If I’ve learned one thing since joining The Gay and Lesbian Media Industry, it’s this. Gay men stare at each other. A lot.
It’s not just the casual glance across a crowded room like everyone else in the rest of the world does -“ I’m talking about the relentless, not caring about appearance, completely non-casual staring that constitutes gay cruising.
Do you love him? I ask a gay friend, referring to the man he is relentlessly gay staring at.
No. He’s kind of funny looking. But he’s cruising me too.
A mate at the Mars Lounge on Sunday night gave me a presentation -“ a bit of physical theatre, you might say -“ about just another one of the many, many differences between gay men and dykes. Gay men, she demonstrated, cruised like this [insert full-eyed stare here]. Dykes, she suggested, cruised like this: One woman looks, the other one looks away. Second woman looks, first woman turns away. Repeat.
What’s wrong with all of us? Heaps. For men, Relentless Gay Staring – let’s call it RGS, obviously leads to that most common of gay men’s visual illnesses, Non-male Invisibility Syndrome. This used to be Lesbian Invisibility Syndrome, until I was told what a non-inclusive term it was.
But at least a bit of RGS can lead to a casual root in the toilets. The lesbian sideways eye dance doesn’t get us anywhere -“ we don’t meet, we don’t have casual roots in the toilets, and we don’t accidentally turn said casual roots in the toilets into meaningful relationships.
My girlfriend, bless her, stared at me for ages before we met. I looked away for the same ages thinking, like a dickhead, I wonder if she’s still looking? Is she still looking? What does it mean if she’s still looking? What does it mean if she’s not looking any more? To be fair, there is little to occupy one’s mind in Adelaide’s queer bars.
The point is, she stared and smiled and stared, and I looked away and frowned and looked away. While I may have thought for a moment that she was odd, possibly even mad -“ one can’t be too careful picking up in the Festival City -“ at least she was making an effort. And that was despite the fact that I tried to put her off as much as possible, regular, aloof dyke that I am.