Thursday, July 1, 2010


In the June 17, 2010 (#439) issue of "XTRA!," guest columnist Daniel Zomparelli writes in "Saving Davie Village" that what used to be the center of the gay community in Vancouver has been taken over by gentrification.  Zomparelli writes, "our community's former main street is being overrun by large chains and coffee shops that remove any cultural significance Davie once had [all quotes are from p.16]."  In addition, he says, "the more I look around the Village these days, the more straight people I see.  Where the hell did the gays go?"

Elsewhere in the article, Zomparelli speculates that one of the reasons why the gay community relocated elsewhere in the city--namely, east of Davie--is because "...gays are not so nice to people they don't know."  I thought I was the only one to notice this, but I recognized it decades ago, when I was new to the city, didn't know anyone, and could have used a friend.  Had it not been for the personal ads in "The West Ender" at the time, I doubt I would have met someone in the Davie Village, on the street, or at one of the gay clubs, who would have wanted nothing more from me than friendship.

I can't tell you how many times in the past I was on the receiving end of a young, gay man's unfriendly attitude.  Maybe I was at a grocery store in the West End, a coffee shop, a restaurant, or any number of other places.  Typically, I'd notice a young man I found attractive, who I thought in the normal course of events might be fun to talk to, nothing more.  Sometimes, all we human beings need is the slightest connection to someone we find attractive, who, through the exchange of a few kind words, validate us and make us feel less invisible.

Anyway, gay men have an acute sense of knowing when someone is looking at them, when someone is on the verge of saying something to them.  We just know.  But I almost never got the chance.  More often than not, whenever I got anywhere near them, I was blown off.  They didn't so much as glance at me.  They knew I was there, wanting so much to have them pay attention to me, even for just a few moments, but there was no looking in my face, no acknowledgement, no nothing.  In fact, I'd say they went out of their way to be standoffish, even cruel sometimes.  

Believe me, if a gay man is interested in you--that is, if he finds you attractive and wants you--he'll go out of his way to be nice to you, to ensure you're aware of his interest.  He'll look at you, repeatedly, in the eyes, smile at you, flirt with you, chat you up, camp it up with you.  If he's secure and forward enough, he may even give you his phone number--as a young, handsome, Hispanic bank teller once did to me once.  In other words, if a gay man wants to have sex with you, you'll have no trouble getting his attention.  The sexual energy between you will be unmistakable.

But if he thinks you're the least bit interested in him, and he's not the least bit interested in you, well, you'll likely be snubbed.  You'll be treated like a non-entity.  A lower life form. Or maybe he'll just make you feel that way when he all but ignores you, giving you the minimal attention he's required to by his employer, or, if you're not in an employee/customer situation, none at all.  The last thing he wants to do is give you the wrong idea by noticing you and saying a few words.  The last thing he wants to do is lead you to think he's interested in you when he's clearly not, and you should know that.  

Zomparelli closes his article with the following:  'Saving Davie may require some cultural renovations.  But when you come down to the basics, the Village may just need the locals to start with one word:  "Hello."'  Believe it or not, guys, exchanging a few words with a fellow gay man doesn't have to lead to a romp in bed or a lifelong commitment--even though it could.  Sometimes, the exchange of that simple human warmth could make a difference in the life of another human being, a fellow gay man, who feels disconnected from the rest of the community, or even from himself.


  1. "The last thing he wants to do is give you the wrong idea by noticing you and saying a few words. The last thing he wants to do is lead you to think he's interested in you when he's clearly not, and you should know that."

    Something I have struggled with a great deal as a young gay man (who, people tell me, is relatively attractive) is that other young gay men will accept any form of communication as flirtation. I find it very hard to be cruel - I enjoy being friendly, and, if I'm in the right mood (though not in the mood) I will be more than willing to have a long and enjoyable conversation with anybody who walks up to me.

    That said, I've been on the receiving end a great deal - where people I find absolutely irresistable talk to me, or worse - befriend me. Its destructive to my soul, and my dignity - I start imagining great things happening in a relationship that is really only meant to be a friendship.

    I enjoy making friends - I just wish that people would assume that any form of communication was flirtation. Believe me - when I flirt, I'm pretty damned obvious...

  2. Neal, thanks for your contribution and perspective.

    I think it's a shame that, at least within the gay community, communication between strangers is often taken by one or the other as flirtation, or sexual interest. But it happens.

    What I really wanted to get across here is that, as a whole, gay men need to be friendlier to each other--with no ulterior motives. And, if someone comes across heavy-handed because he finds you attractive, accept it as a compliment but set him straight (so to speak).

    I think we've all been snubbed by one of our own. It sure doesn't feel good. If we don't support each other, where can we get support (especially since so many gay people still live closeted lives)?

    Thanks again.