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.