only exist as a segregated ghetto apart from other culture, then it's "death" doesn't bother me. If, however, it isn't dying so much as evolving with new generations and progressive attitudes towards the community at large, then all the better.

I'm gonna guess it's the latter that we're seeing here.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:18 PM on December 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ugh, yeah, no matter what makes your culture or scene unique and awesome, it's always in mortal peril, threatened existentially by whatever new trend comes about.

I don't go to bars OR watch sports, but I'd totally go watch sports in a gay sports bar. Sounds like it'd be a total blast.
posted by jake at 3:31 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is a good thing, right? Are there really people out there who feel this is a bad thing?

Any loss of culture is going to hurt. The worries about loss of culture are really, I think, about loss of community. If we assimilate, for lack of a better word, we lose the need for the structures and community we built to take care of ourselves. To not need to take care of ourselves (build our own social services and whatever else) is a good thing, but to know people like you have managed to build it is meaningful.

I've literally never set foot in a gay bar, so I can't worry that there are too many straight people in 'my' bar, but the fact that every time I've looked for support in the community, it's been there is a big deal.

I could have done without the article busily pointing out how gay the bars were all the time. Oh my! There are gay people in a gay bar!
posted by hoyland at 3:34 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is a good thing, right? Are there really people out there who feel this is a bad thing?

It's a bad thing if you like actually like gay bars.
posted by empath at 3:52 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


The 'end of gay culture' is an Andrew Sullivan thing, I think.

Huh? No way, the discussion predates Sullivan's rise by a long margin.

This is a good thing, right? Are there really people out there who feel this is a bad thing?

Like most things in life, it's more complex than a simple good vs. bad. There are important cultural elements lost with integration along with the many things gained (for just one example, a former administrator at an all-black public school in the 1960s talked to me in an interview once about how integration led to many black leaders losing their jobs and a consequent loss of strong leadership role models for young black students).

An appreciation for the complexity of the interaction between minority isolation and majority acceptance will help you understand the discussion a lot better, I think.
posted by mediareport at 4:10 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I prefer my gays to only like the same things. Then I can buy their Christmas gifts in bulk.
posted by Foam Pants at 4:16 PM on December 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


And yeah, gay bars that ban drag queens just make me and my gay friends laugh at the insecurity about what makes a man a man, and thankfully we don't hold those idiots against more thoughtful gay sports fans, who are beautiful just the way they are. Thankfully, there was just one in the article that pulls that ridiculous femme-phobic garbage. I'd sure never go there, though.
posted by mediareport at 4:18 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm neither gay nor a sports fan, but that totally sounds like a place at which I'd happily drink beers. Actually, when I'm traveling and looking for somewhere get a beer and burger, I usually default to a sportsbar because they are almost always low key and welcoming to non-regulars, and there's always someone wanting to chat if I'm feeling like conversation. Gay or gay-friendly versions of that sounds ideal to me.
posted by Forktine at 4:22 PM on December 7, 2011


I prefer to think of gay sports bars not as the death of gay culture, but as the broadening of gay culture. So I think they're a good thing.
posted by dnash at 4:31 PM on December 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


An appreciation for the complexity of the interaction between minority isolation and majority acceptance will help you understand the discussion a lot better, I think.

An appreciation of the discussion will in fact help you understand the discussion, yes.
posted by LogicalDash at 4:49 PM on December 7, 2011


I'm not the biggest fan of sports bars there ever was because I get uncomfortable around team jingoism and I hate giant TVs in public. But I can't imagine coming of age, coming to understand some significant part of myself, coming out in the face of prescriptivism that tells me "hey ho, that thing that you think that you are, you're really not, because you're not X enough and you like Y, but don't like Z." Oh wait, except that I can imagine that because of my XXs.

I felt like Sarlin was trying to very optimistically find the way to underscoring that the historical theology of gay culture is exactly what has led to Crew and Boxers and Gym and Nellie's--more diversity in the available popular constructs allows the disenfranchised to more accurately build public personas and identities and overcome disparities and gain empowerment. What's more, it equalizes power much to relief of those who have to awkwardly wield it (I'm thinking of the recent interwebs interest in a self-identified straight man asking yahoo to explain the recent attraction between himself and his best friend and how gay-identified men explained to him that it's never been just a civil rights fight, but a fight for more fluid and comfortable and safe sexual self expression for everyone, including primarily straight identifying men).

