Why Philly Gays are the Best Gays

Matt O'NeillI haven’t written in a while because I’ve been so caught up with my move into the City of Brotherly Love.  But my time of being swept up by the busy streets, the homeless asking for change, and the excitement of 24/7 nightlife has come to an end as I came to one powerful conclusion the other night: Philly Gays are the Best Gays – and here’s why:  

Cliques aren’t normal “cliques”

We all have our close friends, and whether you’re a group of club rats or a set of weekend movie junkies, there seems to be no shortage of “cross cliqueing.”  I’ve traveled to other cities around the country and while visiting some of the local LGBT hot spots, primarily one common theme I find is groups don’t interact with one another!

Here’s a quick story:

Craigery MorganI was down in Orlando about two weeks ago with an old friend.  While I was with him and his friends at the bar, across the room I spotted Craigery Morgan. For those of you that aren’t familiar with this buff boy, his reenactment of various SNL skits went viral on YouTube about two years ago (I’m a total fan girl).  Now if this were Philly, everyone would know who he was even if they didn’t talk to him each weekend when he stopped in for a drink.  But my new Orlando friends just shrugged and figured he was just another guy who came to the bar every weekend!

People in most cities won’t take the time to meet and interact with those outside of their own cliques on a regular basis.  I find that in Philadelphia cross cliqueing is common because most of the LGBT community  and community events are centralized in one specific three or four block radius – the Gayborhood.  This makes seeing the same faces and groups very common therefore almost forcing you to interact with others whether at that charity fundraiser for William Way or singing show tunes at Tavern on Camac.

We help one another

This week alone, I have been invited to five charity events around the city.  There is no shortage of helping hands all working together to better our community.  Unlike many larger cities (it’s almost non-existent in many smaller cities), many of the public figures that stand out within Philadelphia’s LGBT community are not known for the parties they put on, or how prominent they are in nightlife, but by the way they reach out to the community in order to provide a better lifestyle for everyone.

Exhibit A: Rudy Flesher.

Rudy FlesherAs a personal role model of mine, I can honestly say that I feel like at the end of day each day, Rudy goes home, sits down with a glass of wine, and just thinks about what he can do tomorrow to help us all out.  This man is ALWAYS pushing charity events though his Social Media sites.  He’s also instrumental in community awareness regarding local and national LGBT news.  Check out one of his latest articles regarding a public letter from State Representative Brian Sims to Senator Bob Casey entitled: Gay Representative To Anti-Equality Senator Casey: Your Voice Is Silent. And I Am Angry.

The lifestyle is just…different

We all wish we had the abs of Ryan Gosling, the job of Anderson Cooper and the income of of Billy Joel, but in reality for most of us, it’s just not going to happen.  Gravity takes over, and work quickly consumes many of our lives.  The Philadelphia community as a whole has never seemed get caught up in the whimsical fantasy that some other East and West Coast cities can bring.  There are so many LGBT youth and adults that come to this city, not trying to become the next reality superstar or the next national icon (though we do have a few), we come to work and work hard.  The reason for this, I believe, is that unlike cities like New York and LA, the pace of life is slightly slower and laid back.  The ratio of up and coming freelance models, actors and photographers to full time employed college grads appears to be much lower than other neighboring East Coast cities.  Therefore the statement that beauty is only skin deep plays a much more significant role in the lives of LGBT locals.

Philly LOVEIn many cases, the opportunity for an LGBT couple to have a successful relationship is also higher.  I feel the reason for this is because both partners in the relationship feel less compelled to  be driven by the idea that something better will come along, or that next big break will soon come.  This doesn’t mean that I think a relationship in other cities isn’t possible, I just think it’s more difficult.

To close I’d like to say that while those three above points may not fit into everyone’s lives, I feel as a community we work hard to do things right. I’ve spoken with so many people who moved out of Philadelphia onto to other cities around the country, and after all is said and done, we seem to agree on one thing – Philly Gays really are the Best Gays.

