GAYDAR: To Be Young And Gay In Philadelphia


BY AARON STELLA Welcome one and all to the brand spanking new Phawker gay column called … drumroll, please … GAYDAR. My name is Aaron Stella, at your service, and I am proud to succeed Miss Tommy Zane — whose honesty and sharp wit made us laugh and invited us to share in his vision of the gay life in our fair city. I’m a bit younger than Zane — only 22, part of the troupe he might call “you young things” — but I’ve got plenty to say, and there’s never a time I haven’t got a hurricane brewing in my gut (and no, that doesn’t mean I have hard gas, and even if I do that’s not the point).

At the behest of the editor-in-chief and numerous personal friends, I’ll be infrequently posting tidbits from what has been described as a life worthy of a min-series. I swear to you I am not making any of this up: I was born into a crazy evangelist cult based in Augusta, Georgia. (Long story, more on that later.) After escaping the cult in the middle of the night at the ripe old age of 12, we hightailed it to the wilds of Alabama where my dad thought we could safely wait out the impending apocalypse of Y2K. (Again, more on this later.) Then I got kicked out of my school, then mygay.jpg house. I lived for a while at my friend’s place, whose parents turned out to be child abductors still wanted it three states for heinous charges. (More, later.) And THEN, my parents committed me to a psych ward. (But I’m feeling MUCH better now, thank you.) And then came the forced enrollment at a militant fascist Catholic college in the lonely mountains of New Hampshire, and, after a year of hell, I finally made my way to Philadelphia. Hello!

But I don’t want this to be just about me. Sure I’ve got stories to tell, some to appall you, some to enchant you, and others to just plain arouse you. But this column is about you, my fellow gays in Philadelphia — cause I know y’all have stories of your own, histories upon histories of life filled with vim and vigor and damn it I want hear about it. So right off, here’s my email: While I have my own plans, it’s very important for me to know what you want to see on the Gaydar. My hope is to have this become a community-run column sometime in the future. But in the meantime, I’ll give you an idea of what I have in store.

THE BIG QUESTIONS: I will tackle those pesky paradoxes and enigmas wrapped in riddles bandied amid heated discussions about homosexuality — be it over coffee or detoured dinner conversation, or after last call. Common questions known to surface when the crowd gets curious will be wrung out and hung out to dry for your convenience. Is homosexuality genetic destiny or nurtured choice? Or does any of that really matter in the grand scheme of things? Monogamy, marriage, promiscuity, the new hybrid family unit, and so much more.

SALACIOUS SEX STORIES: Because we all enjoy a little ribaldry, and the occasional tantalizing portrait of a man. I have an inordinate love for Victorian prose and I think the style will be deliciously fitting.I think I can be sexy and keep it classy, so we’ll see.

gomez-gaytweaked.gifPINK POLITICS: Keeping tabs on policy and political trends, and everything politically-relevant to the gay community. Much is on the horizon; most of the political attention now centers around gay marriage, the AIDS epidemic, Africa, and of course, your run-of-the-mill celebrity or football player who trips up and gay bashes. All of this is grist the chopping block, and it will not go without address.

GAYBORHOOD GOSSIP & SCENESTER WAR STORIES: I will be interviewing both newbies and veterans of the Philadelphia gay community. I want to get to know this community better, and I’m sure y’all are a tad curious yourselves about your fellow gays, so I figure, let’s get the goods and share the wealth on the life past and present of the community. A professor I had last semester once told me, “The best way to write a paper it to pretend you’re gossiping about the given topic with your friends, as gossip is also the best way to get to know someone.” Look at it this way: if a biography is the meat, then the gossip is the gravy. What’s a roast beef sandwich without the gravy? Pretty damn dry, so dish it out and let’s make a moveable feast.

Well, I believe that covers the important stuff. My hope is that the community will eventually find and utilize this space as its own, as a another means to have their voice be heard — but all good things in due time, right? Until then, sit back, relax, enjoy a whiskey, and once again, welcome to Gaydar!

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