I'm also thinking about a tweet from a writer I usually admire for her gender politics that has had me angry for two days--she linked to a The National video and commented that Matt Barringer, in this video, exhibits the "exactly how much dancing" she is comfortable with from men, especially given that he displays "non skill and self-consciousness." She admits in a follow-up tweet that it's sexist, as if this undoes what is the same kind of killing prescriptivism and role-making that has lidded women and other free-to-dance-ers into second-class citizenship forever. If I had tweeted, for example, on her radar, that "Anna Kournikova has exactly the amount of jock I am comfortable with in a woman," she would have rightfully pelted me with flaming tennis balls.

My point is that my sense of the writer was that Sarlin desired to engender the kind of conversation happening under this post, especially given that Sarlin wrote about the full spectrum of the inclusivity issues--good to bad (the ban of femme, for example). I felt like I got the sense that this kind of diversification is some kind of prodrome to a culture where less of both of our behaviors and identities are prescribed. Anyone should be able to dance how they best feel moved to and make-out in sports bars with the gleeful lack of discrimination that I understand can naturally flow from pitchers and high sporting drama.
posted by rumposinc at 4:49 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've met plenty of gay sports fans. This isn't so odd.
posted by jonmc at 5:00 PM on December 7, 2011


But are they part of the death of gay culture?

I don't know very much about gay culture.

However, I work with an older gay gentleman (Karl) who lost friends and lovers to aids and I am raising a gay teenager who is out at his high school, and attended prom with his boyfriend and nobody gave a damn. Karl very tied to (oldschool) gay culture.

Karl thinks my son not only has it easy, but has no respect for the sacrifices that laid the groundwork for his freedoms. He's right so far as it goes; my son is a teenager after all.

But more than that - My son has no desire to be an activist, or a role model or belong to a GBLT club or anything like that. He just wants to hang out with his boyfriend, eat cheetos watch movies, and fuck. Like I did as a teenager.

He has no concept of the "friends of Dorothy" and he has no idea what was lost due to Reagan's intransigence. He does know he can't get married in Wisconsin, but doesn't care because he's leaving this hick state for a place that "isn't stupid" as soon as he's able. He's got choices.

But both these men are are gay, and their approach to their gayness couldn't be more different. I am not gay - I can't judge who is the Truer Scotsman here. But I can see the difference - and my son is far more free and less hidebound. As teenagers are, sure, but it's more than that.

He's just gay, like you have brown eyes, or that person there likes brunettes. Karl is gay as part of his identity and culture and who he is. It has less meaning for my son, because he paid less for it.

I love him and am proud. I do feel like... I feel like I have let gay people down by not inculcating in my son a greater sense of "gay culture" or whatever. In my defense, I would be but a tourist and I prefer for my son to find, have and express his own culture.

What this means if this attitude becomes more common I don't know. But my son is more free than Karl ever has been, and it's hard for me to see a downside to that.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 5:02 PM on December 7, 2011 [42 favorites]


I guess I'm at an honest loss to see what is at stake to be "lost" here. I am earnestly asking, as a straight man with many gay friends... what is at stake?

On the one hand, I find it hard to imagine that gays and lesbians will ever not need their own community. Not that they won't be fully integrated, but there will forever be unique circumstances for them which would seem to necessitate community. If only for making it simpler to find partners, for one, but also because almost every gay or lesbian kid is going to be the child of straight parents who, as loving as they can be, won't have quite the personal experience necessary to give their kid total guidance. I just don't picture this community aspect of the culture going away.

On another level, Stonewall, Friends of Dorothy, Pride Marches, AIDS/HIV crisis, etc will be enshrined in the history of the culture. The music and art and theatre will continue to exist, but the new stuff created will reflect a different (and it seems to me better) set of circumstances for those creating it. It seems not so much like destroying the old as giving life to the new.

