I don’t go out much anymore. My assessment of LGBT nightlife in Charleston can be summed as this: If gay bars are the oceans, bachelorette parties are that single use plastic bag that sticks in the marshes and chokes our turtles.
Listen, I’m all for inclusion of “us” and “them.” It’s awesome that we can go to most bars on any given night and not be seen as a novelty or a threat. Or that we can take our best girlfriend or bro to our bar. On a recent Saturday night, one of my besties and I ventured out to our local gay watering hole (that’s a great name for a bar btw), and the gays were outnumbered by straight girls 3 to 1.
Barbie, I get why you want to come to our bar. Better music, you won’t be harassed by douche bags, drinks are cheap and strong! But here’s the thing ladies, don’t come in our house and be disrespectful. On this particular night, I noticed all of us were pressed against the bar and the floor was filled with the squeals and screeches of at least 3 brides and their minions, I mean bridesmaids.
Rupaul recently made some waves with his comments about this topic, “People who live in the mainstream and the status quo think that everyone else is there to serve them. They think: ‘Oh, you must be here to make me look good. That’s what gay guys are right? You’re an accessory for my straight life.’”
Let’s start by asking what purpose does the gay bar serve? For our straight counterparts, a bar is a place to hang with your friends, get drunk, maybe get laid. Yeah, it’s all those things for us too! But, it’s also a haven of sorts for us. A place we can safely Kiki with our friends (if you don’t know what that means, you’re not allowed in), a hunting ground of sorts for people with similar “interests” let’s say.
I love my A’s in the LGBTQIA alphabet soup, but when I see these gangs of bridal celebrations in the bar, I don’t think, “oh, look how supportive they’re being of us!” Instead, it’s weirdly exploitative. It doesn’t feel like a celebration of gay people, or the joy of having gay friends. It feels more like the novelty of gay people. And heaven forbid it’s Drag night! Then we simply become the props from some shitty rom-com.
I get that me pounding the exploitation drum is rich in comparison to what women deal with, but can you imagine a bachelor party attempting to have their party at a lesbian bar.
That being said, here are few tips to the straight ladies to make your night a bit easier to navigate:
1. Bring your gay friend. Show the tribe that you’re not just tourists in our big gay jungle. If you don’t have one, please, don’t draft one of us to fill that role for the night.
2. Sweetie, you might be the queen of the night, but this ain’t your kingdom. Give us room. Just as you came here because you don’t want some dudes boner rubbing up on you, I don’t need your breast up on me…but I’ll totally take that boner.
3. Trying to make a drag queen kiss you is not the same as kissing a girl. It is not your Katy Perry moment.
4. Just as we don’t want to be your props, leave yours at home. Want to fit in? Leave the sashes, crowns, etc… at home.
5. Try not to take it personal. We invented shade, perfected the art of the read. If you don’t like some side eye, I’m sure there’s a Wet Willie nearby.
6. It’s not that you’re not welcome in our home, it’s that you’re a guest in our home.
All RuPaul is asking for — what we are all asking for, is show some respect, some etiquette. “Check yourself, before you wreck yourself! ” And the mic falls from my glitter guy hang.
Words by Steven Willard