In a gay bar, years ago and before my gender transition to male, I was assaulted by a straight guy.
I say he was straight because he was trying to get me to go home with him and his girlfriend.
He did so by, apropos of nothing, grabbing my breasts and calling me a slut.
There was more, but I’ll spare you it.
I left immediately (though I shouldn’t have had to) and had to ask security to stop him from following me when I got into a cab.
It’s far from the only time as a woman that I was assaulted in a bar, but it stands out as the most infuriating because it was a gay venue.
As venues around Australia and the world start reopening following the coronavirus lockdown, such encounters are on my mind again.
Women should be safe from predatory men in gay clubs of all places.
Cis het people, especially men, do not belong in those spaces.
They are for us to be ourselves and celebrate our community where we don’t have to worry about being hassled or gawked at by straight folks.
Most cities in Australia only have one or two gay bars, but there are hundreds of other places where people who are not LGBTIQ can go – and they should.
See the Living Homos
When cis het people decide they like a gay bar, it stops being much of a gay bar.
Straight women start going there so that men won’t hassle them, and then the straight men follow them to sexually harass lesbians.
Hen’s nights start being held there, gaggles of drunk straight women treating the place as their own personal zoo exhibit, See the Living Homos.
And god forbid a gay person have the audacity to hit on one of them, in a gay bar.
You have to line up around the block to get into what’s meant to be your own community’s space, because all the straight lookyloos want to come in as well.
And we’re nice, we do let anyone into our clubs, but I don’t think we should have to.
I’m not saying cis het people should be banned in any sense from gay bars, if only because it would be impossible to enforce.
I do think they should have the courtesy to let us have our few spaces.
I’m not suggesting straight partners of bi or trans folks shouldn’t be allowed in gay bars with them.
I’ve taken the occasional straight friend to a gay club myself, and I think if someone is a respectful guest of a queer person, it’s fine.
The guy in my story was there with his presumably bi girlfriend, and if he’d behaved himself he certainly would have been made welcome.
As they begin reopening, I would like gay bars to be left alone by people who are not LGBTIQ unless they are guests and behave themselves.
We don’t ask for much, but please let us have a few spaces of our own.
The rest of the city is your safe space.