They say bad things happen when good people stand by and say nothing. Well, it had to happen sooner or later. The area was just getting way too trendy for its own good. The invasion started slowly. First, a straight sports bar opened. We said nothing. Then, they snuck in Opium and still we said nothing. Then came the hetero-haven of all havens…Cubana. Some of us grumbled…
But more than the breeder bar incursion, our beloved Cape Town Gay district saw another threat. The dilapidated, quaint houses were quickly snapped up by the yuppie onslaught, all eager to capitalise on the area’s newfound trendiness.
I suppose it was inevitable. Gays and gay clubs do bring a certain pizzazz to any neighbourhood. As a friend said, “we sprinkle fairy dust and make things fabulous, and then the straights just flock to us”…no problem with that.
Only trouble is that once they bought in, they started grumbling about the noise levels and the queer clientele of the clubs…go figure
When did our Gaybourhood become so damn commercially straight? Were we all on heavy duty party favours that we didn’t notice that the drag queens in the village had been replaced by 18 year old matric girls who continuously confuse Cruz’s front entrance with Opium’s back door? Did we not suspect anything when all the drooling, ogling PULSE jocks popped in to Bronx to “see some hot lesbian action”?
We only realised the full extent of the onslaught when it was almost too late. The entire block is being demolished to make room for more restaurants, shops and…get this…a parking lot…. Goodbye Bronx. Goodbye Cruz.
Imagine that was the end of this column. Cheers gay district. Good luck finding a new one! Thanks for the support gay community! Have fun getting into Hemisphere!!
Thankfully, Bronx, possibly the oldest gay club in Cape Town – which has become an institution in the Mother City – is taking down the posters of those pretty sailors and moving just across the road to where the old Club 55 used to be. I was a massive 55 devotee, so I can’t wait to see what Bronx management does with that space.
“It’s not like all the gay folks are queuing up outside Pulse, Hemisphere or Opium to insult the jocks and their nasty cologne and their tucked in Stone Harbour shirts…”
Just around the corner (also across the road from the old Bronx) is a new bar called the Loft Lounge. Brian Kruger, co-owner, says that they target a more sophisticated crowd (boys and girls), not your traditional die-hard clubbers. They cater for those who want a quiet, loungy night out.
And then, quite exciting is a new venture driven by the Myrna Andrews. She’s opening a bar/club right next to where the new Bronx will be. Beaulah Bar (it means beautiful in Gayle) will be open to both girls and guys. And a new club means more options for all of us!
But why is a Gaybourhood so important you may ask? Well, just before the gay village virtually shut down at the end of May, I went out with my best friend, a gay man. As we left the club, three straight guys (I knew they were breeders straight away…no self respecting gay man wears chinos with an ironed seam.) called him a faggot.
Now, here’s why I take issue with this. Firstly, they’re guests on OUR turf, and when in someone else’s territory, I think it’s only right to respect our rules. It’s not like all the gay folks are queuing up outside Pulse, Hemisphere or Opium to insult the jocks and their nasty cologne and their tucked in Stone Harbour shirts…
Secondly it’s hate speech. Thirdly they came to a gay bar for two reasons: Firstly to ogle at the lesbians, and, secondly to laugh at gay men.
And this is in OUR gay district where gay people are supposed to outnumber straights. On the one hand I blame the clubs for letting these pricks in and, on the other hand, I blame the gay community for not supporting their own ventures enough to comfortably turn away jock assholes at the door, without thinking of them as a hundred rand note walking away.
If we don’t fight for out Gaybourhood, or financially support our Gaybourhood, there will be no safe space for gays and lesbians! Remember what happened to the Gay Heartland in Johannesburg not so many years ago… it became a wasteland!
To come full circle: we didn’t shout and scream when it looked as if the gay village was about to disappear from under us, in fact, we acted as if the Shoprite/Checkers on Main Road was closing down.
Now’s the time to act – support these clubs and bars that are flying our flag high! Yes, we’ve been pushed across the road, but it’s still OUR road and it’s still OUR Gaybourhood!
Yes, Cape Town is largely liberal, but let’s face it, we still need safe places that are predominantly gay, where you feel that you are in the majority and where you don’t get sideward glances if you snog your partner silly on the dancefloor. And these new bars and clubs are offering us just that! So let’s slay the apathy, support these ventures and reclaim our hood!
Jeanine Cameron is a television journalist/producer. She has a fixed opinion on almost everything and she’s happiest when she’s telling someone about it. She likes controversy, tattoos and round bums. She lives and loves in Cape Town.