The gay scene
What is the gay scene?
The gay scene is comprised of gay bars, pubs, clubs, events like Gay Pride. It also includes social meet-up groups, and sports and hobby clubs. These may or may not be linked to a gay venue. The gay scene can offer social, romantic and sexual opportunities for gay and bisexual people. It provides social space where you can be openly gay without fear of homophobia.
Many gay people enjoy the scene for a number of reasons:
- Homosexuality is celebrated and embraced as a positive. This can be great for your self-esteem, especially if you are used to negativity or ignorance toward homosexuality in your usual social circle.
- Being around other gay people can make you feel less isolated and remind you that you’re not the only gay person in the world.
- Gay people feel safer in gay venues and free from homophobia (anti-gay behaviour).
- It can be a big confidence boost to go into a gay venue for the first time, and it can be a big part of your coming out process; symbolic of the acceptance of your sexuality and a desire to move forward. It can feel liberating and exciting.
- It’s an opportunity to meet other gay people for friendship, a romantic relationship or sex, without – generally speaking - having to worry about whether the person you are interested in is gay (though, of course, they might not fancy you!).
- It’s an opportunity to be openly affectionate toward a same-sex friend or partner and behave naturally and openly in a public place, free from fear of a negative response from strangers.
- Leaflets, flyers and magazines containing information about events and services for gay people are often available. Visiting a gay venue can be a good way of finding out about other things you might be interested in.
- Many people report that there’s less aggressive or confrontational behaviour in gay venues when compared to some straight ones. Many also feel that there's a more relaxed and fun atmosphere.
- As well as the above benefits, gay venues can simple be decent places to spend time. Many serve food and have themed decor, impressive sound systems, nightly events, promotions and other attractions.
Potential downsides to the gay scene
The idea of being welcomed warmly into a big gay family the moment you go inside a gay bar is a myth. Friendships and relationships have to be created and nurtured, just like they do outside the bar. Simply sharing the same sexual preference doesn't guarantee a connection. Gay people are as shy and cautious as straight people and as likely to be friendly or unfriendly.
The gay scene can start to feel very small after a while, especially in smaller towns with one or two gay venues. If you sleep around it may not be very long before you feel as though you've slept with everyone in the bar! The consequences of your sexual and romantic choices may be stuck with you for a very long time. Check your conduct and decision making if you're a big scene regular.
Some people find the Gay Scene to be shallow, with youth, appearance and sexual availability being the focus. People who don’t fit into certain criteria can feel excluded or out of place e.g. older people, overweight people, those who value monogamy, those who prefer alternative music, people who dress differently to the majority in a given venue etc.
Tips for visiting a gay venue
Remember, it is illegal in the UK to consume alcohol if you are under the age of 18. Some venues may operate an over 21 policy for entry.
- Take a friend along for support if you are feeling nervous.
- Remember that you’re not the only person there who feels nervous and shy, even if it looks like everyone is confident.
- Make an effort to chat if someone makes conversation with you. It might not be someone you are attracted to but don’t dismiss someone on that basis. Friendship is just as important as meeting Mr or Mrs Right and talking to one person can often lead to conversation with another. Being friendly and approachable makes it more likely that people will feel able to talk to you and they'll be pleased to see you again.
- Try not to feel disappointed if you don’t find someone to elope with on your first night! Sometimes people put too much focus on finding a partner and this can stop them enjoying their social lives. This applies just as much to straight people too. Concentrate on the people you are there with, be open and friendly to newcomers and let the evening develop naturally. Have fun and try to see the meeting of a potential partner as a bonus, not the focus.
- You don't need to drink alcohol to have a good time. You'll be better company if you're not drunk, as well as more able to look after yourself and make the right decisions about your body and the people you meet. Being so drunk you are physically sick is a sure way to turn a potential partner off and indicate a lack of respect for yourself and the people around you. Not being able to remember the night before is not a sign that you had a great time; great times create memories. You lost control and put yourself in danger.
- Have realistic expectations of what the gay scene is and what it can offer. If you view a gay venue as somewhere nice to spend time and enjoy the company of other gay people, then you’ve got the right outlook. Anything else good that happenes while you're there is a bonus.
- Be yourself. There's no point displaying qualities that you think other people value if those qualities are not your own. People who you're more likely to connect with will be drawn to you if you simply be yourself and let your qualities shine. Attracting people on the basis of pretending to be something you're not won't generate meaningful friendships or lasting relationships.
Like anything in life, the gay scene may or may not be for you. It's made up of many venues that pitch themselves at different sub-cultures within the gay community. Gay bar doesn't necessarily mean good bar, so experiment with different places and find somewhere that suits you. If the gay scene doesn't appeal to you, that’s fine too.
For ideas on meeting new people outside of the gay scene see the dedicated section.