I find myself in the arms of a 6'2" god of a man we'll call Atlas. What would my hubby say if he knew? "You go girl!" Because my husband hates to dance. And because I'm in a gay nightclub on Leather Weekend in Palm Springs, and Atlas doesn't play for my team. He's just using me to attract another hunk we'll call Bare-Butt Chaps.
I didn't always love gay people. When I left home for college, I was a homophobe, because I didn't know any gay people. I was shocked to discover their were two known lesbians on my dorm floor. Were they dangerous? Would they try to jump me in the communal showers, Born-Innocent-style?
Turns out they had names. Julie and Roxanne. They hung out in Roxy's Joan-Jett-bedazzled dorm room smoking clove cigarettes. One day they invited me in. Taking my life in my hands, I entered the Lesbian Lair. It was oddly... ordinary. They talked about their lame love lives and listened to music just like my straight friends. Huh. Then they invited me to go to Peanuts, a drag club in West Hollywood.
I hadn't been off the USC campus yet, let alone to Gay Town. I was also, I might mention, a virgin. Non-virgins were trollops. I was a pristine vessel never to be smote down by God. I also never drank or did drugs. I was a smug little debutante.
I agreed to go to Peanuts. I'd like to think it was a gesture of friendship, but there was a voyeuristic component involved. I was a journalism student who, up to this point, had little to report. To fortify myself for the assignment I smoked a clove cigarette. Roxy pulled over just before we got on the 10 Freeway so I could barf.
When we arrived at Peanuts, I was surprised to see that people were wearing clothes and not just permanently affixed condoms. Inside, gay couples danced together. Some were sexy, some awkward, in love, in lust... exactly like straight people. Huh.
Then came the drag show. What beauty! What diva swagger! Also, what had they done with their penises? I wanted to know from a purely anthropological perspective, of course.
When the house music came up again, I threw caution to the tsunami and joined the pulsating throng, dancing with both men and women. (Only after I'd informed them I was straight. And a virgin. A Straight Virgin.)
Dancing in a gay club was different from dancing on fraternity row. For the first time, I didn't feel like anyone was hitting on me. Or judging me. I felt safe. And free.
Twenty-seven years later. Leather Weekend in Palm Springs. I'm dancing onstage when sumptuous Altas winds his way through the crowd, arms outstretched to receive me. I leap into them. And for one long club version of Katy Perry's Firework, I enjoy the pleasure of dancing with a gorgeous man guilt-free. We spin, swing, and twirl around the disco dance floor, and I'm free again.
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