Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I'm Not a Loser: Thoughts on Spending Christmas in a Gay Club

A few weeks ago, an article appeared in The Orlando Weekly that focused on people who have to work on Christmas Day. Living in Orlando, this is a good portion of residents. I didn't because I work at a school, but my boyfriend and most of my friends did. One of the people featured was a bartender at my favorite gay club (Parliament House). He is not someone I personally know. The club is large and I always go to the same bartender, so I have never bought anything from the man in the article or spoken to him. 

Through the course of the piece, the bartender focused mostly on the idea of all the lonely gays that come to Parliament House on Christmas. He made various negative comments about them and even referred to them as losers, but made sure to throw in that he didn't mind working because he gets good tips on that night (because people are so lonely and desperate). The overall feeling and message from the short (and poorly written article) was that gay people often have family who hate them, are lonely on the holidays, and are basically losers if they go to a gay club on a holiday. The article also made uncomfortable comments about the fact that the owners are Jewish and therefore are always open on Christian holidays. Hello, we live in tourist-ville. Everything is open on Christmas.  

I was shocked for multiple reasons. First, the nature of the article was offensive to me as a gay person. It is fine to profile someone working at a gay club on Christmas, but the tone and focus of the article was not on the bartender working, but on the supposed losers who hang out at the bar. Second, I was taken off guard because I have such a fondness for Parliament House. This fondness comes from how nice and inclusive the bar is. I was shocked that such a person worked there, because everyone I have ever interacted with has been nothing but kind (and I mean everyone from drag queens, to bartenders, to the custodial crew). 

I'm not sure of the full fallout from the article, but I'm pretty sure the bartender no longer works at Parliament House and with good reason. Parliament House made various comments on their Facebook page assuring everyone that the establishment does not agree with any of the opinions expressed in the article. About a week later, one of the other bartenders even made a t-shirt that said "I don't think you're a loser" and wore it all night. 

This brings me to Christmas Day 2009. As Dustin worked, I sat alone at home, miles away from my family. No, my family doesn't hate me. They fully support me and my relationship, but lack of money and distance often keeps us apart on holidays. I spent the day reading, writing, and cooking. Dustin got home at 3 P.M., which was a little earlier than I expected. We opened our gifts and had a nice dinner together, and then we decided to go to Parliament House to be with the "losers." If that article hadn't been posted, I'm not sure we would have really thought of going, but something in me wanted to be there. We called our friend Gail, did some pre-drinking at home, sprinkled some glitter on, and headed to the club. 

We got there in time for their regular Friday night drag show at 10 P.M. The parking lot wasn't that full and the first show was fairly empty, but extremely enjoyable. As I sat there, in the dark of the theater, watching the drag queens do Christmas songs, I realized there was nowhere better I could be on Christmas night. I felt loved. I had my boyfriend of six years beside me, my good friend, Gail, and a room 1/3 full of men and women who wanted to be with "family" on Christmas. For those who don't know, the word "family" is a code word to refer to other gay and lesbian people. One might ask "are you part of the family?" meaning "are you gay?" Being gay goes beyond sex. You truly are part of a wider family that shares many of your same experiences, both good and bad. Does that mean you always get along with your family and like everything they do or say? Of course not, but they are yours. 

After the first show, the dance floor suddenly became full and by the midnight drag show the place was as busy as a regular Friday night. Were we all losers? Maybe to some we were and are. But what I saw on that night, that Christmas night, was a group of people coming together in celebration and guess what? We don't just do it once a year. We celebrate ourselves and our love all year long. Perhaps, that really is the true meaning of Christmas. 

-Stephen (Loser)

1 comment:

  1. I wish I could've gone to a gay club on Christmas!

    What a weird thing for the bartender to say. You've done a good job of highlighting the underlying awfulness of his comments, which is that the world thinks of GLBTQ folks as losers. If by "loser" you mean I've lost my dependence on heteronormativity, then, yes, I am a loser.

    Happy Christmas.