Krewe of Apollo Bal Masque Thirty

Krewe of Apollo Bal Masque Thirty

I put the word “Thirty” in the title of the post, because I didn’t want the Roman numerals XXX to appear. Who knows, that might get me banned or blocked somewhere. And that’s only because this is a blog by an “avowed” gay guy. And way too many people think it’s all about the sex, when it is not. I always marveled at that word, though. Avowed. Like we took vows in some secret brotherhood or something, or perhaps it is in the nefarious “homosexual lobby.” Amazing how any two bit gumball can have a lobby and go lobbying to hearts content, but gay folks? Oh heaven forfend, for even our self-defense is suspect as “promotion.” Anyway, tonight is the Krewe of Apollo’s Bal Masque. The thirtieth such gala event. Last year’s was XXIX, this year is XXX, go figure. I’ve been to a few before.

A krewe is a Mardi Gras “crew” — or a group of people who put on a tableau, or a parade, or a ball, or any combination thereof. Apollo is the gay krewe – that is, it’s made up of gay men. Actually, it’s one of two gay krewes, but who’s counting. Still, gay men indeed, some of whom are astoundingly cranky. Some of them I don’t know. This krewe does not put on a parade (The Spanish Town gay folks do that! Oh yah, that’s makes three then, Unicorn is the third.) Apollo just puts on a Bal Masque – or masked ball. Only it’s more like a fashion show, and the “tableau” is the parade of costumed folks come out on a long runway to strut their stuff. I am friends with one of the tableteurs and thus I have ring side seats for one of the most spectacular Mardi Gras events in our Mardi Gras smitten city. There are another 30 krewes I think, some all guys, straight though, some all gals, moms and such, and the rest mixed.

It’s a strictly formal affair. I shall be in tux and bow tie. A bright red bow tie. For one does want a hint of color. No? Every other guy will be in tux too. Ladies will be in ball gowns, such as the few there are. Most of the tuxes are owned, for Mardi Gras is a serious thing in this town, and one needs one several times a year perhaps, for years. Others are borrowed. Like mine is. Many a guy in the gay tux world keeps an extra tux around, in case he finds a date to the prom-like affair. My “date” is the 88 year old, he owns his tux, and two more, but they don’t fit, so I got mine from still another friend. It’s a tight gay world, and tuxes are easy to come by. Others are rented, which is good for business, indeed. There are more tux shops in this town than you would imagine would be necessary for the wedding industry that’s for sure. Though all the other balls are strictly tux too, so it’s not a gay thing. Everyone does it.

It will be held at the Civic Center, in the Arena – like in the basketball sized arena. Yes, the city lets the gay guys rent the place. We got the money. Why, we even help pay for it with our tax dollars too! We cause no ruckus save a few loose feathers off a dancing queen or something. And we clean up well after ourselves. (Though some guys I know are absolute slobs; there’s nothing ironclad about the “all gay men are neat” bit.) It being a formal affair, there will be no wanton sex. But of course, there’s no wanton sex at any gay event that I’m aware of. Though our detractors do think that every time two or more of us get together sparks will fly in heathen madness. Such is not the case, and a quick go round to the gay events of your city will show this to be true. You know, the gay church, the gay bar, the gay sports leagues, the gay bowling league, the gay businessmen’s meetings, the gay political meetings, the gay pride parade, the gay … well, all that stuff that’s part of the “Lifestyle.” Which is pretty much what everyone else is doing, though admittedly with less women around. Not that there’s anything wrong with them. It’s just, well, icky.

The mayor will come. He’s a guest of HAART. Which is an organization that serves the needs of HIV+ people in Baton Rouge. They have three tables. I know this well because I’m helping to set them up, because I’m good friends with the executive director, and because I built the major portions of the organization’s website, which was good for my economy indeed. I also have it on good authority of said director, that of the people he serves only about 40% of them are gay men. The rest are, well, straight folks. Which while it is a lot of men, numbering in the low few hundreds, it’s also very true that not all gay men are HIV+ or there would be oh, out of 350,000 citizens in the area at the standard issue 5% gay rate: 15,000 guys or so. Except that the number of clients, as they’re called is more like 1500 total. So much for “all gay men get AIDS” eh? Still, Apollo raises money for HIV folks, and the ball is part of that effort, and it’s a good time, and HAART is a sponsor, and the mayor is coming because, well, because not only are the 1500 citizens, but so are the 5,000 people or so expected at the gala. What do you think we need an arena for? It’s big, baby, big. Like Baton Rouge’s HIV+ population, which is one of the highest in the nation. Outstripping even San Francisco’s rate. Which is odd, for one would think the Bay City would have more than this mush pit. But what with the heteros around here, nope.

Made the newspaper too, this XXXth affair. In it’s own special way though, of course. For all the Krewe’s and their events get into the papers. The whole social season of Mardi Gras is a daily grind of pages of reports on the royalty, the costumes, the parades, the balls – and the kings and queens – that fill the newspaper. Now for all the other krewes the kings and queens, princes and captains, and all the other faux and fair of the krewe’s reigning monarchs and past monarchs and anyone else who can get their picture in the paper get their picture in the paper. It’s the whole point of the thing. To stick a feather in one’s cap. But aw, for Apollo, it was just pictures of the outfits of the monarchs past and present. Not anyone wearing them, nor certainly not the naked emperors, so to speak. Just, well, just no people. It was weird. I suppose even seeing us would make any young rising football star put down his cleats and cheerleader and take up pumps and a leather daddy. Which is said to happen, apparently, with wild abandon, in our recruiting programs across the nation. Yah, right.

