The Adventures of the Boi Wonder: Annoyed and Underage
“Kids don’t follow
What you’re doin’
In my face and out my ear
Kids won’t follow
What you’re saying
We can’t hear”
–”Kids Don’t Follow” by The Replacements
I don’t turn 21 years old until February 2012. I have never really been one for alcohol, so I really don’t care about the legal drinking aspect. No, it is the fact that I lack the freedom of movement until that time I turn that “magical” age.
Though Ian MacKaye is still alive and kicking in the area, his influence hasn’t seemed to have translated to the queer scene in DC much. Yeah, there are organizations like SMYAL that are for people 13-21, but if I wanted to hang around teenagers, then I’d hang out with my younger brother and his high schooler friends. That doesn’t cut it for me; I want to hang out with the big dogs. Besides, I am kind of known for preferring the company of people older than me (especially when it comes to dating). I’d say that almost all of my friends in DC are older than me, most by at least 5 years and some by about a decade.
The bad thing about having older friends while underage is the fact that going-out plans have to be changed or reconsidered to fit my limitations, or I end up not being able to go at all. There are many bars that flat-out do not allow people under 21. Needless to say, this gets increasingly frustrating, especially since I don’t want to drink at all. This is also frustrating for my friends, who want to go out and have fun, but also want me with them. I could call out some of these places by name, but some of them have been very kind to TNG and the queer community.
I have praised TNG for events like Homo/Sonic and Transformer for being all ages. In fact, I first met Zack (who encouraged me to contribute to the site) at Homo/Sonic when I was 18 years old. Sadly, there hasn’t been a Homo/Sonic since March (I remember because I was on Spring Break) and Transformer went by the wayside quite a while ago. Both mostly took place at the wonderful Black Cat, which, as a punk club, has always kept MacKaye’s ethos alive by putting Xs on the hands of the underage rather than excluding us.
Right now, I have to admit, I’m more than a little pissed off with TNG. Lately, there has not been a single event that I have been able to attend. Beat City, She Rex, and the like have all been at 21+ venues. Hell, I didn’t get to go to Zack’s DJing farewell party because of where it is held. The biggest downside is that, rather than getting to be around fellow queer people and supportive friends, I have spent a lot of Friday and Saturday nights of my summer being forced to stay in my hometown closet (as I’ve mentioned before, there is no queer scene or support system in my hometown for about 25 miles). I honestly feel that part of this lack of space is laziness, that places would rather exclude underage people rather than take the extra steps to let them in and monitor them from drinking (like the Black Cat does).
I know there are other “young adults” like me out there who are frustrated by this; I’ve talked to them before (yes, sometimes I do actually associate with my peers). When I was still at community college, I remember hearing at least one girl lament that she couldn’t find a lesbian bar that wasn’t 21+ where she could go and openly meet and dance with other queer women. Even when school is in session, you really feel the need to occasionally escape often-incestuous queer group of your college (sometimes you don’t want to make out with someone and have to see them in your Economics class on Monday). At least, Apex, for the mixed feelings people had about it, was actually a place where gay 18+ young adults could go hang out and dance (there was even a weekly free night for college students), but it has recently shut down. That pretty much leaves us up shit’s creek until something changes.
So what’s a queer underage student to do? Where do we go? Maybe it is time for us to rally our forces and demand our right to be treated like the legal adults that we are.
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