I’m not the most active member of this community but I certainly feel it is a community and one I am happy to be part of.
This morning the post man knocked more than once. PY, who always jumps out of bed for parcels and post, decided to answer the door where he discovered a large parcel from Out – my lovely black fleece had arrived (from OutOnTheStreets to be precise). This event, and Tom’s post (which I highlighted the other day and started out as a response to this) set me thinking about notions of community.
Now Out is an online community of (mainly) gay men from around the world – although at the moment it’s predominantly UK based. It’s a great place to be and very unlike many of the other commercial gay sites. It’s all about social interactions and not about sex (like some) nor about profit (like others). It funds itself by way of a non-compulsory licence fee and sells merchandise to add to that. It encourages real-world events and traditional social interaction.
Now, I have never attended one of the events and I don’t log on every day (like some). I don’t count many of my friends (online or otherwise) as being members and I can’t say I have made any lasting friendships on Out – although many have.
However, it is still a community and I am still part of it. I choose to contribute financially and I should do more in real life. There are many issues raised by Out that I shall discuss in more detail at some point soon (paying for online content; the concept of zero exploitation and the concept of online communities) but at this point all I want to say is that I feel similar about blogging. I do it primarily for my own record/entertainment/amusement. As a by-product, I get to tell the world how I feel about things and strike up some interesting discussions and relationships along the way. It’s a place for me to express and, most importantly, it’s another community that I belong to. Again, I’m not the most active member of this community but I certainly feel it is a community and one I am happy to be part of.
Another night of entertaining on Old Compton Street
Bet you’re thinking, not another entry about food. My office (more-or-less) took American colleague out for dinner again last night and, again, on Old Compton Street. Pizza. Huge pizzas (not had such a big pizza in London for some time) that were bigger than any plates that the restaurant had available. Many office-type things to speak of but I will reserve judgement on the evening for another time (how mysterious).
So now I am dog-tired. I have been entertaining or being entertained, all week. I have to arrange theatre trips for tonight and other things for the rest of the weekend. It’s very strange, as I haven’t felt this physically exhausted in months. I feel really drained but I couldn’t sleep any longer than I did. My brain was awake and I was getting to that point when lying in bed hurts more than the thought of getting up pains me. Maybe it an age thing.
Late at night in London’s gay heart, Old Compton Street, I have a change of heart about the place.
So, I have just told you how having an American in London with me has made me see London in a new light. Once again, I love it. Last night we went to dinner again (with some other people this time) on Old Compton Street. Sometimes, I have a problem with Old Compton Street and I am not sure why. As a gay man I should be able to celebrate the area for the visibility and safety that it brings London’s gay community. My problem is that I find I am not a scene-loving gay man and so I am, generally, made to feel alienated by the people there. I also feel slightly wary of taking straight friends to Old Compton Street in case they feel I am either trying to make some kind of point or that I am, somehow, testing their acceptance of me. All of the above is, of course, personal paranoia and my own insecurities which a therapist, of some sorts, would take lots of money off me to talk about. Instead, I blog it.
Anyway, back to the point. We were on Old Compton Street. It was late-ish (for me, not for Old Compton Street) and the place was alive. It being a Tuesday night I suspect that the worst aspects of the weekend drinking crowd were not to be seen which made it a pleasant, friendly place to be. It was a wonderful feeling to walk out of a restaurant into a heaving mass of happy people. It was cool, but not cold, and (as OCS Queens will) people were sitting at tables outside. Maybe I should be less judgemental about Old Compton Street. The mood was relaxed and fun; people were smiling and chatting and even the music drifting onto the street seemed appropriate and not excessive.
I seem to be painting a picture of a pack of hysterical, laughing people. Of course, it was not like that. It was just that the mood was great, people seemed relaxed and it made me feel positive about life when so much of this city has been making me feel depressed of late. Isn’t life sweet?
Two contrasting stories from around the world.
Two contrasting stories:
South Africa’s highest court ruled Tuesday that gay and lesbian couples can adopt children, becoming one of only a handful of countries to sanction the step [CNN].
A recent report by Los Angeles County shows that hate crimes were up in 2001, with the bulk of new attacks based on Sept. 11 backlash and an increased number of assaults against the GLBT community [PlanetOut]