Of course, there’s one more person to see before he takes the stage.
He finds Rain with Simon at a table of their own. Thing have smoothed out a bit between them in the last few months, no doubt helped along by Simon’s growing attachment to Enrique. The two have become a frequent fixture at the club, Enrique even coaxing the taciturn keyboard player onto the dance floor. No doubt he’d be at the table right now, if his bartending duties weren’t needed for the party. It’s also helped that, even with his side project with Leon, Rain has maintained his devotion to Urban Renaissance, and they’ve played an increasing number of gigs at tiny clubs and underground raves.
Leon takes one of the empty chairs by the table and straddles it, leaning on his elbows on the back of the chair. “We’re getting started soon. I hope you’re ready to dance.” He reaches over to take Rain’s hand, resting on the tabletop.
Rain moves his hand away, disguising the motion as picking up his drink. Uncertainty flickers over Leon – does he just not want to rub a show of affection under Simon’s nose, now that they’re in a good place? Or did he see Leon and Chain? The talk he’s planning to have might now be a great deal more uncomfortable than he’d anticipated.
“I’ll be out there.” He swallows the remainder of his drink. “You need any help backstage?” Catching Leon’s eye, he cants his head toward the back of the club.
“I’m not going to say no.”
They both stand and leave the table. Simon doesn’t glare at them, but he does look out toward the rest of the crowd, simply avoiding watching them go.
“I’m sorry about that,” Rain says, catching Leon’s hand as soon as they step through the side door. “It’s just… we’re so, so – so public out there right now. The crowd out there is, is huge.”
“And – and there’s just, just a lot of potential fans for, for – for Urban Renaissance. And I’ve been thinking, we, we should make sure we keep our, our image accessible.”
“Meaning what, exactly?”
“Meaning, meaning I want to, to – to appeal to everyone, you know? The gay kids, the, the straight kids. If I’m, I’m – if I’m open, we, we – we cut off all these, these potential fans.”
What? Where the hell is this coming from all of a sudden? “You aren’t out?” Leon’s voice rises, incredulous.
“No, not, not – not publicly. You know, at, at – at gay parties, and, and clubs where we won’t really be seen, it’s, it’s fine. But out, out – out there, it’s, it’s different. I just don’t want that to, to – to hold back our success. Once we make it, once, once we have a hit album. Then… then I’ll come out.”
“So, what?” Leon stops and faces Rain. He pulls his hand out of Rain’s and crosses his arms. “You think you can’t make it if you’re out? Has my career somehow escaped your notice? I’ve been openly gay since I was eighteen.”
Rain’s expression is earnest. “I know, and, and – and that was great for you! You’re, you know, you’re the king of disco. But we’re, we’re – we’re trying to reach a, a different crowd, right? It’s not like disco. And, and – and once we, we – you know, once we make it. Then I promise, I’ll come out.”
Leon frowns. “I don’t know about this. You’re hiding your identity – you’re hiding us – to sell records? I thought it was about art, and poetry, and authenticity.” He realizes he’s getting angry. “This is the opposite of authenticity. This sounds pretty much like selling out.” Without even giving Rain a chance to respond, he turns and stalks into the dressing room, where makeup and hair products are strewn across the counter, and disco outfits hang from a rack. He begins stripping off his shirt.
“It’s not selling out.” Rain trails him into the room. “I’m, I’m going to, to reach those straight kids’ inner gay kid. They see me, they, they – they get into our music, right? Then, then we tell them hey, guess what, you, you – you’re into this guy who’s actually gay.”
Suddenly something makes sense: they never go out to well-known scenes. Places where Leon might be seen, recognized, photographed. They stick to the small venues where Urban Renaissance plays and Leon goes to hear them, nights at Leon’s penthouse, dinners at little dimly-lit restaurants in the Village where straight people never go. It never bothered him until now, but he’s never even been to Rain’s place.
“You don’t want to be seen with me.” He shrugs into a dark-blue silk shirt adorned with sparkling vertical lines of glitter, undoes his pants to tuck it in.
“I do,” Rain protests. “Just not, not – not yet. Once we get the album out. Once we make it.” He takes two steps toward Leon, holding out an entreating hand. “I promise,” he repeats.
Leon sits down at the countertop and picks up the eyeliner. “Great. And until then?”
“We’re, we’re – we’re making this work, aren’t we? We can, can still be together. Just, just – just closeted. Just for now.”
Closeted. Just the word brings cold fury bubbling to his surface. Him, Leon. The artist who fought all his life to be a famous openly-gay man. “I’m not going in the closet. Not for you. Not for anyone.” He pauses in the middle of applying his eyeliner and gives Rain a level look, his mouth set in a hard line. “You should probably head back out. Go be seen with your ‘straight‘ friend. I have to finish getting ready.”
He turns back to the mirror, and doesn’t watch Rain leave.