Let’s Hash It Out: How Do You Feel About Men and Straight People Going To Lesbian Bars?

The jokey Vapid Fluff piece we published on Tuesday containing excerpts from negative Yelp reviews about lesbian bars by straight people and men has sparked debate on the “not-queers in queer spaces” situation offsite (specifically on reddit) and it seemed like it’d be worthwhile to hash it out here, too. I don’t know that there’s any subjective or objective truth to be found here, especially when what it means for it to be “okay” for non-queers (straight people and men) to occupy queer spaces is so vague to begin with.

Personally, the first bars I ever went to were gay male bars. I was underage and straight-identified a lot of the time, but they let me in! Whether I was accompanying my co-workers to Happy Hour in one of Hell’s Kitchen’s many gay dives after a hellish lunch shift at The Olive Garden, tagging along with my gay best friend to subdued upscale bars decorated like country clubs or dancing all night at Posh; I wet my feet in so many spaces that weren’t made for me.

But when I entered these spaces, my expectations of service were low. I didn’t expect the bartender to pay attention to me, the doorman to greet me with a smile, or really for anybody besides the people I’d come with to be nice to me. I was a guest in their space. Sure, it feels shitty to wait longer than everybody else for a drink, but it didn’t feel unjust. I certainly wouldn’t have run home and told Yelp about it like I did when that bitch in Berkeley fucked up my eyebrows. I was there with men who’d been beaten up in school for being gay, who’d been kicked out of their homes, who feared kissing their boyfriends in public, who were ignored by bartenders at straight bars. I deferred.

The majority of non-queers who enter queer bars probably have a similar state of mind — every straight person I’ve ever been in a queer space with has. But the Yelp reviews I pulled from for that post were specifically from people who felt some profound injustice was being served when they weren’t the center of attention at a lesbian bar. People who felt that a straight guy and his straight girlfriend not being a butch bartender’s #1 priority was “reverse discrimination” in action. The language used by those who felt wronged— language that often critiqued the lesbian’s body size, apparel, or gender presentation — said much more about why these people had a bad time than the complaint itself did.

So, we went over some of the most popular arguments we’ve heard on both sides, which we’ll present to you here. This isn’t all-encompassing or complete, it’s just a starter set of ideas for you to chew on.

FOR: Who Else Can I Go To The Bar With?

Jenny brings Annette to Twat The Night

Jenny brings Annette to Twat The Night

Many brand-new gays and some longstanding gays have two options: go to a queer bar with a straight girl or a gay man, or don’t go at all. The brave best friends who volunteer to accompany us on these formative journeys into the wilderness shouldn’t be disrespected.

But… The strongest argument against this practice is that lesbian bars should be one place on earth where nobody has to worry that the girl they’re eyeing is straight. That girl might not eye you back or like you back and she may not be single and she may reject you but at least you won’t walk away feeling gross and stigmatized for being gay. (So, if you’re gonna bring your straight best friend to a bar, make sure she’s not somebody who’s not gonna be an asshole if they’re hit on politely by another girl!)

AGAINST: You Only Like Us Now ‘Cause It’s Safe and Trendy

You seem to love me now, but did you love me when I was down and out did you still have love for me straight girl

You seem to love me now, but did you love me when I was down and out did you still have love for me straight girl

Would the straight people happily attending our bars in 2014 have jostled for admission in 2004? In 1994? In 1984? In 1944? There’s a storied history of non-oppressed populations playing oppression tourism, casually dropping in on this fun exotic underworld for their own amusement and then returning to their safe, non-oppressed lives afterwards. We fought hard for these spaces — once the only places where we could be ourselves — only to have them invaded by outsiders as soon as the stigma and legal threat faded.

A bisexual friend told me, “I always feel like straight people (of whatever gender) going to gay bars when they have not been explicitly invited by a gay person are like really proud of how down with gay people they are, like they’re very proud of it and assume that it is a space that is also for them because of how progressive they are! They go to Pride parades!”

But… Would every lesbian at the lesbian bar have jostled for admission in 2004? In 1994? In 1984? We can decry straight people for only stopping in now that it’s both legal and culturally acceptable… but it’s not just them who feel more comfortable attending lesbian bars now, it’s also us. Many of us weren’t brave enough to go until it was safe and trendy.

But but… The lesbians who were brave enough to go to the lesbian bars in 1994 probably have a right to be annoyed by fair-weather friends. Furthermore, actual queers uncomfortable with being seen in a queer space would’ve been putting a lot more on the line to attend one back then than a straight person, so comparing our hesitance to theirs might not be giving ourselves enough credit.

FOR: But some of my friends are straight and/or men!

So, you’ve got six friends. Three are gay and three are straight and you all wanna go out together and have fun. Do you go to the gay bar or the straight bar? I don’t know the answer to this question. I think probably I would suggest that we all come back to my place, get stoned, play Scattergories and eat Pumpkin Spice Oreos.

AGAINST: We have so few spaces just for us, please just let us have this one space, please, because like the whole world is your space and you can kiss wherever and we can only kiss here so please don’t

“Not to generalize, but there are better straight bars. Why would you even want to go to a lesbian bar?” A lesbian friend told me. “Whatever drink special or ambiance a person could claim to be looking for in a lesbian bar could easily be found in a straight bar down the street. There is just no fucking reason for guys to be there.”

Similarly, as in the Instagram screenshot I included in the Yelp reviews post, I’m baffled by heterosexual couples who visit queer bars without any queer friends and proceed to make out at the bar. It’s one thing to come with your gay friends to have a good time, but if you’re a straight person there on a romantic date with your monogamous straight partner… WHY? Just why?!!?

But… With so many lesbian bars shutting down, how much can anybody say our community is valuing this one precious space? And who, exactly, is the space for? Is it for all queers? At The Lex in San Francisco four years ago, my friends weren’t allowed in the playing-pool rotation because they weren’t part of the clique dominating the bar that night, you know? Sometimes when I read straight people complaining that they get the evil eye or the cold shoulder from queer patrons I wanna say, “Queer people get those same looks!” “Nobody talks to me either!”

FOR: Maybe once upon a time you too were the “straight girl” at the lesbian bar

Just being real.

AGAINST: Lots of straight cis men cannot handle themselves in a lesbian bar or come for all the wrong reasons


Don’t bring bro-bar culture into a girl bar, this isn’t a live show! “I’ve had several experiences at gay bars where me and my girlfriend and my friends have been hit on my straight men,” a queer friend told me, “And it’s the worst because they think we’re straight and I’m like, bro, I’m dancing with my girlfriend — and then they hit on us even more! It’s gross.”

A bisexual woman pointed out that “I feel like guys go for the same reason that a guy came to and then followed me around a music festival called LADYFEST for like two hours; because they realize there is a much higher ratio of women to men than at other venues and don’t really care that the nature of the venue makes it extremely unlikely that those women want to fuck you because who cares whether women actually WANT to have sex with you, right, as long as you want to have sex with them, like why would that even be a factor.”

