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THERAPY BAR – PHOTO BY: SHAUN MELADY

Those were literally my thoughts after my very first NYC friend said that we should go to this quaint, yet not-so-quaint bar called Hardware to meet a friend of his, who is actually a performing drag queen (I’m starting to learn that there are all sorts of connections and styles around this island). So, we show up to Hardware, and I’m fully prepared with my hammer and saw to chug down a beer, which I do not enjoy, and there are way too many calories that I cannot afford to consume as I’m trying to keep up with the fitness gays here in the city. After I realize that it’s not a butch bar and I can let down my hair—figuratively, of course, because my hair is locked in with TRESemmé—I started to soak in the scenery.

The bartenders were dancing freely as they were slinging drinks toward patrons and dancing with each other, all while enjoying the NYC night with fellow momos (yes, “momo” is a term that I use referring to us homosexuals—get used to it). Laughing. Posing. Pouring. This is the life that they are living: flaunting their skills behind the bar as they are quickly concocting beverages to make that money, honey.

After our what seemed to be short stint at Hardware, we decided to try out another Hell’s Kitchen establishment called Flaming Saddles. At first, I didn’t know what to think, because it kind of startled me: First, because it was a country bar in the midst of progressive NYC, and second, where I went to college was in BFE-Arkansas where “gay” wasn’t used as a celebratory descriptor but rather a derogatory term. So I had some hesitation, as one could only imagine.

After I took the leap of faith on that saddle, I then found that it was quite fascinating to see my kinfolk dancing to remixed, honkey-tonk music. I started joining in and was just having a bless-your-heart kind of time! Bartenders and servers started getting on the bar and began shaking what their mommas gave them, gaining dollar after dollar. It was just a great time! Luckily, I ran out of cold hard cash before they started playing “Out Tonight” from the Broadway production of RENT, or else I would’ve had to jump up on that counter and shake my groove thing to gain that money right back.

Overall (no pun intended), it was a great evening filled with lights, cameras to take selfies and action—or at least some of the drunk guys and dolls were hoping for. Who knows, maybe my inner Florida Georgia Line will show up to contribute to this here NYC country-land.

Follow me on Twitter and Instagram: @ShaunMelady

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