When we started the LGBT project, it was obvious that we have to get some gay bar experience and write about it. It seemed fun, and the other members of the team were very generous to let me do this part of the job when I asked for it. Nevertheless it turned out to be more difficult then I first thought, but after all here is my guide to LGBT parties, or at least a list of struggles which a straight girl has been through.
1. Choose a place
There are many options in Budapest when you want to go to LGBT bars and parties, I was sure that it wouldn’t be a hard task to find a good one. When I was eighteen, the sister of a friend of mine contributed in a drag show as a backup dancer at Capella , and we went there to watch her. The whole show was spectacular, and some of the performances were pretty hilarious (God bless poor Whitney Houston but I will never forget the drag queen who performed “One Moment in Time” with three pounds of cocaine, which was actually three pounds of flour of course), still I felt that I had to experience something new.
That is why I got very excited when a gay friend of mine told me about the grand opening party of a brand new bar called SCORE Club. Unfortunately we ran out of money and Buda always seems so far away after three glasses of wine, so we decided to visit this place later. We did not expect the opening party to be so wild and loud that someone will call the police and shut down the whole place for months (but since then there have been posts every day on the facebook page of the club, asking about the re-opening, which means that the first party must have been really awesome).
A girl always should have a plan B. This girl’s plan B was to be a boy… or at least dress up and act like a boy for one night. CoXx is a club for gentlemen only. For normal women it is a borderline, for me, well…
It seemed absolutely feasible to me that with a fake moustache and some tanning I can easily play the role of a short but still very handsome Mediterranean-style homosexual man. Before I could give myself a chance to get some bitch slaps from reality (and probably from some security guards) I realized that there was a good reason why women were banned: most of the time CoXx functions as a swinger club. You can take a virtual tour on the clubs website. I am not a prude but it was clear that the Saturday night gangbang party is not an optional plan B.
I am not a quitter, I kept looking for other opportunities. AlterEGO is one of the well-known gay bars in Budapest. There are parties on Fridays and on Saturdays with drag shows at midnight. Based on these information I thought it was just like Capella, where the hetero girls (who are tired of hetero jerks at the not-LGBT pubs) are welcomed. I was totally determined to go there when I met a very intelligent Polish gay guy, who does his PhD in Budapest, and he suggested that I go somewhere else, because the parties at Alterego are mostly about getting laid, so if a straight girl just walks in all alone, it will end up something like this:
He said that I should go to some queer parties at places which are basically not LGBT oriented, but make some events once or twice in a month, dedicated to the sexual minorities (like Living Room or Corvintető). He suggested the Budapest Pride Year End Party at Pepita Ofélia Bár, and finally I felt that I had just found what I was looking for.
2. Pick an outfit
As you will see, this is the most ridiculous point of all, so I will just sum up the questions which ran through my mind during the “dress rehearsal”.
- Tits out or tits not out?
- Should I wear something original or just find something ordinary to fit in?
- Is purple a homosexual color?
- Should I change my MotoGP special edition sports watch to something else?
- If I dress up pretty in a girly way, will it give the impression that I am trying to pick up somebody?
- If I dress up not girly, will it give the impression that I am a tomboy-type lesbian (who is trying to pick up somebody)?
- Am I totally retarded?!
After fifteen minutes I calmed down and remembered that homosexual people most of the time are more shy then heterosexuals, when they start to flirt with someone. I asked a gay friend, who is pretty hot, that why he needs dating sites to find a man. He explained to me that how awkward it would be, if he just asked every handsome guy he meets like this: “Excuse me, but are you gay?” It is sad but reasonable. Either way, even if they give it a try, they will understand if someone is not into it, like every other person, who belongs to the “majority”. So forget all about the bitchy fashion-nazi gays from the American films, and the embarrassing scenes of the sit-coms, and just wear the clothes you usually wear.
3. Get partners involved in the crime
I am an eternal single, I have got used to the fact that sometimes I have to go alone to places like restaurants, museums, theaters or cinemas, and so on. The only thing I cannot enjoy without some company is a party, so I asked my friends to come with me. Being the craziest and most tolerant person in the crew is great, until you have ideas like “We should go to an LGBT party”, “Let’s make a spontaneous street musical”, or “Climbing this lamp post in front of the police station would be fun”. Then all the childhood memories, the good and the bad times we have been through, the hard work we did together and the yo mama jokes we made seem to mean nothing at all, and the only kind of reaction you get is this:
I did not even bother to ask straight boys to join me. The best you can hope for in this topic that they are theoretically cool about it. Actually I have no lesbian friends (or they are still in the closet and they do it very well). I know some lesbian girls, but we are not close enough to ask them any kind of favor. Some of my gay friends are still dealing with their fresh coming out, and the one who has been out and proud of it for years told me when I first asked him, that he had no money yet. Next time he had been busy with shopping. There was no third time.
The straight girls represent the biggest group on my friends list, and they had a bunch of excuses: boyfriend issues, sickness, being out of town, university duties, tacit homophobia, feeling exhausted, etc. Finally it seemed that I had to do this…
4. Go to the party
I spent four weeks to find the right place and get some company, I had no more time for that. Before the party, I went to a meeting of Speakeasy Students Forum, a students’ club we established six years ago, and since then we meet every single Friday (during the semesters). We were finished, and I had some time until the Budapest Pride Year End Party, so I asked the others if they would like to join me for a drink or two before I go the main event. I was surprised (after four weeks of rejections) when one of the girls said that she would also like to come to the queer party, and I was shocked, when one of the boys joined us too. Furthermore we convinced one more boy, who first wanted to go home, then he sat down just for one beer, and at last spent the whole night with us.
Unfortunately we missed the concert of Antonia Vai, because we “tried to gain some courage” in an-other pub. We arrived at eleven o’clock, ordered some drinks, and went down to the basement to find a table. We found there a dance floor but it was almost empty, so we sat down. What was different in this party? There were some gay and lesbian couples, but they acted like any other happy couples without being judged. Maybe the average length of the women’s hair was a little bit shorter then generally, but I am not sure. We created some differences for ourselves, because we talked all night long about almost just LGBT topics, like the Kinsey scale, the representation of gays and lesbians in the media, some personal experiences, etc. We also made jokes about the fact that we seemed exactly like two lovely homosexual couples. After the last wine I wrote “LOVE IS A HUMAN RIGHT” to my facebook page, and tagged my friends in the post. The only thing we found extraordinary was a kissing heterosexual couple… Well, everything depends on the context. After all, it was a great night which ended up like every other party: we had a late night gyros-dinner in a Turkish restaurant (“gyros” is called kebab in every other country, especially when you eat it in a Turkish place… the real gyros is Greek, and a little bit different from kebab).
Do I have any wise conclusions? Not really, but if I did, it would be something about how we create phobias and social borders from differences which are originally not as big and significant as we have made them. At the end of the day, we all just want to have a good time.