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Of all the careers I’ve pursued, jumping ship regularly to avoid perpetual tedium, the one I’d for health reasons be better off to never revisit yet loved dearly was becoming the manager of the first gay bar in the small provincial town where I lived.

As if my then life wasn’t tumultuous enough, on paid-leave from a fancy-ass job at one of the biggest Dutch companies just gone bankrupt whilst trying to settle a most hostile split-up from he who shall never be named out loud again, it seemed like a golden opportunity to throw myself into this subculture I’ve never truly felt comfortable in before, or part of, for that matter.

Like a pirate deceiving his prey by flying a friendly flag, I was hired to turn a tiny old drug den, home to regular fights and shootings, into a cheerful party cafe by showing the previous obscure clientele the door to make way for riotous queers to take over, to all intents and purposes a dangerous job but one I thoroughly enjoyed. Creating a home where before was none, where people could let their true colors shine through, was no mean feat and rather showcasing the raison d’être of clichés, but very inspirational nonetheless.

Not your typical bartender but taking this excursion extremely serious, I remember an eye-opening tea party at a neo-nazi’s home to negotiate in the family dispute over his gay young brother-in-law, ultimately resulting in a bigger stream of unwanted dark sightseers in the cafe, but boy, did I mean well.

There was also the guy who taught me how to get drunk twice in a day, without exception showing up on midday opening hours, demanding me to join him in literally drowning his worries, which he clearly had plentiful, sumptuously hinted by his unkempt appearance, his rotting teeth an elaborate exhibit for the pettifogging world in which he grew up in and never really escaped from. Sobering up was a bridge too far to take him on, but I got him to a dentist he feared deadly until then and held his hand at his first appointment.

Surrounded by this myriad of platitudes I synchronously acquired a lasting appreciation of true colors, enough to now openly applaud our Hydrangea’s attempt of finally following pink suit.


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