Life Off the Fruit Loop
When you’re an old gay married couple, as we are, you find that you have to put more effort into connecting with the gay community than you had to when you were young, cute and single (as we used to be). Much as we love our gay brothers and sisters, the community has its flaws and one of those flaws is that socially, it’s almost completely geared toward the singles. Oh sure, we could join a gay bowling or softball league or go two-stepping or ice-skating, but darlings, none of that is really our style.
We lived smack in the heart of the gayborhood when we were younger. When you’re freshly out, a predominantly gay neighborhood is practically essential to your journey. Even if you’re not one for the bars or even the type of mo who doesn’t particularly like to hang out with other mo’s, you really need that immersion to find out who you are and where you stand in the community. In other words, you need to try the dress on even if you’re pretty sure it’s going to make you look fat.
When we went from dating to married, we stayed in the Fruit Loop for a couple of years, having no good reason to move out of it since we loved it there. Over time, though, we started feeling more and more like outsiders. We still went to the gay gym almost every day, but it became less of an obsession or a need since we had no new dates or potential boyfriends to impress. Ditto the bars. We largely preferred to stay home on the couch and eat Chips Ahoy watching Golden Girls reruns than forge our way through the meat market, but even we occasionally just wanted to get out on a dance floor and connect with our brothers to the latest Mariah Carey remix.
Unfortunately, being the highly desirable, fabulous fags that we are, we sometimes had to gently rebuff pursuers and lemme tell you, fags don’t take that sort of thing well. One of us was chatting up a perfectly friendly mo at the local watering hole while the other was off primping in the men’s room. When said friendly mo propositioned us, we smiled and said “Sorry, I have a boyfriend.” The friendly smile immediately went dark. “Well what are you doing here, then?” Good question. What AM I doing here?
Eventually, we got tired of spending 15 minutes getting ready every time we had to make a run to the convenience store on the corner, just because we had to pass by the judgmental A-List bitches at the coffee shop, so we moved out of the neighborhood. We’ve been living in what passes for the “chic” neighborhood here in Philly for the last seven years. There are a handful of gays in the neighborhood, but strangely, without a rainbow flag in every 3rd window, it’s not as easy to connect with our brothers.
We were happy to leave the gayborhood because it just felt right, but there are times when we truly miss it. Sure, it can get a little high school sometimes, and it’s a bit ridiculous how quickly the shirts come off when the temperature reaches anything over 55 degrees, but there’s an energy there, a spark that you just can’t find anywhere else. We like being able to go to the store looking like shit if we have to, but there’s nothing like rounding a corner and unexpectedly bumping into two leather queens making out or just walking the streets on a Saturday night to silently judge all the too-tight and/or too shiny clothing on display.
Of course, there’s always the tragic messes, the aging alcoholics or the skinny meth queens, the hustlers and the guys with the wedding bands slooooowwly driving by, but honeys, you just haven’t lived until you sit out on your front step at 3 am on Halloween just to watch two drag queens dressed like Joan Crawford and Elizabeth Taylor beat the shit out of each other with their purses while a crowd cheers them on.