Like the swallows who head south in the winter, like the salmon who swim upstream to spawn, like the whales who swim to the cooler water, the Los Angeles Gay Male (LAGM) has a distinct migration pattern that occurs over their lifecycle.
In my time here, I’ve been able to study the species up close, examine the particulars of its behavior and see a clear pattern emerge.
When a gay man arrives in LA in his twenties (because of course no one is born here) he immediately settles in West Hollywood. Whether it’s the concentration of neon lights on Santa Monica Blvd that match the stars shining in his eyes, or the higher concentration of hair salons, the 20 something LAGM knows instinctively that he has found his true home.
If you drive up and down the strip at any given moment, it’s like watching a herd of impalas prance back and forth along the cement sidewalks; lean, graceful, coiffed and long of lash. When they aren’t striking a pose with a $15 cocktail at the Abbey bar, they can be found cruising the streets in their leased convertible Miatas perhaps on their way back to their apartments that they share with two to three other similar creatures.
Distinctive features include an Abercrombie and Fitch logo somewhere on their person at every given moment, a passion for colorful belts and sneakers, a penchant for dance floor divas and while they are intimately connected to the gymnasium, not one of them has ever driven ten miles down the road to see the beach. Occasionally you’ll see them eat.
Then the LA Gay Male enters that tricky 30s period. No longer a boy, he’s faced with a crucial point in his evolution. Option One is to shave his legs, tan a little harder and tell everyone that he’s 29 for as long as he can pull it off. Option Two is to man up, wear looser clothes, and consider moving to somewhere more age appropriate. Like anywhere that isn’t West Hollywood.
By this stage, they usually own a decent car so the LAGM scatters to the surrounds; Hollywood Hills, Larchmont, Hancock Park etc. But never to the west. No, never west. If you go over the other side of the 405 and live in Santa Monica, you will never see anyone you know ever again. The accepted wisdom here is: you moved there, it’s your fault. Remember, as a rule the LAGM are beachaphobes. That’s why there are so many tanning salons. West is only for LAX.
This is almost like a post-graduate stage; they still frequent the same clubs but they go to better restaurants, start talking about investments and 401Ks, and date men 12 years younger than themselves. This is usually a stage in their life that comes with more expensive moisturizers and a truly excellent kitchen. Look for Kenneth Cole, Banana Republic and Restoration catalogues in their mailbox.
So this goes well for a little while, until the late 30s start to kick in; the middle age spread, the receding of hairlines and the loss of “cuteness”. For a breed that worships youth, being termed “handsome” can be bitter fruit indeed. Option One is to be the tragic queen in the corner that should have given this up a long time ago. The one that they laughed at when they were half his age.
It’s not uncommon at this stage for the “fight or flight” instinct to kick in. This usually involves moving to San Francisco, Long Beach, or back to the city they came from. The smart LAGM who didn’t blow everything he made at the bar may in fact retire at this point to Palm Springs. However if he stays in LA, the LAGM has another option to pursue.
Silverlake. Hit your forties, put on thirty pounds, grow a beard and out here you are a sex god once again. Once the LAGM has stopped fighting age and the embraced his exterior extensions, Silverlake and its surrounds offer no end of opportunities to rediscover youth. You have finally attained your masters and become a fully fledged Bear. Flightlessness isn’t all that bad.
You can take the muscle bear route and buy a pickup truck, the normal bear route and buy a BMW or there is always the Leather Bear option, a style of dress adopted for mating rituals that usually involves owning a Honda or some zippy get-around town car.
In fact if one were so inclined, you could construct a graph and with no more information than the age of the LAGM, you could identify their zipcode, what they drive and whether they can still be bothered shaving.
Wait! I hear the bushes rustling! Spring is coming and the migrating Los Angeles Gay Male herd is moving!