“Why in the hell are they now selling sex toys at Venture Inn … this has gone too damn far!”

Disclaimer: my partner and I aren’t prudes at all, we are down for safe and consensual sex between mature people. However, when it comes to injecting the taboo of private sexual experiences…some things should just be left in the bedroom.

When I recently read that Pinkbox, America’s first sex toy vending machine, was going to come (no pun intended) to the gay-friendly Venture Inn bar/restaurant – I was automatically turned off.

At this point, I have begun to question what exactly makes this appropriate for the Gayborhood. Why is it that such sexual capitalistic ideals have to often make its way around the rainbow plastered cross-streets?

Boxers PHL have half naked male bartenders in briefs, I-Candy have go-go dancers with tighty-whities shaking their stuffed genitals in performance showers and stripper poles. And let’s not act like we don’t know what really goes down at Danny’s Midnight Confessions.

The truth is that much of the Gayborhood is littered with the lure of sexual exploitation and promiscuity that it’s hard to navigate a queer experience there that isn’t about lace and leather.  

Whether it is strip teases or raunchy burlesque shows, too often LGBT social representation is fixated on sex and hardly anything else.

And I can’t deny that in some cases the graphic appeal has promoted safe sexual practices and testing, but we are more than just topping and bottoming within this sacred space – we should expect more.

When you look at the official Facebook page of our openly gay State Representative Brian Sims, whose 182nd district covers the Gayborhood, it’s often covered with explicit flirty posts coming from his fellow LGBT constituents. The boldness of such expressions comes from our community’s lowering of expectations from within.

As a gay Philadelphian, I often feel as though the nature of the Gayborhood night scene misrepresents my personal lifestyle. I’m young and highly social, but given the hypersexual vibe of these night clubs and parties – you would think I’m a swinger.

And this is not to slut-shame or judge anyone’s personal desires, but there should be an overall sense of public decency and respect at some of these functions.

Too often I have seen live performances where men have went full frontal and it wasn’t even promoted as a strip show. I have unexpectedly walked into spots that were advertised as a queer mingling lounge and realized it was a sex hook-up spot.

Consequently, this does nothing to eradicate those constant stereotypes of gays being highly promiscuous and sexually nefarious. And let’s not ignore the body shaming, sexism, and ageism that also occurs as a result. Because most of the bodies I see on those poles are men, and all of them are typically young and white with a tight set of abs.

Let’s not make the Gayborhood a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah. We are more than just sex, we’re advocates pushing for inclusion.

This views and opinions expressed in this piece are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Metro US.