Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Rainbow Connection

Last Saturday night, a few things happened that I didn't expect. I found myself in the local University bar, sitting at a table with my Lesbian friends and a few strangers, watching men and women dance in costume that is usually reserved for people of the opposite "gender". And I was shocked.

This experience was entirely cultural. I started out the evening, upon realizing how much culture surrounded me, by asking a friend if it was wrong to look at the event through the lens of an anthropologist. She laughed - and reminded me that gay culture has been around for a long time - that modern gay culture has been percolating for more than 60 years, and that I had a lot to get caught up on.

A couple notes: the environment was very supportive of the dancers. There is an established system of tipping the dancers. Dancing with your partner on the side while others dance is totally agreeable. Large paintings of penises and vaginas with holes in them are perfect places to take photos. Women are welcome to use the men's washroom - I'm not entirely certain if this is a two-way street. Comeradery is important - relationships are important; friends who have been friends for years sit together and have fun together. It isn't wrong to look around and see if anybody attractive is sitting at the table next to you, and then to strike up a conversation with them. Fun is the raison d'etre - make sure that you have it; and hold back, but don't be afraid to let loose a bit. Watching a man, dressed as Octomom, give birth to the forgotten ninth baby while on stage, lip-synching to a song about the saintly virtues of motherhood will never, ever get old. Laughter was the soup du jour.

It was refreshing to walk into a public environment where I wasn't in a minority; where humour about being gay never felt like a slander or off-handedly offensive slight. Where there were numerous straight people, with their partners, holding hands and enjoying themselves - sitting across the table from numerous gay people, with their partners, holding hands and enjoying themselves. Where the sexualities seemed to naturally blend in a communal revelry of the intricacies of humanity and sex. The room and its activities did not feel obscene or inappropriate; it was instead a celebration of people getting to be who it is that they naturally are.

I felt safe the entire time.

There were moments where it felt like a form of utopia. It was until I was covered in sweat, which was mostly my own, that I realized I was too tired to allow the night to continue.

Also, discovered that the most attractive man at the university is gay. I was pleased. Even more pleased to find he was in a steady relationship - because that was what the night seemed to be about: community, relationship, love, support. Sex, despite the dominance of sexuality as the night's theme, only popped up on the dance floor.

By the way, I danced with a boy. It was a nice experience. Entirely new. Looking forward to doing it again.

Also, life lesson from Saturday night - kissing women really isn't as bad as I have always made it out to be. Their lips are much, much softer.

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