Tuesday 20 February 2018

Bursting the gay bf bubble

He cheered on the day that referendum was passed, but now Donal Lynch wonders if the price was too high

Donal Lynch
Donal Lynch

It's been a couple of months now since the referendum, and you'd probably thought you'd read your last gay whinge after the Yes vote. But just one more little thing - and this is the last one, promise - did nobody think to mention that there are downsides to being acceptable? 

For a start, now that we're in the best little country in the world to be gay, everyone needs their own gay friend. This might not be as tough as actual oppression, but it's not a bed of roses either. For Irish gay men, being a loner-introvert just isn't on the cards any more. You've long-lost cousins coming out of the woodwork on Facebook and elderly acquaintances asking "where the next parade" is on.

The ladies lead the charge, of course. For years now, women's magazines, movies and telly have all hammered home the message: every woman needs a gay best friend. They need them, they're told, more than they need fancy face creams and fake hair.

The reasons for this are obvious: gay men are the perfect allies, while being complete lack of competition, except when it comes to blow-job anecdotes. Girl power and all that, but at the end of the day, there is nobody else the single woman can rely on to not get pregnant first.

This is all well and good, and generally works out well if you have a gay man and a straight woman ready to go, but a quick glance at the census reveals the numbers just don't add up. Roughly half of the Irish population are women. Roughly 5pc are gay men. Ipso facto, there aren't enough gays to go around.

This is bad enough in urban areas of Ireland, but if you happen to be gay in a small town, forget about it.

A gay man in Athlone or Waterford essentially has his pick of godchildren or dinner parties. You end up lying to your straight female friends as they pointedly quiz you about which other girls you're friends with. You end up doing double shifts: an arty film with one girl, followed by a gossipy dinner with another.

You come up with dodgy excuses when you're not feeling up to it tonight. You make awkward, surrogate-related conversation ("Sure, of course I'd love to use your uterus . . . when the time comes . . . if Taylor Swift is still holding out on me").

And you start to get an insight into what straight men go through, and feel weirdly grateful you don't have to deal with this more often.

In the old days, for gay men, there was were no expectations in terms of socialising. You could discreetly skulk off to some den of iniquity for the night and nobody would be seen dead tagging along with you. Gay clubs were dungeons, where no decent person could be seen. Now, they all want to come.

In the last few months alone I have had two married mothers demand to be brought to illegal lock-ins, with me standing there, going, "Don't you have children to go home to?"

The result is that you feel like a communist queuing for bread, as you try to the get into said clubs, and, when you finally wedge yourself in, they're annoyingly packed.

Bouncers can't even tell hen parties to piss off any more because a) reverse discrimination doesn't feel as cool since the referendum passed and b) who knows, they might just be a gaggle of excitable lesbians, or the entourage around the Rose of Tralee or something.

That illicit Sodom-and-Gomorrah vibe that the bars used to have is gone. They are now gay Disneyland.  

Perhaps, like the housing market, the gay bubble will eventually burst, and society will move on to another minority, such as Travellers or Spanish students. Or maybe the pressure to get on to the gay-best-friend ladder will result in the 'gentrification' of previously undesirable lesbians.

When that happens, the country's gay men might well be left behind, the human equivalent of ghost estates. But at least there'll be some breathing room at the club.

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