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Queer Town: Acrobats at the Abbey, No Shirts at Here

The nights go nearly sleepless, but the last day of Gay Pride Week is no time to flake out. Promises are made and need to be kept, so I head over to the Abbey and Here Lounge several hours after the parade has ended on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood. The thump, thump, thump of the house music can be heard a block away.

Queer Town: Acrobats at the Abbey, No Shirts at Here

Suddenly, I see the blonde, spiky hair of Andrew Gruver, the ever-present manager at the Abbey, as he walks by me on the sidewalk. I reach out and grab his shoulder, but the usual spunk is gone.

"I'm very, very tired," he says.

I wrap my arm around him and say to hang in there. Just as we start to swap tales of Gay Pride exhaustion, a svelte acrobat dressed only in an electric blue Speedo starts his performance.

"Oh, you have to take pictures of him," Andrew tells me, and I obey.

Queer Town: Acrobats at the Abbey, No Shirts at Here

The beautiful boy, as is always the case, zaps the exhaustion right out of me.

Queer Town: Acrobats at the Abbey, No Shirts at Here

Then another beautiful boy joins the routine. The crowd, already frisky and loud after several hours under the sun with a few drinks in them, roar with delight.

Queer Town: Acrobats at the Abbey, No Shirts at Here
Queer Town: Acrobats at the Abbey, No Shirts at Here
Queer Town: Acrobats at the Abbey, No Shirts at Here

And then it's over.

Queer Town: Acrobats at the Abbey, No Shirts at Here

I look back at Andrew and nod.

"I got it all."

Then I walk next door with my buddies Tyle and Doug to Here Lounge. Promoter Tom Whitman is holding a wet boxers contest at his popular Sunday night party "Size," which seems, at the very least, good for a few chuckles.

Queer Town: Acrobats at the Abbey, No Shirts at Here

Once inside, the place is jammed, jammed, jammed...with men.

Queer Town: Acrobats at the Abbey, No Shirts at Here

"Where are all the lesbians?" I ask Doug, thinking of Pride unity.

"They have their own venues, like The Palms."

"They can all fit into that one place?"

Doug thinks about it.

"And probably a few other places we don't know about. After all, why would we know about them."

Queer Town: Acrobats at the Abbey, No Shirts at Here

By seven o'clock, the guys in wet boxers haven't shown up, Tyle and Doug are getting tired, and I'm ready to collapse. Once again, Whitman draws a friendly, handsome crowd, but it's time to fall into a good twelve-hour sleep. We bid the shirtless boys farewell.

As I walk home along Santa Monica Boulevard, the sun sets behind me and the sidewalks are jammed. Rainbow colors are everywhere. Fun is good, I think, but it also took the blood and courage of gays and lesbians before us so we could party in the streets. Their work, I tell myself, is far from finished.


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