It was the day before New Year’s Eve and I was at L’Aigle Noir in Montreal. It’s great that there’s an “Eagle” in many major cities, though the Quebec franchise was a little too bright and sanitary for my liking. There were Christmas lights and ornaments hanging above the main bar, and if it weren’t for the name you’d never know it was an “Eagle.” But even without the decorations it was a fairly bland environment. I’m starting to learn that the gentrification of the leather scene is not just a regional thing, and perhaps it’s time to accept the fact that it’s either either evolving or disappearing.
Sitting at the bar, my friend Ron and I started talking about the changes to the leather scene. He’d been living in Montreal for a few years now and frequented L’Aigle. Ron was a pretty regular guy in his mid-40s and wasn’t into kink and leather. When I pointed out the differences between L’Aigle and other leather bars I’d been to, he replied that he didn’t mind the change, and in fact suggested that it is time for something new in the gay scene. I couldn’t help but agree. Not that we should abandon kink and leather, but we wouldn’t have the leather folk if it weren’t for the hippies that came before. There hasn’t really been a “scene” for those with alternative sensibilities since the AIDS crisis. Some may bring up the circuit, but I don’t think of that as a scene with substance — it was just a step before assimilation, if you didn’t end up in rehab first.
I’ve heard people say that gay sub-culture is dying because we’ve gained acceptance from the mainstream; that there’s no reason for gay clubs and gay spaces anymore because we’re accepted everywhere. If you really believe that, then you’re either stupid or in denial. Perhaps if you look straight, act straight and do straight things (marriage, mortgage, kids) you’ll feel straight and, thus, accepted by the straights. But where does that leave the radicals, the people who aren’t satisfied with the status quo and the assimilation?.
Perhaps L’Aigle Noir has simply lost its way. For starters, they had The Nightmare Before Christmas playing on the large screen in the main bar, and a nature documentary on an adjacent screen; there wasn’t even an effort to be sexy. Admittedly, the men inside were the type of guys you’d see in a leather bar (minus the leather, of course), with hearty, French-Canadian testosterone: there were the young and old guys with moustaches and beards, muscles and guts, but they all seemed to have this bewildered look, like they were trying to figure out what happened to their leather bar.
Upstairs, the bar featured a long mural of muscle men and masters in leather gear, checking each other out. It felt like an artifact from the past, the way you’d see a wall of hieroglyphics from a pyramid put on display in a museum. It was proof that this world did exist once upon a time, a world created by Brando, Renslow, and Fritscher — a world that is no more. You might feel nostalgic and sad to have missed such an era, but perhaps it’s time to stop reminiscing.
I’d forgot to mention that Ernan, my ex-boyfriend, was with Ron and me at the bar too. We drove to Montreal and were staying at a downtown hotel together. We weren’t dating anymore, but we were still fucking. Still, when Ron went to the bar to get us some drinks, we began kissing, and I rubbed his crotch until he was hard.
“Everybody can see it,” he said, referring to his erection, but he seemed pleased by it. This wasn’t the Ernan I remembered dating. Also, he was right: his cock was visibly pronounced through his jeans, a wet spot forming at the front. The men close by were looking down at my hand as I continued to rub. It drove him so crazy that he pushed his lips against mine again and bit them like he was going to devour me whole.
About a month ago, Ernan and I had run into each other in the bathroom at Woody’s. “I don’t think we should see each other anymore,” he had said, even though we hadn’t seen one another in a while.
“That’s fine,” I’d said, out of respect.
“No!” he had said. It wasn’t the response he had been looking for, I guess. He’d asked me why I was following him into the bathroom anyway; I told him that he was actually following me. We went home together that night and have been seeing each other ever since. It didn’t change my plans — I was still going to leave Toronto in the coming month or so — but that was why we decided to go to Montreal together . . .