What am I missing?
posted by Navelgazer at 5:41 PM on December 7, 2011


well there is some obnoxious femme/butch stuff going on in this article which is out of date and makes no sense and just ...yeah It feels like there is a market for not-awful sportsbars and queerer sportsbars are picking up the slack and getting straight patrons as well.

It's such a non-story that its negatively relevant, it makes things around it less interesting and important, sucking the life from them.
posted by The Whelk at 5:44 PM on December 7, 2011


Personally, I don't like the really gay gay bars. Give me a good blue-collar bar with a jukebox and a few pool tables and some pinball machines and I'm happy. There have always been gay blue-collar bars, at least in the big cities. I don't see why a gay sports bar would be that big of a leap, frankly. One of the bars I frequent in Spokane regularly has sports on the television on the nights it's not karaoke or a dance club.

As far as gay culture goes, I've written at length about my feelings about that. Sometimes I like the inclusiveness of current times. Many of the bars in Spokane aren't gay bars, they're "inclusive spaces", meaning that they welcome anyone and will put down harassment pretty quickly if it's going on. I'm okay with that.

However, I do kind of like the gay bar vibe. Not the frilly drag queen bars -- that's never been my style. But the sleazy bar with the upstairs or backroom where there's porn running on the screen, the music is better than anywhere else in town, and the whole cruising thing is still running full-tilt... It's a special kind of atmosphere which doesn't really exist anywhere else.

I wouldn't go to one all the time -- I certainly didn't when I lived in a city which had one just a couple of miles from my house. But when I'm wanting to soak in that particular energy, there really isn't any other way to get it.
posted by hippybear at 5:44 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


As a (literally) formally card-carrying homosexual, on those occasions when I'm going to a specifically gay bar, I'd much rather go to a place closer to the sports-bar end of the spectrum than the dancier clubbier places for one reason: The bartenders are much more likely to have been hired on the basis of being good bartenders than looking pretty. Don't really care for sports, don't have any fears of 'seeming femmey' or whatever scare phrase people use, but goddamit. If I'm paying 7-10 bucks a drink with tip, you better make it at least as well as I can at home.

(Confidential to seemingly every bartender in Boystown outside of North End and Big Chicks: If I order a martini, and you reach straight for the vodka without even asking, UR DOING IT RONG!)
posted by PMdixon at 5:44 PM on December 7, 2011


And yes, there have always been blue-collar gay bars. This article is really ignorant of the gay history it wants to talk about. Hell, my local is as blue-collar as you can be on the UWS, gay in purpose but attracts all kinds.
posted by The Whelk at 5:46 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sports is killing culture, straight or gay.

Horsepucky.

Sports has been a reflection of and an extension to culture since there's been such a thing as culture. It's a pressure valve; a way of "belonging" that transcends the oft-corrosive race-, gender-, and geographic-oriented bonds of tribalism; and at its best an expression of physical prowess that is both healthful and joyful.

Sports has an ugly side (soccer riots, racism, homophobia, the exploitation of amateur athletes, doping, the 2011 Indianapolis Colts season). I would argue that those problems originate in the culture, not the sport. (Except for the Colts. They just stink on ice, no way around it.)
posted by BitterOldPunk at 5:46 PM on December 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


and quite frankly when the NY rugby team goes to have a beer bust at GYM I am going to see hot guys make out and that pleases me.
posted by The Whelk at 5:49 PM on December 7, 2011


This is a good thing, right? Are there really people out there who feel this is a bad thing?

I have to wonder if people would be so cavalier if we we talking about the 'death' of Caribbean culture, or Mexican culture or whatever. But somehow queer culture isn't real enough, or it's something that we really should be ashamed of. How could drag queens and cruising and leather and camp possibly be of value to anyone?

To all the people who want a brave new world of 'mixed' spaces, I have to ask, how would these spaces be different than straight bars, exactly? But somehow it's the gay identity that has to take a fall so that we can all live together in harmony.

