Phil Reese

Dear Chicago gays: I'm so sorry

Filed By Phil Reese | September 20, 2009 11:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Marriage Equality
Tags: Chicago, dancing boys, go-go, recruitment, straight allies

male-stripper.jpgAbout a month and a half ago, I was in Chicago for Market Days where I met up with a few of my friends from Chicago. No surprise, most are gay men, but one in particular is a straight, Indian woman with a great sense of humor. It just so happened that on Friday night, we decided we ought to show her all of the glorious bars of Boystown--dancing and partying all night long.

We somehow ended up in Cocktail (huge surprise, really).

For those of you who don't know Boystown well, Cocktail is a tiny bar at the corner of Roscoe and Halstead that features glittery and muscular male go-go dancers. Our foreign female friend had never seen go-go dancers before. She was fascinated, but needed some social lubrication (tequila) before she could approach the dancer and daintily slide him a $1 tip. Six shots later, she was covered in glittery stripper-sweat and excitedly doling out all of her dollars for more shows.

A few weeks later, I got a giggly phone call late one night.

"Where is that go-go club you took me to again?" She chortled out.

My friend was dragging along a gaggle of gay-loving girls from work to check out this off-the-wall male review. I naively shared the coordinates of Cocktail with her, and rolled over and was promptly asleep.

Little did I know the monster that I'd unleashed on the Chicago gay community. In the subsequent weeks, Our Indian friend had brought about a dozen new girls to this bar. Tonight she called us for the coordinates again, but not for herself--her friends are bringing more friends. A wave of sexually starved straight women is descending on Halstead as I write this.

I've always been leery about straight girls in the 'gay ghetto.' I am a big lover of straight allies, but I have to say a majority of the straight girls I meet at the gay bar are out for their one last night of freedom before they partake in one of the many social institutions I am not allowed to be a part of--marriage. Part of me--very deep down--is a little pissed about straight girls with wedding veils on, flaunting their first class rights, letting 'the gays' show them a good time right before they go off and leave us behind. I'm a little jealous.

These aren't brides to be, though, that I've begun sending down to Cocktail (in droves, apparently). These are something else--potential allies in our fight for liberation. These girls are unmarried and unattached. They understand us.

We have a tremendous opportunity to recruit them to our side. (No, not turn them gay. I mean make them political allies and activists within the context of this frivolity.) Let's make our go-go boys experts in the finer points of LGBT activism! I suggest that while the boys are rubbing up against these cute little straight girls, they explain to them why they should be writing their Senator and setting up meetings to discuss ENDA and Hate Crimes legislation. Rather than hand them drinks on coasters, the bartenders could slide them pamphlets about DOMA and DADT repeals.

Whatever happens, I hope they all have fun tonight. However, I hope they also go home and say "you know, those gays are pretty fun. Maybe it would be cool if they had the same rights as me!"

Have fun, ladies, and be safe! Slide the big blonde one a Fiver for old Phil!

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Oh, all right Phil, you're forgiven. I guess.

But the next time you come up with this brilliant idea, take your straight gal pal to the Lucky Horseshoe instead! ;)

I actually don't mind straight gals in the gay ghetto as long as they don't flaunt their straight privilege. That got to be the problem with the bachelorette parties even for me.

These aren't bridal party girls, though. They're all single girls (like us) looking for a good time. Single girls make terribly effective allies for us gay boys when we make them really understand the real depth of the discrimination we go through. After all, there are few people who know discrimination better than a woman--and a foreign-born woman at that!

Let's make our go-go boys experts in the finer points of LGBT activism! I suggest that while the boys are rubbing up against these cute little straight girls, they explain to them why they should be writing their Senator and setting up meetings to discuss ENDA and Hate Crimes legislation. Rather than hand them drinks on coasters, the bartenders could slide them pamphlets about DOMA and DADT repeals.

Phil, what planet do you expect this to happen on? If these guys had that much awareness about the world around them, how many of them would still choose to be go-go boys?

My experience is that the men who become go-go boys do it for three reasons: (1) to stroke their ego, (2) to make a few extra bucks, and (3) to consistently get laid by the hottest --- or richest --- customer in the bar that night (who might just happen to have a small buffet of recreational drugs at home). Usually, their perception of the world ends there.

AJ, that's unfortunate! I've met some very great people that just happened to be go-go boys or strippers.

First, most of the go-go boys I've ever known were straight!

Second, one of the most stand-up men I've ever known was Dom. Dom was president of Central Michigan University's organization against domestic violence and sexual aggression while I was there. Dom walked across the country--coast-to-coast--to raise awareness for women's issues, domestic violence and sexual aggression. Dom also happened to be a straight male-stripper!

I think its easy to gather that impression from someone we don't know who's doing something for which it seems likely that would be the profile, and I can tell you, AJ, that I've known go-go boys, bartenders... and academics for that matter who fit that profile.

However, stereotyping anyone--even go-go boys--is a dangerous and slippery slope.

I think your #2 is 100% true, though. Why else would they do it?!? Of ALL of the go-go boys, and hot bartenders I've ever known, ALL of them did it for the money--at least partly. If I could get away with it, I'D go do it for some extra bucks! I love dancing, and I love being entertaining! PERFECT! Being a supervisor/graduate student/blogger is a fun way to occupy my time, but I'm not JUST a stiff behind a computer screen. I like to go out and have a good time too! I would make a magnificent and very fun go-go boy if I had the looks! And I'd be proud to tell all of you where you could find me performing!

Like Venus Xtravaganza taught us, we're all a little bit hookerish sometimes!

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | September 20, 2009 9:02 PM

Phil, when I lived in the "Gay Ghetto" rents were dirt cheap and you did not go to Halsted street for fear of death by handgun.

Now we have improved everything and the rents are astronomical. Now the Gays are leaving to gentrify new real estate. I once met my tax preparer in that very bar on a night out. He was covered in glitter as well as his ship captain lover (oh yes, also a hunk). Alan begged me to save him from himself. I gave him a dollar as he had ran out. Does that make me an enabler? :)

You know, yours could have been the $1 that put Mr. go-go over the top for his text books. You may be the very reason he got through med school!

They are interlopers who've come to gawk at the queers and get a bit of eye candy too. There's nothing more disrespectful than a bride going to the gay bar for a bacholorette party while we watch her celebrate an institution we can't be a part of.

I'd agree on that for bachelorette parties. I find it really offensive when I see them out at the gay bar.

But all my single ladies, all my single ladies, all my single ladies--we can make allies out of them when they show up, don't you think?

I dunno, aren't there straight-women-focused bars with gogo dancers in Chicago? If there aren't, why not? There's obviously a demand.