Fifty shades of gaaaaaaaaay.
Part A – The Top
“Where are you, you little slut?”
Your phone glows with a WeChat message from your friend Bobby. It’s Saturday night, and you’re trying to weave your way to your friends. You’re at Destination, and as usual, it’s is filled up with gay guys and a few curious girls. But you don’t mind the crowd – Des has become your weekly ritual.
Bobby greets you with a vodka shot, and starts to complain about the quality of tonight’s crowd. You both burst out laughing; it has become a tradition for you two to make fun of other gays who aren’t as fancy. Bobby then introduces you to the two guys standing next to him – Zach from Taiwan and Brian from Hong Kong. Dressed in tight fitting suit pants with their hair nicely sculpted, they catch more than a few glances from passersby. Looking down at your Hollister t-shirt and short shorts, you begin to regret your choice of outfit.
“Tequila shots on me!” You shout out to your new friends, hoping your generosity will earn you some cred.
You head to the bar and order the drinks before running the numbers in your head. You make 8000 kuai every month working for an advertising agency, and now that you’re down 160 kuai for the shots, you’ll have to eat noodles for the next three days.
Being gay in China is expensive. You have to fit into the gay community, and you need to always look nice and polished. You frequently visit decent restaurants and bars, and every now and then you post a selfie at home to show that you can afford a stylish apartment. Your lifestyle brings you more traffic on dating apps, but it also dramatically increases your credit card bills.
Shots in hand, you return to your friends.
“You’re the best!” Zach and Brian scream as they knock back their drinks.
Maybe you can take one of them home tonight, you think, but then you get suspicious. Have they hooked up with Bobby before? Most of your friends love to fuck around, and the gay community can be pretty incestuous – especially among the attractive ones. You remember a friend named Vincent who used to see two guys at the same time, and is now called “People’s Uber” by your friends. You don’t want to be a People’s Uber. You are a Mercedes.
You move to the dance floor, and the music is turned all the way up. Three guys on stage have already taken off their shirts. As you dance, you seem to forget about the credit card bills, dick pics on Jack’d, and even missed calls from your parents, probably asking yet again when you will get a girlfriend.
Your life’s been like a bullet train ever since you first came out to your friends. In the two years since you’ve danced, laughed, loved, and cried. You’ve even thought about coming out to your parents. But each time you’ve faltered, remembering how she once said gays belong in a mental hospital.
You try not to let the negativity overwhelm you. Saturday night at Destination is supposed to be fun, but you can’t help think – what is your own destination? And though it’s smoky enough by the bar, you are desperate for a cigarette outside.
Part B – The Bottom
You are the lone wolf at Destination. Although you are not in great shape, you’d like to think so. It separates you from those tall boys with perfect hair who only drink shots, dance in groups, and judge everyone else. It makes you feel special.
You have zero gay friends. In fact, none of your friends even know that you are gay. But it’s not because they won’t accept you. It’s because you’re not ready to take the plunge.
In 2002 you fell in love with a man for the first time. You were 15 and had just started high school. He sat in front of you and had the brightest smile. You created a separate group on QQ, called “My Best Friend”, just for him. After graduation, you confessed your feelings to him outside of a KTV room. You were both drunk, but you could tell that he was terrified. And though his avatar on QQ never lit up again, you still kept the group.
Even now, as you find yourself wandering around Des, you are still searching for someone with a similar smile. And yet, no one could turn you on like he does. You even begin to doubt if you’re even gay.
You remember how you once hooked up with a roommate in college, but you kept your eyes closed, hoping the body behind you belonged to him. He brings you light, he brings you sin; he’s your unbearable lightness, he’s the wound that never heals.
The scream behind you drags you back to reality. A group of tall boys are emptying their tequila shots. They dress in expensive clothes and all have trimmed eyebrows. They live “the fabulous gay life”, like those in movies or erotic novels. They’re not like you – an outsider, destined to marry a girl under the arrangement of your parents. But even so, you don’t really feel sad about it – if you can’t be with him, does it really even matter?
You’re on the dance floor now. The floor is now bouncing hard and you like it. It gives you an excuse to dance freely. The guy in front of you is wearing a white shirt, and you start to have the illusion of him again. You gently place your hands on his lower back and pretend it’s by accident. But he turns around, gives your slightly overweight body a disgusted look, and runs away.
You are not frustrated, as you couldn’t care less about other people’s opinions. The club doesn’t even exist in your world, and you are like a visitor from outer space. Just when you are about to try the same trick on a guy to your right, you suddenly recognize your senior manager on the other side of the dance floor, who apparently lied to his wife about where he’d be tonight. Maybe it’s time for you to go home.
On your way out, you bump into a tall guy who spills his drink on your polo shirt.
“Sorry,” he says, putting on a fake smile.
“Don’t worry about it. It’s just a cheap shirt,” you reply, turning around. You realize this could be a good opportunity to strike up conversation, but after realizing he is one of the tall boys you saw by the bar, you change your mind.
As you walk away, the tall boy rolls his eyes as a veiled smirk emerges on his face. Seeing you has made him forget about his problems – much more than any cigarette ever could.
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