I don't dispute that things are changing. Maybe queer culture is doomed to a natural death; there are already queer kids who grow up in major urban centers with supportive families who never really 'come out', they never had to be in. And I dont begrudge them their freedom from trauma. But let's recognize that something real will have been lost when the day comes that 'queer culture' no longer exists.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 6:12 PM on December 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh the inanity!
posted by a shrill fucking shitstripe at 6:17 PM on December 7, 2011


I have to wonder if people would be so cavalier if we we talking about the 'death' of Caribbean culture, or Mexican culture or whatever. But somehow queer culture isn't real enough, or it's something that we really should be ashamed of. How could drag queens and cruising and leather and camp possibly be of value to anyone?

How on earth did you get that interpretation? You can have both places. If the bars don't work, they'll close. If they fill a need for people, they'll succeed.

Cultures don't just go poof though they do frequently evolve and change.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 6:29 PM on December 7, 2011


But let's recognize that something real will have been lost when the day comes that 'queer culture' no longer exists.

The "culture" of the civil rights movement of the 60s has pretty much been lost too. Because, well, they won the fight.
posted by Jimbob at 6:35 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't have anything meaningful to add that hasn't been discussed above...I just wanted to thank Diablevert for remembering The Revolting Cocks (the "deliverance" mix was always my personal favorite).
posted by trackofalljades at 6:37 PM on December 7, 2011


As empath mentioned, the "death of gay culture" thing is a meme being pushed hard by Andrew Sullivan.

And he has a point, but in his typical way he's completely obnoxious about it. As cultures progress they become more tolerant of otherness, so a gay dude can be into football and a straight dude might go to a "gay" sports club without blinking an eye because the difference is negligible these days.

All well and good.

But what makes me crazy about Sullivan's typically self-involved prattle is that somehow things like this (good things, IMO) somehow lead to the Catholic church's proclamations about the evilness of homosexuality being no big deal either. Meanwhile, Sullivan is incredibly annoyed by what he considers "ostentatious" displays of gayness -- drag queens and pride parades.

So by pushing this meme he's basically trying to sanitize gay culture and offer a version of it that is passive and "cleaned up" for us breeders -- "See here, were just like you! No more icky drag queens, now you can take us seriously!"

So in the end it's not about assimilation for him, it's about sublimating the supposed wrongness of outre gay culture.

It's his typical mild-mannered Tory bullshit applied to sexual politics, and it's annoying as it is feckless.
posted by bardic at 7:48 PM on December 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


I love him and am proud. I do feel like... I feel like I have let gay people down by not inculcating in my son a greater sense of "gay culture" or whatever.

Relax, Dad. You've done the best possible thing - made it possible for him to be himself. He'll find what he needs to.
posted by Twang at 7:55 PM on December 7, 2011


Don't listen to the power bottom for the Patriarchy
posted by The Whelk at 7:57 PM on December 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


“We call hot wings 'sassy' here,” he explains. “'Cause, you know, we're gay.”

I read that as "So you know we're gay" cos I usually need a clue.

Walked in to gay bar in Chicago a while back to come in out of the rain. Rest my feet. The place was a sports bar. Wood. Green cushions. Pool tables. The Bulls on t.v. Standard sports bar.
So I had a beer and the guy says "Anything else, sir?"
And I still had butch wax on my head then so I said "I'm just out. You can't call me sir anymore. Besides I used to work for a living before I was 'Sir.'"
So he looked at me and said: "Congratulations, ma'am." (Cause what do you call a muscular square jaw 6'4' tranny? Cutie? Baby? Sweetie?)

And there was a pause there where, I entertained belting him. And then it hit me. Man, we were in two entirely worlds here.

After that though we talked sports and we achieved some parity. Gay guys like sports.
I suppose in some ways there's a desire for the exclusion forced on certain culture sub sets in that you can wear that as a sort of badge of honor and commiserate with others who labor under the same kind of oppression.

Once the oppression starts falling apart, it's easy to lament and be nostalgic for the days when you were more united (that you NEEDED to be so is often overlooked) as a group.

