There’s no denying it—gay bars are becoming the new hot spot for straight cis women. And I get that these women come to our spaces to feel safe. I believe that gay bars should be safe spaces for everyone! But cishet women, please understand, gay bars aren’t for tourists. They’re for having panic attacks induced by social anxiety.
Gay bars play an important role in our history. The gay rights movement was even launched from the Stonewall Inn, a historically protected landmark in the West Village. But most importantly, gay bars have always been a space where ALL people can feel claustrophobic, sweaty and vaguely overwhelmed. Even at Stonewall, I once spent half an hour in the bathroom hyperventilating because a finance otter saw me dancing and literally started laughing.
Sure, our spaces are welcome to anyone. But who are they really for? No one. No one is having a good time. As a gay man, the gay bar is a space where I can finally feel depressed when no one expresses interest in me, but also so stressed out by strangers talking to me I wish they’d leave me alone.
I’m here, I’m queer, and I need to stop apologizing to people when they accidentally spill their drinks on me.
And I recognize that America isn’t kind to women. Those are the facts, and don’t get me wrong, I am always happy to welcome someone into our spaces if it makes them feel safe. But when I go to a gay bar, I’m not there for the gal pals’ night out. I’m there to frantically text my therapist because I went to sip from one of those little straws to look cute but missed my mouth, and now I don’t think I’ll ever find love.
Women have to be on guard at the gym, at the club, on the street, and also basically everywhere at all times. What I don’t think a lot of straight women realize is that I don’t get to have that experience anywhere else. I only get to fall under the male gaze after paying a $10 cover to a bar called something like Golf or Scum or The Pink Prolapse.
My point here is not to scold cishet women for inhabiting queer spaces. But please respect the fact that your night of harmless fun is interrupting my night of dissociating. Let’s all do our thing: you can dance, and I can frantically refresh Grindr to see if the guy I lied to about being a top is willing to host.