Monday, April 22, 2013

Straight Invasion

I'm not much for the club or bar scenes these days.  Truth be told, I never was.  Sure, I enjoy a drink as much as the next person, but I prefer to have parties at home with friends rather than dark rooms with strangers.  But sometimes I go out to clubs to hear a band I enjoy or to play "wingwoman" for a friend who wants to get laid.  Chris and I live in the "Gayborhood", affectionately called because we're a block away from a concentration of gay bars and other queer-owned businesses known as "The Strip".  Many of our neighbors are queer, the local businesses are queer friendly, and we live down the street from a queer church.  Whenever I go running around the neighborhood and see lesbian and gay couples openly showing affection, I feel at peace and happy.

Chix Rocks!
Naturally, we offer our home to any friends who want to go out drinking at the clubs and don't want to worry about sobering up or calling a cab to go home.  So I took my friend Caitlin out to the lesbian bar for her birthday to see Chix, a trans woman cover band (who rock!), and hopefully find her a nice girl to take home.  We grabbed dinner before we went to the club and watched the groups of people filter into the different clubs.  And consistently we noticed large groups of straight girls towing along one or two gay boys into the most popular gay club.  It got to the point where we played a game, "Gay or Straight," attempting to guess orientation.

Our observations were not unique.  Many friends have complained about this club being "invaded" by straight people.  First, it was straight women going with their gay friends, then going by themselves in large groups, followed by straight men who want to pick up straight women.  And it makes me really uncomfortable, and I'm not sure why or if I should even feel entitled to be uncomfortable.  So at the risk of saying something problematic or discriminatory, I want to discuss the issue here.

First, I feel conflicted because my straight sister goes to this club almost every Friday night, and I have no problem with it.  Maybe it's because she's so supportive of LGBT people, like me, and that she's has plenty of gay guy friends and doesn't objectify them or use them as a substitute for female friendships like a lot of straight girls do.  Maybe it's because she's actually an ally and not just "okay" with queer people.  I'm not sure, but that's the first source of my conflict.

Part of me wants to believe that the sudden influx of straight people into queer spaces means that straight people are so comfortable around queer people means we're finally reaching a place of acceptance and understanding that we've been fighting to achieve for decades.  Part of me wants to believe that, but there's a nagging part of me saying that might be true of some, like my sister, but it's definitely not the case for all.

Illustration: Hawk Krall
I think what best encompasses my discomfort at straight people in queer spaces can be summed up by the bachelorette parties that are always present at drag shows.  I think this is one of the most tasteless things you can do in a queer space.  Not only are you being drunk, loud and obnoxious.  Not only are you sexually harassing men who you know are not interested and women who you assume (wrongly) are interested.  Not only do you feel entitled to free drinks and other special treatment because your "big day" is around the corner.  But you're doing all this in front of people who are not legally able to marry.  Honey, you need to take your tacky ass out of this club and go somewhere else.  Your heterosexual privilege isn't just showing, it's flopping all over the place, and it isn't cute.  I know you came here because you don't want "guys hitting on you", but trust me, nobody wants to hit that mess.  I hope the MC on stage tears you a new asshole for being so thoughtless.

Okay, now that I've got that off my chest...

The problem I have is not with straight people who enjoy queer spaces.  Honestly, what's not to love?  The problem I have is with straight people who use queer spaces.  If you are a straight person at a gay bar or any other queer space, you are a guest.  And proper respect needs to be shown, lest you come across like an asshole. 

Straight girls, don't assume all the gay boys here want to dance with you or that all the girls here want to fuck you.  Don't freak out because there's "a boy" in the ladies room.  That person might be a drag queen, or a trans woman early in her transition, or a butch lesbian.  So what?  They just want to pee, check themselves in the mirror, and get back to dancing.  Don't cock-block your gay friends or twat-block your lesbian friends.  You might be here "just to dance", but they might be looking for something more.  Don't assume that your presence here is a blessing just because of who you sleep with.  This is not the time or place to find a new gay best friend.  You should have already walked in with one.

Straight boys, don't assume all the gay boys here want to fuck you or that any of the girls here are interested in you.  The girls are either actively attempting to avoid male sexual harassment, already spoken for, or don't like dudes.  You are going home by yourself tonight.  The girls here are not making out for your entertainment, so don't stare.  You don't have to cling to your girlfriend like a protective talisman to "show" that you're straight.  We already know you're straight, but some boys might hit on you just to fuck with you.  Deal with it.  Maybe now you'll understand why the straight girls are here to avoid being hit on.

This is a safe space, so check your judgment at the door.  You are not at a damn petting zoo and nobody is here for your personal amusement.  Don't point at, laugh at, stare at, or ridicule anyone here or we will turn on you so fast your head will spin.  Welcome to our home.  Don't be rude and we can all have a fabulous time together.

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