She also mentioned, “I had a very traumatic experience because one of my first dates and I went to this gay bar, and we were sort of looking forward to it, and 80% of the people in there were straight, and it was so depressing. We were like ‘Well I guess this is a safe place for us to PDA, or safer than the outside world, but it feels like we have an audience and it’s gross.’ Like straight couples just sitting at tables looking at all the people around them, like spectating.”

But… Not all men?

FOR: It’s Reverse Discrimination!

you're welcome

You’re welcome

We wouldn’t want to be unwelcome in straight bars, so why are we making straight people feel unwelcome? AREN’T WE RAGING HYPOCRITES?!!! WHAT ABOUT EQUALITY? OR EQUITY, FOR THAT MATTER?!!!



Reverse homophobia isn’t a thing. That’s not how it works. Also it’s worth mentioning that queers and trans people are still kicked out of your bars and are sometimes killed or attacked because they attended your bars.

But… How does the matrix of oppression play out when the heterosexuals seeking admission are of color, or when it’s a gay man who wants in?  There’s a relatively strong history of queer spaces being a safe space not just for queer people, but for people of color who feel equally disenfranchised in spaces primarily aimed at white straight cis men.

If it is our collective oppression that enables us to feel comfortable excluding straight people, then we have to acknowledge the limits of that oppression. A cis white lesbian at the queer bar might wanna think twice before sneering at a straight woman of color or a feminine gay man… but this argument still doesn’t make any room for straight cis white guys all up in our space.

AGAINST: We need a safe space for our gender presentations

When we talk about queer bars and parties we usually talk about bars and parties in large diverse cities like San Francisco and New York, but we forget that in rural or conservative areas of the country, a queer bar can actually be the only safe space available, period. A masculine-of-center friend told me that queer bars are the only place she feels like she can breathe easy. She doesn’t fear dirty looks or physical violence from men, which she has experienced in spades all her life, or like they want to compete with her for women. It’s also a rare space where she can go to the bathroom without being informed that the men’s room is right over there!  Similarly, femme lesbians often report lesbian bars being the only space where their gender presentation doesn’t get automatically read as “straight” and where she’s free from harassment, intimidation, unwanted sexual attention and even sexual assault from straight guys.

The negative yelp reviews are revelatory in this instance, because the gender presentation policing and derision of masculine or fat women by those reviewers is pretty merciless. An allegedly lesbian bouncer is described as a “Drew Carey lookalike” who needs to “lose some weight.”  Unfriendly patrons are accused of being “jealous because [the male reviewer has] fuller facial hair.” Bartenders who won’t crack a smile when a man is apparently aggressively “complimenting” her are, we’re told, revealing “their crack as their Dickies sag.” The kinds of guys who think those thoughts are exactly the kinds of guys who inspire unsmiling bartenders, hostile bouncers and unfriendly patrons.

But… Even at lesbian bars, we’re not always safe from being policed for our gender presentation or other aspects of our identities. At Henrietta Hudson’s, my two friends and I — all of us in skirts and tank tops — were asked if we were actually gay, and not believed when we insisted that we were because we “looked straight.” Many lesbian trans women have testified in the comments that they don’t feel welcome in lesbian bars themselves, and lots of Yelp reviews cited queer bars as being unwelcoming to any woman of color, which is epically fucked up. Also, femme straight women could use a break from harassment, intimidation and unwanted sexual attention as well.

FOR: It’s mean to be mean to people, period.

Why bring more negativity into the world? You could get really upset at these perceived intruders… or you could just hang out and have a good time.

But… Some people are actual assholes! Which is why so much of this just comes down to respecting the space. The truth is that there are a lot of not-queer humans who attend queer bars with the understanding that the space is not for them, and they should defer to its intended clientele, and everything goes just fine.

So tell us what you think! What arguments or arguments-against-arguments did we miss? We’re hopeful that we can have a nice friendly conversation on this topic without snark or defensiveness or wild accusations of bad faith. HAVE AT IT, GRRRRRRLS

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3202 articles for us.


  1. I’m super not here for straight bachelorette parties going to LGBT bars. We’re not here to entertain your loud, tacky clusterfuck.

    • If I could click that thumbs up button one gazillion times, I would do it.

      I’m generally OK with straight allies coming to gay bars, as long as they are being jerks, coopting the space, being disrespectful, etc. Straight bachelorette parties are the absolute worst. Like, we are not your freak show zoo. You are disrupting our space with your loudness and drunkenness. And until recently, we couldn’t even get legally married you piece of crap. Go somewhere else kthx. I guess I’d make an exception if the straight person was, like, a true ally who came to the bar all the time (not just for her party) and was friends with all the regulars and the performers and had a stake in the community in that way. Otherwise, NO. GO AWAY.

      • omg that is tacky as fuck! you don’t go and host your marriage celebration in a space designed for people who were, until very recently, legally barred from marriage. that’s so weird.

    • My straight Male friend told me he went to a gay bar/strip club with a friend who is gay, in Virginia. He said there was some pretty hardcore videos playing and they had private booths. I was curious to find out what place it was. I found it on yelp and to my surprise half the reviews were from straight girls who had birthday and batchelorette parties there. They said they loved the non threatening atmosphere, the dancers and one said she liked to imagine what was going on in the booths.

      First of all I don’t think they read this site and how some gay men are still grabby. Second why? Like we queers need our space you can have your space when you get married.

      • Although this reminds me that I get less (not none) unwanted sexual grabbing in bars populated by gay men than bars populated by straight men. I don’t categorically agree with straight women taking up space in lesbian/queer bars but it is pretty sad to think that at least part of the motivation might be to enjoy oneself with a lower rate of sexual harassment.

    • This is such a thing at my local gay bar, though! One Saturday night, I saw two dressed-up women wearing “Bride To Be” sashes and at first was like “awwww how adorable, a queer bachelorette!” but haha nope, it was just two separate straight bachelorettes.

      Kinda felt like they were having the time of their lives at what they considered to be some kinda Gay People Zoo?!

    • I once saw a bachelor’s party in a small town’s only gay bar. In a country where gay marriage was illegal. To add insult to injury, the groom was ‘funnily’ dressed up in women’s clothes. (In Finland it’s a tradition to have the bachelor or bachelorette wear embarrassing clothes. For men, this often means feminine clothing uggghhh) (And yes I am sure they weren’t a transfeminine person whose best friends all happen to be huge bros.)

      On the other hand, the bar was nearly empty. So maybe they were happy for the paying customers…

    • Oh heck yes! As a former culinary professional who has had to work a restaurant with bachelorette parties in progress, I don’t even want to be in a non-queer space where one of these annoyances is going on. Holding it in a queer space, though (especially if it’s in an area where marriage equality hasn’t arrived yet), is absolutely unacceptable.

    • Once at a Gay Night (at a club that was widely known for having a large LGBT presence) I saw a bachelorette party, and honestly I was disgusted. It’s not enough that you and 20 of your drunken bridesmaids have to be rowdy jerks, but you have to rub your upcoming marriage in the faces of a community that isn’t even allowed to have a civil union? It was the epitome of ignorant privilege.

      There were LITERALLY 10 other clubs and bars within a 5 minute walk, all for straight people, that were probably cheaper to get into. I don’t understand why they had to invade our space.