But "gay culture" seems like it will shake out like "swinger culture" or "Bdsm" culture in the broader culture. Just something that goes on somewhere else and in regular day to day discourse people are just people.
Hey, you like Yuengling? Me too. Great. Enjoy blowjobs, eh? Me too. Oh, giving? No. Not giving. So howabout those Bears? Yeah, I think he can stick that broken thumb up his ass too. Uh, non-sexually, that's not a slight or anything on ... ok cool. So we're agreed he's a wimp. Solid.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:36 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is Lil' Pub still open on Pennsylvania Ave. on Capitol Hill? It's been a while, but when I couldn't afford cable I used to go their to watch Redskins games. Very accommodating of me and my straight friends, and this was back in 1998 or so.
posted by bardic at 8:39 PM on December 7, 2011


Of course an establishment can enforce a dress code, even if it bars entry to queens of the desert.

Masculine gay men are surrounded by nonmasculine gay men everywhere in what passes for gay culture and are entitled to a night on their own. They don’t call it homophily for nothing.
posted by joeclark at 10:04 PM on December 7, 2011


Cultures don't just go poof

Hang on, isn't that how we got gay culture?
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 10:18 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


As a straight man, I have one important question:

How are the burgers?
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 10:40 PM on December 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


To all the people who want a brave new world of 'mixed' spaces, I have to ask, how would these spaces be different than straight bars, exactly?

Couldn't these spaces just as easily be like gay bars that are accepting of straight folk as they are like straight bars that are accepting of gay folk? Or couldn't they even be something different altogether?

I don't see why mixed/accepting spaces have to nullify gay culture in order to exist.

But maybe I'm being naive. Most of the gay folks I know don't really identify with gay culture; they're just folks who are quite similar to me but who have sex with people of the same sex. I know that gay culture is a thing (or things, I suppose), but I am not generally exposed to it. So, if I'm being hopelessly naive, please help me to understand.
posted by asnider at 11:06 PM on December 7, 2011


they're just folks who are quite similar to me but who have sex with people of the same sex.

yeah, it's ok so long as they arent weird about it
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 11:14 PM on December 7, 2011


yeah, it's ok so long as they arent weird about it

I'm not sure how you get that from what I said. I'm talking about my personal experiences; I'm not making some sort of sweeping generalization. My point was that I am not particularly well-versed with gay culture and, as a result, the previous two paragraphs in my post might be completely out to lunch. Hence the: "If I'm being naive, let me know."
posted by asnider at 11:24 PM on December 7, 2011


i wasnt really replying to you per se, but was trying to succinctly shed light on how some people might feel about this
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 11:38 PM on December 7, 2011


By the same token, of course, there should be no compulsion to be 'weird' if you are gay, surely?
posted by Dysk at 5:12 AM on December 8, 2011


To all the people who want a brave new world of 'mixed' spaces, I have to ask, how would these spaces be different than straight bars, exactly?

My favorite clubs were always 'mixed'. I spent most of the late 90s going to a gay club on their college night (which was gay house and rave music on one dance floor and goth and industrial on the other side).

And then I spent most of the 2000s going to a rave night that was mostly straight, but was run by two gay djs and nobody ever blinked if two guys were dancing together (or even making out publicly).

The main difference between mixed clubs and 'straight' clubs seemed to be that mixed clubs were friendlier, more laid back, were more about the music, and weren't 'pick up' scenes, and annoying college jocks and frat boys generally stayed away or kept to themselves when they were there.

Both of those clubs are gone now, though :(
posted by empath at 5:44 AM on December 8, 2011


Oh, and the other and probably primary advantage of mixed clubs compared to straight or gay clubs is that you could go to the same club as your gay friends with none of you feeling out of place or feeling like they had to hide who they were.
posted by empath at 5:55 AM on December 8, 2011


Masculine gay men are surrounded by nonmasculine gay men everywhere in what passes for gay culture and are entitled to a night on their own.

"Surrounded by"? You make it sound like some kind of threat. And perhaps open femininity in guys is, to some of those macho-looking guys. But, you know, I'm trying to recall a single instance where I've seen macho-looking guys made deliberately unwelcome in a drag bar.

Nope. Nothing. It doesn't happen, in my experience.

