At 12:30 A.M. on Wednesday, April 4, 2007, while watching a man strip down to his underwear,
dance on a stage, and pantomime sexual acts with a transvestite, one might assume that I, a heterosexual
ex-Army officer, would be very far out of my comfort zone.
This assumption would be correct, but I was
a lot more comfortable than I would have been at 8 P.M. on Tuesday, when my night of surveying gay
Growing up in a large metropolis, the gay community was something that I was familiar with, but
had never really moved within.
I’d had a gay couple as neighbors when I was young, and had worked
with a few gay men before.
An environment that I was unfamiliar with, and would likely be
uncomfortable within, was the world of gay nightclubs.
Because open homosexuality has only recently
begun to be accepted as a cultural norm in this country, gay bars serve as refuges for gays and lesbians to
associate with likeminded people and more openly pursue relationships, both romantic and social.
I moved back to Houston in August, I soon met my neighbors, a gay couple named Chip and Michael.
They are good friends with me and my wife and we often interact socially.
While discussing this project
with Chip one night, he suggested that a gay bar would be an appropriate place that would put me out of
my comfort zone.
I agreed and we set a date to go to a series of gay bars that was designed to increase my
discomfort as we went along.
At the appointed time, I met Chip and Michael and we were soon moving north through Montrose
on Mandell Street in Michael’s Hummer.
We quickly arrived at Guava Lamp, an upscale bar with a
modern feel to it.
There were flat screen televisions playing movies and dance music playing at a
Within two minutes of walking in, I noticed that I was quite uncomfortable.
demographics of the bar threw me off; there was a large percentage of gay couples and groups with a few
lesbian couples in the mix as well.
I am fairly certain that I was the only straight person in the room.
luck would have it, some of Chip and Michael’s friends were there and I was introduced.
The first person
I met was Chester, a forty year old insurance sales executive.
Chester didn’t know that I am straight and
performed a quick visual appraisal of me as we shook hands – it was quite uncomfortable.
I was then
introduced to a couple of guys sitting at the bar.
One of them excused himself to go to the restroom and