  2. I feel conflicted about this because I go to grad school in a small college town in the middle of nowhere in a purple state. We have one gay bar. It’s dominated by gay men, but I’m glad it exists, if not only for the fact that it’s the only bar in town that doesn’t have a line on football weekends.

    At some point, my entire department started going there for happy hour, because they give you unlimited pizza if you buy a drink. I a) recognize that this bar probably wouldn’t exist if straight people weren’t in there and b) like being able to go to the bar with my coworkers, but at the same time… I’ve been going there for almost two years now and I rarely see actually queer girls there (and no, I’m not erasing femmes or anything, the bar is literally so small that I know pretty much everyone who hangs out there now)

  3. I am mostly annoyed on how cis men come into my safe space and make me feel uncomfortable. I am dick to them and proud of it

    • How do you know they’re cis men? By the way they act, or just by the way they present? If it’s the latter, then you may be wrong.

          • They shouldn’t be at lesbian bars because it’s a lesbian bar. And trans guys are not women, so they can’t be lesbians. Also, I don’t necessarily think guys shouldn’t be at them, just douchey ones who hit on women. And no, you can’t always tell if someone is a guy by looking at them. But an overwhelming majority of the time, your guess would be correct because most people aren’t trans.

        • Some women have facial hair. You have literally just said you would harass my girlfriend for being in a lesbian bar. People like you are probably the reason she is reluctant to go with me to queer spaces.

          • To be fair, she said if men come up to her and make her uncomfortable she’s a dick to them. It sounds like your girlfriend is somewhat shy and probably wouldn’t go out of her way to make random chicks uncomfortable. I don’t think “being a dick to someone who makes you uncomfortable” is the same as “harassing,” but this conversation is such a clusterfuck now…

  4. When I was single, my straight male best friend accompanied me to many, many a night out at Girlbar. I do remember that he always had to pay a higher cover to get in and he had to be with me (or his girlfriend) to get in. So there was a policy in place to keep guys or groups of guys from just coming in alone.

    I think it’s more difficult to just say, “No straight people” because, as mentioned in the article, that straight girl at the bar might not actually be so straight. It’s possible to claim a space as a Safe Space and still have mixed company, as long as all parties are respectful and aware of the purpose of said space.

  5. I like that we’re having a conversation about whether or not men should be welcome in girl bars before we’re having a conversation about why trans women aren’t made to feel welcome in them.

    And by like I mean hate. :|

    • I don’t think one was supposed to exclude the other. To the contrary, I think everyone on AS staff believes trans women should always be welcome in queer spaces. Always, always. I acknowledge that isn’t always the case and we should definitely talk about that. But this article doesn’t privilege men and straight cis women over trans women. If anything, it assumes all queer women, cis and trans, should of course be welcome.

      • I agree with KaeLyn. We’re on AS. I highly doubt anyone here thinks transgender women do not belong in girl bars.

        • You are correct, there is a difference between excluding trans women and just making them feel unwelcome.

          The previous article (and the strangely defensive tone of this official response) both make me feel unwelcome.

          • P.S. I am not making an official response, if you mean me. Believe me, I’m not cool enough to make official responses on behalf of AS. And I didn’t mean to come off as defensive. Sorry if I did! I just was saying that “lesbian/queer/bi woman” in the AS context, should always mean trans and cis and gnc people. Of course, if you feel it doesn’t call us out. I can’t speak on behalf of AS, but I’m definitely open to being checked. So…that’s all.

            Are you all talking about the “AGAINST: We need a safe space for our gender presentations” section that says:

            But… Even at lesbian bars, we’re not always safe from being policed for our gender presentation or other aspects of our identities. At Henrietta Hudson’s, my two friends and I — all of us in skirts and tank tops — were asked if we were actually gay, and not believed when we insisted that we were because we “looked straight.” Many lesbian trans women have testified in the comments that they don’t feel welcome in lesbian bars themselves, and lots of Yelp reviews cited queer bars as being unwelcoming to any woman of color, which is epically fucked up. Also, femme straight women could use a break from harassment, intimidation and unwanted sexual attention as well.

            Or is there another place in the piece that you are calling out? <3

          • KaeLyn, by official response, I meant the article itself (which states at the beginning it is a response to comments inspired by the previous article).

            What I was attempting to express is my surprise that an entire article was created to expound on including/excluding straight folk…when that didn’t feel like the major problem with the original article.

            Several people were upset by the original article, especially yelp comments like #1 & #4, AND how those yelp comments were put out there for readers to ridicule. Please take a moment and think how including those comments in the list and then making jokes was hurtful.

            I know that the author of this article makes statements aimed at being inclusive of trans folks, but at no point has the questionable nature of the previous article been discussed, instead it is just a very long, defensive and authoritative discussion of protecting queer spaces.

          • it was an attempt to host a debate about “not-queers in queer spaces” because that issue was being debated on reddit because of this article. “not-queers” = straight women, men. why would trans women be included in the “not-queers” category? like i said, that’s not up for debate. (we recently did a story on the michfest policy to that effect)

          • Riese, in response to

            why would trans women be included in the “not-queers” category?

            In the previous article humor was made of graffiti telling people in the men’s room they aren’t welcome. And humor was made of how people with different parts might not feel welcome.

            I know you never meant to target trans women, intersex folks, or trans masculine people, but that is the problem with just throwing a pile of stuff out there for the reader to mock.

            I know this discussion is not what you were looking for when you wrote these articles, but please take a moment and see in the comments to previous article that I wasn’t the only one who was surprised by the humor.

        • “I highly doubt anyone here thinks transgender women do not belong in girl bars.” That’s a highly optimistic even tunnel vision take on it. I totally believe there are people on AS who either believe trans women don’t belong in queer women’s spaces or are more than happy to ignore trans women or, at the least, give them stinkeye when they encounter us. Or maybe they’re be okay if former AS writer “Annika” or Janet Mock was in front of them, but not someone who’s wears the stigma of visible trans woman.

          I don’t want to derail an important conversation, but… I can’t say how many supposedly ‘trans’ events/parties I’ve been to which have basically consisted of trans guys (or trans masculine/GQ people) and their femme girlfriends. And these girlfriends are either so uncomfortable around trans women or just plain creeped out by us that I feel as if an alarm goes off if they’re within 12 feet of us. I’ve seen a palpable look of “ew, THEY’RE here too?” There’s a spa in Portland with a monthly trans night (sounds potentially cool, right?) which pretty much always consists of such a crowd. I’ve tried going several times and have talked to other trans women who went and they all agreed with me… I’ve never had someone from the “trans masculine and girlfriend” crowd even so much as say hello… more often a distinctly unfriendly vibe and cold shoulder. And as someone who’s a native San Franciscan, I can totally say that was the overwhelming vibe for trans women who ever went to the Lex. See, the thing is, once you start doing body/gender/sexual orientation policing, you’re no longer the friendly queer environment you’re convinced you are and it becomes more about “folks like us.” In other words… the same old-same old.

        • well this lesbian doesn’t think so…just sayin. Men don’t belong in lesbian/women’s spaces I dont’ care what their problem is. they need to figure it out without MY energy.
          If you think I’m hateful for wanting to protect my girls maybe that’ YOUR problem too. And frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn

      • Agreed – I would love to see some autostraddle articles about trans* women’s experiences in queer public spaces, especially in the context of lesbian bars

    • I cannot agree with you strongly enough.