So why is it that some of those macho-looking guys have so much trouble extending the same courtesy?
posted by mediareport at 6:26 AM on December 8, 2011


they're just folks who are quite similar to me but who have sex with people of the same sex.

Ok, the sarc answer is "well, that's because you're straight, duh, and the queerer folks are ( the less likely they are to be comfortable/accepted in straight culture, while GLBTQ folks who want to fit in with straight people (or have a lot of internalized homophobia) tend to hang out more in straight spaces". I mean, there are queer folks who are just like you and perfectly happy about it, but there are a lot of other people too.

If you're an out trans person, or genderqueer or perform gender/sexuality in some dramatically non-straight way, you're less likely to spend lots of time with straight people, because you're always having to explain a lot of crap, get treated like you're weird, etc etc.

For a LONG time, most of my friends have been straight and I spent most of my time in overwhelmingly straight spaces. My straight friends - they are not jerks, they're perfectly nice and fun and interesting and we have great times together. BUT in those spaces I am always the queer one...which means sharply reduced dating options, for one thing; plus it means that a lot of stuff that's perfectly ordinary queer stuff is Giant New Thing Requiring Explanation.

Plus, everything that is awesome about me - that I am a butch genderqueer with wide shoulders who looks great in a button-down; that I like to be the center of attention but do not gain attention the way a pretty straight woman would; the fact that I have a great short hairstyle and good taste in glasses; the fact that I read a lot and tell dork intellectual jokes; that I wave my hands and flip my wrists in a way that is totally about the really old-school gay culture milieu that was my first queer experience - all those things are either weird, eccentric or just plain unattractive to straight folks. On some level, I deal with people who just can't understand why a woman would be that way, because it doesn't help you get the men. And when you combine that with "there are no queer women in this group, so I can't really date much", that makes you feel pretty lousy.

Putting up with all that, not seeking out queer spaces, putting aside my own needs and desires - accepting that I would be this large, inexplicable, monstrous-mascot queer figure for my straight circle, the one who doesn't date and isn't attractive and is okay with that because she's a mascot not a person - THAT was internalized homophobia.

And THAT is why queer spaces.

Now, we can perhaps imagine a utopia where most folks are heteroflexible or whatever - something that seems kind of plausible to me in a future without misogyny - and who you sleep with isn't a big deal. But "the death of queer culture" has the potential at least to be about queer folks trading queer spaces, friends, making sense in our own world for simply pretending that our lives are exact analogues of straight lives, suppressing the differences, passing, shutting away large parts of ourselves...in order to be accepted. We as a group (note that I do not say "as a community") have a long history of throwing trans folks, gender nonconforming folks, femmey men, working class queer people who are queer "in the wrong way", etc etc under the bus in order to fit in with an implicitly white, middle class straight world.
posted by Frowner at 6:28 AM on December 8, 2011 [18 favorites]


strixus Atlanta's gay sportsbar only gets a brief mention in the article but Woofs is on Piedmont across from Lindbergh Marta.
posted by pointystick at 6:37 AM on December 8, 2011


When we talk about "X culture," what are we talking about? A history, people, and tradition strongly associated with X, right?

"Gay culture," then, can "die" when the history, people, and tradition is not strongly associated with homosexuality enough for that to characterize the culture. This can happen without any of the people giving up any of their traditions or history: more people identify as gay without engaging in the classical culture.

When that happens, who is harmed? The people with the traditions are still around and doing their customary performances. If nobody pays much attention to them, I suppose that might remove the appeal for some people--but if you're only into a tradition insofar as other people pay attention to it, well, maybe following some other trend is exactly what you should be doing.

About the only consequence for the people still practicing the tradition is that they'll have more trouble with public relations. Maybe they should get a new brand, QueerGay or something.

