I was born and raised by very smart and tolerant parents. I grew up in Berkeley, CA, historically one of the most liberal and culturally open-minded cities in the world. Using the word gay to describe something as stupid was wiped from my lexicon right around the time Jincos went out of style, and in past years I have congratulated and admired the courage of friends and acquaintances who have come out. If there were gay rights trading cards, my character would have high tolerance, 9 acceptance, 10 respect, and telekinesis, because that’s awesome. With all this power and pedigree, however, the moment I stepped foot in the Abbey in West Hollywood and an impish Asian man caressed the chest hair protruding from my modest v-neck, I flipped out.
There are 3 stages a straight man experiences at a gay dance club. Awe, denial and acceptance. Along with handsy Asians, there were sweaty go-go dancers, neon cocktails, dudes making out, really hot girls holding hands and a bakery!? The only words I could muster the first hour were whiskey and ginger. I wandered the big gay expanse, my glass clutched tight to my chest; taking measured sips ready to hand check the next fun boy who got too fresh. This was denial. Petty thoughts began to creep in. Everyone in here thinks I’m gay don’t they? They think I like to kiss dudes!? But who cares right? I am tolerant and accepting! I am from Berkeley!!…Oh god is that go-go dancer swinging his dick in concentric circles?!
It was around this time I had a moment of clarity, or my 4th whiskey, whatever. These guys were having the time of their lives. There was no pretension, very few games from what I could see and nothing shrouded in mystery. This was hollering in its purest form, unadulterated and to the point. Guy thinks guy is hot, makes the approach, grind and drink, make out, maybe share a bear claw, and then go home together. Respect. Gay bar etiquette is far more evolved than straight bar game could ever hope to be.
After a few more whiskeys and a peanut butter cookie (seriously what the hell is going on here? this place is delightful) I accepted my surroundings. I spent the last hour trying to convince a cute girl from Bahrain I wasn’t gay. It was an uphill battle, as she pointed out I was wearing a v-neck and had blonde hair, apparently criteria for being a homosexual I was unaware of. I finally told her I would have sex with her in the bathroom as proof, or in the back of the bakery if she preferred, but she declined and we didn’t speak again.
I left The Abbey proud. It was amazing to see so many happy people leaving one place. I wish all bigots and politicians could spend an evening at The Abbey and experience a similar range of emotions that I did. If only everybody could have the unwavering tolerance and progressive thinking that I….oh my god all these guys are going home to have sex with each other aren’t they?! Well, at least someone is getting laid. Acceptance.