I’ve always said, “Give me liberty — in big, decadent gay bar — or give me death.” Well, actually, I’ve never said that, but I have always been a little wary of gay guys who shun the gay party scene, opting to spend happy hour and after in straight bars. It’s one thing if you’re still in the closet and afraid of giving yourself away, but if you think that frequenting straight bars somehow makes being gay more acceptable, you’re sadly mistaken.
“Too much of a meat market,” these guys often say — the same ones who spend way too many hours trolling the Internet looking for “fun” — as if the people in straight establishments with names like Jake’s and Irish Pub aren’t just as pick-up obsessed. At least be enlightened enough to gripe about too much Lady Gaga and Katy Perry on the booming system!
I live most of the day in the straight world, so what’s wrong with passing a few hours at night surrounded by my own teammates, hot guys with whom I actually have a chance of scoring a home run — or at least getting to first base?
All that said, I have my gay limits. Night time is the right time — and for me, in general, the only time. For most of my adult life, I’ve avoided gay beaches, gay cruises, gay parades (yes, including Gay Pride), and, especially, gay hotels. The closest I ever came to the latter was last year when I met up with my brother and his boyfriend in Rio for Carnival, and we rented a huge penthouse in Copacabana with a bunch of their friends from Toronto (where Alexi, my brother, and Tim live) and Montreal. It’s not that I have anything against gay hotels, or beaches, or cruises, or parades, in theory. I just prefer to spend regular business hours in mixed company. It makes heading out to the boy bars — and occasionally, restaurants — after dark more special, like I’ve earned this for surviving all day in the straight world.
So I was shocked indeed when I was planning phase one of my two-week Gulf of Thailand getaway in Pattaya, and I found myself pressing “book” on the website of Copa, a gay hotel that bills itself as being right in the heart of Boyz Town. But since I’m living life on the edge these days, and my motto is “I’ll do anything twice,” and there’s a first time for everything, I figured it was time to lose my virginity — again.
If you’re someone who’s terrified of showing up at a gay bar solo (for one brief moment, all eyes are on you!), then I wouldn’t recommend arriving at a gay hotel without a wingman. When the tuk-tuk dropped me off at the hotel underneath a sign that read “BOYZ TOWN” (Seriously!), I was faced with the stares of middle-aged gentlemen enjoying afternoon cocktails on the terrace and five young Thai boys offering their services (“Massage?”) across the street.
I made my way inside without incident, and once I was greeted by the friendly receptionist, I tossed aside all of my reservations and decided to honor the one I’d made there. Though the lobby and elevator were uncomfortably cramped, my room was as clean and tastefully decorated as you might expect the accommodations in a gay establishment to be. (No wire hangers — anywhere!) And even better: I wouldn’t have to go any farther than the ground-floor showbar, complete with a 10.30pm drag show and an erotic swim show featuring a go-go boy in a water tank, for the evening’s entertainment.