In my soon to be released novel, FOUR GAY WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL, one of the main characters is referred to, as an aging gay circuit boy. So I decided to explain this for those who don’t know what a circuit boy actually is. I honestly believe I’ve ever heard it mentioned anywhere in the mainstream.
Here’s a definition from Urban Dictionary: “A gay man who attends circuit parties on a regular basis. It is usually a very expensive endeavor, since tickets to the parties are generally around $100 per event, and circuit parties usually take place on three to five consecutive nights in the the same city. The term often has a negative connotation.”
Here’s the definition of Circuit Party from Urban Dictionary: “A large, gay dance party, something like a gay version of a rave, but with a gay-oriented music selection (usually pop, progressive house, and tribal). Events are well-promoted, publicized, advertised and organized, are often attended by thousands, can be big charity fundraisers, and are usually expensive to attend.
Since each circuit party occurs on a specific weekend and in a specific city once a year, and there are many parties on “the circuit”, travel and planning are required. Travelling from party to party becomes part of a circuit boy’s lifestyle of travel, networking and partying.Some examples of circuit parties: White Party in Palm springs (April), Black Party in New York (March), the Black and Blue Ball in Montreal (October), the Blue Ball in Philadelphia (January).These are often all-night and multi-day events, and party drugs such as ecstasy, GHB, ketamine and crystal are frequently taken by partygoers.It’s only August, but circuit boy Dave can’t wait! He has already booked his hotel for his favorite circuit party, White Party Palm springs next April.”
Circuit boys are often referred to as “Circuit Queens,” too. In many cases, from what I’ve personally experienced, the lives of some gay men at one time revolved around the next circuit party. It’s almost a counterculture lifestyle. I went to a few circuit parties myself back in the 1990’s, when circuit parties seemed to have reached their peak. And, I personally wasn’t impressed. I’ve never been into drugs; I’ve never cared about gay peer pressure or competition. And a large part of circuit parties were all about competition. I knew men in New York who were embarrassed to say they’d never been to a circuit party, so they lied to keep up with everyone else.
To be a circuit boy you didn’t have to be wealthy. You just had to be smart enough to know how to work the system and max out your credits cards. I did know a few wealthy professional gay men who often frequented circuit parties, but for the most part the circuit boys I knew weren’t considered well off. I dated a guy for about six months who planned his entire life around the next circuit party…he never missed one…when he should have been planning how he was going to pay his rent.
Around the year 2000 I remember hearing less about circuit parties. They still have them now, but I don’t think they are as popular as they were in the 1990’s. Part of this is because there are a lot of aging circuit queens now. They’ve migrated to places I won’t name specifically because I could get into trouble. But these places are warm all year long, they have palms trees everywhere you look, real estate and the standard of living is cheaper, and there are plenty of younger men around to play with.
A lot are still doing steroids and making daily trips to the gym. You can spot them a mile away. You can’t miss the short salt and pepper hair, the Botox, or the tight Spandex shirts. In some cases it’s a mad attempt to stop the clock and recapture youth. And when I was creating my character for FOUR GAY WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL I wanted him to have something that a smart, professional younger gay man would frown upon.
I just hope I did it objectively. I didn’t want this character to come off as a bad character just because he’s an aging gay circuit boy. He’s a product of his younger days when he was a circuit boy in the 1990’s. And there’s also something charming and endearing about him I hope most people will recognize.