Debates on this topic have been a very controversial thing within the LGBT+ community within the last few years. I’ve never gone into detail on my opinion, until now.
The argument is as followed – is it okay for straight people to come to LGBT bars or is it something that should be reserved for primarily the community? I’m going to go into detail on both sides of this within this, and explain my own opinion in detail.
This opinion, which is not my own – is that straight people should come and go into LGBT bars/clubs as much as they please. The argument generally states that by accepting straight people into our bars, it will help progress our normalization of queer people and help make us equal and accepted. The reason for this is that if we make queer bars a safe space for us, and maybe for women who want to have a night out; then it will become a somewhat normal space for minorities to visit and to feel welcome and accepted. In an article, Plush in Oxford was described as the best place for a girls night out, as it will be a good place to avoid being hit on and avoid the contact of general men who expect things from them.
But here’s why I disagree with that perspective.
Firstly; I have a huge problem with the concept of heteronormativity and normalization within the LGBTQA+ community. Here’s why – the influence of heteronormativity progresses into other sexual identities and how society in general perceives them. In the United Kingdom, the attitude of bisexual erasure is hugely common; especially when it involves Tom Daley most recently from the Olympics. Bisexuality has been overlooked within society due to its rejection of heterosexuality and monosexuality – and as it is commonly misperceived from a heteronormative society – if you’re bi you’re either gay ‘in disguise’ or attention seeking. There is no in between within this society. Another form of damaging sexuality is something I’ve spoke on before in a Twitter rant, is sex education within the UK and how it can be damaging to non-heterosexuals. In “Sex Education and the Promotion of Heteronormativity” by Tanya Mcneill, she looks at how information determining gender roles and heterosexual behavior is circulated throughout a curriculum. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of gay sex education being taught in a school; and how are we meant to send young boys out without them knowing the risks of not using condoms outside of the risk of getting someone pregnant; which Biology class will teach them cannot happen with Gay sex. Not that the Gay community are dumb – but it’s not fair that heterosexuals know automatically that no condom = pregnancy; but the gay community have to research these things themselves. It truly is just another example of the Gay community being seen as less humane and a lower priority than that of the Hetero community; therefore; heteronormativity.
Secondly, I am a feminist and I fully believe that there should be a safe space in which women can go to without being threatened or scared by males. However; the idea that going to a Gay bar is going to completely abolish the idea of getting hit on erases Lesbians and Bisexuals entirely. Strict Lesbians have to go to these places to find people to date, think about it, unless there’s a pride event happening or there’s a dating app the women are willing to use; there really is little places to find a potential partner. Groups of straight women entering these bars is not only false hope; but it’s been known that a lot of women will go to these places to feel accepted or to see how far a girl will hit on them before they can say they’re straight. Not to mention the erasure of bisexual men that you will find in an LGBT safe space, and ignoring that is, as said earlier, a prime example of heterosexuality erasing bisexuality.
My final opinion on this is that it is only okay to be in this communities safe space if you are there to support a member of said community. The ideology that straight people can go to gay bars to gawk and have an easy night out is sickening; we are not zoo animals for you to look at in thick detail. Gay bars are not tourist stops for straight people to tell their story of “that one time we went to a gay bar” because that is super damaging.
Within the recent events in Orlando, it’s hard for LGBT people to feel safe in their own safe space; please don’t ruin it any further by going to them so casually. It’s some peoples only option.