Steven Sanchez – Meet Me at the Gay Denny’s Part 2

Steven Sanchez

Meet Me at the Gay Denny’s Part 2

J. Jack Halberstam, a brilliant Queer social critic, explains the idea of Queer Time—Halberstam argues that straight people operate on a linear timeline: they’re born, hit puberty, date and explore their sexuality through adolescence, find a partner, get married, have kids, grow old, retire, and die. 

Queers, however, don’t really follow that. For one, most Queer kids had to give up exploring their sexuality during adolescence or risk being ridiculed, beaten, or murdered (just yesterday, my partner’s friend was gay bashed and had to get stitches). If we’re lucky, we end up exploring those aspects of ourselves in our 20s and 30s, causing what he calls “a second, Queer puberty.” Then, we spend those years catching up on everything our straight counterparts got to explore in depth for at least a decade already. As far as the kids go, it’s usually pretty difficult for Queer couples to procreate on accident. And marriage wasn’t even really a factor our community even had the privilege of considering until just a few years ago. 

To top this off, straight people have different bars for young folks, middle-aged folks, and older folks. 

Queers, if we are lucky, get 1 or 2 bars for us. And, regardless of our age, we all gather there. In Queer bars, Halberstam explains, is where our Queer elders are able to connect with the newest generation of Queers and everyone in between. We play Lady Gaga alongside Cher alongside Judy Garland. Our fashion and style and dance intersect constantly. So much of Queer culture is exchanged and nurtured through our Queer bars because they are often the only place we feel safe enough to do that. 

Whereas straight people tend to silo their circles off based on generation, Queer folks don’t follow those same conventions. Because of that, Halberstam says that Queer time is a circle—the eldest generations continuously meeting the younger generation, each generation continuously informing the other. 

Of course, last call always brings this to a close, and that’s where gay Denny’s comes in. For folks in Fresno, you know the one: the corner of Blackstone and Shields.

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