Our holiday party went over pretty well, I think. We had about 50 people, give or take. There were a couple people who were new to our social circle who seemed to rub people the wrong way, but I guess that is always a possibility when introducing “new blood.” Our friend Jim was a wonder man, setting up the food, replacing empty platters and washing dishes throughout the night. He was like a one man catering machine and I have no idea how we ever managed a party without him.
It still surprises me how many people don’t bother to RSVP, and how many RSVPd “yes” and never showed up, with no follow up message or explanation. I certainly don’t begrudge anyone having other plans or having to change their plans, or just not wanting to come for any variety of reasons, but it seems to me a bit disrespectful to not even bother selecting a simple “yes” or “no” or to select “yes” and then not show.
Regardless, I think this may be the last big hoopla we throw. I have grown to much prefer smaller social engagements, dinner parties and cocktail socials, as opposed to big brouhahas. They are more manageable, more cost effective and allow me to actually spend quality time with each of my guests.
Anyhoo, the real event took place after my party. Most of the guests had left around midnight, and there were about 10-15 guests remaining when one of my friends, a drag queen named “Sondra”, decked out in Ms. Clause attire and heels, roused the troops for a night cap at a (very) nearby bar that we shall call “the Barn.” This bar is practically within walking distance to my house and we’d talked about “gay invading it” for some time. Apparently, Saturday night was to be the night we followed through. Jeffrey and Jim stayed behind to clean up, too tired to join us for the post-party parade to the Barn, so off I went with the rest of the gang.
Sondra waltzed through the door of the Barn, with 11 more of us parading behind her as her gay posse. We instantly more than doubled the attendance at the bar, which happened to be having karaoke night. We filled up one side of the bar, while all the non-party patrons stayed seated on the other side, a few clearly wide-eyed at what and who just walked through the door. To be fair, we didn’t "blend." We ordered drinks and continued our socializing while several of our gang began submitting songs for karaoke.
There were a couple of inappropriate gropings of Sondra at the bar (which she handled both gracefully and sternly) but no other audible cat calls or insults, and no one approached us directly. However, it very quickly became evident that, although several people appeared unsure and uncomfortable about us being there, there was a group of 3 men that were quite agitated about our presence. One of our number overheard some homophobic language coming from one of the agitated, while getting a drink at the bar, and gave us all heads up that there might be trouble. Although we all took on an air of nervousness, we were unanimously adamant that we had a right to be there and continued to try to enjoy our evening with a watchful eye on the other side of the bar. In contrast, there were also a few people, one man in particular, that seemed elated with our arrival and particularly with Sondra’s appearance, waving and smiling and being very friendly with our crowd. (Think of the lone tribe member in Priscilla who danced with glee during the desert drag queen performance and wound up joining the stars of the film, dancing in silver lame drag to “I Will Survive”.)
The tension finally came to a head as one of the agitated approached the bar and insisted the bartender throw us out of the Barn. We all waited as the argument grew louder and we were pointed at by the agitated. I could feel myself and the group around me tense and bristle as we waited for a punch or bottle to be thrown.
Instead, the bartender shocked us all by yelling loud enough over the music for the entire bar to hear “Those are paying customers and they are welcome in my bar any time and if you don’t like it you can get the fuck out.” The agitated made one more attempt to argue before the bartender threw him and his two minions out of his bar with a loud “get the fuck out of my bar.” The three men stomped out of the bar without so much as a glance our way, and the waitress hurried over with a round of free Jell-O shots for all of us.
Just when we thought we couldn’t be more shocked and pleasantly surprised, up jumps the “lone tribesman” I mentioned and, grabbing the karaoke microphone, announces that everyone belongs there, we should all get along, he’s bisexual, he doesn’t care and everyone deserves to be treated with respect.
You could have knocked me (and all of us?) over with a feather.
Then, before we could gather our wits about us, our friend Josh was called up to the microphone, whereupon he announces he is dedicating the song he is about to sing to his friends and the supportive customers in the Barn, and begins belting out “Friends in Low Places” (which happens to be one of my favorite songs). In a scene right out of “Too Wong Foo”, the entire crowd gets on their feet and both sides mingle in the middle, gay and straight, men and women, young and old, and begin dancing and singing at the top of their lungs, hooting and hollering, high fiving and hugging each other and shaking their tails in total camaraderie, celebration and brotherly/sisterly love.
Folks, if I hadn’t been part of it, and witnessed it myself, I’d have hardly believed it.
At the end of the song, we made our good-byes and walked out into the cold, dark night air, a little giddier, a little more enlightened and filled with a little more love for and faith in humanity.
Just goes to show…you can find allies in the least likely of places…
Wishihng you all Peace, Love and Pride. May you all be pleasantly surprised in the least likely of places, among the least likely of crowds.