Will Oxford Street's gay identity survive?
Word on the street is the pink strip has changed. More and more heterosexuals are invading with their filthy breeding ways and forcing gay culture away from Oxford Street.
As an openly gay man, I am aware of the GLBT community's struggles.
But let’s face it: a generation brought up on "Two Girls: One Cup," doesn’t give a mug of crap if you’re gay or straight. People are hard to shock these days.
Old gay activists, weaned on pink politics, are bemoaning the strip's slow but sure mutation into the next Kings Cross.
What was once a gay ghetto is now a heavily commercialized road lined with restaurants and -- God forbid -- straight clubs.
But before the gay rights movement starts petrol-bombing Mothercare outlets, the truth is that contemporary queer culture has outgrown its predecessor. The black 2011 Mardi Gras banners ironically mourned this fact.
This is because people are more tolerant these days. Most don’t give a cute rat’s bum what floats your boat.
Surely this integration is what our gay forefathers fought for?
Partygoers these days just want to dance, drink and do each other until they drop. It’s encouraging, in a way, that straight people have no qualms about doing it alongside us hedonistic professionals.
With integration, however, cultural dilution is inevitable.
In the past, the straights moved in, claimed dominance and slowly pushed out the gays. Think Meat Packer’s District of New York.
Individuality has made its new home -- straight and gay -- in Newtown; style has walked down the road into Surry Hills and Redfern.
With the evolution of Grindr, however, gay territory has shifted from certain well-known areas to anywhere with a GPS signal.
This doesn't mean the end of the pink strip’s identity. Sydney’s gay community has left its mark. Multi-colored rectangles adorn shop, bar and massage parlor windows from Hyde Park to Taylor Square.
The Columbian Hotel -- quickly becoming one of the straightest gay clubs -- sports the largest and shiniest of rainbow flags.
Straight hipster hives, such as Chingalings and Oxford Art Factory, are gay-friendly, and always pumping.
The Stonewall Hotel is still packed every Wednesday to Sunday night with gays of all shapes and sizes.
The shirtless bartenders at Nevermind -- home of star drag performer Courtney Act -- is a huge hit with both pretty young gay boys and straight girls alike.
The Midnight Shift, nicknamed "chop sticks and walking sticks" due to its majority clientele, still exudes fragrant auras of homo-sex.
Arq is still one of the most popular gay venues in Australia. Recently, a straight man there rubbed himself with coconut oil before dancing all night long.
Still, many GLBT feel angry that straights are muscling in on gay territory. Although uneasiness hangs in the air due to an increase of homophobic attacks, we all feel comfortable holding hands with our partners and one-night stands.
There is some trouble: drag queens seem nervous on their own and travel in packs, and safety commercials over Mardi Gras offered similar advice for everyone. But surely this is common sense in any large city?
If a straight guy gives me some playful (or less playful) jip when I’m out, I’ll give him some back. Oxford Street is like Sydney -- brass, bold and in your face. It's not going anywhere.