Reader Struggles with Knee Jerk Reaction to Saving Historical Gay Bars – What Are Your Thoughts on Passive Gay Culture?

My post on the Death of Beloved SF Institution: The Eagle resulted in a number of emails and comments. While the end for the Eagle may or may not be near, a dialogue this post sparked is worth sharing.

Read the following and let me know your thoughts on the evolution of gay culture.

From Riley, regarding my post on the death of the Eagle:
I struggle with the knee jerk reaction to “save historical gay bars”– our “gay culture” is radically changing- morphing into something we don’t seem to be guiding – so we jump to save the past versus sweating to build a future– many people criticize our ‘passive gay culture’ as compared to generations before– but it’s not a simple discussion:  it’s complex and includes big topics such as our relevance/potency as a RACE of people to the rest of the people/races on this planet!

So  much of our history is steeped in bar culture (which has been slowly  dying and proving an antiquated model for social interaction/ transcendence): just as the clubs/nightclubs have become nearly non-existent in SF, it seems the bar culture is facing the same fate.

Perhaps the question we should be asking ourselves is what new concepts/constructs do we need to BUILD for the modern queer race.

What is the evolution of the bar? I believe this also ties into the dialogue of what is the relevance of “gay community” centers…

I’m not sure locking myself to a bulldozer going nose to beak with the Eagle is activism. I’m more interested in rallying every young LGBTQ  (etc, etc) individual to interview/document the stories/struggles/history of his or her eldest queer friend–now that’s saving our history!!!

The SF Eagle is a place of Sunday ‘worship’ (yes a double entendre). It’s a place of brotherhood and transcendence for many men (from raw laughter, to raw sex, to stimulant inspired highs). I am thankful it exists, thankful for its history; thankful of its influences on me, and for the many, many, many memories it holds. And for the many who have held me there.

The beauty/liberation of our bar culture is tempered with the destructive nature of bars in general. For the many people we lose to abuse, we still don’t seem to have created an option– a new forum/model.

Some say the Internet/technology and online sex killed nightlife/dance clubs-and now killing the bar scene–some say it was/is drugs that kills the scene– some say its because gay bars have become so body/age/race specific — Darlings, WE kill the optimism by misusing the tools — so don’t blame the tools- we simply need to figure out how to  use the tools to build a better solution.

“Gay bar” owners have a larger pressure than a str8 bar owner… They inherit a responsibility to the queer cultural as their businesses are frequently the PRIMARY hubs for queer culture (which historically use to be sanctuaries/havens, now really just venues with ties to a historic past). Look at Lonestar, the difficulty of those boys navigating through honoring the past/present/future generations.  They struggle at great expense to innovate new ways to mix the segregated gay community” – pay homage to the past while welcoming the future.

Perhaps there is a poem/hidden message in the story/potential fate of  the SF Eagle (a gay American icon).

I personally know Stanley (the architect with the proposed schematic),  he is a wise, talented, potent and influential architect- and he is an  openly gay man. He is a credit and trophy to our race. His ideas/aesthetic have added to the evolution of SF. He is an ACTIVIST in my  opinion because his actions are conscious contributions to find/create  better ways of living verses talking about contributing (as so many others do). I have not discussed the Eagle site with him- but I guarantee he has something interesting to say.

Hmmmmm? The potential replacement of the old ‘dirty’ Eagle with a stark minimalist/contemporary community dwelling (likely with gay/straight tenants living side by side) designed by a widely celebrated  ‘gay /South African architect’ — is this a poignant commentary of our  own queer gentrification?

I miss the era when gay culture contributed beauty–  when the angst  of our struggle/oppression was expressed through influential/inspiring  aesthetics.

Perhaps as we grow closer to the prize of  “acceptance”/”integration” we will lose more and more of what bonded us together – pain/angst… Desperation for expression of self.

I’m eager to see what this gorgeous thing we once called “gay culture” is going to evolve into if into anything, I know I have to let go of my  definitions of what it has been- my nostalgia is part of my personal  identity. But keepsakes get heavy— the young queers of today are living in a world I never thought I’d see in my lifetime- And they  appear to be packing very lite baggage. I hope they can help develop new tools or better ways to use the old ones.

Metamorphosis Uncertain

2 Comments »

  1. The comment from Riley fails to win me over for two reasons.

    One is that he says that while he “personally knows” the architect who has designed the proposed high-rise condos, he has “not discussed” this matter with him.

    The other is this statement: “The potential replacement of the old ‘dirty’ Eagle with a stark minimalist/contemporary community dwelling (likely with gay/straight tenants living side by side) designed by a widely celebrated ’gay /South African architect’ — is this a poignant commentary of our own queer gentrification?”

    The Eagle may be “old” but that doesn’t make it “dirty” by any stretch.

    In fact, the Eagle is a vibrant community center, frequently hosting benefits for the Sisters and others who ACTUALLY create positive change in the community.

    Whether another high-rise condo building would benefit San Francisco (much less the gay community) is certainly an open question, even if we don’t take the soggy housing market into account.

    Really, it all comes down to money and avarice. The fact that they can find a gay – allegedly – apologist and/or a gay architect matters not one bit. So one gay guy makes bank by helping to shutter a gay institution (which has benefitted the community for YEARS) really only makes it worse.

    What a shame. Why?!? Condos aren’t even selling!

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