My first time
by Emma Rose Kraus
The gay bar scene has been a staple of queer life since before we were even considered a community; before we were a movement. They were instrumental places of congregation for LGBTQ people and safe spaces to meet others like us.
Since I was a teenager, I’ve anticipated going to my first gay bar. To sit with others like me, all excitedly celebrating the fact that we’re here, we’re queer and there is nothing anybody can do about it.
So, imagine my excitement at finally turning 21 and knowing that my Pride-infused dreams were about to come true. I was going to a gay bar and I knew it was there that I would finally not only find a girlfriend (fingers totally crossed) but also some of that glittery chutzpah I had always imagined must permeate such locals.
Obviously, I had never been to a bar before.
A friend of mine was to be my unofficial guide through the OKC Gayborhood, not only to make sure I didn’t get lost (which I’m unfortunately good at) but also so I didn’t end up literally falling on my face.
The first place we ended up had a connecting drag club with music drifting out of it. We chose to go to the next room and sit at the bar where I was already ready with my ID before the bartender even asked me for it. His eyes looked me up and down, it was clear he wasn’t impressed by my eager attitude.
“What’ll you be having tonight?” he asked me, to which I went frozen and began to stutter.
For some reason, this was not a question I had been prepared for.
“I’m not sure,” I said lamely, “I-I write for The Gayly; I’m doing a story about my first time in a gay bar.”
“Do you want a copy of the wine list?” the bartender asked me, clearly not affected by my revelation.
“Uh, I like wine.”
I ended up just asking him for something not-too-sweet with vodka in it to which I received a brown, coffee flavored beverage. It was good, not fantastic but I liked the taste well enough.
As the bar began to fill up I saw more straight couples than I had expected. I suppose if a bar has a certain reputation of being good than it will attract more than one kind of patronage.
Of course, I also noticed the LGBTQ folks, but they weren’t how I had imagined. The environment was invitingly relaxed and the people around us weren’t full of that energy I had come to expect from television shows and movies.
They were just people, many of whom seemed a bit tired and ready to unwind.
Next we met up with some friends at a less expensive, more energetic spot with flashing lights and pool tables in the back.
There weren’t many chairs so we stood together near the bar talking.
A friend passed me a pink, sweet tasting drink in a tall glass.
The people here seemed younger, purposeful and were wearing distinctly less clothing.
This place was fun, a bit trashy, but somewhere I could see myself going with a large group of friends on the weekend and having a grand time.
It was a different kind of atmosphere than I had felt at the last bar, there was less pretense and the place was filled with a general feeling of authenticity.
Our final destination of the night was a true-to-form gay dance club and from the moment I walked in I knew this wasn’t my scene.
Sure, the music was fantastic; the lights were bright and colorful and everyone, even the bartenders, seemed to be having a good time, but still, I’ll admit I was a bit overwhelmed.
While I tried to get into the erratic behavior that surrounded me, inside I knew it wasn’t going to work. I was a bit uncomfortable, surrounded by mostly men and ready to head home.
The night, while at times a bit more than I expected, was a wonderful introduction to the bar scene. Though I’ll admit, I’m much more of a dark beer and a good book type of gal. I can see myself enjoying revisiting several of these spots with friends in the future.
I’m excited to know what experiences this year will bring to me.
Next up to try: lesbian bars!
Maybe I’ll wait until this hangover is gone for that.
Copyright 2017 The Gayly – March 17, 2017 @ 1:35 p.m.