What is the social norm for a straight guy who has accompanied a friend to a gay bar, then somebody offers to buy them a drink, or more likely a drink just shows up? First, it seems rude not to accept and, secondly, drinks in those places can get fancy with prices to match. One straight guy said he accepts but insists on paying, but that only works if it’s something you’d actually drink. And there are implications, no? Also, there was general agreement among my friends that one reason we straight guys don’t hang out much on our gay friends’ turf is that there’s an assumption you’re “curious” or such.
I must admit, I’m curious — curious as to how you manage to lure gay guys in gay bars to buy you a drink. I’d be stopping at the Citibank ATM a lot less often on the weekend if I could do that. And I’d be able to move up from my standard PBR to the occasional lime-wedged Corona and maybe even a Jack and Coke.
I’m guessing that what makes you and other straight guys so alluring when you’re in a gay bar is that you’re oblivious to what’s going on around you. You’re not taking a second glance at the waistband of those Andrew Christian briefs, carefully positioned a full inch above the waistband of the G Star jeans. You don’t blink at the brilliant flash of the artificially whitened teeth of the guy sitting next to you at the bar. You’re unaware of the deep trough that separates the bartender’s overdeveloped pecs, barely concealed by the one-size-too-small t-shirt with the deep V-neck.
So of course a gay guy is going to buy you a drink. Don’t we all want what we cannot have?
My advice is to accept the drink, and acknowledge it with a smile. When the donor approaches and attempts to engage you in conversation, the easiest way to set a firm boundary is with a sports question (What about those Jets/Lakers/Rangers?) If that doesn’t work, you can use an admittedly more devious approach, which I’ve used occasionally when I’m approached by guys I find unattractive. “Hey bro,” I’ll say, extending my hand and offering a painfully firm shake. “Don’t mean to pry. But do you have an undertaker?”
It’s a question that stops the stalker in his path and opens the door for me to reveal that I’m an embalmer by trade (which I’m not) and embark on a discussion of the merits of cremation over burial, open caskets versus closed caskets and exactly how much makeup is needed to restore the glow of youth to a dead client’s face. Only once, in Hartford, CT., did I encounter a gay guy who found the subject appealing, which totally creeped me out.
I’d argue that you and your friends reconsider your reluctance to hang out in gay bars. For one thing, the music usually is damned good. For another, you can fend off the flirters using the techniques I’ve outlined above (and, if they aren’t so drunk that their gaydar is out of order, they shouldn’t see you as a potential lay anyway).
And finally, at least in West Hollywood, there’s no better place to pick up sexy straight chicks. I have straight friends who make the Abbey, considered one of the country’s most famous gay bars, a regular hangout because of the straight girls who go there. The girls claim they like gay bars for the music and because the guys there don’t hit on them. But a few drinks sometimes changes all that. As Joe Nichols, the country singer, famously sang of a girlfriend: “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off.”
Hank (make mine a single malt Scotch)
Questions you can’t bring yourself to ask your gay friends and neighbors? Send them to Henry@WEHOville.com.