      I wish I was more articulate, but I am genuinely shocked that this article is the official response by autostraddle.

      • this isn’t an ‘official response’ to anything? someone saw a reddit thread about whether or not it was okay for men and straight people to go to lesbian bars, and that reddit thread was started because of this post. also some people on facebook were talking about it. and we were like, oh, let’s talk about that here. but i’m not sure what you mean by “official response” or what that has to do with trans women — of course we think trans women should be welcome in lesbian bars! that’s not up for debate and never would be, because it’s a fact. i also wouldn’t want to invite a bunch of anti-trans women and TERFs on here to tell us why they don’t want trans lesbians in lesbian bars, that would be horrifying.

        • Sorry if I sound belligerent, but as your byline says “CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief”, I kind of think anything you say is kind of official.

          I was unaware of the reddit discussion, and I guess that I assumed this follow up article was made partially because of how some people were hurt by the humor in making fun of the yelp comments.

          For me, listing things like #1 & #21 without explanation made it feel like anyone with a different body was up for mocking. And it feels wrong to include #4, the “you are not welcome here” graffiti in the men’s room, without saying why such graffiti is hurtful to trans masculine folks or young trans women who are scared of using the ladies room.

          • While out of context I agree that those comments can look transmisogynistic, in an article that says these are men making the comments, I thought it was clear that if anyone was being transmisogynistic, it was the men who assumed that penis=male. Like, if you read the article as things said by men – which the article makes it clear that that’s who said it – not trans women, than I don’t see the problem. If we’re laughing at those comments, it’s because men are being stupid and thinking the world centers around their penises, not because of trans women.

            And the problem of trans women not being welcomed in queer spaces is a completely separate one, and one that I would also be interested to read about, and if someone wrote an article about that and submitted it to us, we very well might publish that article.

          • I want to preface this comment by saying that I’m a cis woman, but Starling and Emma, I really want to validate where y’all are coming from. I think AS needs to be a constant place of conversation about how trans women are systematically excluded or made to feel unwelcome in queer lady spaces. Everyone who is not a trans woman is implicated in transmisogyny, and we need to own up to that.

            KaeLyn and Riese, I see you saying that a conversation about trans women being excluded or feeling unwelcome from lesbian bars is one that can and should happen (Riese, I totally understand that you’re saying it *shouldn’t* happen in a convo about non-queers in queer spaces). And I just want to emphasize HOW IMPORTANT it is to *constantly* make space to talk about transmisogyny on AS. (and I also want to acknowledge the work being done — by Mey, by Mari, in the articles leading up to TDOR, and other articles on AS…) We (cis women, DFAB queer people) have serious work to do, and work is a process. I don’t think telling trans women to assume they’re included is going to cut it.

            Y’all are my community, and I’m in this with you. I don’t want to overstep and speak for trans women, but I observe trans women’s anger get invalidated all the time. When trans women express frustration at queer lady spaces, we need to sit back and listen for a hot second and then do something differently going forward…

          • Mey, I understand that you want it all to be viewed in context, but context is actually what I am asking for.

            The yelp comments were listed for mockery. We are left to assume the author finds them all equally worthy of mocking. Then the comments below make fun of the clueless and rude straight folks.

            I get why this is fun, the yelp comments were atrocious.

            However, including a few of them struck me as problematic. The graffiti in the bathroom was awful (even if the yelp poster was showing their privilege in being offended for the reason they gave) and the couple comments about body parts being unwelcome definitely needed more care in being included in the list.

            The “pile on” feel of the humor comments bothered some other people, not just me. And finally, the author’s eventual defense of it as just a list of offensive things straight people said seemed strange.

          • Erin, I’m totally in agreement with what you say here about listening to trans women and checking ourselves. I was not trying to be dismissive of anyone’s comments. I was actually jumping in to say that I heard what people are saying, that it’s valid and should be talked about, and to clarify that queer trans women are included in “queer women,” at least at autostraddle. I would also like a read a piece on this issue, by someone directly affected. I was definitely trying to create space for that conversation, not stifle it.

            I missed the comments, apparently, on the yelp article and the reddit thread referenced here, so I’ll have to read those to catch up. Nobody gets to use their good intentions as an excuse for transmisogyny, including me. I’m genuinely sorry if this is not what came across. I think we are in agreement about that…?

          • Oh, KaeLyn, I am very sorry that I made you feel I was accusing you of transmisogny. That was not my intention. I understand that you didn’t know that what upset me was the previous article. (Similar to how I didn’t catch how Reise had created this followup article because of a reddit thread and not at all because of people being upset in the comments of the original thread)

            I cannot speak for Starling at all, but for me the problem was the creation of humor out of offensive comments, and then defending that humor by saying it was just said by someone else and that no one should be offended.(I realize that is a pretty heavy-handed interpretation, but again, I was not the only one upset that the humor was encouraged here on autostraddle and then allowed to continue without comment by the author of the article)

    • Don’t feel so left out, I will love some article about Trans Men, but it seems that can be an imposible task…

        • Silvana, you should be a little more respectful and less bigoted and ignorant.

          Trans Men can undergo surgical and/or hormonal transition, but that doesn’t mean your emotions will also transition or change. That doesn’t mean any Trans Man will want to talk about the latest issue of Playboy or how to “keep women in the kitchen”.

          The letter T in LGBT refers to all Trans, not just Trans Women.

          • Trans man to trans man: stop. Just stop. We’re not women, we cannot be expecting women to center us in discussions about their own spaces. Trans women are women and trans men aren’t, that is why they’re discussing trans women. They should keep doing that, thank you.

            I appreciate & understand that trans men are sometimes welcomed into spaces that are simply exclusive of cis men, but that is not mandatory for women’s spaces. That’s a choice. Including trans women is mandatory; a space without trans women is a transphobic/exclusionary space for cis women, while a space without trans men is just, you know, a women’s space. Note also that a lot of spaces that exist in real life right now will allow trans men but NOT trans women (see also: women’s colleges). Women’s spaces already cater to trans men enough.

            I’m speaking as someone who basically never passes rn, so do not start with me on not relating to cis men. I get it. But plenty of us are just as entitled, so let’s not go around expecting to be the center of women’s universes, OK? Women have a right to feel uncomfortable with male entitlement, trans or otherwise.

            (As an aside: as a bi guy, I definitely feel like gay male spaces have some work to do. But somehow I don’t see them getting criticized as much for their transphobia. I wonder why? Not saying that lesbians aren’t transphobic, just saying that maybe us trans men should all, you know. Go pester other men. Instead of lesbians).

          • Please be careful folks, as Yam said elsewhere in the comments they are a lesbian.

            That being said, I think this is an important discussion, but we should all be careful about making assumptions.

          • Yes, thank you, Emma. I’m a lesbian, not a trans man.

            I’m totally aware that we live in a male-dominated society, I can see it and feel it every time I step out from my house.

