Wednesday, August 15, 2012

In which I go to a gay strip club, learn something about gender dynamics, and reaffirm something I already knew about myself

Tonight I went to a gay strip club. Clark laughingly predicted that I would be so uncomfortable at the club that I would run in, then run right back out. This ended up not being the case. I was certainly outside my comfort zone, but I was not in any way ashamed or embarrassed. I don't feel ashamed unless I'm doing something I believe is wrong, and I did not feel so tonight. It would be wrong if going were a violation of my commitment to Clark, but it was he who suggested I go in the first place so that wasn't the case; it would also be wrong if I did anything to treat the dancers with less than the respect they deserve as human beings, and I had no intention of doing that. So considering how far outside my comfort zone I was, I felt surprisingly comfortable as I walked into Nob Hill Theater, paid my admission (they gave me the local discount even though I told them I'm not local), and entered the theater room. 

Woo hoo, take it off!

I walked into the theater to find a skinny man wearing a towel and talking to a group of women. Apart from the dancer, there was not a man in the theater, which I found odd. The dancer immediately approached me and started dancing right in front of me. This made me uncomfortable because I didn't know what to do. Or rather, I didn't want to do what was expected of me--he was a stranger, not especially attractive to me, and he was invading my personal space. After a minute he gave up and sat down in the chair next to me. We chatted, and I relaxed a little. He whispered to me that he was annoyed at the women because they weren't good tippers and they were scaring away all the men. This seemed strange to me--it hadn't occurred to me that I should feel any less welcome because there were women in the room. After all, this was a gay strip club; I am the intended audience. 

The next dancer spent the first fifteen minutes of his performance focusing entirely on the women. While on stage, he smiled at them, and when he came off stage he hovered around them. He didn't even look in my direction. I enjoyed the show but felt just a little snubbed. Meanwhile, other male patrons poked their heads in, then decided not to enter when they saw women in the room. Again, odd. Then the women left and the dancer walked over to me. He apologized and explained that the women had told him that they didn't realize this was a gay club and they could only stay for a little while, so could he please dance for them before they left. We chatted some more while he danced, and then other men started trickling in, and I realized why they felt the need to maintain gender segregation. See, men enjoy a strip show in--ahem--a very different way from how women do. In ways that they probably don't want women to watch. 

And I guess that's what makes me a strange gay man. I wouldn't want to enjoy a strip show in the way those men were enjoying this strip show in front of anyone, not even the dancer unless that dancer were someone with whom I was in a committed relationship. A recurring theme of this blog is that Clark is a private person and I am not, but when it comes to sex I am very much a private person. I have no desire or interest in sharing that part of me with anyone apart from Clark. It's not that I'm clinging to the moral code I was raised with; I'm just not interested in anything other than monogamy. To be honest, as much as I appreciate the male form, I didn't enjoy seeing men dance right in front of me nearly so much as I enjoyed making the little start of an emotional connection when I talked with them. And that doesn't begin to compare to what I feel when connecting with Clark. So now that I've checked "go to a strip club" off my bucket list, I think next time I'll just stay home.

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