Tak­ing refuge in gay spa­ces

Si­mon Wil­liamson lives with his hus­band in het­eronor­ma­tively-as­sim­ila­tive fash­ion in Athens, after a year of sur­viv­ing ru­ral Ge­or­gia.

GA Voice - - Creep Of The Week -

We go to gay bars to get away from ev­ery­one else, so the shoot­ing in Or­lando was an assault on our places; places that ex­ist specif­i­cally be­cause the gen­eral pub­lic pushed us to find spa­ces out of their sight. While we have turned them into the con­tem­po­rary bars and clubs you see now, they be­gan, and still ex­ist, as shel­ters away from all the shit we have to deal with, try­ing to live our lives.

Back when I was but a young 19-some­thing, both my home and so­cial lives were pop­u­lated by con­ser­va­tive peo­ple, and the fact that I was a gay man didn’t sit per­fectly well in ei­ther of them. This ne­ces­si­tated mul­ti­ple trips far from where I lived, into Jo­han­nes­burg, where I lived at the time. I went with com­pany, or some­times alone, and once in a while I went to meet peo­ple in real life that I had met on the in­ter­net, be­cause that was pretty much the only way that some­one liv­ing in my world, com­prised solely (so far as I know) of straight peo­ple, got to go and be gay for a few hours at a time. There was he­do­nism, yes, but there was also some­thing equally im­por­tant: ut­ter ela­tion at the tem­po­rary nor­mal­ity of our ex­is­tence.

As ac­cepted as LGBT peo­ple might seem on TV nowa­days, or in parts of Mid­town, it is ac­tu­ally very hard and com­pli­cated to avoid run­ning per­pet­u­ally into ho­mo­pho­bic con­flict across a broad scale of sever­ity. Be­ing gay even in the “coolest” cities, of which Or­lando is one, isn’t as easy as it seems on TV.

To open a news web­site, or, heaven for­bid, to look at a com­ment sec­tion, is to see waves of peo­ple write about what shit we are, how dis­gust­ing we are, what pe­dophiles we are,

June 24, 2016

how God (or what­ever you might call Her) is com­ing to smite us. It is to read about how we should learn to take a joke about how les­bians just need to be fucked or the amus­ing topic of AIDS, how we shouldn’t show off dur­ing Pride if we want to be like other peo­ple, and so on and so forth. And here’s the thing: there is not one of those com­ments we don’t know of by heart, be­cause we’ve heard them all in real life.

The con­stant para­noia, prepa­ra­tion to de­fend, and sig­nif­i­cant state­ments made when­ever you de­clare to a new group of peo­ple that you fit the acro­nym are some­thing that ev­ery­one in our com­mu­nity has to deal with, all the time. And we have so very few places in the world where we get to take a break.

Our com­mu­nity comes with its prob­lems, but at a few lo­ca­tions around the world, we don’t, for a pe­riod of a few hours a week, have to deal with ev­ery­one else’s. We take our­selves right out of their lives and their spa­ces. We re­treat. We travel across town, or out of town to a club that is safe and out of sight, for their com­fort, and so we can just fuck­ing be our­selves.

The fact that the Or­lando shoot­ing hap­pened in one of OUR places hurts im­mensely.

To make our­selves feel bet­ter, we say things like “love wins” and we talk about strength and go to ral­lies, and lis­ten to plat­i­tudi­nous politi­cians re­peat hash­tags. Well, on June 12 in Or­lando, love lost. Our kind of love lost, even when we tried to hide it away in places where we didn’t have to deal with the pub­lic, and the pub­lic didn’t have to deal with it. Our kind of love lost.

“On June 12 in Or­lando, love lost. Our kind of love lost, even when we tried to hide it away in places where we didn’t have to deal with the pub­lic, and the pub­lic didn’t have to deal with it. Our kind of love lost.”

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