BY ROBERT ELIAS DEATON
Photo Right: A busy and pleasant night at the Faneuil Hall Marketplace
There was a time when Boston was one of the friendliest gay towns in America. Politicians mixed with school teachers, librarians and flight attendants—each in his uniform of choice and each socializing and melding. If not exactly uninhibited—for Boston has always had its form of quiet reserve—at the very least, it was happy.
Now that the major citywide construction project known as the Big Dig has been completed, and traffic and noise is under control, Boston has taken on a new, quiet conceit which is refined, proper and sophisticated. While this may work in a fine restaurant, hotel or art museum, it’s not exactly what the hot vacationing gay guy wants to discover while looking for a weekend of fun.
Of course, Boston is an architectural treat, reeking in history and tradition, with an incredibly efficient underground transit system that makes traveling between neighborhoods incredibly simple and an economic joy. Must sees: Faneuil Hall Marketplace (incorporating Quincy Market) is a combo eatery, tourist trap, and historic landmark, located at 1 U.S. 1; the Museum of Fine Arts (465 Huntington Ave.) has major collections of French impressionists and post-impressionists, including Gauguin, Manet, Renoir, Degas, Monet, Van Gogh, and Cézanne; the State House (206 Washington St.), built in 1713, is the old surviving public building in Boston (Paul Revere’s house is the oldest standing building, constructed in 1680); and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum (220 Morrissey Blvd.), designed by architect I. M. Pei, and the official repository of the Kennedy papers as well as unpublished manuscripts by Ernest Hemingway.
Boston is a network of neighborhoods that line the Charles River and Dorchester Bay. Each section has its own unique charm with great Italian restaurants in the North end, Fenway Park in Kenmore Square (Go Red Sox!), and Irish Pubs to the South. Like London, Boston is a fusion of old traditions and new arrivals that make it the cultural hub it is today.
When staying in Boston, your hotel options are nearly limitless. The time-honored choice is the Taj Boston (15 Arlington St.), which was originally built as the first U.S. branch of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel chain in 1927. Although it’s luxury at its finest, it is not nearly as much fun as staying at the Chandler Inn Hotel (26 Chandler St. at Berkeley St.) which is connected to the Fritz, South Boston’s gay sports bar. Expect to see lots of suits, ties and Ralph Lauren shirts in this crowd.
For the stand-and-pose junkies, try the nearby Club Café (209 Columbus Ave. at Clarendon St.). Go to the Club and get three bars in one— the Main Bar and Lounge out front, the Back Room, which is where the regulars congregate to dance, and the Napoleon Room Piano Bar— which is exactly what you’d expect but less. The Club has been around for 27 years, and while it may not be Cheers, it does have its loyal clientele.
The Eagle (520 Tremont St. at Dwight St.) is a one-room monument to its former self. No longer the denizen of leather and whips, this version of the Eagle chain is attempting to reinvent itself as something that’s not quite crystalized into earthenware. The bears in Boston hit the North End at The Alley (14 Pi Alley at Court Sq.). Here again, it’s a one-room windowless collection of smells and stains the less you know about the better.
In Boston, you’re safer sticking to cultural events, and saving playtime for a visit to Provincetown, Cape Cod’s gift to equality.
Robert Elias Deaton is a world-traveling epicure who enjoys the finer things in life.