What is the gay scene?

The gay scene is made up of gay bars, pubs, clubs, events like Gay Pride, and to a lesser extent, social groups, sports and hobby clubs. The gay scene can offer social, romantic and sexual opportunities for gay and bisexual people. It provides social space where you can be openly gay without fear of homophobia.

Many gay people enjoy the scene for a number of reasons:

  • Homosexuality is celebrated and embraced as a positive. This can be great for your self-esteem, especially if you are used to negativity toward homosexuality in your usual social circle.
  • Being around other gay people can make you feel less isolated and remind you that you’re not the only gay person in the world.
  • Gay people feel safer in gay venues and free from homophobia (anti-gay behaviour).
  • It can be a big confidence boost to go into a gay venue for the first time, and it can be a big part of your coming out process; symbolic of the acceptance of your sexuality and a desire to move forward. It can feel liberating and exciting.
  • It’s an opportunity to meet other gay people for friendship, a relationship or sex, without – generally speaking – having to worry about whether the person you are interested in is gay (though, of course, they might not fancy you!).
  • It’s an opportunity to be openly affectionate toward a same-sex friend or partner and behave naturally and openly in a public place, free from fear of a negative response from strangers.
  • Leaflets, flyers and magazines containing information about events and services for gay people are often available for free.  Therefore visiting a gay venue can be a good way of finding out about other things you might be interested in.
  • Many people report that there’s much less aggressive or confrontational behaviour in gay venues when compared to some straight venues. Many also feel that there’s a more relaxed and fun atmosphere.
  • As well as the above benefits, gay venues can simply be pleasant places to spend time and enjoy time with your friends. Many serve food, have themed events and other attractions, much like any regular venues.

Potential downsides to the gay scene:

  • The idea of being welcomed with open arms into a big gay family the moment you go inside a gay bar is a myth. Just like in any area of life, friendships and relationships thrive or die based on whether peoples’ personalities connect, and how people conduct themselves. Simply sharing the same sexual preference doesn’t guarantee friendship or romance. Gay people are as shy and cautious as straight and as likely to be friendly or unfriendly.
  • The gay scene can start to feel very small after a while, especially in smaller towns with one or two gay venues. If you have many different partners, it’s not long before you may feel as if you’ve slept with everyone in the bar! The consequences of your sexual and romantic choices may be stuck with you for a very long time. Check your conduct and decision making if you’re a big scene regular.
  • Some people find the Gay Scene to be shallow, with youth, image and casual sex being coveted. People who don’t fit into certain criteria can feel excluded or out of place i.e. older people, overweight people, those who prefer alternative music and dress etc.

Tips for visiting a gay venue:

  • If you are feeling nervous, take a friend along for support.
  • Remember that you’re not the only person there who feels nervous and shy, even if it looks like everyone is confident.
  • If someone makes conversation with you, make an effort to chat. It might not be someone you are attracted to, but don’t dismiss someone on that basis. Friendship is just as important as meeting Mr or Mrs Right, and talking to one person can often lead to conversation with another. Being friendly and approachable makes it more likely that people will feel able to talk to you.
  • Try not to feel disappointed if you don’t find someone to elope with on your first night! Sometimes people put too much focus on finding a partner and this can stop them enjoying their social lives. This applies just as much to straight people too. Concentrate on the people you are there with, be open and friendly to newcomers and let the evening develop naturally. Have fun and try to see the meeting of a potential partner as a bonus, not the focus.
  • Don’t drink too much. You don’t need to drink alcohol to have a good time. You’ll be better company if you’re not drunk, as well as more able to look after yourself and make the right decisions about the people you meet. Being so drunk you are physically sick is a sure way to turn a potential partner right off.
  • Have realistic expectations of what the gay scene is and what it can offer. If you view a gay venue as somewhere nice to spend time and enjoy the company of other gay people, then you’ve got the right outlook.
  • Be yourself. There’s no point putting on an act to display qualities that you think other people value. People who you’re more likely to connect with will be drawn to you if you simply be yourself. Attracting people on the basis of pretending to be something you’re not won’t generate long-term friendships or a solid relationship.

Like anything in life, the gay scene may or may not be for you. It’s made up of many venues that pitch themselves at different sub-cultures within the gay community. ‘Gay bar’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘good bar’, so experiment with different places and find somewhere that suits you. If the gay scene doesn’t appeal to you, that’s fine too.