Despite my natural propensity toward exhibitionism, I often feel unsafe and uncomfortable being publicly affectionate with The Girl* in certain straight, heteronormative bars in St. Louis County. The remarkable lack of minorities, the vapid uniformity of the people, the lone leering drunken men, the desolate strip mall isolation of the buildings-- these locales can be tremendously creepy and pointedly reminiscent of that opprobrious bar where Jodie Foster’s character was brutally gang raped in “The Accused.”
Yesterday evening, I went to one such bar with The Girl and she was all dolled up– a splendiferous looking creature - I wanted to kiss her; stroke her hair; hold her hand; but I could not bear these people’s eyes crawling over us. Even when we went outside and we were ostensibly alone, I kept glancing around, as though some miscreant was certain to magic himself from the shadows, in order to summarily attack us. This prejudicial attitude of mine is particularly incredible considering that I have no qualms whatsoever with making out with a woman in a low down, dirty, South City hoosier establishment. I don’t even find the drunken leering particularly unsettling in such places-- indeed, it's somewhat charming as a flatteringly unmitigated lustful display...but I digress.
Last night, all of my knee-jerk, stereotypical thinking about the patrons of these county bars was eradicated when I made the acquaintance of a group of domestic beer drinking, stadium rock loving, Cardinals t-shirt wearing regulars. Initially, they were a bit hostile with me and made some thinly veiled disparaging remarks. But, after they were able to discern that (despite my flamboyant eccentricities) I’m not a wholly effete city dweller, they began to warm up to me. One of the women ultimately befriended me and enthusiastically talked up her beloved kickball league that plays in the park near my home. By the conclusion of our conversation, she’d invited me on a float trip with her group of friends; she was also hoping to set me up with a lady friend of hers! I was dumbfounded at this turn of events--that I could be so blindly ignorant to the easygoing humanity of this community. Further, that I'd allowed my baseless apprehension to ruin my enjoyment of otherwise fantastic and rarefied nights out with The Girl.
Overall, it was a highly surreal, entertaining, and enlightening evening. I doubt that I’ll ever return to that bar again, but I also doubt that I’ll ever be so fearful about being publicly bisexual in St. Louis County again.
It seems that one of my tasks in this life is to learn (and relearn) that true agency is a gift born of open-mindedness.
*given moniker of the lovely woman I'm dating