Web How many single Sydney gays do you know who’ve never had an online profile on Gaydar, Gay.com or similar? Nope, we can’t think of any either. Being the early adopters we always are, our gay population -“ and that of most major cities in the world -“ embraced the web-based world of shopping and fucking swiftly and wholeheartedly. The web opened up a whole new way to meet other gays without having to get up from your computer, whether you’re looking for a lifelong partner, a shag or a new friend. Why go trawling the bars, saunas or beats when you can find who you want with a click of your mouse? Gays who once felt isolated because they didn’t like the scene or lived too far away from it now have access to a gay world where they can perve, find someone for sex or simply have a friendly chat. Now that you can also use the web for banking, buying clothes, restaurant reservations, groceries, airline tickets, reading the news and doing work, there’s really no need ever to leave the house again.

Westies I’m going west for the weekend, one wag in the Star offices announced recently, to Broadway shopping centre. Though thoroughly tongue-in-cheek, the gag contained a grain of truth. For some in our community, travelling much further west of Newtown is a major expedition. In fact, leaving the ghetto behind can be an eye-opener, if the western Sydney culture documented in the pages of this newspaper is any guide. This community’s westies can be passionate and political, as seen in the fiery response to ACON’s decision to shift its western Sydney office to Surry Hills last year. And they can party with as much style as the Oxford Street crowd: the annual Blue Mountains balls attract many an inner-city pilgrim. Gay and lesbian westies can also be groundbreaking, as seen when gay Bathurst firefighter Andy Wheeler proudly led the NSW Fire Brigades’ first Mardi Gras float this year. A long-time country resident, Wheeler brushed off suggestions of constant hardship outside the gay ghetto. My experience has been the exact opposite of people who might think it’s homophobic in the country, he said. The statement that gets the questions isn’t -˜I’m gay’ because the answer is likely to be, -˜Oh, okay, cool. What sort of car have you got?’

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