It was just another Thursday night at one of the seedy gay bars in the East Village. “The Boiler Room” (classy eh?) has been the setting for many a casual drinking night and is about as standard as a gay bar in the City comes – Lady Gaga beats in the background; some dance, others sit watching, and the gay dating caste system manifests….
The caste system has been a wonderful metaphor for many divisions within our society. Ever since Carrie Bradshaw mused in the second season of “Sex and the City” that the New York dating scene is divided into castes based on income and cultural power, I have heard the somewhat misguided notion over and over again. I have never given much heed to the idea until it popped up in my own backyard
Nursing a friend through his recent breakup, I sat in the back corner observing the castes forming before me. There were the “straight” gays that clumped closest to the door.
Whether newly out or just endowed with the jock gene, these football player men bounced awkwardly to the music as poorly as any country bumpkin.
Next to them were the finance and lawyer gays – the ones who passed for straight by day and then, still in ill-fitting suit and thick black ties wandered into the gay bar to ogle the bartenders.
Across from them were the “Will” gays. The ones who, after years of watching “Will and Grace” decided that a gay was only as good as his straight female best friend – who typically look pissy whenever another gay tries to talk to their main man.
Next to them were the hipster gays – the ones who ventured from the far reaches of Brooklyn music halls to see what the island gay scene had to offer. Next to them where the prissy gays – the ones who sat sipping their cosmos in skin-tight jeans and leopard print shoes.
This observation of divisions by itself admittedly is not shocking. But, channeling Miss. Bradshaw, I began to think: what if these identities were not just fodder for stereotypes…what if they represented a bigger divide??
While nearly everyone was flirting with someone else, no one was flirting with someone from another click. I eventually worked my way past the Brooklyn gays (where I would usually find myself on an average night), past the Will gays (who I occasionally enjoyed the company of) to the “straight” gays.
“What are you doing??” my friend asked incredulously after only a few moments of my harmless flirtation with dark suited broker (Brook’s Brothers I think). “He’s so not compatible with you…look at the baggy pants…and what he’s drinking!”
At first I wanted to laugh and then, after slightly adjusting my beer goggles, I realized: my friend was right. I shrugged and slowly sauntered back to my side of the bar with the realization that we may all go to the same bar – but that doesn’t me we mingle.
By Adam Ballheim