Gays Go West
Aside from the grocery aisles at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, there isn’t much of a gay scene in Short Pump. CiJay Bailey and his husband are hoping to change that with their new social group, Friends of Dorothy West End.
The couple saw a need and decided to step up and create community in the West End. Tomorrow, the group embarks on their next gathering at the lounge at Short Pump’s new Aloft hotel.
“I knew there were other gay men in our area that probably felt the same way. So, rather than complain longer about what the West End doesn’t have, I wanted to get involved in a way that would hopefully not only enrich the lives of my husband and I, but hopefully it would do the same for the other gay single and married men in the West End.”
Since forming earlier this year, the group has grown to drawing an intimate crowd of 23 at September’s event.
Bailey laid out a few simple goals for Friends of Dorothy:
1. Create an informal social outlet at least once a month for gay men living in the West End of Richmond, VA.
2. Create opportunities to meet and make new friends with other gay men who live in the same end of town or community. This is done via the monthly get together, home invites, lunches, movies, dinners, etc.
3. Support Locally Owned businesses in the West End with our once a month social get together.
4. Be visible in a positive light in the community that we live in. Hopefully, this will also lead into some community service involvement in the future.
The term “Friends of Dorothy” is borrowed from old-school gay slang referring to icon Judy Garland’s character in the Wizard of Oz.
While the group is primarily social, Bailey says by being present, they can help promote change.
“We are everywhere but change only comes when we allow ourselves to be out everywhere,” he says. ”I don’t advise that we go around waving a rainbow flag or advertising with shouts, ‘I’m gay, I’m gay!’ However, I simply suggest that we live as who we are and we live where we are.”
And businesses have been receptive.
“I wasn’t sure in the beginning if I wanted to tell the business that it was a ‘gay’ group of men, but I found myself talking to the owner of the first establishment and when he asked if the group was a men’s business network I swallowed hard and answered with, ‘Have you ever been on a cruise? Some cruises have Friends of Bill announcements which is code word for Alcoholics Anonymous. You might also hear announcements for Friends of Dorothy. F.O.D. is code word for Gay.’”
The response was very immediate according to Bailey. Cafe Caturra said they would be the perfect fit to host the first event.
“I’ve made it a point to make sure every business knows up front what type of group is coming in. I’ve not had a single place tell me they were not interested, or that it probably would not be good a good fit.”
“I don’t want to take away from the businesses downtown that do a great service to our gay community as a whole, but I have seen first hand how this group is filling the void that exists in my end of town.”
Friends Of Dorothy West End meet Tuesday, October 12, 7 p.m. at Aloft, 3939 Duckling Drive, Glen Allen. The following meeting is Tuesday, October 19, 7 p.m. at Cafe Caturra Short Pump Crossing, 3332 Pump Road. To join the mailing list, e-mail CiJay Bailey at email@example.com or visit the group’s Facebook Page.
Photo from the Wizard of Oz, courtesy MGM.
We’ve all been there. You’re enjoying dinner or out grabbing drinks and it happens. You suddenly find yourself surrounded by bothersome tablemates. By this, I mean rude, noisy, drunk, and distracting. I’m not sure if I’m becoming old and sensitive, or honestly attempting to relish in a good dining experience but I feel it’s happening [...]November 6, 2013
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