The Camp Vamp: Katrina Fox

Commentary on GLBTIQ issues, social justice and some of life's quirks.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

All together now

In his interview with me in last week’s SX, veteran activist and writer Larry Kramer said he believed gay people were better than straights in many ways. Non-assimilationists (let’s call them NAs for short) will agree; the more politically correct (the PCs) will cry ‘no, we’re all the same’. Who’s right?The PCs’ argument has certainly been bolstered this week, with various news stories confirming that we queers are just as bad as our heterosexual counterparts. For example, we discriminate in the workplace. NBC4 reports that a straight former Los Angeles police officer is suing the LAPD, alleging gays were given better employment opportunities. Meanwhile over in Minneapolis fire department, lesbian fire chief Bonnie Bleskachek has been fired from her job for giving preferential treatment to lesbians or those who socialise with them. The things you have to do for promotion nowadays, eh? But who knows, maybe poor Bonnie was just trying to do her bit for assimilation by forcing the straights to hang out with the dykes.

But can we really socialise successfully? The question of mixed venues has the queer community divided. Certain mainstream gay clubs around Oxford Street, especially on a Saturday night, have been “taken over” by straights who are rude and homophobic, some allege. But venture a little further down Bourke Street into Surry Hills and you’ll find the most unlikely venue to appeal to gays and straights alike. It’s called the Russian Coachmen restaurant and it was chosen by the publisher as the place for the SX Christmas party on Saturday night. The floorshow involved pretty showgirls and a violinist called Nikolai, and throughout the evening a Russian man who sounded like Animal from The Muppets sang karaoke songs in various languages along with another pretty girl who belted out disco numbers, keeping the very mixed bunch of patrons happy. An older woman in a white ra-ra dress and strange haircut kept us entertained by dancing and flirting with every straight man except her husband/partner. It was as if we’d crashed a 1980s straight Russian wedding and it was oddly glorious.

It took the restaurant staff a while to cotton on to the fact they’d been invaded by a group of bum-bandits and muff-divers, but my insistence that one of the showgirls partner with me and not a man, sexing it up on the dancefloor next to a gorgeous slender blonde in denim peddle-pushers to ‘I Turn to You’ by Mel C, and a bunch of queens mincing out for a ciggie break and strutting their stuff to ‘I Will Survive’, and the penny finally dropped. They didn’t actually use the G or even the H word, but karaoke girl referred to us over the mic affectionately as the ‘Oxford Street’ table. Bless. There were no dirty looks, no one spat at us or stabbed us. We all did our thing and everyone was happy. Even the NAs among us had a great time. I don’t know if we’re any better than straights, but um … we definitely dance differently.

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