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Queer beer January 28, 2010

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
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A friend rang and suggested a surreptitious and spontaneous late queer beer. The Russian was already in bed and it felt spectacularly naughty to dress for booze and braving the walk through the heavenly Berlin winter when a peek round the bedroom door revealed a sweet little head peering out from under the duvet and some gentle early snoring.

“Darling, I’m meeting N_ for a surreptitious and spontaneous late queer beer,” I explained, thinking it would mean I was officially an alcoholic or having an affair with a 19-year-old if I went out without saying anything. Not that he would necessarily have noticed if he’d got up for a midnight snack and found the flat empty but for his own good self. I once walked around the world and only on streets with an x in their name and all he said when I got back, bearded, suntanned and riddled with disease and bullet-holes, was, “Porridge cold.”

I arrived at the appointed venue a tad before N_. Ordered myself an indecently large beer and chose a perch in a corner affording a good view and got down to some serious people-watching. Wondered if people might think I was a rent-boy. Or rent-man. I tried to look slovenly and wanton. Not that I really fancied having sex for money. And there was no way of knowing what time N_ might arrive. It’d be embarrassing if he arrived at any point in the proceedings, to be honest. And he might worry that the innocent suggestion of a surreptitious and spontaneous late queer beer had careered morally downhill with such speed.

A familiar face appeared at a satisfactorily distant part of the bar. I felt reassured that there was a suitable gaggle of encumbering drinkers between me and him for us to be troubled by starting conversation. And then the familiar face belongs to someone I’ve probably seen 117 times on and off over the last however many years and not on a single one of those occasions has conversation flourished beyond the preliminary unless circumstances have, to our mutual horror, obliged us to be so geographically close that to peremptorily truncate our words after how are you would seem wilfully uncivilised. Our eyes met and we contorted them to signify hellos, making sure, even though we were both alone, that the hello didn’t look so inviting as to imply him making his way through the throng of poofs between him and me to make me look less like a prostitute.

That social duty exacted, I surveyed the more perfect strangers. And, darlings, do you know, there was not a proper, old-style cissy amongst them! Indeed, if I hadn’t known I was in an establishment frequented by the fairer orientation, I might have been quite scared of many of the younger men. (I was anyway, but only really of the conversation I might have to have with them if the occasion had arisen, which, of course, it didn’t, rather than of violence.) A good many had decided that hair was an unnecessary and unduly prissy adornment. Many more had spent time changing the shape of their bodies with either sport or beer. Almost all of them brayed. Some smoked with an inelegance that would have shocked Karen Matthews.

Some of the older poofs suited my stereotyping mood better but still not a good old John Inman or Larry Grayson for love nor money. There’d been plenty of those when I first started going to gay bars in London in the late 80s. Men who would twirl their hands above their heads as they popped to the loo. Men with admirably ridiculous hair-cuts. Men who wore pink and whose linked cuffs flowed generously from beneath their sleeves. Men who, if you were lucky, drank spirits and cried by evening’s end as they told you of loves lived and lost.

N_ arrived wearing an I ♥ Barbara t-shirt and we set about wondering what the world had come to when you couldn’t find a single cissy in a gay bar on a wintry Monday night when you’d snuck out for a surreptitious and spontaneous late queer beer.


1. headbang8 - January 28, 2010

Surely that’s “I ♥ Barbra”. Either he, or you, must surrender your queer card!

2. Arabella - January 28, 2010

Where have the cissies gone, do you think? Is there a city in another country where cissy culture flourishes/eth.

3. Greatsheelephant - January 28, 2010

He might have meant Barbara Bush – that would be novel.

4. Le Welsh - January 30, 2010

I used to love going for spontaneous, late-night (non-)queer beers in Weimar… The way that you’d arrange to meet someone but at 3am you were still waiting and not really sure if they would arrive… (I would order myself a pur baguette and pot of Gunpowder tea, usually, at that point.)

5. David i Kbh - January 30, 2010

Lots of them up here!

(Oh, new name, btw.)

6. helena - February 1, 2010

Was it a garishly decorated bar? Because from a design point of view linked cuffs and pink shirts are really set off to their best advantage with dark wood panelling and perhaps just a hint of Chopin.

7. Marsha Klein - February 1, 2010

Hair seems to be generally out of fashion with men over 25 these days. Teenage boys, on the other hand, increasingly seem to resemble Tina Turner. Apparently this is desirable and cool (and because I’m old).

8. David - February 2, 2010

Hair out of fashion? Some of us would like the option!

(Oh look, now that I have a WordPress blog again I appear to be commenting from that! Bet there’ll be a photo, too…)

9. BiB - July 13, 2010

David, there are still cissies in Copenhagen? Hooray! (Oh, go on, allow us to leave comments on your posterous blog without it being from Facebook.)

Marsha, I have to say I’m very anti this anti-hair movement. Except I can’t remember, not having seen a human for a couple of hours, whether that look is still all the rage (and so long has it been since the post). Mind you, It’s so boiling here, perhaps head-shaving is not a bad idea.

Helena, it isn’t. A bit staid, if anything. Except for the bigger-than-life-size painting of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin which hangs off one of the walls. Actually, there might be a bit of wood panelling. I’ll need to have another queer beer to check.

Le Welsh, what extraordinarily decadent late dates you had in Weimar. But then it was Weimar. 3am indeed! I’m meeting some people at 6pm today which feels positively British in its civilisedness.

GSE/Headbang, sadly, I didn’t mean Barbara Bush and did indeed mean Barbra, so I have sent my card back to the pertinent Amt as required by law. I knew I’d trip myself up trying to squeeze an icon I know nothing about in there.

Arabella, hopefully Copenhagen is awash with them. I wonder if the gym culture and obsession with the body – which isn’t exclusively gay, of course – has put paid to them. Which I think probably has something to do with AIDS, though I’m a dropette too young to know much about the very early years and am sure the body beautiful culture existed beforehand. But I’m sure reacting against AIDS made it spread.

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