            What I was talking about is related to what Jay said in his comment, a little further down:

            “I’ve been on AS for years and gone to 2 a camps. I found AS when identified as a cis female lesbian, just cause my identity evolved, does that mean I have to leave this wonderful space I feel safe in? I’m not asking to be catered to, I just want to take part in this space because I still identify with it in some ways.”

            “Creating spaces along identity lines does discount shared life experiences that go beyond specific identities. I think there is value in having a space that is for people of shared life experiences, as well as identity.”

            As I said before, transition doesn’t mean that your feelings, emotions, life experiences or ideas (how you see the world and our society, for example) will also change.

            This year I’ve read Diane & Jacob Anderson-Minshall’s “Queerly Beloved: A Love Story Across Gender”. Yes, the book was a little immature in some aspects, but not when the author’s talk about the transition.

            Diane Anderson-Minshall still identifies herself as queer, probably in here she would be called straight.

            About Jacob, well I think, in here, he would see all his works, previuos to tansitioning (published works on Curve, Bitch, co-founded Girlfriends magazine, etc.) just totally forgotten and today’s works just ignored.

            I want to apologize if somebody feels offended by my comments, but I still think that LGBT includes ALL TRANS.

          • Yam, I think the confusion over your identity may have arisen due to your strident effort to be an ally to trans folks.

            Stating that transitioning/hormones/surgery doesn’t affect a persons emotions, is a very large claim and some people may have thought you were speaking from personal experience.

            I have to admit, that was my original reading of your comment. I know you were aiming to be an ally, and thank you for that, but in the future, maybe be careful about sweeping statements about how trans guys feel. (Heck, I am posting this comment as an ally myself, the experience of being trans and female is very different from that of the guys. If any trans masculine folk think I have misstepped here, please call me on it.)

          • This still isn’t an “LGBT” web site, Yam. It’s a website for queer WOMEN. Trans men aren’t women.

          • To clarify: not saying trans men can’t read AS, obvs. But don’t expect articles to be centered around trans men. Because this site ISN’T ABOUT MEN.

          • Silvana, I do agree that a firmly self-identified man probably should not think of this site as home and be respectful of that fact. (This is what I believe Miles was expressing. Miles if I am misconstruing what you intended, please correct me.)

            However, gender is not simple and many folks identify in a more complex fashion than just male or female. I am not the best person to elaborate on this (as I firmly identify as female), however since I chided Yam (gently, I hope) I feel the need to defend what I perceive as her original intent.

            People are a bit general in their use of trans men to refer to a whole lot of people (the same thing occurs with the phrase trans women). Perhaps being a tad more specific would help this discussion.

          • Emma, Yam’s original comment was about how s/he wanted to see an article about trans men. I think that sort of article is not really AS’ thing. Transgender people in general, yes. Trans men specifically, no. But I do understand that gender is complicated and nonbinary for many people.

        • Silvana you do realize that AS has had writers who are trans men, and from what I am told have had trans men at A-camp. Not to mention the clothing articles that say he said we said(which some of the people there are trans male).

    • I couldn’t agree more. My best friend, a cisgender lesbian, just invited me to a monthly lesbian event in our area, and I’m torn about going to it with her. I want to go, but I always feel like I have to be on-guard when I go into what’s supposed to be a safe space.

    • Jesus, what a shitstorm.

      AS contributors replying on this, here’s what I’m getting at: You are talking as if this is a settled issue just because in your personal opinion I should be welcome in lesbian spaces.

      Your opinion does not change the world. Your opinion does not change my material reality. And the fact that you consider that experience, the reality of that exclusion, not worthy of the same kind of extended discussion as this hypothetical exclusion of men from womens spaces is what I’m bitter about.

      I have no safe spaces. Really sit on that and digest it. I, a lesbian, am not safe in lesbian spaces, because I am transgender. I am at best isolated, occasionally leered at. I am at worst interrogated or refused service entirely. I am treated, as it were, like the men in these ridiculous comments, and yet apparently it is these mens experiences which are more worthy of conversation than the experiences of lesbians like me.

      And that salts open wounds. I’m not sorry that my drawing attention to it is… whatever it is to you. But y’all certainly seem irritable about my comment at the very least.

      • You may object and claim that you really do think this is as worthy of conversation, but I had to come in and be the one to bang the gavel and bring everyone’s attention to it.

        Do you think you’d have been having this conversation if I hadn’t come in and made you?

        • Starling, I am so sad that you feel like you have no safe places.

          However, you have managed to be eloquent and succinct in expressing your concerns. Please persevere in trying to find a place to feel safe. Giving up on the hope of acceptance leaves scars, and not invisible ones, as can be seen by my inability to express myself here in this thread without appearing like a fool. I cannot even start to discuss this without being overcome with emotion: my posts become both repetitive and confusing.

          I suspect you are not as damaged and I hope in time you will find a place you feel safe. Until then, please keep speaking up. Your voice is important.

      • Not sure how you equate “talking about something other than transgender inclusivity in lesbian bars” equals “transgender inclusivity in lesbian bars is not worthy of discussing.” You are saying that the transgender topic is more important than whether or not straights/men can enter lesbian bars. That may be your opinion, but we are still allowed to discuss this topic. I don’t understand how you think AS is saying it’s “not worth talking about” transgender inclusivity in lesbian bars because they wrote an article about something other than this. I can’t see ANY AS contributor saying it’s “not worthy” of discussion. That’s a bit of a leap. Just my two cents.

        • I feel glossed over. I feel stepped past and overlooked. I feel ignored. It’s a feeling I’m sensitive to because it’s something that happens to me almost every time I’m in a womens space. People don’t like to talk about the fact that we exist, and they like even less to listen to us talk about how we feel unwanted and devalued.

          There’ve been articles for several weeks now about lesbian bars and experiences in lesbian bars and the vanishing of lesbian bars, but there’s been no converation about the cultural issues of lesbian bars. No discussion about who /among women/ is and is not wanted in lesbian bars. I feel as if that conversation has been completely skipped over to have this conversation about men. And considering womens spaces are not for or about men, it puts me at ill ease to have the struggles of an entire class of women side stepped and overlooked to move right along to this conversation of dubious value.

          You don’t have to like it. I have feelings. I’m gonna keep having feelings. And my feelings have value. They mean something.

          • Starling, I don’t think anyone wishes to devalue you, your feelings, or your experiences. AS is about the most inclusive queer women’s internet space I’ve ever been to. Now, not being bi or trans, I’d never try to speak to how good a job they are doing in that department, but they really are trying.

            I think if you are experiencing irritation at your comments here it is because in several threads here, this one, the one about the Lex, and another, I believe, you have come in and complained that we were, well, discussing what we were discussing. I think everyone on this site is well aware of the cultural issues in lesbian bars. But, on the other side of that, these spaces have great and deep meaning to many of us, and we should be allowed to discuss that, be nostalgic about it, relive cherished memories, rather than be condemned for our pasts or for finding value in those spaces.

            I am truly sorry that you feel the way you do about queer women’s spaces. I really am. But to try to insist that we not have anything good to say about them, ever, and, if we do, we’re somehow ignoring or devaluing you is quite the leap. Every article about queer women’s history or spaces is not going to bring up the negative tone with regards to their lack of inclusion that you seem to want, and nor should it.

