I joined the gays for three reasons; I would never have to propose, having children would've just have been bad luck, and there was never a chance of being drafted into the military. Now look. There are same-sex targeted adoption leaflets dropping through my letter box, as of 2014 we're all getting married in the morning and the forces of land, sea and air get to march at gay pride, which means should there ever be cause to conscript as in the Second World War, you had better like a uniform. Bugger. The price we pay for equality.
Of course I jest (ish), true equality is the equality of opportunity and until the same or similar opportunity exists we enter the world of discrimination and I am most definitely down on that. What then of our ability to discriminate both against others and sometimes positively, in favour of ourselves?
How many of us have bemoaned the arrivals of straight folk by the coach loads into our gay bars? This seems to be less of an issue in London, perhaps because of the nature and size of the diverse capital but by way of an example, for a time, Manchester's Canal Street was unrecognisable from its earlier days with its packs of straight men and women out on the tiles. In defence of our heterosexual brothers and sisters, following the late 90s airing of Queer As Folk, I wanted to be out on Canal Street - it looked a lot of fun; and have we ever considered the practical reasons for a wholesale straight invasion? My brother and his laddish friends preferred a night out on Canal Street because 'no-one tries to start a fight with us', and gaggles of girls made similar claims concerning the lack of hassling by men - little do they know I joined the gays for three reasons. But by contrast Brighton's gay-scene has an ongoing battle with its hen party hysterics if not so much the stag 'do'. We want equality but we want our drinking spaces to remain exclusive.
On a recent trip to Boston, Massachusetts I received a tour of the gay bars by a local (gay) resident and apart from one, none of the venues we visited felt 'gay'. They were completely mixed to the point of having little indistinguishable identity at all. The state of Massachusetts has led the way in the US in terms of equality for its LGBT communities. Gay marriage for example has been on the statute books there since 2003. Prior to this, gay couples were legally able to register their relationships for the purposes of bereavement and hospital visitation rights as early as 1992, discrimination protection has been part of state employment law since 1989 some fifteen years before the UK, and state Governor William Weld commissioned a report in 1993: 'Making Schools Safe for Gay and Lesbian Youth' while the UK was in the thick of Section 28.
Is this an indication that 10 years from now our gay bars and clubs as we know them will be a thing of the past? We've rung the gay bell so loud that our call has been heeded - but do we really want it?
The backlash may already have begun. There's certainly a rise within our community (if there is such a thing) of flavoured bars and clubs of a particular, nay specific persuasion. During the recent Brighton Bear Weekender as I waltzed into a local hostelry that I often frequent, possibly wearing something pink and no doubt holding a glitter-ball aloft, the entire (packed) pub turned to our intruding posse, the dog stopped playing the piano and the drag act on stage asked 'you do know its bear night don't you dear?'. There was definitely a pro-bear, slightly hostile reception to our infiltration of the evening and I felt like a hen, penis deely-boppers bouncing on my head, arriving with fifteen friends and my mum.
As we continue in our quest for what makes a gay man a gay man, the rise of the specialist 'lounge' ranges from seedy to hairy but often resembles the dark gay clone wars of the 1970s. Are we going backwards or did we actually feel more comfortable in the ghetto? The standard chrome framed disco bar is certainly on the out and if not then its packed with tourists.
I joined the gays for three reasons. Whetherspoons was not one of them.