Bill Kaelin goes ‘Outside the Box’ of typical Atlanta gay scene

My name is Bill Kaelin and I am an anti-conformist. I march to the beat of my own drum, I take pride in not following the masses and tend to go in the opposite direction of the status quo.

I suppose this was partially ingrained in my head as a child when I would beg my parents to do something that all my friends were doing and their reply would simply be, “If your friends jumped off the bridge would you?”

It used to infuriate me when I had to listen to their constant pushes for me to be a “leader,” “don’t be a follower,” and hearing them tell me, “You don’t have to be like everyone else.” Without them realizing it and much to their dismay they were only getting me prepared for my ultimate leap into unconventionality when I finally became the exception to my parents’ rule and came out a proud gay man.

The gay world has a a great deal to offer to those who are different but I still seek to break outside the “gay box.”

Don’t get me wrong. I love my community. I have lived in the heart of Midtown for more than 18 years and have even owned and operated some of Atlanta’s most iconic gay-friendly lounges and nightclubs. But my goal even with those establishments was to provide an alternative to the typical gay scene so my friends and I didn’t get trapped doing the same gay things, at the same gay places, with the same gay people, week after week after week.

I am not a bear. I am not a circuit queen. I am not a jock. I am not a twink. I am not a radical faeire and God knows I am not a Daddy…or at least not yet. That said, I do relate to all these subcultures in our community. To be honest with you at times I can still feel like that adolescent boy who doesn’t really fit in anywhere. I still constantly search for that new, interesting thing to do, the next hot band that sounds like nothing we have heard before, that cutting edge event in a crazy new space or a brand-new hot spot that caters to all of us iconoclasts dying for something different.

As much as I like to “keep things fresh” even I joined the big gay bearded brigade but one thing I can constantly change is my haircut. I recently stumbled upon a hidden barber shop gem in Cabbagetown called “Mary Todd Hairdressing Company” that will certainly make lovers of beards, tattooed men, and of tattooed women gasp with delight. Get ready to be pampered by hot guys and gals using house-made beard and hair dressings in an atmosphere that feels like you stepped into the coolest vintage flea market ever.

I got pampered at this barber shop speakeasy before attending a launch party at the Masquerade for a brand new spirit called American Born Moonshine. Talk about a drink made for rebels by rebels. Mix some of this handcrafted Nashville, Tenn., whiskey with some lemonade this summer and you will be fanning the flames of independence all over our gay city.

I got a pretty good buzz from my new haircut and from drinking my fair share of American Born Moonshine, so I pulled out my iPhone to contact my latest obsession—Uber X—for my ride home. Most of you have probably tried or heard of Uber. For shorter distances Uber X is the most entertaining and affordable alternative to your typical over-priced taxicab. You never know what kind of driver you’re going to get so when my car arrived in front of the Masquerade with my driver sporting a huge pompadour I knew I was in for a treat.

I hopped in the back seat feeling like I had stepped onto a movie set when the driver asked me, “Do you have a problem with Frank Sinatra?” I honestly replied with a simple, “No! I love Frank!” Without missing a beat my Elvis-inspired driver pressed play on his car stereo, blasting “That’s Life” out of the speakers. We proceeded to sing along with the windows down, gazing out into the city I love to explore, and I thought to myself, “Why yes it is, why yes it is.”