The Best Sports Bar in the nation’s capital, as voted for in Washington DC’s City Paper, is this year a gay bar. And it’s called Nellie’s.
In some ways, though, that isn’t a sign of the end of gay culture (perhaps that phase has already passed). Nellie’s – its slogan is “Are You Nellie Enough?” – is a product of the maturation of the gay community as more and more types of gay men – especially those who could and did “pass” for straight in decades past – are able to be who they are. My boyfriend before Aaron, for example, was a sports nut, a Cubs fan, and a stats wonk. All he really wanted to do on a weekend was head to a sports bar and drink beers and watch the game. For a long time, gay culture didn’t give him that option. But the free market is a wonderful thing.
The twist, of course, is in the ironic name. We can’t integrate without some kind of wink. Even when we are fully part of society, I suspect there will always be a tinge of Wildean irony to our identity. This is often not true of the more humorless activists, or smugger, tight-assed liberals. But among regular homos? Yep, they’re nellie enough.
(Photo: Nats Night out, 2009, with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington singing the national anthem, Team Nellie from the Aids Walk being honored and more. By Chadwick Cipiti.)