I guess it must be quite frustrating if you want the culture to grow, but it's only "death" in the vaguest sense. It's an inconvenience, not a tragedy.
posted by LogicalDash at 7:59 AM on December 8, 2011


About the only consequence for the people still practicing the tradition is that they'll have more trouble with public relations. Maybe they should get a new brand, QueerGay or something.

not sure how i feel about this but i am utterly unequipped to even begin dealing with it or probably anything above it

the whole post is just very "very"
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 9:52 AM on December 8, 2011


I am completely confused. I thought there have been gay sports bars for decades. I think this is a reflection of the regional culture, not gay-specific. In Milwaukee we've had softball teams and Packer parties and bowling and volleyball leagues forever, with regional tournaments. I don't see gay culture being threatened at all; as far as I can tell, there are still plenty of people at the dance/drag clubs.
posted by desjardins at 9:53 AM on December 8, 2011


"But are they part of the death of gay culture?"

No.
posted by clvrmnky at 10:05 AM on December 8, 2011


And THAT is why queer spaces.

I get all of that. I guess the part of my post that you've quoted is confusing my message. What I was really asking, in response to sevenyearlurk's comment, is why must a mixed space inherently be more like a straight space than a queer space? Can't it lean more toward the queer end of the spectrum, or maybe even be a totally new kind of space?

My question isn't really: Why queer spaces? I already know the answer to that.

My question is, if we also have mixed/accepting spaces (in addition to explicitly queer spaces), why must they necessarily nullify gay culture? I don't think they have to. But, maybe sevenyearlurk and others are getting at something that I'm just not able to see due to my lack of connection/deeper understanding of queer culture.
posted by asnider at 10:47 AM on December 8, 2011


would a drag performer actually bother getting all gussied up to go and watch a hockey game?

I dunno, but if she did, I hope she'd go as Cleo Birdwell.
posted by octobersurprise at 10:55 AM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can't it lean more toward the queer end of the spectrum, or maybe even be a totally new kind of space?

This reminds of the gay bar I used to go to back when I first came to Edmonton as a young lad, the Roost.

Most of what made it fun to go to was that on Sat. night absolutely everyone from the lgbtq community, their straight friends, and just random other people, went there. Being the sort of place you could take any raging hedonist to was very welcoming.

Places like that made it very easy to be newly gay in the city because I never felt like I had to maintain two different social spheres. All my gay friends and straight friends were willing to all hang out together and just be themselves.

But of course a big part of the magic was that it was a mixed space that was predominantely queer*. There are many clubs around town that are really queer inclusive (which is awesome), but the clientele is mostly straight and so the effect is just not the same.


* and that on Saturday night the cute rig workers would make their weekly pilgrimage in from the oil patch...
posted by selenized at 11:47 AM on December 8, 2011


I miss the Roost.
posted by asnider at 12:13 PM on December 8, 2011


I miss the Roost.

<in joke> you just miss dancing unashamedly to Love Shack </in joke>
posted by selenized at 12:36 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I love queens, at least the ones heading to the dumpster to smoke crack- you know, 40+ ones. They're total Menschen. And being around fabulously effeminate men actually makes me feel more masculine, which is a feeling I like, sometimes.

Being around a juiced preening "look how masculine WE are" musclebear like Andrew Sullivan and his narcissistic bigmusclebears.com ilk- and I bet this is the crowd that you find at these places, the types who play in the gay rugby league and shove it in your face- ugh.

But hey, whatever floats your boat.

And to hippybear- I've never encountered a blue-collar gay bar in a major city. I HAVE encountered NOTHING but blue-collar gay bars in small cities. When you're the only gay bar in Appleton, Wisconsin and the only one for 50 or so miles in any direction, you cater to all types. Dykes, bears, husters, TOQs, everybody, and most of these folks are living pretty hardscrabble because if they had two nickels to rub together they would've moved at least as far as Milwaukee.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 2:54 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


FUCK- the ones NOT smoking crack. Sorry.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 2:55 PM on December 8, 2011


Not the frilly drag queen bars -- that's never been my style. But the sleazy bar with the upstairs or backroom where there's porn running on the screen, the music is better than anywhere else in town, and the whole cruising thing is still running full-tilt

*laughs*

Around here, the "sleazy bars with the upstairs or backroom where there's porn running on the screen, the music is better than anywhere else in town, and the whole cruising thing is still running full-tilt" are *also* the frilly drag queen bars (and good lord that's an awful description to me). There's no difference, and folks don't seem to have a problem entering the doors. Bars that feel that *have* to define themselves as anti-drag are stupid and insulting for no good goddamn reason.
posted by mediareport at 4:28 PM on December 8, 2011


if we also have mixed/accepting spaces (in addition to explicitly queer spaces), why must they necessarily nullify gay culture?

