Almost everyone who grew up in the 80s remembers the opening theme song to the long running show Cheers:
"Making your way in the world today, takes everything you got,
Taking a break from all your worries, it sure would help a lot"
I think just about anyone would embrace that notion, but I disagree with the next few lines in the famed lyrics:
"You want to go where you can see, the troubles are all the same,
You want to go where everyone knows your name"
No. Sometimes you want to get away to a place where no one knows your name and no one shares your troubles. That place is a gay bar. The initial appeal of a gay bar is that any woman can go to dance with her friends and not endure any unwanted attention. Added perks include the fact that all the men in attendance are rather attractive, well dressed and most can actually dance. There's virtually a contest among them to see who has the best upper body. You can claim to be the hottest girl in the room as it's your word against... well no one else's, since no one is looking at any of the few women in the bar. Best of all, you can almost guarantee that no one is talking about their appointment with a reproductive specialist, fertility monitoring, egg quality or semen analysis (well, possibly in a different context). My friend H and I had found the formula for two straight married white women with no rhythm to be welcomed guests at our nearby gay bar. Bring a coffee for the guy at the door (and sometimes have your cover charge waived). Tip the bartender generously. Offer the DJ a Red Bull, and he may play a request (usually Dancing Queen or in memory of the late Davey Jones, Daydream Believer). The gay bar had become our retreat when one of us had a bad week at work and always seemed to renew the bonds of our friendship. So, it was fitting that we were at the gay bar when I first told H that we were trying to conceive. H and I met and became friends at the time in my life when I didn't think I wanted to have children. She was committed to being child-free and not only was this something we had in common, she had reassurance that she wouldn't lose a friend to the motherhood. As awkward as it is for one friend to have a baby while the other is infertile, it's just as hard to have a baby when your close friend is not planning to have one. It changes the dynamics of the relationship, no how much you deny that it won't. I knew I had to tell her that I would be breaking our unspoken pact right away. H was surprisingly supportive. "Hey, if that's what you want, then that's cool" she told me. Months later, when we were back at the gay bar, I disclosed our fertility troubles. "Oh, I'll put you in touch with M!" (a friend from home who also dealt with infertility) "You two will have a lot to talk about!". The next day she introduced us over email and I had someone else to assure me that I didn't have to experience infertility alone. I learnt that you can never underestimate the ability for people to surprise and impress you. As I was coming to terms with infertility I had discovered frustration in friendly sources and surprising compassion and support in unexpected places. A gay bar is the perfect sanctuary to escape your infertility worries for a while. Time to go glitter up!