My office is a few footsteps away from Old Compton Street, heart of London's gay district. So I walk up and down it a lot, to and from lunch and when out with friends. Often, as I walk down this street, lined with bars and shops full of gay people and images, seeing gay couples strolling unselfconsciously hand in hand, and in fact just seeing this huge mass of people who look entirely ordinary in every way, but I know they share my sexuality and as a result many of the same concerns and experiences and history, I'm struck by a pleasant, fuzzy sensation of belonging, of ownership. The glimmerings of that feeling of the "gay community" that everyone mentions but never really exists anywhere except for a few hours at a Pride march. It's a lovely feeling of freedom and openness and comfort: it feels like the safest street in London, a big street full of friends.

And I wonder: is this how it feels to be straight? Do straight people feel like this all the time, and just don't notice it? Is this just the very final shell of coming out, that only gets to be taken off on one street, even in one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world?

Or more optimistically: do straight people never get this at all? Is the payoff for feeling only the very slightest discomfort of selfconsciousness everywhere else, that there's one street where the feeling of freedom is concentrated? Is the welcome, warm feeling of the heart of the ghetto a feeling reserved only for those who are ghettoized?

And is the payoff worth the price?


Thinking: Yes, alright, the drought is over, we get it. Stop raining already.
Watching: The new season of Smallville -- oh joy! And also Studio 60, which is like The West Wing without CJ, i.e. not as good
Listening to: Sam's Town, the new album by The Killers. It's great, run out and buy it.
Wondering: If it's cold enough to put the heating on yet, or if I should just have another cup of tea.