Recently I was asked to write an article about what it is like to be gay and live in a regional area. My immediate reaction was yes, this should be a piece of cake for me! Little did I know the dark cloud that would emerge from beginning to dwell and look deeper into this topic. Living in a rural area we have a smaller population, the kind of place where everyone knows everyone and if you don’t people you know, know those people. There is no escape! Someone will also know of you or heard things about you wether they be good or bad, the existence of a small population housing an even smaller group of people I have come to the conclusion that it is intensively archaic to believe that a fulfilling existence can be found in regional areas.
Before the digital age “beats” stood proudly as the place where you could have some anonymous sex with a stranger, sometimes without even seeing them. While this method is dying out it is still in existence today with the blending of this idea with the digital media through the website “Squirt” Inappropriately titled and proud of it you can log on and cruise guys in your area that meet in local restrooms, parks, beaches, car parks and in some cases bus stops (I have no shame in admitting that I once tried to make a “beat” on Squirt and yes it was the bus stop). It was the place where famous local footballers, married men, local celebrities and closeted tradies can safely arrange a meeting place at night, in the dark where they can unleash their hidden desires with complete anonymity.
From here Gaydar, Manhunt and Aussie-men sprouted offering a more “out” solution with pictures, live chat and the dreaded “wink” that most guys seem to hate, a gutless way to show interest without the fear of rejection from the other guy, no pressure to reply to a non-existent message. While I myself have spent many an all nighter trolling through these websites looking for “the one” I can confidently announce that this was time I wasted, time that could have been better spent out at the only gay club in the area, surely this would prove to be a more fruitful task?
Fruit is the word! In an age where gay men dress like lesbians, and lesbians dress like men when they used to look like men, the whole game has just become a chaotic conundrum. The typical feminine gay guys hang out in the karaoke bar in the front, imagining themselves as Beyonce, Kylie or Donna Summer to be then battled by lesbians who belt out Evanesence, Pink and Bon Jovi, then there is the smokers area, an outdoor “beer garden” full of fags (pun deliciously intended!) who chain smoke all night while gossiping about who is sleeping with who and deciding on the best and worst dressed.
In the club portion of the establishment lies a mediocre dance floor that is always both sticky and slippery, what once was an avenue for great drag shows and entertainment is now a sloppy dance floor with DJ’s who still believe that “Jump Around” is still on everyones playlist. Every Saturday night as you walk through the one place in town that is gay and lesbian friendly you see the same people doing the same things, the same drunk drag queens falling into the pot plant, the trio of badly tanned 50 somethings desperate for any action they can get, the bitchy cliquey queens who sleep with anything and everything they can still hopeful that someone new will be there tonight. All in all it is a pretty sad scene and definitely not the place I want to find my future partner.
Digital Media has taken over and with it comes the two most famous apps Grindr and Scruff, showing a thumbnail photo they arrange other gay users by gps location and determine exactly how far away they are from you and what they are looking for. The problem with this is in a regional area it is the same faces when you load up Grindr for your morning wank, it is the same faces at night as you sit in your bedroom alone and wonder why you are still living here. When you travel the to the nearest large shopping centre 15kms away it’s the same photos just in a different order as they are further away.
Looking at it from this perspective I cannot help but be negative about being a minority in a regional area, I am not here to complain or whine as that is not my intention, the simple fact of what used to be a loving and supportive community 10 years ago when I first came out has changed into a faceless and anonymous sub-culture of anonymity, cheating boyfriends who are bored with their lives and threesomes from couples who believe that it is ok but are really just too unhappy in their relationships to admit it.
My point here is this we used to be a community yet somewhere along the way we got lost, we became bound to a one gay club town that just throws all the different personalities and styles into the one place and expects it to work, the truth of the matter is that it does not. In an age of vain, beauty obsessed society we are drowning in our own ignorance. It is time we stood together and connected to truly move forward as a group and make this a better place and environment for the next generation.