          • I agree with Shannon. I mean, sure, the few times I’ve gone alone to queer women’s spaces I didn’t exactly feel welcomed with fanfare… but I recognise that that is a safe space for a lot of people. The question of how truly inclusive/welcoming they are of trans/bi/whatever people is definitely something that needs to be discussed, but at the same time I don’t think that *that* question has to displace other equally legitimate and important questions, like this one.

          • 100% with you there, Starling. Your feelings matter.

            Sharon1981, maybe instead of repeatedly speaking over what trans women have to say, you could fucking listen to us. You DID try to speak to it when you say things like

            We’re on AS. I highly doubt anyone here thinks transgender women do not belong in girl bars.

            ‘Cause you’re completely wrong. There are. My experience with autostraddle is one of lingering dread in the background, because as much as i hope and long for it to be the shiny happy experience so many people talk about, I’m always watching my back, always knowing that I’m gonna run into transmisogyny. I know that if I’m ever angry or the slightest bit critical of any non- trans woman on here, I’ll get tons of lashback from commenters who want to pretend they’re such great allies to trans women, until we actually criticize something and are told over and over that we’re overreacting, too angry, too sensitive, reading too much into things. Or worse.

            If you listened to us, you’d know our experience with AS is not all sunshine and rainbows.

            But no. A hell of a lot of people on AS “support” trans women only as long as we don’t say things critical of them.

          • “My experience with autostraddle is one of lingering dread in the background, because as much as i hope and long for it to be the shiny happy experience so many people talk about, I’m always watching my back, always knowing that I’m gonna run into transmisogyny.”

            Yeah I feel this, so much, that one of these days something will happen here to burst this bubble, that this sense I have of this being the closest thing to a safe space will turn out
            to be an illusion and that in fact I, as someone who will never be mistaken for a cis woman, have no safe space at all.

            I do believe that Riese and the other staff do intend for this to be that safe space we need, but I know that that doesn’t mean everyone who comes here genuinely feels that way too.

          • Impish,
            You’re perhaps the angriest commenter on here. I’ve never seen you have anything good to say to anyone. I’m sorry you’ve had such a terrible experience; however, hijacking threads and telling people that we can’t discuss what we’re discussing isn’t the way. Peace.

          • Shannon – she does have a point, though. But so do you. As I said elsewhere in the comments, this is an important discussion to have – but so are many others, and the one should by no means drown out the others.

          • Xenia,
            Yes, she does have a point. I am in no way denying that there is an issue when it comes to the unwelcoming nature of so-called safe spaces toward bi and trans women. It is a serious issue and should be discussed.

            My only issue here is that the comment that started this thread line was essentially telling us that we should not be discussing the issue of straight people, and, specifically straight men, in spaces for queer women.

            The way to deal with other issues is not to try to say that the one being discussed isn’t important, and it certainly isn’t to take such a hugely combative tone with everything one says.

  6. I don’t think the majority of queer folks would say they’re opposed to all straight people in queer spaces. The point of the original article, at least as I read it, was that if someone is trying to gender-police or pulling some “man-haters!” bullshit they probably weren’t a very accepting/queer-friendly customer to begin with. They’re welcome to join as long as they play by the rules.

  7. It’s a somewhat hard problem. In general, there are a lot of good reasons for being accepting of straight patrons in queer spaces. For one thing, there may be some fetal queers in there. And, well, as a trans woman, policing the apparent gender of patrons is of course something that would make me more concerned than happy.

    I’m more mixed on events that draw overwhelming straight crowds. I was hanging out with some trans women in a local gay bar last year, on a night when a drag event was going to be happening rather late in the evening. We got there very early and intended to leave before things got too outrageous. But not too long after we got there, *hours* before the event started, the place was pretty much wall-to-wall straight people. People in the group I was with were the recipients of a few unwelcome “friendly” comments from straight folks.

    I haven’t really felt comfortable going back to that bar since.

    I can’t really criticize the owners of the bar for hosting events like that which they know will draw large straight crowds–they have to keep the place open. The balance between keeping a queer venue open and having it remain a comfortable place for queer people to be isn’t simple. And, if you’re a part of a group also marginalized within queer communities, it’s easy for your problems to get lost in the shuffle.

    I don’t go out to clubs or bars very often… But when I do go out, I’m more interested in the places that are quieter, and safer-feeling.

  8. As someone who doesn’t drink, what I really want is a safe LGBT place to hang out that isn’t a bar.

    I pretty much agree with all of the Nays on the principle of don’t be a dick, in this issue.

    • Yeah, forget bars. How about a queer library? Or coffee shop? A LESBIAN CAT CAFE! Sigh. A girl can dream.

    • Soooooo true! A friend and I used to go to a gay bar years ago, to dance and avoid meatheaded straight guys (he’s black and I’m bi) and I felt so comfortable there because it was happy and queer-friendly – much gratitude to the gay community for letting us in. Although once, a group of straight girls and I tried to go there and they didn’t let ME in because I looked too straight! Me, the only queer person in the group, although it’s probably not realistic to do DNA testing at the door.
      Anyway, I went to lesbian bars for a couple of years with queer women, and the places in my town were pretty unfriendly, and no-one ever spoke to anyone outside their group. Nobody ever seemed to make new friends, let alone meet new girlfriends!
      So, I gave up. Then I quit booze. Now I would really like a lesbian cat cafe.

  9. My feeling is that straight people shouldn’t come to queer spaces alone, but it’s fine to come with a queer friend as long as you’re respectful and don’t mind being assumed to be queer.
    The only problem with “no unaccompanied straights” is that it might exclude questioning people/ people that are just starting to realize they’re queer that aren’t straight and cis but might still not be comfortable saying they’re not straight and cis yet.

    • Also, how to test for straights at the door? Do we show them pictures of Kristen Stewart and Chris Pratt and ask them to point to which one they find more sexually appealing?

      • I dunno, straight people seem to be quite adamant on identifying themselves as straight in queer spaces. Let them identify themselves by their actions – if they’re not being disruptive or rude, then they’re fine. If not, then they shouldn’t expect to be catered to in our spaces.

  10. I think what this brings up is that old “reverse discrimination” argument. Ask almost any straight person or man, and they will not understand why our wanting our own spaces, be it online, in a bar, or wherever else. They will call you a bigot and a hypocrite.

    Personally, I am sick of queer spaces being overrun with heteros, and the last people I want to see in a dyke bar is men. I am there to make some cool queer friends, talk to some lovely ladies, and let my guard down in a way I simply don’t/can’t with straight folks.

    TL;DR- I’d feel a lot better if straight people and men would respect the spaces for what they were intended. all they are there for is to gawk at us like animals in a zoo, or worse, in the case of men, see if they can find a chic for a threesome, or attempt to *turn* a lesbian. No thanks.

    • yeah, i feel you. it’s weird b/c when i dated more feminine girls i felt like i was constantly in a zoo when straight men were around, like the way we were treated was so creepy! and i don’t want that at a queer bar. although honestly i rarely ever go out, soooo BUT if i did.

