Gay Bar: Why We Went Out

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Gay Bar: Why We Went Out

Gay Bar: Why We Went Out

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That theatrical aura, he convincingly posits, has been reshaped, perhaps neutralized, by cultural shifts in the acceptance of gays, of mixed bars fostered by gentrification, of queer safe spaces where rules of conduct abound sometimes in a stifling manner. While sex positivity is something that is something that has always been attributed to the gay community, it’s important to remember how narrow that community has viewed beauty and attractiveness: White, cisgender, masculine. This is, of course, fine - I love memoirs and have enjoyed similar books where facts and statistics are mixed with stories from the author's own encounters - however, what we saw in this book was really quite vulgar and over detailed descriptions of the author having all kinds of sex in gay bars with his partner, which was not at all what I was expecting going into this book, and a lot of these scenes felt rather gratuitous. There is a sense of indifference that jars with my experience of ordinary, workaday gay London, where people dress casually and are fallible. Atherton Lin draws from his experiences of clubs, pubs and dives in London, San Francisco and Los Angeles - and a transatlantic romance that began late one restless night - to trace queer histories.

He charts police raids and riots, posing and passing out—and a chance encounter one restless night that would change his life forever. What’s to boot, even if you see two (or more) strangers snogging in such a situation, you have no idea if it is two straight guys just taking the piss, two real gay guys (whatever that means), or a gay guy and his straight friend taking the piss out of each other. Early in the first chapter, in a dark back room full of chavs with their trackies pooled around their ankles, Atherton Lin tells us, “I saw these men as being in their domain, depraved and sketchy, whereas I was just passing through. Not only because Washington describes the experience of building gay community in less metropolitan settings (Lin spends a bit of time talking about Blackpool in the United Kingdom, but the balance of the book deals with the gay meccas), but because he talks about gay community in a way that Lin either purposefully or accidentally glosses over.

Atherton Lin emphasizes his membership in communities of people making similar choices, for similar reasons. There are decent points, valid arguments, and interesting insights, but sometimes it just didn’t work for me personally. The biggest flux this book is trying to put its finger on is what it means to be gay today after legislations protecting certain aspects of queer life like marriage, market, and military (what the radical queers fought against assimilating towards), even as it threatens other parts of queer life, like the ongoing legal tussles over trans people's rights. But to keep ourselves on our toes, we have a rule that author gender is alternated, girl-boy-girl-boy, and the continents always rotated (with occasional glitches).

I don’t go out much anymore since I got sober but once upon a time I was a party boy and went out every night of the week. Yet Atherton Lin is always on the outskirts of those communities, taking shots at their centers even as he acknowledges their orbits, always standing in and athwart his subject.

Gay Bar: Why We Went Out is sold in the synopsis as a look at the gay bar phenomenon both throughout history and its place in modern queer culture, alongside the author's own personal experiences therein, however, several times while reading I found myself questioning whether I'd actually read the synopsis properly and that I wasn't thinking of a completely different book! As others have noted, this is a limited sampling, but for many gay folks the only cities to live in are these, anyway. His writing style is for the most part enjoyably clever and odd (if not always perfectly lucid), though he does occasionally employ a more academic tone. It's very dry at times when he's talking about how he didn't fit in among the Castro crowd in San Francisco or Los Angeles and gets tiring when he talks about his cruising experiences in the bars of London. I went out to bars,” declares Jeremy Atherton Lin late in this florid, lurid, powerfully brainy memoir of gay gallivanting, “to be literary.

  • Fruugo ID: 258392218-563234582
  • EAN: 764486781913
  • Sold by: Fruugo

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