The Times has declared Washington “the gayest place in America.”
That’s based on Census data, which shows that 1 in 10 Washingtonians identifies as homo- or bisexual. But the story’s author, Jeremy Peters ticks off the gay bars, the gay newspapers, the store “whose window displays regularly feature bare-torso, well-endowed mannequins in nothing but tiny briefs” to conclude how very gay friendly D.C. is, in attitude.
I have to wonder if Peters would have written from the same perspective if he was a lesbian. I can’t say myself, either, since I’m not a lesbian. I’d certainly never suggest that Washington is lesbian unfriendly. But having lived in Northampton, Massachusetts, which decidedly is, it’s always struck me that Washington’s gay culture is gay male culture.
The retailers, the bars. There’s no equivalent of Nellie’s or JR’s, the uber-accessible gay bars, for lesbians. One of the big Washington events is the annual high-heel race, with men tottering about in drag — there’s no butch heat. I rarely run into throngs of lesbians on 17th or 14th streets or hear whispers of a lesbian old girls club.
Look, I’m glad that Washington is a progressive city where people are able to live openly. But I wish I could feel surer that it was just as great to be a lesbian here.