I’m From Santa Ana, CA.

by Robert Y.

State Satellite overhead image from Google Earth 2022

“To Robert finding a guy,” my friend Klara* toasts me right before downing a shot of Bacardi 151.

She and three other girls were forcing me to go gay clubbing in West Hollywood tonight because I don’t get out enough and I’m a good catch and I always complain about not having any gay friends and I just need to go meet some guys – blah blah blah. As if suddenly smelling something in the air, Klara narrows her eyes, brandishes the empty shot glass at me and declares it’s all for my own good.

An hour later, I pay the cover charge and walk in. I turn around to make a quip (“I’ve cooked meth in basements better than this”) to Klara – but she’s not there, so I go back outside and see the four girls huddled together, a mass of brightly colored tops and leggings divided in half by a fence. The bouncer won’t let Klara into the club because she’s clearly very, very drunk. I can already see the battle lines forming:

“Just tell the bouncer she’ll be okay in an hour -”
“No, she needs to eat -”
“Maybe just let her rest in the car-”
“… Well, someone needs to watch her.”

If this were my group of straight dude friends, someone would’ve wordlessly began a game of “Nose Goes” to determine who will stay with her; but these are four women, and two of them have already paid the cover and it’s already getting pretty late and really only one person has to watch her anyway – blah blah blah. So me and two of the girls go back inside, leaving Klara and the designated driver outside the entrance.

The other two girls run ahead and I quickly lose them in the mob on the dance floor. I make eye contact with a cute guy near the bar, but when I approach him he gives some silent signal to a nearby friend who immediately grabs him and whisks him away from my grubby paws. Maybe clubbing isn’t my thing.

Two years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to imagine being here at all – the impractical neon lighting, the shirtless go-go dancers, the fabulous drag queen lip-syncing to Beyonce – because I was closeted and insecure, even going as far as making “fag” jokes to divert suspicion.

And two years ago, I had come out to Klara and only to Klara, in a crappy booth at a crappy pizza place in Berkeley.

With her help, I’m now comfortably “out” – and more importantly, I can find the humor in getting rejected by guys. I’d say I’m now pretty secure – I’d say I’m happy, even, boyfriend issues notwithstanding.

So now, two years later, I come outside for Klara, whom I find hunched in a crappy booth at a crappy pizza place a block away from the club.

Already sitting there and trying to give Klara some water, the designated driver seems glad to see me but she feels she has to hide it: I should be back there clubbing and making out with cute boys and this night was for me and I should go back and enjoy myself – blah blah blah – so why the hell am I here and not there?

Because us girls gotta stick together.

* Klara is not her real name.

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