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The gay scene is all about having fun. In the bars and the clubs and certainly embodied by its glittering stars, to dance and drink, laugh and carouse, is all part of its magical, myth-making charm. It’s essentially why this magazine exists, and the rationale as to why a hundred different parties pop up every weekend, why most venues in Soho and beyond are open every day of the week. People wish to escape from the humdrum and dreary, to inject some colour and vitality beyond the available levels of casual sobriety. And this aspect should certainly be lauded, in close association with the sheer plethora of going out choice in existence; if you spend each weekday slaving away quietly in a bank, then why shouldn’t you be able to look forward to Saturday night when you can don your best biking leathers, get wasted and strap yourself into a sling to pulsing house music surrounded by likeminded punters?

With the scene and going out you have an invitation into a fabulous otherworld, which boasts an absolute necessity to exist for the sake of the majority’s right to unwind and forget about the grey stresses of the everyday. It is a service that soothes in its warmth as it tickles in its undying mirth. But when does the surrender to this alluring play become greater than it should readily exist? When does the drinking cease to be so much about the multi-foliate attractions of the scene, but more about a certain, pertinently individualised, annihilation of the self itself? Drinking two bottles of red wine by yourself in a bar each night smashes easily through the shivering glass umbrella that terms itself ‘relaxation’. Sinking ever deeper into that ‘just one last pint’ of Fosters on a Saturday night until the bouncer quietly asks you to go home isn’t having fun. Falling asleep in the corner of a club after the sixth large Pinot Grigio ain’t cutting a rug.

“The darkest situations are when people drink or take drugs and go out to disguise a depression.”

Perhaps these extreme examples are atypical to a slightly older generation of gay men. They who have missed out on the opportunities afforded by today’s more liberal society and now haunt certain bars, seeking to vicariously live their lives twice through the youthful objects of desire that work there. But that youth is not elevated above pitfalls. There is an adverse type of romance associated with the unstoppable young dark star, blistering its flamboyant path through every gay venue of the city. They become known; they may be adored for their fire, their outrageous flair in the face of a stuffy, sober establishment. Yet still the old adage holds true, that it’s not a party if it happens every night. And what may threaten as a future for this mindset is the tortuous road outlined above: drinking to excess until asked to leave, no longer the loved darling but the succinctly avoided.

Queers Without Beers is a monthly social event that offers an alternative.

Generally there are reasons for this type of unruly behaviour, the insidious and unsightly spirals out of cohesive control. And they will lurk much closer to the surface of the person in question than one might initially imagine. It can be to replace a loss, of heartbreak, or fill a palpable absence of other fulfillment in life, or even due to simply feeling uncomfortable in social situations, seeking solace in the confidence of alcohol rather than bear the brunt of awkward half-drunk conversation.

Perhaps the darkest situations are when people drink or take drugs and go out to disguise a depression or other psychological situation they are in fact already fully aware of. Sometimes the loudest calls for help are the most evident. Friendships based solely on drinking should be warned against; vacuous vodka-sipping entities who offer nothing but thinly veiled competition and a constant barrage of barbed comments are definitely not the kind of people you want to be surrounding yourself with.

Of course, this is not to say that you should run up to anyone who’s caught stumbling out of a club or falling into a gutter on a Friday night with an AA flyer. Having fun is imperative to us as a society, let alone the gay community, and this would never be as enjoyable without alcohol or other forms of escapism. But there is a line, and it’s no secret that people stumble across it from time to time. Look out for them because, you know, it could happen to anyone.

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