The upper level of Stonewall didn’t have the look of an unusual party. There were women drinking at the bar and couples whispering in the corner. There were old friends reconnecting after a long period apart and new people getting to know each other. The major difference in this room revolved around attraction and identity.
Most of the women were sexually attracted to other women. A few of the men in the room were attracted to men. It was difficult to tell who some of the guests were attracted to. At a certain point, it was hard to tell if someone was a man or a woman. The party had an ambiguous fluidity that you could see, but only if you looked closely. In many ways this wasn’t an unusual party in New York nightlife because of the strong influence the LGBT community has had on us.
Nightlife is a sexual arena. It is a sexual metaphor. Sexual exploration, sexual identity and sexual expression are at the core of the experience. Boundaries are often tested, limits are pushed and possibilities are explored in ways that are not acceptable in most homes, work places, churches or schools. The LGBT community often came together in nightlife venues because it was the one of the few places where they didn’t have to repress who they were. It was in places like Stonewall that the community fought back against institutionalized discrimination. Many of them used nightlife as a springboard for acceptance and success in other parts of society. The influence of their perspective and taste can be felt in venues of all types today whether they are gay, straight or somewhere in between.
When we talk about nightlife culture, we have to recognize the contribution that the LGBT community makes to every type of nightlife. It doesn’t matter if you are talking about music, fashion, sexual exploration or sexual identity. Without the gay community, there really is no modern nightlife. We all need to recognize, appreciate and celebrate that. We did it with powerful and energetic performances from Maor, T.R.I.G.G.A and Paige Turner. You do it every time you go out, whether you realize it or not.