Magazine article Out

Editor's Letter

Magazine article Out

Editor's Letter

Article excerpt

Back in the early '90s, there existed in Edinburgh a bar called the Laughing Duck. A tabloid newspaper once referred to it in passing as infamous, but that was only if you considered homosexuality infamous. For me the Duck was glorious, the place I first learned to shrug off my shame and flirt with guys who were the same as me and who desired me as I desired them. In those early days-I was just 22-there was a lot of desiring going on.

Sadly, the Duck has long since closed, but I thought about it often as we assembled our guide to the world's greatest gay bars (page 56), recalling the rough drag queens that hosted the karaoke and bingo nights as well as the dance floor that throbbed to Madonna and Depeche Mode and which was bloody fantastic if you were drunk enough. (We always were.) But most of all I dwelled on the role that bar played in my journey out of the closet, from fear of discovery to the thrill of discovery. I'm not sure anything in life will ever equal those first tentative visits to the Duck-the sheer exhiliration of finding myself among my own-but for all the advances in the intervening years, the gay bar still represents a haven of sorts and the place where we can be truest to ourselves.

It's been a long time since I walked back and forth past the Duck, plucking up courage to go in, but sometimes it seems like a different fear has taken its place, the fear of the velvet rope and the bitchy bouncer for whom I will never be cool or fabulous enough to make the grade. There are lots of places like that, of course, where the men and women who guard the doors seem like grotesque parodies of the popular kids at school, using and abusing their power in ways both random and cruel. And although I'm not above dropping my business card quietly into the hand of a doorkeeper, God, it feels grubby. Americans, as a rule, have fewer problems playing the status game than Brits (who do it more surreptitiously, therefore more dishonestly), but I think every time you rely on your title/influence/real estate to pass through a door you lose a little more of your soul. …

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