An article published on OUT Magazine caused controversy online over the weekend.
The polarising piece, titled “Dear gay men, stop telling women they can’t go to gay bars,” made an attempt to argue that all women, in 2017 as it made clear, have a right to go anywhere they want – and that includes gay bars.
I know this might surprise you, but in 2017, women can go anywhere we want to! And furthermore, we don’t need your approval to do it! When I see these kinds of discussions on social media, there are usually a few men who comment something like, “I love bringing my girls to the club!” Well, that’s nice, but not only do women not need your approval to be somewhere, we also don’t need you to take us anywhere. We know how to drive, get on the subway, flag down a cab, or download Uber.
First of all, the writer is absolutely correct. All women in 2017 should have the exact same rights as their male counterparts, without any question or doubt.
But as a gay man, what I found so tough to swallow about the article – other than the the headline and its unwarranted self-righteous tone – was the notion that all women “don’t need the approval” of gay men to enter bars and clubs.
That’s an incredibly sweeping statement to make, and it’s completely wrong. If you identify as LGBT+, whether you’re a man, woman, or trans, you should be welcome in a gay bar. These are our safe spaces, and they belong to all of us who identify under that umbrella.
However, cis straight women do not automatically have that same right, and it needs to be said louder for those in the back.
For decades, as gay men we are sometimes treated as nothing more than a play thing, something fun for drunk cis straight women to gawk at on a Saturday night out with the girls at the office. They come into our spaces, without any respect or understanding of gay culture, all under the rouse that they’re somehow our allies because they love Britney and have a fab-u-lous GBF.
Whether they feel like they have the right to touch you up – you know, because you’re ‘one of the gays’ so it’s fine – or act like your best friend until you dare to enter the female toilets, we’ve all had similar experiences at some point in our lives while gay clubbing.
In an era of great LGBT+ acceptance and gay venue decline, there’s no doubt that outdated door policies barring entry to woman of all types should be a thing of the past. But if the LGBT community is going to – quite literally – throw open its doors to those who wish to share our queer spaces, that must come with a respect for the privilege they enjoy over us.
While misogyny among gay men is a very real and incredibly problematic, so is the privilege cis-gendered straight women exert over us.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with bringing your straight female friends gay clubbing with you, and we must make sure to celebrate those allies who respect our culture and want to be a part of it. However, if you’re a cis straight woman and you want to come in our safe spaces and disrespect us? No, you shouldn’t be allowed in, and you have no right to claim otherwise.
Nobody has time for you screaming: “Why isn’t this space for meeeee?!”
There needs to be a conversation had about misogyny among gay men, and our community’s erasure of queer women, but OUT’s article is not what’s going to start that.