Excuse me, but... why do you hate when straight woman go to a gay bar? I'm a straight woman and I live in Madrid, and here lot of straight people like going out around the gay area (Chueca). I sometimes go with my boyfriend, with my friends, and sometimes with my gay friends, who are very happy I go out with them in Chueca. For me, going to a gay bar is like going to any other bar. Wouldn't be homophobe if I said, no way I am gonna go to a gay bar/gay area? Sorry for my english.
Hi love. Your English is fine!
This is a complicated issue, and I will try and speak about it to the best of my ability. First off: if I said I hate when straight women go to gay bars, I was speaking hyperbolically and being reactionary, which is totally my right as a lesbian who seeks safe space the same way any gay man does. But the truth is, that I don’t SIMPLY hate it, every time, always. I hate the way it changes how gay bars feel to me, and I hate the culture it creates and lends itself to. It’s something I have nuanced and complex feelings about.
Like, I understand why straight women enjoy going to gay bars. I know often times straight women just want to have a good time and get away from straight men, and as someone who ALSO wants desperately to get away from straight men, I get how gay bars can provide that space.
However, many straight women can be super disrespectful to that space because they don’t understand the historical significance of gay bars for gay people. Here are some of the things that are really damaging that I see on the regular. Not all of them are specific things all straight women do at gay bars, but they ARE inevitable affects of the PRESENCE of straight women and straight culture within an LGBTQ space:
1. straight women sometimes get offended when lesbians hit on them at gay bars, which is absurd because….it’s a gay bar. You’re in our space. I also regularly witness straight women acting particularly disparaging or even DISGUSTED by butch women in gay bars, which really hurts and is so cruel and disrespectful. The amount of times I’ve seen gay men band together with straight women to mock butch culture/appearances is innumerable.
2. At least in LA, its become such a commonplace thing for LOTS of straight women to go to gay bars, that they out number the amount of lesbians/wlw. First off, this just feels awful and isolating for us, but additionally, it makes lots of wlw so uncomfortable that they don’t feel safe cruising/asking women to dance because the probability of the girl being straight is really high. Can you imagine how lonely, scary, and frustrating this would feel for wlw to go to a bar that is supposed to be FOR THEM and feel afraid and outnumbered by straight women?
3. Lots of straight women treat gay bars like some wild tourist space. They get to come to the gay part of town and watch the gays interact in their natural habitat, they get to see crazy wild freaky things like boys in make up and butch girls in plaid and go-go dancers and hot guys making out! How titillating and exciting and funny! Now, I’m not saying you do this, personally, but you have to understand that MANY straight women DO. It feels awful and hurtful to just want to go out and dance and be yourself AWAY from the cruelty and scrutiny of straight people, and end up at a bar where you’re getting watched like a sideshow ANYWAY.
4. Many straight women bring their boyfriends. For numerous wlw and MANY gay men, straight men are traumatizing. They are our abusers. They’re the last thing we want to see in our safe space. NOTHING makes me feel more unsafe and invaded and shitty at a gay bar than the presence of straight men. And if there are straight women, there are likely going to be straight men, at least eventually. Now, even aside from them making me feel flat out unsafe an horrible, it’s also just disheartening and irritating to see straight couples taking up space in an LGBTQ environment when I’m literally trying to get away from them! I don’t want to see straight people making out. I don’t to see straight people dancing. I don’t want to see straight people standing by the bar pointing at us. If I wanted all that, I wouldn’t be going to a GAY BAR.
5. Again, at least in LA, it’s so common for straight women to go to gay bars that straight men will actually go to gay bars with the intention of finding straight women, because they KNOW it’s a place where single women congregate. I kid you not, it’s a pick up artist “trick” to go to gay bars. This means, predatory straight men in LGBTQ spaces, trying to hit on women. This INCLUDES WLW because sometimes they can’t tell the difference or literally don’t care!!! I DO NOT WANT to be around straight men, even the ones who are there with their girlfriends, so I ESPECIALLY don’t want to be around the type of straight guy who is looking for a hook up! I don’t want to be hit on my straight men, I don’t want my bi friends or my femme friends who came to a gay bar looking for solace and to escape unwanted attention to be hit on or checked out by straight men IN THEIR OWN SPACE!!!
I remember the first time a straight man hit on me at a gay bar, I started dancing with him, close and kind of sexy, because it’s not uncommon for lesbians to dance with gay men like that in a playful way. Then, he started touching me, and I thought it was a little weird but was like “whatever he’s probably gay” and THEN HE KISSED ME and it was like my fucking world came crashing down. I felt so terrified and unsafe and dirty, and when I tried to scramble away and was like “Oh my god I’m gay stop” he literally said, and I will never forget this, “I don’t care. You didn’t a minute ago.”
Whether or not you realize it, the presence of straight women in LGBTQ spaces leads to the eventual normalization of this type of behavior. Straight people and particularly straight men are ALWAYS coopting space that doesn’t belong to them and making it unsafe for LGBTQ people, who are ostracized outsiders who live in danger everywhere else. If I can’t go to a gay bar to get away from these types of men, where can I go? If my friends can’t go to a gay bar to pick up women, where can they go?
NOW, you mentioned you were from Spain. I have never been to Spain and have relatively no idea what the gay scene/bar scene is like there. Some of this might not be relevant to you personally, and I’m sensitive to the fact I’m speaking from the experience of someone who grew up clubbing in West Hollywood/LA, so this might not apply to you. It might be different in Spain, and I get that you want to support your gay friend when you go out with him. That makes sense to me, and I know there are ways straight women can be respectful in LGBTQ spaces.
But please, consider all of this. Also, you said something that really stuck out to me: “ For me, going to a gay bar is like going to any other bar.”
That stings, because for us, going to a gay bar is NOT like going to any other bar. Going to a gay bar is like going home, or it should be. You have to understand we don’t get to feel safe or supported most of the time when we exist in the world. We have to seek out those safe spaces, so when those safe spaces get infiltrated by the people who make the rest of the world unsafe for us, IT HURTS. We don’t want gay bars to be like any other bar, they need to be treated as the very specific, historically significant, cultural phenomenon that they are. It’s not just a rainbow on the wall that makes a gay bar a gay bar. I hope that makes sense.