When I go out its nearly always as part of a couple or with friends.
On Saturday I ended up out in Brighton on my own and, after a great couple of debates at student pride, in need of alcohol! I found myself heading towards St. James street and wondering where to go.
At this point I had a bit of a dilemma. You see I’m way too old to be a twink, I’m too young to be classified as ‘old’, I’m obviously not a lesbian (although strangely my first 2 years ‘out’ were spent at a lesbian pub in Southampton!!) and although I love a good drag act I didn’t want to go to a caberet bar on my own. The answer seemed obvious, I’d head to the Camelford arms, Brighton’s bear bar.
Now I spent a large part of my 20s and thirties in London during which time the bear phenomenon developed. It was perceived as a reaction to the body fascism of the gay scene at the time and I must admit it was refreshing to go somewhere where people didn’t think I would be gorgeous ‘if I lost a little weight’. I made some great friends but I never really felt that I fit in, you see, I look shit with a beard!!
So I always feel like a bit of a pretender in a bear bar, because although I’m a big burly ‘blokey’ bloke, I’m clean shaven. The bear scene has changed, there are just as many chunky guys out there, things just seem to have got more ‘buffed’ since I used to go out lots. Whilst things have moved on, I haven’t, and I felt really uncomfortable in the Camelford and not for the first time I found myself wolfing down my drink and heading for the door.
It got me to thinking about why I felt uncomfortable? The bar staff were polite and friendly, the pub isn’t a dive and the drink tasted good. The place wasn’t packed and I didn’t get lots of stares when I went in. I put it down to the demographic at the time, mostly older guys drinking with mates or partners, but I don’t think thats it, I really want to feel like the Camelford is my local but I can’t, I just don’t feel I belong.
This got me thinking, where exactly do I belong? If I look at where I headed next, to Charles street, always full of an eclectic mix of punters, (usually down to its great drinks deals) then it tells me that I’m cheap!! The real reason I went there was because its safe and I’m used to it. It’s the place I go with family and friends if they are visiting, or with the Dazzler for drinking binges. Not only am I cheap, but I’m lazy too!!
If I am truly honest about where I am most comfortable it’s a tiny pub down one of Brighton’s side streets, the Marine Tavern, a friendly gay pub run by the guys who own and live above it. It’s got room for about 40 people at a push and It’s clientele is really mixed but mostly older. Think drag queens mixing with football fans and train enthusiasts, old and young laughing at the same jokes and lot’s of banter, but I’ve never once felt uncomfortable or less than welcome there.
So has it come to that? Despite not looking my age I’m getting old and want to sit in a boozer with mates, getting hammered and bickering? I don’t think thats it! When I think back to my ‘local’s throughout the years it’s never been about what ‘type’ of pub it is, or about the demographic of its punters. It’s always been about whether I want to stay for another drink. So maybe that’s where I belong, somewhere that makes me feel welcome!!!