This week’s column won't tell you everything you need to know about coming out, just the second step in doing so. The first step was reading this article in a coffee shop or when a knowing coworker dropped it on your desk.
The second step is going to a bar. Seriously. There are two great bars to meet new friends while you're still saying, “I'm Mormon and just curious.”
I've been to every gay and lesbian bar in Salt Lake. Each is fun and the people are extremely friendly. But I'm writing this for people who haven’t come out yet, and who might need a gentle introduction to gay and lesbian culture. Maybe you're not ready to watch a waxed, heavily-muscled young man dance in a cage, wearing only novelty underwear with a huge front pocket for his apparently just as huge dick. Maybe you're not ready to be pressed against a gyrating, gawking, grinding, dancing crowd. I won't tell you about those bars this article.
Instead, I'll describe the two bars where you can sit down, have a juice and meet some cool new people.
MoDiggity's, 3424 South State – lesbian bar
This is a lesbian sports bar, and everyone here is really, really friendly. During big events (like live performances) it gets somewhat crowded, but most of the time it's a chill place to hang out with comfortable, friendly people.
There's an amazing selection of beers on tap, and the bartenders are great at making all kinds of drinks. Oops, I was writing this to be Mormon-friendly, wasn’t I? I meant to say they have a great juice selection and lots of energy drinks.
The food is also great and I often drive miles just to eat here. The cook's name is Tenley, and you can tell she really loves her work. Her food tastes as if the Carrabbas brothers dedicated their lives to perfecting bar fare rather than fine Italian dining.
MoDiggity's has a dance floor, but it's not intimidating. Think of the bar like the ultimate basement in a movie star's house that just happens to include space for dancing. To let you know how little pressure there is, I’ll just say this: Sometimes they even have Guitar Hero tournaments.
The owners Mo and Digg regularly work the bar and they're both really down to earth. You can tell they love their bar and what they do.
Try-Angles, 251 W 900 S – gay bar
The first time I went here, I over-tipped the bartender, and he gave me back about half of it. That story sticks out to me as representative of Try-Angles. This bar is just friendly. It's also really well-lit, so you can feel comfortable. The doorman calls everyone "sweetie" and always seems very genuinely happy to see me. While that could be because I'm abnormally hot, I suspect they're just that way to everyone.
They have a dance floor too, but people mostly dance on weekend nights. It's separated from the rest of the bar, so if you just want to talk you won’t get drowned out. While this means you can always grab someone and dance, most people just sit down, chat and make friends. As far as décor goes, Try-Angles has classy black and white photographs of nude males, so you can look if you want to instead of having something shoved in your face.
The owner’s name is Gene, and he’s really done a great job in making Try-Angles a comfy bar for everyone.
• Initiate a conversation with the bar staff, saying you're new to the scene. The bartender will introduce you to everyone in the bar. Before you know it, you'll be going to different places around town with your new friends.
• If you've never been to a bar in Utah before, walk in and say, "I need a temporary membership." They'll charge you $5 for a month. Next, walk up to the bartender and order an orange juice. Sit down on a chair somewhere and someone will start a conversation with you.
• If you don't drink, but want to order something so you don't look like a cheap ass, order Red Bull or bottled water.
• A good bar tip is about $1 each drink – even if you got water or orange juice.
• Bring a book, poetry journal or laptop. It's unconventional, but people will approach you and ask what you're working on. You'll have a great conversation starter.
• Clip this story, bring it with you and say, "This is me."
• If you've been in your car – or standing outside the bar – rereading this for 20 minutes now and wondering if you really want to go in – you do and you can.
So, what does this have to do with sex? Well, you can't have sex with people if you don't meet people. Also, your sex probably won't be very safe or enjoyable if you haven't talked face-to-face with a few openly gay or lesbian people before your first homosexual experience. And wherever you are in your sex life, it’s always good to have friends.