Monday, October 24, 2011

Gay bars and vegetarian restaurants...

I'm slowly becoming convinced that there are a lot of similarities between gay bars and vegetarian restaurants. Both businesses specialize in catering to a specific group within a society where those who a part of that smaller community can feel they are not alone. And both seem like they are becoming nostalgia in our current society. Let's face it. With vegetarian restaurants, there still is that connotation of out-of-date hippie/Grateful Dead fans who preach out of date 60's rhetoric while serving you pan seared tofu and wheat grass drinks. Truth is, vegetarianism has branched into many different forms, and who knows if anyone uses labels like "ovo-lacto" before vegetarian anymore. Gay bars seem to become eerily similar. There's still that connotation of the barely lit whole in the wall place where guys and girls (and all combinations in between) come to meet, drink and possibly hook up. But the truth is, being gay has also branched into many different forms. There are many different variations of gay and lesbian now than there was 20-30 years ago. And our community has included the notion of a fluid identity, which further introduces complexity within the identity.

But where each of these places offers someplace reclusive for the members of its identity, there are also members of the mainstream who filter in with curiosity of the alternative. How many times have we seen/experienced straight people going into gay bars for that "need to walk on the wildside" or devoted carnivores going into a vegetarian restaurant to "be healthy for dinner"? As alienating as that can be, I strangely like the idea of the mainstream experiencing that peak into a subgroup, if for no other reason, for the mainstream to experience what it's like to not quite fit in. As a gay man and a vegetarian, I've had plenty of experiences where I don't fit in as either in our society. And that situation reversal has been and continues to be refreshing.

I fantasize about opening a gay vegetarian restaurant/coffee house. Picture it. A very classy yet earthy place where the food is all sensual and fantastic. The kitchen staff would be more fluent in soy products that any other restaurant that has a token pasta primavera as their token vegetarian item. And quiche! There would always be one on the daily menu! All those wanna be chefs who pride themselves to be Alice Waters devotees would get a chance to show their stuff - buying and cooking with local produce! But mostly, there would be an overwhelming feeling of GLBT and vegetarian acceptance. Oh yeah, almost music. Gotta have an acoustic guitar or a jazz piano in the corner.

That's all I can think of for now.


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