Good evening, Dear Readers. During my travels of NYC, I’ve come across quite a few spots that make for great entertainment — and also serve a good cocktail. One that I’ve come to know recently is Hell’s Kitchen, which, for those who are not familiar with New York’s geography, serves as one of the gay enclaves of Manhattan. The last couple of weeks, I’ve been there at least 4–5 times. Why? Because it’s a G-A-Y enclave where gorgeous men lurk in olive-tone overalls, booty shorts, and the occasional rainbow crop-top. What isn’t there to love?
Up close, I’ve finally encountered men who have embraced their gay identity, wearing it on their sleeve like a new designer handbag from Bergdorf’s. It’s refreshing, in that they make being gay glamorous. Just last week, I was at one of the happening spots in HK with a friend, where all we did for an hour was watch the eclectic groups of queer people prance in and out, flashing their respective ID’s to the security guards, while others glided in and out, clearly on a first-name basis with the staff.
Now, every time I get a free moment, I wander into HK in hopes of seeing the attractive, out-and-proud gay men, not only to strike up a conversation but also to see the spectacle of it all. As a gay man, it’s validating to see so many businesses embrace us, sporting their rainbow flags in hopes that a gaggle of us will wander in and stay for a few hours. For me, that usually looks like chilling at a hip bar, drink in hand, as the music booms in the background. It’s paradise.
Not only that, but the term ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ is poetic for those of us who have been told time and time again that our identity isn’t valid, due to it going against the teachings of the Bible. That one of the main gay enclaves is called ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ speaks to both the obvious indifference this community espouses in response to toxic church dogma, as well as to the celebratory and party-like atmosphere felt the second one steps into this paradise. This same sentiment is represented in Lil Nas X’s song “Call Me By Your Name”, in which he flips the narrative on the “Gay’s Going to Hell” narrative, where, instead of cowering to his potential demise as a gay man in the afterlife, he instead decides to party in hell with Satan himself.
Hell’s Kitchen, in addition to many other places in NYC, are finally helping me heal from the scars inflicted as a result of being gay in the South. I’m finally starting to step into my power, not only because I’m seeing that power in others, but because I’m coming in contact with people who truly want to see me thrive as who I am. Of course, I have so many supporters in Arkansas, but now, I have supporters in NYC as well — and that merits celebration. How do I plan to do so? The answer’s obvious. I’m going to Hell’s Kitchen for a cocktail — or three.
Until next time all. Kisses.