The music plays and wreaks havoc with my eardrums. Jessie J follows Tulisa follows whatever spur of the moment gay icon they can muster up on the decks. It’s gone past seven and, apart from a group of women clearly there for a tweet-up, I am alone. I swirl my drink and my proverbial tears can fill the ocean.
So, this is the gay scene in Chelmsford. This one bar, this one night. This is what it’s like to be gay here. To be honest, I’m not sure if I like it. Scratch that, I am sure. I hate every single minute of it, and as soon as my drink is finished, I bolt out of there.
What was I thinking? This is a place of depression. What the hell was I even expecting? That it would be massive and heaving and our own little Canal Street transported to Essex? Then I remembered. This isn’t Queer as Folk, and this ain’t Babylon, toots.
After wandering through the streets, I eventually end up back home. The Flatmate is playing FIFA, interspersed with the music from his playlist on his laptop (seeing as we both hate the FIFA soundtrack). Ironically, he’s playing George Michael.
I plop down on the couch and, whilst sucking on strawberry laces, detail the night out that wasn’t to Flatmate.
“I’m not sure if I’m gay. I’m not even sure if I’m 21!” I lament.
“But you’re not supposed to know everything when you’re 21. You are supposed to go out and experience life and do things. You are supposed to discover yourself and then look back in five, ten years and think “Hmm, I liked that”.”
We talk and talk about music and life, and it occurs to me that I can learn from him. It pays to have an older, wiser Flatmate.
It also pays to have figured out that I’d rather stay in on a Friday, eating strawberry laces and complaining while watching him play FIFA.
It’s another lesson learned on this path of life. When going out, don’t go in alone. Especially when you’re not used to going out. Or at least get some advice on doing so from your flatmate/mate/anyone you trust.
Also, don’t go in with sky high expectations. Smiths Bar and Lounge is not Babylon. Moulsham Street, Chelmsford is not Brewer Street, Soho.
I’m still pondering about sexual identity. Or whether I belong in the gay bar scene. Or any bar scene.
But knowledge comes with time. It’s frustrating but true.