I have some friends visiting town this week so I sent them a two-page document telling them where they might like to go, eat, play, and see in town, listing off the haunts that I like and enjoy, the restaurants that I think everyone would find great, and the places that are kinda touristy that everyone should see. The couple that is visiting is a "bear" couple and I took that a little into consideration with my recommendations, but knowing how the establishments in Wilton Manors are very bear / daddy oriented, I knew they would be fine.
But meeting out with them and texting back and forth, they showed concern about some places and asked often, " will we be okay going there? Do they mind bears?"
It flashed me back to one Bear Week In Provincetown, Mass. All types of bears were there. But once in a while, a little twink, smaller guy, someone petite and smooth would swim through the sea of bears. We ended up calling them salmon. "Oh, he's a cute salmon. Look here comes three of them, a school of salmon." We had fun with it they were noticeable, but we didn't put them down or shun them away. Heck, I was sharing a house with three of my very good friends/salmons.
Back to Wilton Manors. I told the guys to go back and read my piece mentioned above and not to worry about being a bear anywhere in this town. I don't go to a couple of bars in town because I would then be a singleton bear in a sea of salmon.
Do gay bars discriminate toward gay men that are a certain way? I know we've had some developments in bars being accused of being racist and not allowing men of color in, but what about not letting in certain colors of the rainbow? Are some men too feminine for certain bars. Are some men not fit enough? Are bears allowed everywhere? Are some too fashion forward?
Here's a recent post from Timeline.com that brings us back to the Philadelphia gay life of the '60s and a case of discrimination based on looks.
Philly’s Largest Gay Hangout Denied Service To 150 People In 1965 For Simply ‘Looking Gay’
It seemed everybody in the gay community went to Dewey’s after the bars closed. The late-night coffeehouse chain was a Philadelphia institution. Even Liberace was a patron.
Then in early 1965, some rowdy teens starting coming around. Tired of their behavior, Dewey’s managers at the 17th Street location instructed restaurant staff to refuse them service. Soon workers were turning away customers by the droves — but most of them happened to “look homosexual” or dress in gender-variant clothing.
Over the course of April 25 of that year, Dewey’s refused 150 people. But three of them wouldn’t leave. The sit-in was one of the earliest demonstrations against LGBTQ discrimination in the United States, a full four years before the Stonewall Riots. And depending who you asked, it marked a pronounced departure from the previous decade’s brand of respectability politics.
“All too often, there is a tendency to be concerned with the rights of homosexuals as long as they somehow appear to be heterosexual, whatever that is,” wrote the Janus Society in a newsletter distributed following the sit-in. Janus was an early homophile (a term later recoined to “LGBT”) advocacy organization, based in Philadelphia.
Dewey’s patrons included drag queens, masculine women, feminine men, streetwalkers, and transvestites. The ”term “transgender” was not yet in use, though some queens who then identified as gay men would look back on their participation as part of American’s transgender rights movement. All walks frequented “Fag Dewey’s,” as it was nicknamed at the time. Other gay purlieus included Day’s Deli near Rittenhouse Square, Jimmy Jeff’s, Tad’s Steak, and Surf.
The day 150 people were denied service, three teenagers refused to leave, according to City Of Sisterly And Brotherly Loves: Lesbian And Gay Philadelphia, 1945–1972. Police arrested them, plus Polak, who had offered to help the group obtain a lawyer. Each was found guilty of disorderly conduct.
In response, the Janus Society quickly distributed 1,500 leaflets advertising a five-day protest that would culminate in a second, planned sit-in on May 2. That day, another three people refused to leave, but no arrests were made. Janus’ newsletter proclaimed that Dewey’s promised an “immediate cessation to all indiscriminate denials of service.” – Timeline.com
I've talked to many foreign visitors while hanging out in Ogunquit, Maine, Provincetown, Massachusetts, Wilton Manors, Florida an other great vacation cities. One thing they all talk about is how free they feel being in those places. A gay paradise. But what if in that gay paradise, you were not welcome in certain gay places?
Have you experienced mistreatment in bars because you look "too gay", "too straight", too bearish" or just too LGBT?
What do you do in those situations?