Atlanta Too Gay?

Atlanta Pride Parade June 2004. Photo by me.


hat was the opinion of one self described gay twenty year old college student from Gainesville, Florida that recently visited Atlanta.

I happened upon his blog while doing some research on another topic and found the outsiders opinion on the mark about how gay Atlanta can be, but way off the mark on it being too gay.

There isn't such a thing.

He also complains that not enough gay clubs allow patrons under the age of 21, only Chaparral is 18 and up. I can agree with him that not enough clubs are open to those under 21. But if he knew Atlanta better he'd known that most of the gay teens hang out in the heart of the gay ghetto at Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse at the corner of 10th and Piedmont.

He wrote:
There are gay people everywhere. Young, middle aged, old, coupled, single, bearish, queeny, flaming, muscled you name a type and he lives in HOTlanta (and I can definitely see why they name it that). Gayness seemed more ubiquitous than in New York and San Francisco; rather than being defined by Castro St. or the East Village, Gays have poured into every neighborhood in the city by the hundreds. There were few places we went that gayness was not automatically detected; rather it seemed that homosexuality was the norm. I might even go so far to say it was the majority (in some places). Unbelievable.

Editors Note: Actually Fulton and DeKalb Counties (where the city of Atlanta is confined) are in the top 10 in terms of number of people identifying as gay or lesbian (source U.S. Government Census 2000).

Later he writes:
There are gay people everywhere. They say you cant have too much of a good thing, but the Atlanta gay scene definitely borders it. To think that you can go to a different bar every night for over a month (there are about 39 gay bars total) is just astounding, in a scary way. Whats worse is how easy it is to let the gay overtake every aspect of your life. No longer do you have to go to a bar to meet someone gay. Try one of the many bookstores, restaurants, dentists, or chiropractors that cater to homosexuals. Go to the Starbucks at Ainsley Mall (located directly next to an LA Fitness) where 99.9% of the people (barristas and customers) are men who like men. You can sit outside (with like-minded bears, twinks, muscle-cubs, whatever) and peruse the gym bunnies parading in and out of the gym, all the while eye-fucking whomever you want, since every guy likes the same thing you do. Now, I can see the allure of this environment, dont get me wrong. But at the same time, I cant see how its healthy, or even enjoyable.

There are gay people everywhere. And with those gay men comes even more gay drama, cliques, jugdement, stereotypes. By nature gay people typecast themselves and as I was driving home I still couldnt shake the fact that so many gay men have created a life that is just as extreme as being in the closet one devoid of anything NOT gay. I mean, is it a normal desire to have every aspect of your life defined by who you like having sex with? That a burger tastes better at a restaurant run by gay people, that a gay chiropractor somehow might be more attune to your muscle spasms? Part of the fun (for me, and this seems weird) is that I like things (sexual things) that arent mainstream. But in Atlanta I felt washed away in a raging river of gay! I guess I just dont like extremes one gay club is not enough but 40 is far too many. Its great that gayness is so accepted there, that kissing in public isnt taboo. And as comfortable as that life sounds, I still want something that isnt necessarily defined by the fact that I like to kiss boys.
Being under 21. I cant say Ive ever been so frustrated in all the time Ive been in that category. As I mentioned there are 39 gay bars in the greater Atlanta area. And since I was born in 1986, 38 out of 39 wouldnt even let me in the door. (The one that did was a grungy hispanic place that left me feeling dirty for even having walked in.) As arbitrary a law as the drinking age is, I was still astounded that not one dance club was 18 and up. I shouldnt have to drink to enjoy a place draw a big black X on my forehead. Make me pay $10 more than everyone else. Give me a big ugly mask. I DONT CARE just let me have fun. Why should I have to sit at home just because I cant order a drink? It made for a miserably frustrating few nights, driving around calling every bar and asking, just to hear nope, 21 and up only every time.

Talk about lots of internalized homophobia!

Now once this kid graduates from college and spends a couple of years in the adult, straight dominated world he might change his opinion about Atlanta being too gay. He'll be packing his stuff into a UHAUL and setting up shop in the gay ghetto and find it a welcoming home than many gays ahead of him have struggled so hard to build and protect.