Y'know, switch that to "bikers" and it's symmetrical in form.

There's the weekend guy. The biker. The serious biker. Then you get into some weird space there. There's the "golf is for pussies" race track guy. The gearhead who believes if you don't work on your own machine you're stupid.
Then it goes a little further. The 1%ers. Then you get the guys who never take off their leather and jean vest. The guys who wear them to weddings, funerals.
And it goes out even further.
To the guy who's thematic. He's got horns on his bike. Covered it with buffalo fur. The bike looks like it's from 1880 and he's wearing fur chaps and bison horns on his helmet.

I'm just saying, once chaps are involved, you pretty much need an explicitly "X" space for people who identify that strongly with something. And those folks are always going to have a problem with the people they perceive as eroding the "real" culture of "X."

Bit different in context of course (you're not born riding a motorcycle...mostly) but it seems to play out the same on the cultural expression thing.

So why is it that some of those macho-looking guys have so much trouble extending the same courtesy?

Y'know, I think there the theme thing helps. The Chicago Dragons have been playing rugby out here for years. Mostly an all-gay rugby team most years. I don't think it's mattered. You've got the game.
Same sort of deal. Bars mostly are about sex. And booze, although that's about sex too (unless you're really serious about your alcohol). So there's a little tension eased there if the bar is about something else. Sports. Motorcycles. Darts. Bands. Softball. Whatever.
If you can hit a mushball 350 feet in a dress, I think you're going to get respect.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:33 PM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm just saying, once chaps are involved, you pretty much need an explicitly "X" space for people who identify that strongly with something.

Yeah but, again, I'm not talking about replacing explicitly queer spaces with mixed spaces. I'm talking about a world in which we have both.
posted by asnider at 8:24 AM on December 9, 2011


I'm talking about a world in which we have both.

I think you might be talking about different things. Or at least I don't read it as people arguing that mixed spaces need to go away, just that they can or will be complimented by, well, non-mixed spaces. It's not the case that when one decides to open a gay sports bar they must first fight the owner of a more inclusive space to the death with giant can openers.

Personally I favour going to the mixed spaces but hey if someone wants to open a gay nerd bar where everyone must dress like the cast of the original star trek my opinion will change.
posted by selenized at 12:34 PM on December 9, 2011


I'm talking about a world in which we have both.

Yeah, I'm with you.
I'm just saying some folks who are REALLY into "X" won't have it. Because it erodes the purity, the "real" "X" which was cool until all these posers showed up.
Which is common among people who require (for example) internal combustion technology and a gigantic asphalt infrastructure to do their thing, let alone people who are hardwired whatever way.

So the exclusionary thing seems to be a sort of a package deal with whatever lifestyle. Some people just don't want to mix. And, as long as they're not detonating themselves or getting on someone else's ass (purely metaphorically), let 'em have it.
I've hung with some rowdy biker types. Unless you're riding a Harley (I have a Ducati), doing meth (occasional beer), and living that lifestyle (I'm home for Christmas), it doesn't matter if ride 170 mph down LSD, you're just not hardcore.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:39 PM on December 9, 2011


Meanwhile, Sullivan is incredibly annoyed by what he considers "ostentatious" displays of gayness -- drag queens and pride parades.

Jesus, how is that any more ostentatious than him blocking the sidewalk when walking his stupid little dog around Adams Morgan?
posted by psoas at 10:42 AM on December 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Or at least I don't read it as people arguing that mixed spaces need to go away, just that they can or will be complimented by, well, non-mixed spaces.

I don't know. That's not how I read this comment:

To all the people who want a brave new world of 'mixed' spaces, I have to ask, how would these spaces be different than straight bars, exactly? But somehow it's the gay identity that has to take a fall so that we can all live together in harmony.
posted by asnider at 10:30 PM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


« Older The year in film....   |   What really happened aboard Air France 447? Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post