Once a month in my area the gay community holds an event called, “The Takeover.” The premise being that our area holds a substantial amount of people who belong to the LGBT community, and so we want to show local restaurants and businesses that it would be beneficial for them to be as LGBT friendly as they can be. Most of the takeovers do occur in a restaurant, lounge or bar, but on the holidays, specifically Easter and Christmas, they occur in a very trendy hair salon in a very trendy section of our area.
I’ve been attending these events for years now and for the first couple years it was a lot of fun, especially the holiday events. The decorations are gorgeous and the music is great. Many people who never approach the gay scene any other time of year come out to join the festivities and catch up with friends. I used to look forward to such events for weeks. Getting a nice outfit (not that we gay men need an excuse for that), paying extra attention doing my hair, just trying to look my best before heading out to these parties. For the most part, the parties were always a fun time and I was glad I went. This year however, while attending the Christmas Takeover, I started realizing that although everything looked the same from my initial time going years ago, the feeling was very different. It didn’t happen all at once; this invisible transformation occurred over a few years, and was so subtle that I didn’t realize what had happened until it was too late. I arrived at the party this year and there were name tags there for you to wear if you wanted. They read “I’m Naughty” or “I’m Nice”. I made myself a name tag, as well as Haley who came up and stayed with me for the night to attend the Takeover party with me. When I walked over to her and gave her the name tag I made for her I said “Wouldn’t it be easier to just have them all say “jackass”” then we both had a little chuckle. That was my first sign that the transformation had concretely occurred.
As we started walking deeper into the room, I began looking around at all the guests. I saw friends, I saw acquaintances, I saw some new faces, but I also saw many guys who I genuinely disliked. They were evenly dispersed throughout the room in small pockets where they congregated. In my mind I noted all these pockets as what I liked to call “red zones”, basically meaning that I should avoid these areas at all costs. There were so many red zones that it was hard to even navigate the room casually. There was second hint of the night. The men that made up these zones were all people who either, rejected, hurt, or literally won’t acknowledge me for one reason or another. I say one reason or another because I honestly have no idea what the reasons are or what I did to them to make them treat me that way. I may have a sharp tongue at times (only after I have a reason), but I am a very nice person. I try to be nice to everyone and in my everyday life, away from the gay community, I am very well liked. I feel great about myself and where I am in life, I have a good career in child welfare and just bought a house at 25 years old and I feel genuinely accepted by people. But now, here at this party that entire view of myself is flipped upside down. What’s worse is that its turning me bitter and I don’t want to be that way. I feel myself slipping more and more into that self-defensive role where anger is my force field instead of feeling sad and hurt when I am around these people.
Jason and I were talking at one point in the night and he asked if I was having a good time. I just took a moment and answered “not really”. I started discussing with him what the point even was coming here anymore. I used to have hope about coming here and making new friends or even potentially meeting a nice guy but it seems like now there are so many people who I have bad history with. Even when I did see a completely new guy who looked so nice and definitely my type he landed smack dab in the middle of a red zone. Once I saw that, I dropped the notion of even trying to talk to him. It’s discouraging and sad. It was then I realized what the change was. The Takeover events hadn’t changed, I had. After years of being treated like I wasn’t on the same level as so many of these men, I started believing it myself. It was as if my spirit had finally been broken, which is why I already felt defeated before even trying to engage the guy I had thought was cute.
So now I suppose the question is “Am I attending Takeovers or am I being overtaken by feelings I really don’t want to harbor?” I haven’t decided yet, while writing this post, if I will be taking a break from these events or not. I do love to see my friends and get to hangout with them with a drink in our hands and fun music playing in the background, but the people I enjoy seeing I can see or talk to whenever I want. There is nothing special about these events that allow me to see them only at that time. Maybe a break will do me good, maybe it won’t change anything. The only thing I really know is that I am not ready to surrender myself to these angry and bitter emotions. I am going to hold onto my values and try to take back some control over my emotions when I am around those people. After all, no one should be able to make you feel like less of a person, that choice is one that is entirely your own. Maybe that will be my New Year’s resolution.
Written by: Bobby Bunny