      • Riese, it is creepy! I rarely (read: never) go out anymore since moving back to SC because the one gay bar here is a tiny little hole in the wall that has been overrun with drugs. So…yeah. But, when I lived in NY and other larger areas, I went out all the time, and the straight dudes in girl bars…*shakes head* Just wrong to have to go through that in a queer space.

    • To be fair I have seen queer women gawk in lesbian bars, specially when two femme ladies are kissing, or dancing closely.

  11. “FOR: Maybe once upon a time you too were the “straight girl” at the lesbian bar”

    SO REAL.

  12. I think in most cases, non-queer people do not belong in a lgbtq+ space. Although there are exceptions, I think, to that rule. A bi or pansexual person could have a straight significant other who they would like to bring, and I think that’s fine! Also some lgbtq+ people might need a buffer when first entering queer spaces, but they don’t have any other queer friends. I just don’t get why people would come to a queer space alone or with all their cishet buddies if they are cishet. Doesn’t make sense to me why they feel the need to interfere.

  13. I find really annoying when straight couples, all friends, enter the place, safely holding hands like something is gonna happen to them if they don’t, and all they do is: a) cuddle, b) make out, c) usually the dude wraps an arm around the girl and looks around like saying, “here’s my girlfriend, I’m not gay”. Why did you come to a gay club if you were going to be so uncomfortable here? Why did you come if all you wanted was to make out? It’s sad that I see more straight couples make out on the regular than queers. Also, once I heard one of these boyfriends tell the girlfriend, “I love coming here with you because no other dude is going to even look at you”. I’m sorry, that’s just gross. The Spice Girls are playing, you could just dance, have fun an not be such a dick.

    This, and “going out with the gays because it’s cool and trendy” is the only two instances when I absolutely cannot stand the presence of straight people in my space. If they come to have fun and not be a bother then they may do as they wish.

  14. Okay so I haven’t actually read the article yet but intend to. I just wanted to share a story.

    I went to a club that is known to be an LGBT club in Houston. A girl approached me to dance, and I did. She told me I was pretty. I didn’t really think she was, but bad vibes for being mean to a rando, so I said she was too.

    She then asked me if I was straight. I looked pretty femme at the time. I still do I guess who knows. Anyways so I said no? In a confused voice. She goes “oh…well I am” and walks away. I never said I was interested in you! YOU approached ME, then somehow got it to seem like I hit on you and you got to reject a lesbian. Fuck you. That pissed me off.

    As long as straight people don’t go to gay bars and make out, or guys don’t hit on/stare at lesbians, I don’t care if they’re there. But be fucking respectful. I went to a gay event about a year ago in downtown Houston, and some fucking guy proposed to his girlfriend in front of everyone with a mic. SERIOUSLY?! Seriously. Just go to a gay event and rub it in our faces that we can’t get married in Houston. Asshole.

    • Word.
      I once went to an LGBTQ grad school mixer because I needed queer friends and there was this girl who came up to me and wanted to talk for ages. And then like an hour in she reveals her straightness by talking about this time that she was hanging out with her friends in a gay bar and this guy approached her and said, “You look too pretty to be gay.” And she responded by saying, “I’m straight!”
      So basically I spent the mixer talking to some straight girl who didn’t even get that the comment she enthusiastically responded to was actually kind of homophobic.

    • That is fucking nuts! Seriously some of these stories are blowing my mind. I think last weekend was my first time in a lesbian bar this year, I rarely go out anymore but I’m surprised I think that people are like that. But I guess people are people and we are flawed creatures

    • What about straight people who go to gay bar for a gaycation(in fact there is a book called the straight girls guide to sleeping with women and they talk about gaycation a bit)?

      • There’s sooooo much wrong with that gaycation shit. At the top of the list are a) treating women like objects to experiment with, b) contributing to the already rampant biphobia in this community, and c) insulting us like we’re some kind of trip to an amusement park…I mean, “gaycation?” Really? But yeah, this is a thing, and it helps nothing and no one.

      • I’m not familiar with the “gaycation” thing, but if these women actually want to have sex with women, aren’t they not straight? Like maybe they are heteromantic, but I don’t know any lesbians who are like, “you know what would be fun? having sex with men for a week.” Maybe they are like slowly realizing that they aren’t straight but aren’t ready to accept it.
        But I sure as hell would not want to fool around with a straight girl who just wants a sexy story to tell her boyfriend later.

    • I want to think that first one is bi chick a waffling a bit with herself, but that last one.

      Faith in humans to be kind and understanding I have very little of, but that’s just so Jenna Maroney shit to the bull right there.

  15. I go back and forth. I don’t mind if the person/group seems chill or if it is a regular Friday night. I do mind if it is an advertised/planned queer event and large groups of straight/cis people come in. Fortunately I haven’t experienced that sort of thing a lot. I’m will say in the camp of “Hey, so there’s only like one exclusively lady gay/queer bar in the city, can we please just have this one thing” most of the time.

  16. I guess I don’t mind a few straggling straight people every once in a while. As long as they understand that We live in their straight world every. single. day. and need our special spaces.

    And, for the love of God, no bro culture or bachelorette parties.

  17. Okay, my earlier rant aside (sorry, lots of personal experience with being stared at like an animal in a zoo cage), this brings up a lot of gray area. What about a bi or pan girl and her straight boyfriend? What about a straight, bi, or pan trans women bringing her straight boyfriend?

    But, then again, with those scenarios, you also get into the really gross things that happen like couples looking for threesomes and thinking a lesbian bar is the perfect place to find that third person. While they could find that person at such a place, most of us would be really turned off at the idea of being trolled like meat in what should be a safe space for queer women.

    So, my answer is….my instinctive, visceral reaction is to be very protective of these spaces, but there are just too many narratives and scenarios where the presence of straight people and/or men would be perfectly appropriate, so we can’t do a blanket “no straight people or men in girl bars ever.”

    • From my perspective, that happens to be a bi/pan woman’s, if I was dating a guy I might want to share spaces that were important to me with him sometimes. I think I should be able to bring him into those spaces, and I think that on some nights I should be unable to, but even if he was there as my partner he would still be a guest in a queer space.

      I would not choose bring him there for a romantic evening personally. He’d still be my partner, I’d not hide it, but I would probably be more circumspect, in part because I feel protective of the space and the people I share it with: Being able to look at a crowd and not “see” the hetero-normative default, to not be chocked with its assumptions, is important, and we only have Pride (and possibly the inter-webs) besides this.

      I guess this might vary a little based on the venue and time of day: daytime trade/atmosphere can be a little more relaxed, and weekend nights in lesbian bars exist for a fairly specific reason. I felt “First Out”, for example, managed to pull the trick of being a multipurpose queer (women’s) space with some aplomb.

      I’d add it’s also enormously helpful in making the space accessible to people who typically feel on the edge of the community: considering facilities, physical access, clear harassment policies, and the broad range of interests within an ethnically diverse population. I’m trans, and when I was coming out I needed a sense of place and community desperately; if only to be on my own and feel as if I fit in, without the fear of being harassed. Even queer spaces can be intimidating, and sometimes they especially are, and being able to slip into a place to just read some comics and treat yourself to coffee and cake can be hugely affirming. Heck I wish I could find a semi-decent, even semi-queer, women’s hangout that was relaxed and did coffee/tea and cake in central London (Soho still has few that come close).

