Watch Me Entertain Myself!

Sacha Guitry once said, "You can pretend to be serious, but you can't pretend to be witty." Oh yes, I'm the great pretender.
(pilot episode: 20 January 2004)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Safe Spaces

I found it interesting that fellow Fabcaster Tony described gay places such as bathhouses, gay bars and dance clubs, and massage parlors (that cater to a gay clientele) as “safe spaces.”

Safe spaces. Until Tony mentioned that term, I never thought of such a concept. But I realized, yes, we gay men do need our safe spaces. These are places where we can go to and we can feel safe. We can be ourselves and not feel out of place or scorned by the rest of society. We can mingle with like-minded folks, people like us, and feel accepted.

If you look at current gay safe places, most of them are dark--dark interiors, discreet facades, and open only at night. I suppose this is in response to how homosexuals are marginalized.

Which is why the recently-concluded first-ever Love Yourself Cafe matters more than just a grand EB. The vision for the Cafe is simple, stated in its poster: “A safe space for casual conversations on topics that dare, with people who care, to question and share.” Of the more than a hundred who signed up, around 30 guys were chosen for the first Cafe.

It was a relaxing, enjoyable night. The venue was at an undisclosed condo in Makati. We met a lot of new faces for the first time; in fact, I’m sure there are in-the-closet guys there who perhaps will feel awkward if you bump into them during the day, perhaps, and they’re with their officemates and you’re, like, “Huuuuy, teh! Kamustasa?!” with matching flailing of arms. I bet in that instant they’d want the ground to open up and eat you--not them, mind you, but you mismo--alive. From as young as 17 to as old as 50+, from the closeted discreet to flamboyantly out, from the hopeful to the jaded (and back again), there was a rainbow coalition of different hues that night.

Of course the event still had to be done discreetly. That’s what happens when you include discreet guys. Perhaps there will be a world wherein being gay is not seen as being different, and straight-acting gay guys will not mind being identified as “gay;” but for now, this is reality, and we must learn to adjust accordingly.

One of the dreams of the Love Yourself people is that the Cafe become an actual venue. Now, how does one have a Cafe that closeted gay guys will not be afraid of being seen in there? Methinks it needs to be a for-members-only Cafe, and the entrance should be discreet. Maybe it should just look like a house on the outside, or the entrance is on a small side street. Haaay, one of these days.

Meanwhile, there will be another Cafe, I’m sure. Just watch out for announcements.


Rygel said...

but isn't that just what the other "safe places" appear like on the outside? All you have to do is change what goes on inside some of those "safe" places and we'll have that Cafe. I get that we need places to comfortably talk about issues... "homosexual" issues.

what's really frustrating for me is that just being a PLU makes non-homosexual, even non-sexual (eg work) issues a lot harder to talk about with "straight" friends. I guess this is because everything is related.

Anyways, I thought Starbucks was a "safe place" :D

PS nakakainis ang commenting system. If you're not signed it to any of the accounts, everything you type will disappear when you sign in >.<

Tony said...

Or go the other way around and be more inclusive rather than exclusive. Meaning accept people from all backgrounds and sexual orientation/ preferences with a marketing that heavily leans to the LGBT group. In other words, hidden in plain sight. Something that I implemented over at Hilom (location wise) and has worked pretty well. Baang is another perfect example of this sans the marketing. For some reason it has become a 'safe space' for gay men to meet even if it was unintentional.

That physical cafe maybe nearer than you think. :D

palma tayona said...

I agree with Tony's suggestion - be inclusive rather than exclusive. I remember the Malate of the nineties - Blue Cafe, Joy, Garlic Rose, and that place (I forgot the name) on the corner of Bocobo and Nakpil which had ala-Las Vegas revue shows, Verve Room etc... these establishments (particularly Blue and Joy) had this "come as fabulous as you are" thing going for them that it wasn't awkward to be gay and discrete/closeted because everyone was simply fabulous and don't give a fiddler's fuck of what one's sexuality is (but everyone knows it's a gay place orchestrated by lgbt's). On my mom's birthday, my brother (a very straight fellow) and I brought her and her 'kumares' (they were, then, the ballroom aficionada-types to Joy) and the women had a grand time dancing with the reigning hairy-chested queens of that era.

Methinks, for a 'cafe' or 'haven' for PLU's to work, Malate of the nineties was a good template. It just needs a bit of updating to suit this younger generation. Drop the exclusivity of titles, statutes of limitations, point-by-point rules of engagement and simply be fabulous, open-armed, wear a smile and armed with a handshake, welcome a bit of variety. "A little bit of this, and a little bit of that with a twist of another thing over there", makes the soup or any gathering for that matter a tad more interesting.