Last week I went to my first ever gay bar, and boy, what an experience (so no this isn’t about ‘camping’ but a different type of camp).
This night was a highlight of my trip; I love the idea of my favorite moments either revolving around the scenic, nature sights or the late-night neon of queer Glasgow.
I was able to know all the songs they played because I mostly listen to queer artists anyway, so it was such a treat. I’m so used to not getting any of the heteronormative youth culture, like at all, especially at parties. I just don’t feel ‘with it,’ in a way that is hard to explain a lot of the time.
My friend and I went out to one of the drag shows and it was a small show with local queens, but it was such a joy to be a part of something like that, especially since I love drag and its artistry. I was so happy to be able to dance to my favorite hits. Especially all the RuPaul songs. What a euphoric experience when I knew the “Purse First” song, having (not obsessively haha) watched Bob the Drag Queen’s music video on repeat when it first came out after season 8 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. It’s not often that I get to gush about my love for camp and butch aesthetics besides in a classroom environment, and even then I’m surrounded by people that don’t really fully understand the reasons queer subcultures are so important to our community. People usually boil down ‘gay bars’ as being oversexual which is pretty homophobic in itself. A lot of people look down at gay bars, but these are the places in history that prompted hidden discussions about gender and sexuality, and allowed for a community during times when that was extremely unheard of or condemned.
In that way, it was a soft relief to open up to my friend (who is queer as well) in such a historically symbolic way, and ramble about drag shows, pride, and my girlfriend. (There was still a straight guy who ruined a bit of my evening, as he tried to flirt with me even after learning I was lesbian.) That annoyed me as usual, but I didn’t let that stop my night. It was a solid experience, being social for once and dancing underneath a ‘love trumps hate’ sign with a world I could grasp, like I was something significant in the timeline of queer culture.
Before I visited Scotland, my school had us enroll in a study abroad class as a way to prepare us for some of the larger, internal issues like culture shock and anxiety that would occur. One of the projects we had to do was on our interest in the city we were traveling to. I chose LGBT culture, especially the night culture in the 80s because that era really personally affects me, as it might to any gay person. To be able to insert myself, for even a night, into what I had studied, and also to feel so ‘in’ with a hisotry that I can call mine was a worthwhile experience.