The trip to ADONIS gay bar was definitely a different kind of bar experience we’re accustomed to. In comparison to the regular bars we go to, there was a stage, poles and of course, macho men dancing on stage in what seemed to be women’s short shorts, cowboy boots, tight white shirts and, surprisingly, knee pads. Upon entering the bar, it was surprisingly plain and quite empty. Personally, when the phrase ‘gay bar’ comes to mind, we were under the impression that it would involve the stereotypical appearance of ‘gay’ – bright colored walls, tables and chairs and fancy lights. With Western standards and the like, we also half-expected that this gay bar was the type that housed drag queens with piles of false eyelashes and eight-inch platform boots.
While impatiently and very anxiously waiting for whatever was in store for us to start, we noticed that we were the only people inside the gay bar and wondered if people ever really went to ADONIS considering how it was a gimmick Saturday night. After much anxiety and curiosity build-up, the emcee of the bar finally started to announce something with a really thick and unintelligible accent then the party music, much to our surprise, shifted to a ballad. From there, two well-built men stepped into the light and started dancing seductively against the wall.
The sight was much too foreign for us to have immediately held our attention at first glance. Within the first few seconds of the first performance, the initial reaction from most of us at our table was to just sink in our own seats and briefly hide behind our hands but eventually coming out of them anyway. A few more seconds into it, we have all finally managed to find our voices and asked each other questions like, ‘pare, pano kung lapitan ka?!’ or ‘oh my god, what if he shows his thing?!’ among others. Aside from questions, many slightly violent reactions were said – ‘ayoko makakita ng tite!’ or even ‘pag ako nilapitan sisipain ko talaga yun!’ It was all very entertaining to hear considering how we were the only ones in the gay bar reacting like it was such a big deal.
It took a while until other people outside of our class started coming inside the bar and when they did, we realized just how early we are to be already expecting a lot, if any, of observable action. At the time the non-SA21 students came into the bar, it was probably already the third or fourth pair of macho dancers to perform and we were already past the initial shock of what was going on onstage to properly observe them. They were three probably middle-aged women wearing non-provocative clothes, different from what people our age wear to regular bars. They comfortably sat on the couch right in front of one of the poles on stage while drinking from their beer bottles. Compared to us students, they were just watching with much interest without flinching or turning away. As communication majors, we inquired one of the people that ushered us in who their target market really is. ADONIS’ target market is exactly the people we were observing and more: middle-aged women and homosexual males. At this point, it is quite evident that our reactions towards the macho dancing was based primarily on our own preference and what the macho dancers were doing truly appealed to a certain demographic.
After about eight pairs of dancers that danced to ballads, we were able to notice that though they were dancing very provocatively by stripping their clothes, touching various parts of their body, kneeling and back-bending on the floor, majority of them did not seem to enjoy what they were doing. Despite us being the majority of the crowd, only two dancers really tried to make eye contact with the audience and not stare into the darkness hovering over our heads. As a performer, one of the most important things to remember while performing is to establish a connection, any kind of connection, with the audience and the easiest way to do that is first by looking at them and eventually making eye contact. On top of that, some of the dancers looked quite uneasy and unsure of what they were doing since they kept on looking at each other inquiringly. The majority of the performers led us to believe that maybe they really don’t like what they’re doing and that perhaps they just really need to do this for the money.
Initially, we the anxiety we felt before the trip to ADONIS was due to the uncertainty that came about going to a gay bar – a culture many of us students, if not all, are unaccustomed to. Although we (Nicole and I) know many gay men in school, whom we are comfortable being around, the thought of going to a gay bar was a foreign one. We were unaware of the kind of homosexual we would encounter, as the gay men we commonly deal with are are the heteronormative feminine gay men. Upon seeing the crowd and the performers in the bar, it totally went against our expectation.
The performers in the bar did not appear to be feminine at all, but tall and bulky macho men. Additionally, we did not spot anyone in the audience that appeared to fit the feminine gay man stereotype alone, but a variety of men that appeared to have varying types of homosexuality – the “top” or the “bottom”. Perhaps this was due to it being an off day, but our observations tell us that it was entirely different from the gay culture we are used to. That is, the flamboyant gay prancing around being friendly with a lot of entertaining things to say.
I suppose with this, the notion of the stereotypical feminine gay man, the thought of other “types” of gay men are so foreign that we are uneasy to accept such a type. It is then difficult to recognize nowadays, especially outside the stereotype, that there are gay men who do not appear to be gay at all. And that tells us something about human behavior – we tend to judge or label people with what we see.
This exercise then is a sort of opening up to the realities outside the world – that there are people who are definitely more than meets the eye. We must not be comfortable with the stereotypes that are commonly fed to us and be more critical with the various social gender constructs existing today. It is the culture of passive acceptance that closes our minds from other realities besides our own that prevents a meeting of the minds that leads to conflict from the various sectors of society.
On another note, the fact that such masculine men were subject to degrading acts (i.e. being forced to strip and perform provocative, even indecent, moves) tells us something about the gay men: that they too are subject to a kind of oppression by the patriarchal system. The scantily clad dancing itself portrays that they too become objectified by a dominating “sex”, or gender, that is, the gay man. It is very much like the objectification of women by heterosexual men in “straight” bars (strip clubs). Regardless of gender, these performers sell their sex, being subject to the Gaze of the male. The only difference is that rather than the woman as the object of the Gaze, the masculine man – the performer – is the object of the heteronormative homosexual Gaze. It is also important to note that what the performers wear wearing were not typically for the gay masculine man, but clothing that would appeal to men if they were worn by women. So this fact reiterates that the performers are simply objectified by the same type of objectification that comes from heterosexual man to a woman, that the patriarchy tends to embody a kind of dominance over another gender.
The females in the crowd, on the other hand, are simply there to enjoy their company and the spectacle of the half-naked gay man. Unlike the gay men present in the crowd, they seemed to just enjoy being merry with their company. This, to us, tells us that the male Gaze is inescapable, regardless of sexual orientation, and that the patriarchal system will always tend to exclude genders that are seemingly “weaker” – a societal fact that should be changed as it assumes that one sector of society is more dominant or stronger. This alone tells us that society is cruel and dastardly.
Nicole Ceballos – 104481
Jorel Lising – 102253
SA 21 – T