It may be hard to market diversity, but if gay clubs are to remain relevant to the younger generation of queers, they need to recognize that homosexuality doesn't have to mean homogeneous.
It used to be that straight boys would go so far as to make out with other men in order to gain the coveted Saturday-night membership at New York's infamous Paradise Garage club.
The most adventurous new dance music was played at gay clubs in major cities everywhere. But as nightspots prepare for Pride this week (see At The Clubs, page 51), more and more fags and dykes are going out to mixed nights to hear the music they crave.
Even my gay dad says, "The scene in queer clubs is more about posing and showing off your gym body than dancing."
The circuit parties are still huge, but many queers dismiss them as too drug-oriented and clone-friendly.
"It's relevant to a lot of people, but not me," says long-time house fan and local artist Luis Jacob. "It all stayed the same -- the same music and the same style."
Sometime bartender and notorious partier Robert Kennedy agrees. "I don't do it. I find it quite boring -- a bunch of bug-eyed guys with no clothes swaying to the same beat for eight hours."
Musically, the sound brings back bad memories of mid-90s progressive house and trance mixed with wailing diva tracks.
"They want a unified sound, a gay sound, and if it doesn't fit in with that then they don't want to hear it," is Will Munro's take on the circuit sound.
As the promoter of Vazaleen, the rock 'n' roll queer monthly at the El Mocambo, he's been trying to widen the definition of what gay means.
"I started doing this because I was fed up with it and I was tired of hearing people complaining and not doing anything about it. I go to gay bars to promote -- but to dance? No. I like the sleazier places, the Barn and the Black Eagle. There's less attitude and it's more comfortable."
Lately, queers are feeling safe going to supposedly straight clubs -- there is a strong gay presence at many dance music events these days, most of which happen way outside of the ghetto.
"Things are marketed in very specific ways. It's all about niches, and there's a big split between the mixed nights and the gay nights," explains DJ Denise Benson.
"But the people who are there for the music will go to mixed parties; if it's a boys' or a girls' night, it's not about the music. I've deliberately tried to stay away from doing those segregated nights, because I don't want to be pegged as that kind of DJ."
This could be a temporary state. Where there's discontent, there's a will for change.
"I think there's hope. People want something different," says Munro. "It's the dykes who have it going on; the fags are pretty complacent."
"We do have a more active and defined dyke community that crosses over more with the art community," is Benson's explanation.
Unfortunately, the split along gender lines also serves to keep things static. It seems odd that a community that prides itself on diversity has let itself fragment into so many monocultures.
Munro's parties, along with Benson's events, attract a broad cross-section of people from within and outside the gay community.
Says Munro, "Boys can hang out with girls. What is this, kindergarten?"