+Matt O’Neill

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13 Comments

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13 responses to “Why Philly Gays are the Best Gays

  1. This is an interesting perspective and it’s encouraging to know that for someone in Philadelphia it’s true. For me, over the past four years in Philly, I’ve largely found the opposite to be true. Which is not to say that I’ve found Philly gays to be the “worst” gays by any means. In fact, I found my first real group of gay friends here in Philly and love them to death. But I’ve often lamented that the “Philly gays” could not possibly be more apathetic, less community-centric or more of a Mean Girls-style clique model. Again, that is a generalization, I realize. There are, of course, community activists, some great fundraisers, organizations to join, etc. But I often find those to be the same handful of people and often lacking younger participants. If you go to DC, the Capital Gays are active in Stonewall Kickball leagues, organizing massive get togethers that actually do bridge the cliques, attending lectures or participating in rallys, and just generally being more active and engaging of young gays, in addition to the Sunday Funday brunches or all night clubbing. I think much of that is true in New York, but NYC is also so large a community that it’s difficult to simplify it like that. It’s often difficult to pinpoint exactly what Philly is lacking – and maybe it’s not even lacking, it’s just very well hidden – but I constantly hear from young gay guys who move to Philly (and have felt it myself) that if you’re not a part of a very tiny, Voyuer-obsessed clique in Philadelphia, you’ll never meet other gay guys and never really fit in, and there aren’t easy avenues like teams or organizations or meet-and-greet events to change that. So I wouldn’t say that Philly Gays are by any means the worst – many of us are really great – but I think we are far too cliquish and boring.

    • I understand — have you ever heard of QVentures? That is a group that runs non-bar like events every month. It’s relativity new, but the goal of that is to meet new LGBT members in the Philadelphia area. If you want I can get some more information about that, my friends and I have gone on a couple of their trips, they are a lot of fun!

      • I have and should definitely check them out. There are a lot of great opportunities and organizations in Philly, I just feel like most of us never take advantage of them and then they sort of die out. So the problem really isn’t a lack of people who are doing great things in the community, it’s the community basically saying “meh, no thanks.”

      • That I could see. I do know people like that.

  2. Anonymous

    CLIQUES CLIQUES FOR THE LOVE OF GOD CLIQUES

  3. Nija

    Well, I happen to love me some Philly Gays! But you already knew that 😉

  4. Nice to hear things about Philly, a state I haven’t been to but heard so much about. You and your friends in the pic at the top look super cute by the way!

  5. Anonymous

    Thanks for the William Way shout out! We’re open 365 days a year and offer up over 70 programs and activities every month for youth, adults, and seniors. From free art gallery openings and great classes like Homorobics and Finding Mr. Right, there truly is something for everyone. Stop by the Center (1315 Spruce Street) on a busy Wednesday evening, and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find dozens of warm and welcoming visitors getting to know one another, accessing our cyber lab, finding more info from our friendly front desk volunteers, and just relaxing and enjoying the ambiance of our beautiful pre-Civil War era building. We host monthly volunteer orientations if you want to get involved and support the Center–it’s a great way to meet awesome people and give back at the same time. Peruse our art gallery and archive exhibitions, which change every other month. Right now and for the next four weeks, we’re featuring a remarkable exhibit by queer Cambodian artist, Lino Vuth. Thanks to support from the Pew Music Project, we’ve been producing amazing performances by musicians such as internationally acclaimed classical pianist, Ching-Yun Hu; Tony Award nominee Justin Vivian Bond; and perhaps the most played composer of our lifetime (and fellow Philadelphian), Jennifer Higdon. Stop by and ask for Michael, Chris, Candice or Paul, and we’d be happy to show you around and tell you all about the Center!

  6. Seriously…I spent 3 days in Philly and walked away thinking “Man, those are the best gays ever.” I need to get back…

  7. Rudy is a personal hero to many. He is just wonderful on every level.

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