In order for a group to survive they must thrive by creating a community. This holds true in most world cultures and even in literature -- why even vampires conspire to live together and even hunt in the safety of a coven to insure their strength and longevity. But I am in no way suggesting a comparison between gays and vampires -- I'm just citing a humorous example especially given the growing pop-culture popularity of those charming blood-suckers (again I am referencing vampires).
In every major metropolis across the world, every sub-culture carves its own niche for itself. In some places these areas are referred to as ghettos -- just because you find one kind of the same kind of people there. And usually where you have the poorest part of the major city, you eventually have the gay community move in. If you're wondering why -- it's because the real estate is cheap...and few less braver people trek into those parts of town. The gays bring in money, improving the economy with their small neighborhood bars. Yes -- I daresay, we are pioneers. Soon they invite trendy eateries and shops into the areas, and if there are any large vacant warehouse spaces to be had, multi-million dollar investors simply invest in some innovative free-thinkers ambition to open a mega-dance club. Putting a wise investment to use on a sophisticated lighting set-up and sound system and draping and polishing a posh VIP area, ringing it with several neon lit bar stations sporting strapping well-groomed hunky bartenders (t-shirts optional) and peppering it with the right amount of celebrity and nocturnal activity and you have the weekend destination -- and often times the epicenter of the gay village.
Welcome to the gay scene and if you aren't seen in it, you're aren't anybody -- or at least that used to be the case. Times change.
You see without having to worry about supporting extensive families or putting children through college, gays tended to have a lot of disposal income (especially in the early 90's -- which was marked by some as the "Me Era"). So once they began to populate a specific area especially on a weekly bases and it became a safe haven, that part of town would eventually thrive and be the place to be -- the address to be had.
As part of research for a piece that I'm currently crafting, I've had to reflect on my own experiences dealing deeply into the "gay scene" and the elitist culture that exists when the gay community. It's not by all means a judgement but it's important to understand that especially in the beginning, a young gay person is often trying to find their way and like a moth to a flame they get attracted to the fire. Let me go on record as also stating that within that fire they often find the hearth of companionship and solidarity -- identity and brotherhood.
I've had several experiences within two very distinct aspects of the "gay scene" as I had mentioned. When I was younger and finding my way I found my way through to the club culture and looped myself in with the gay community that was particularly affluent and turning Miami Beach into the gay destination. At that time in the early 90's there truly only were a handful of clubs that popularized the scene on the beach. There were smaller, cruise-happy bars and only one major dance space which was Warsaw and within it's hollowed walls I found more than I would dare to comment at this time, but mostly I learned a lot about myself.
When I first came out I used the term "bisexual" to describe myself...at least for the first 2 months. It felt safe and actually evolved when I would express myself as a bisexual especially to young women, but in theory I was slowly realizing that I was segueing out of my heterosexual identity and fully accepting that in essence I was a gay man. I was 19 and getting into 21 and over bars -- in Miami the legal drinking age of 21 and I (or my friends) didn't really abuse that rule; we truly partied very responsibly but yes I had tasted liquor early on. I soon befriended bartenders and doorman who never carded me until after I became legal, so I partied with the big boys! As a fairly attractive young gay man, I did meet men who were older than myself -- but not unreasonably older or in any way inappropriately older -- as a 19 and 21 year old, I often dated mean in their late 20's or early 30's. It as alright -- especially cause I could hold my own. I also felt extremely liberated when I came out to myself and my true personality really came through. Perhaps it was a quality that made me attractive to people.
I made friends within the scene very quickly, but as a part-time college student and retail employee I certainly wasn't making the bank roll to sustain the lifestyle that most of the men I surrounded myself with were living. I met gay men who had expensive cars and boats, beautiful bachelor pad condos and often spent their evenings eating out at fine restaurants. This was also the advent of the designer drug culture and extacy (whether natural or synthetic) was expensive but cheaper than coke. It wasn't until much later that I delved into drugs, but never more than socially or for the sake of entertainment. I'm just not wired that way, but in the scene it's just part of the picture -- that's not to insinuate that everyone in the gay scene is a drug addict. That's just not true -- but I can't honestly discuss the nightlife culture which is at the center of the scene without bringing up drugs. I'm not promoting drug use and I am not a drug user by any means -- my worst vice now in life is coffee and caffeine addiction (which may or may not lead to heat disease -- it depends who you ask -- but that's most likely what I'll die from some day).
As Miami grew more fabulous so did the scene and it wasn't long before bigger and brighter clubs and parties opened up all over South Beach alluring the gays from all over the world to our sandy shores. It's kind of ironic that God put me at the heart of the biggest gay party for my coming out! How insane is that, but I wouldn't have had it any other way...but the party doesn't last forever even if the scene is still around. It's not necessary the end all of end alls if you start to feel that you don't fit into that whole block or category -- some of us are not meant to. I'm comfortable to watch it all from a distance and participate when I want to and if it feels right. My own identity and self awareness is very important to me and I'm proud of that. And it doesn't make me any less of a gay man because I'm not always in the think of things or on the list, or even in the heart of it all. You can still participate, without missing a beat.
Just don't forget who you are is special and relevant. And you can be your own scene.