Well, there was one picture of a king and queen gone by – though “she” was about the most realistic and delicate looking “she” I guess they could find. For the untutored “she” looked very, very well, “she.” To the tutored, “she” was “not” she at all. But Daniel or somebody, which the caption said. In fact, all the “queens” and “princesses” and dare I say 100% of the Krewe is gay men. Heteros need not apply. Hell, 95% of the gay folks in this town need not apply, for ’tis a snooty group. Still, I guess they couldn’t be having pictures of us. The word “gay” or any synonym did not appear, which isn’t really necessary, for it was perhaps, to the editors, obvious that mention of the good works for HIV+ people that Apollo does was sufficient to clue anyone in who wanted to be clued in. There were no follow up letters to the editor, thankfully, about any promotion or flaunting, and certainly not a peep about the XXX thing. Though if a letter was received by the paper and not published I could not know. I’m sure one of our detractors leaped at the opportunity.

And while it is a festive event I can’t help but be thinking of that misinformation package I got from the Iowa Family folks. The one that reports that gay men “on average” have “hundreds” of sex partners. Where they get this from I don’t know. Perhaps some gay man was on the cover of the tabloids with 140 conquests like Tiger Woods and I missed it. Still, the misinformation package says in one place “76% of gay men say they’ve had over 100 sex partners.” And I think, really? Such an exact number as 76%? Whom did they count? Guys at a sex club? Oh yes they did. And truth be told, back in the 1980s for about 10 or 15 years there were some sex clubs in bigger cities. And I guess if you went in an asked, well, boys will be boys, I’m told. Still, 100. Or more. Wow. And die young, though the Apollo average age of 50 or so does belie the claim of 41 years maximum life expectancy for gay men. Maybe it’s the Southern air that helps preserve us. It will be warm night too, in the 60s. Hmm.

And I think, hmm, OK, let’s do some math. Let’s use a randy 25 year old as an example. Say it’s one hook up a week for 100 weeks. Or two years. So the boy is 27 now. What does he do for the rest of his life? Nothing? Hmm. Maybe he gets “married.” It’s not said in the misinformation. Say it’s one a day. My my, after that flinging I’m sure the boy would be exhausted and go no more to bed but to sleep. Say it’s one a month. 100 months is 8 years. And so the boy is spent after that? He’d be 33. Do you see the problem with the sort of reasoning that these folks use. First they find some bizarre exact figure, like “76% of gay men” while showing no evidence of where they got the data sample, or how they could extrapolate from the data they think they have. And then they say “100” partners or “150” — or “175” — they use several, just to make sure they cover the bases perhaps. And they call it “sex with strangers” and nothing more. And then they don’t do the math. But they do say we’re sex crazed because of these numbers they make up.

So a gay man has all the sex he can get, once each time for 100 or 150 times “with strangers!” as they say, and then just stops? Then is celibate for the rest of his life? Why not just say that 76% of gay men have sex once a week with strangers for 40 years to really make the claim scary? Or would that be too much? You know, keep it reasonable. Or could it be that the guys, like virtually all the guys I know, have boyfriends, for extended periods, years even, though perhaps a few during the course of life. He who invited me is on Number 3, just like Newt, but hey, who’s counting. And this is “sex crazed”? Hmm. Oddly, as it’s been getting better, there’s even more couples. And that’s because just recently for the first time ever gay couples feel they can actually live together, go to the movies, out to dinner, or even a Mardi Gras ball with the mayor without getting pulverized by a well meaning marauding group of hetero dudes trying to teach us a lesson about the perils of being gay.

Now, the governor of our fair state lives just about 15 blocks from the Civic Arena, and his office is even closer. And he is our governor too. Would it be too much to ask for Bobby Jindal to come on down to just another Mardi Gras ball, but more spectacular of course, and say hello and actually meet some of his constituents? Why, yes it would. He’s been busy. Busy signing on to a “letter” by the misinformation specialists known as the Family Research Council against our very existence. He’s bought into the idea that we are a peril to society. He’s bought into the idea that we all have AIDS and will die young — and KNOWS that’s wrong, because he’s the governor, and is smart, and gets the figures. He KNOWS it’s nonsense, but he  signed on to it anyway.

And all we’re doing is having a Mardi Gras ball, for the thirtieth time. He must believe we’re a threat to families, too, as is always said by the FRC and pals. And I was talking to some of my aunts, and my brother, and a few cousins about that just the other day. And they said, “What on earth is he talking about?”

And you know, I can’t for the life of me figure out how people who do exactly what everyone else is doing – you know, renting tuxes, eating finger foods, going to balls and parades during Mardi Gras and paying taxes the whole year through, mowing the lawn, and doing laundry, while seeing if mom needs a light bulb changed before we head out to the ball – can possibly be a threat to family or anything else. Can you?

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