Fruity Fridays

As I left home tonight, I felt genuinely excited about attending “Fruity Fridays” at Lismore’s Civic Hotel.

The event, organised by Lismore’s LGBTQIA+ organisation is held on the first Friday of every month, and tonight was the first time in many years that I’ve been in Lismore on the first Friday.

I first attended one of their parties many years ago, though it’s mostly been the larger events at the Lismore Showground that I attended, including only a few weeks ago.

I thought that going along to one of these smaller events would be “more my style”.

Fruity Fridays happen in the back lounge of the Civic Hotel.

The Civic Hotel is a working-class pub located on one of Lismore’s main streets. If you go there during the daytime, you’ll find some pretty serious drinkers, often playing pool. Last week, they had a night of male strippers, visiting from Sydney.

But the woman who seems to be the manager seems to be very LGBTQIA+ friendly, and I mostly remember the pub being quite popular during the Tropical Fruits Festival a couple of years ago. As I ordered my drink, she looked at me as if to say, “I’ve seen you here before, and maybe you’ve come for the gay night?”, but never actually said that out loud.

I had a similar exchange with the bloke who runs the bistro.

I also had an older man ask me if I minded if he sat down next to me. “The warriors are doing well”, he said, before launching into a conversation about his interest in speedcar racing. It turns out he wasn’t a gay man.

“I feel like I’ve entered that gay bar in Latvia”, I texted a friend. I was referring to an occasion in 2008, visiting Riga, where I was trying to find what seemed to be the only gay bar in Riga, only to discover it was a very late-night venue. I had a great time, eventually.

Maybe I’m here too early, I wondered to myself. By now it was eight o’clock. And aside from the older bloke who came and sat next to me (false alarm), I saw few signs of a gay community.

So I checked the Facebook group for Tropical Fruits, and after scrolling back quite a few/many posts, I saw that tonight’s Fruity Friday had been cancelled.

“You’re home early”, Pat said to me, as I arrived home at about nine o’clock. Lismore was generally pretty quiet tonight, with even some of the normally quite busy pubs closed, due to COVID.

I’m not sure if I’ll be here for the next Fruity Fridays, but with the way things are with the COVID lockdown in Sydney, you never know.

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