I was sorry to see the gay bar Cruisin’ close at the end of last year. It was a fun place filled with great people and wonderful, dedicated owners.

The buzz recently – both online at the Yahoo! Group and in person – from many in the gay community is that the GLBTI population is not supporting gay bars and businesses in town enough and there is a fear more gay-owned establishments will cease operation.

I want to spend my money with friends at clean establishments that have a fun atmosphere, serve great food and drinks for the price and whose bathrooms are not some kind of awful science experiment – regardless of who owns it.

I will, however, go out of my way not to patronize a business whose owner or business philosophy is built on homophobia.

In reality, most every bar in Asbury Park is a gay bar when a gay person is in it. And tons of straight men and women “tear it up” at the gay bars in town, too. Everyone is welcome to have fun and be themselves wherever they are – never is a “gay card” required.

That’s the great part of this issue. We GLBTI here define ourselves by our talents or lack thereof, not by our sexuality. Yet again, Asbury Park is a model community.

We are not a novelty here – no “token gays” in any crowd.
The GLBTI community does not need separate but equal playpens. It’s reverse discrimination to go out of our way to support a business solely because the owner is gay.

“Maybe the community would support the gay bars and restaurants more if they weren’t so overpriced,” said Garrett Giberson. “While some are reasonable, others are just ridiculous.”

Twelve dollars for a champagne cocktail that’s way more juice than bubbly or $11 for a simple produce-based appetizer that can be eaten in four bites? Almost three dollars per bite – the return on investment is just not there.

“In these times of economic hardship, adjustment is needed so that people will feel comfortable to come out to support our local businesses,” Garrett continued.

Quality and price trump gayness for many here. Possibly, it’s time for some GLBTI-owned businesses to reexamine their business plans – including renegotiating leases with landlords – and stop blaming the GLBTI community.

We should haul butts with our wallets to every and any area business that reliably shells out money to support Gay Bowling, Road Trip, Pride weekend and all the other fab events in town that skew GLBTI.

“Maybe if some of the establishments who cater to our community worked together rather than against each other these places could be even more successful,” said Garrett. “And they know who they are.”

Briefly: Happy 200th birthday to Edgar Allan Poe this week (Jan. 19). The wonderful Frank D’Allessandro and The Stephen Crane House are feting Poe Saturday (Jan. 17), at 5 pm, with a program of readings, including “The Raven” (one of my favorites), “The Tell Tale Heart” and “Annabel Lee” – and cake.

At 7 pm, there will be a screening of the 1962 film “Tales of Terror” starring Vincent Price. “The movie takes a rather droll, expansive view of Mr. Poe’s stories,” said Frank.

Donations benefit the Asbury Park Little League. Call: 732.775.5682