When I was a much younger man, I spent a few years living in San Francisco. My social crowd was students, mostly from out-of-town like me, and I knew a lot of people who were (in that benighted era) if not openly homophobic, at least deeply uncomfortable with San Francisco’s status as a gay Mecca. I’ll never forget the look of horror on one male friend’s face when the two of us were approached at a crosswalk and accosted with “you two are such a lovely couple … won’t you please sign this petition for [gay cause]?”
I myself didn’t go into many bars, due to lack of funds; but I heard a lot of talk about the bar scene from my wealthier friends. And as they discussed the bar scene, one common theme quickly became clear: they lived in horror of accidentally walking into a gay bar.
Now, that’s a mistake I made myself, on several occasions; most notably, when I heard the strains of country music coming out of a place called the Wagon Wheel II down on Mission Street. I was all “A country bar? In San Francisco? This I got to see!” So I walked in, saw a lot of chaps wearing assless chaps, and said to myself “Friend, tonight’s goal of meeting a lonely heterosexual woman is not going to be achieved in this place.” And then I walked out again. Miraculously, I was unharmed by the experience.
Thus, it was never entirely clear to me what my friends were afraid of, precisely. I gathered there was some sort of social stigma or faux pas associated with the error, but they acted more like they expected to be hustled into the back and duct taped into a gunny sack with a little hole kept open for the mouth.
I thought of all this when I saw a couple of galleries from the newish gay bondage site Bound In Public. Except for the fact that these models are having way too much fun, I think I’ve finally found photographic illustrations of what my friends were afraid would happen to them if they walked into the wrong gay bars:
(Each picture is linked to a free gallery with more.)
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