Surprisingly there are not many posts about visiting the gay village at Green point in Cape Town. My visit had a purpose other than just exploration of an area that I would personally find interesting. So I wanted to visit the support group for men who have sex with men at Health for Men next to ‘Crew’ , a club/bar with six colored rainbow flags superimposed onto the outlines of the South African flag. I knew then I was in the gay village. Unfortunately there was no support group whatsoever today, perhaps the person at the Ivan Thoms’ Health for Men Clinic in Woodstock just assumed there would be one today and gave me the 8th Feb at 10:00 as the time it would start. Instead, I went shopping and had a wonderful time. I went back to the clinic at around 11:00 and I found that it was not open. The opening times are Monday 09:00 to 16:30 and Tue to Friday 08:00-16:30, while harm reduction packs are handed out between noon and three.
Some of the questions that I have are as follows: Who would access this clinic? I imagine men who have sex with men, but given that it is in such a chic area of town, would this refer to MSM who have refined enough tastes to shop at designer and artisanal stores that generally are expensive? There are at least two cafés in the area with the LGBT flags, but again to what extent do these café only cater to those who can afford to come there, at least occasionally, if not habitually?
Who did I see? Using my own personal notions of what a MSM looks like, I believe I saw at least one couple shopping at an art gallery and one other man carrying a yoga mat. I cannot draw any conclusions apart from the fact they appeared to be easy going men who enjoy shopping. There is not much to say.
I had an engrossing conversation with the owner of a décor store. He wanted to know all about me, where I was from, what I was doing in Cape Town, my impression so far, whether I had a boyfriend or not. He dispensed safe sex advice to me when I told him I was interested in understanding how HIV spreads among MSM. ‘ You must be very careful, there are so many people that quickly will want to bareback with you.’ He really enjoyed talked with me, it seemed, and I felt it was not just his way of wanting to build rapport so that I buy from his store. I was very open with him and I took off my scholar hat and just let myself enjoy shopping and taking in his good wishes for me. I did sense a solidarity of sorts – between men of the same flock, so to speak.
When I do end up going to a group for MSM, I will blog about it here.