      If there’s a productive discussion to be had about queer spaces, and how to make them better, I think different points of community entry and involvement, and the pathways between them, matter. Also a conscious, conspicuous effort to be inclusive. Well run churches and town halls benefit very much from the same thing.

      However, I do come from a big UK city with a lot of options and a sizeable LGBT population, and I’m unsure if this can be universalized.

      • As someone who lives in London and works near Soho, I would love to find out where these remaining places you talk about are!

    • It could also be a bi/pan woman going with her bi/pan boyfriend. My first experiences with being in a queer space were with a bi/heteroflexible boyfriend who took me to his university’s queer association. That was years before I had the guts to come out, which is why those experiences and how well we were received there feel still really validating.

      • Understood. I left out bi/pan boyfriends of queer women because they pretty much automatically belong. I also like what @Julia said above re: being aware that queer people “see” the heteronormative default 24/7 all over the world. I know, of course, that looking at a couple who is gf/bf does NOT mean they are straight, but, it is still, on the surface, that default. I know that it has to be really shitty for a queer woman to take her boyfriend to a queer space only to be made to feel unwelcome, though. I’d never want that to happen. On the other side of that, though, I am very protective of our spaces.

  18. “I think probably I would suggest that we all come back to my place, get stoned, play Scattergories and eat Pumpkin Spice Oreos.” I’ll be over in 6 hours.

    I’m a queer girl who lives in Los Angeles. The gayest event to happen in LA this year was the Robyn concert at the Hollywood Bowl. There used to be a few girl’s nights in LA but now most of them are getting shut down due to low attendance or low interest. I didn’t like them while they were here but now that they’re leaving I sort of miss them. I guess I never took them that seriously because of all the straight people there. After visiting my first gay bar I quickly realized that this was not going to be the place I was going to meet my new best friends or find community or meet someone really groovy. It was the place I was going to go to after taking swigs from a flask in the alley instead of drinking at the bar because I’m being outpriced by Pride, an event that’s supposedly about celebrating me. It’s where I go to talk to three straight girls in a row and then a group of dudes whose girlfriends dragged them along and then two people who aren’t even from LA but wanted to visit a gay bar in West Hollywood before finally giving up on thinking I’ll have a conversation with anyone I could be remotely romantically interested in. It’s where I go to dance to an awful DJ’s macbook playlist while a couple gay guy and straight girl gogo dancers grind and do body rolls on the platforms above me. It doesn’t feel like home. But for a long time nowhere else really did either, so I kept coming back, and every night spent at the gay bar felt like a nonevent. Like empty calories. Like, what was the point of even trying? Do you know how many times I have left a lesbian bar to go get a bacon wrapped hot dog from a street cart because that was the only way to end the night on a high note? Do I have to spell out the irony of leaving a lesbian bar to get a hot dog?

    I feel like (ideologically) I am against men and straight people in lesbian bars. In practice, I don’t really care because those spaces have never felt like mine anyway. My friends and I are actively forging our own spaces because we need them. I honestly don’t ever feel like going back to a gay bar again. Or bars that attract rude cis brodudes. I seek the spaces I DO need and DO feel welcome, respected and seen: queer crafting parties, hot cider and moon intention setting wytch gatherings, feminist storytelling events. My own house is the best gay bar I’ve ever been to. I’ve had 10,000 times more fun inviting all my queer friends over to drink and smoke in my yard than I’ve had going to some bullshitty gay bar. That’s where I’m at right now. I hope other queers in my city are finding and forging their own spaces too, and I hope we will find each other soon! I am always on the lookout for more people to bring into the fold. I understand that I’m incredibly lucky to be able to find and create these communities in my city. I cannot imagine what it must be like to be gay where the gay bar is the only option available to you, if that. I’ve never even been to a gay bar outside of a major metropolitan area. Thanks for opening up this space for others to share.

    • Also, thank you for that graphic. I’m saving it because I just know it will come in handy in the future.

    • I hear this.

      Philosophically I could have an opinion on this debate, but yeah, gay bars have never felt particularly fun/welcoming to me to begin with, so I find it hard to care. I always experienced them as similarly judgmental and painful (but in a different way) to non-gay bars.

      I have always much preferred other spaces – but they can be hard to find if you don’t have your network set up to begin with.

    • Can we for a second talk about how 90% of the dancers at lesbian bars are straight girls? I have a friend who was a regular at Truckstop and love their dance show; but, didn’t like hearing back, sorry I’m into men, when she just complemented and tipped them.

      • Everywhere I go there are half naked heterosexual women. On television. On magazine covers. On billboards. In music videos. In commercials. I see innumerable female midriffs per day/per week/per year. I am inundated with images of the fit, conventionally attractive, half naked heterosexual woman. The last place I want to see another half naked heterosexual woman dancing for my gaze who isn’t one of my gays is the lesbian bar. Is that really so much to ask?

        • I think so, as there must be a reason why queer women aren’t dancing at such venues. Like for lesbian Jesus sake can someone explain to me why we can’t have queer dancers? At gay men’s night most of the dancers, I’m told are queer, why can’t the women? Another friend ask a dancer why she dances there. She replied something to the effect she thought she’d experience less harassment, but that was only sometimes the case.

    • Overheard while walking to my seat at that Robyn show: “Um, I think there are a few gays here.”

    • Hey Monique, former Angelino here. You might enjoy Akbar (east side)? It’s neighborhoody/queer.

      • PS Wednesday nights at Akbar are craft nights, where you make things with glitter and popsicle sticks. It’s that kind of place.

      • I live in the same neighborhood as Akbar! Craft nights are fun, but every other night seems to be just gay dudes in sleeveless brotanks after 8 pm. As far as gay bars go it’s my favorite place to go dancing after I’ve had a few drinks bc it’s a relative safe, unsceney bar, but it’s still by no means a community space. It’s definitely more for boys, too.

        • Monique, cool! I lived in Silverlake for about nine years. Though I haven’t lived there for a while, and it sounds like Akbar has changed a bit since the last time I was there.

    • Now I want a bacon wrapped hot dog, even though I’ve been a vegetarian for years. Seriously, coming out of Here or Girlbar after a night of loud music and overpriced cocktails, those hot dogs were the BEST.

  19. As someone who is just shy of actually being old enough to go to bars I’m not sure not sure how relevant this will be but I’ve been reading about lesbian bars recently and although I think it’s very gross and voyeuristic that straight people would go there I guess the one thing I worry about is if you’re somehow going to somehow prevent straight people from entering you risk alienating a lot of straight-passing queers.
    Even though when I look at myself, I see a queer lady, I know that a lot of other people do not. Especially as a bisexual queer lady, my identity is questioned a lot. If I want to attract attention from girls at parties I have to dress way more butch than I really want to or just go around blurting out my sexuality. So the possibility of having my sexuality questioned at the door of a bar is really troubling to me. But maybe that is the price we have to pay for queer spaces. And as a lady-gay with mostly male gay friends I don’t know who I would go with if not dudes or straight ladies, at least the first time or so.

    Sidenote: I’ve been thinking about policing level-of-gay recently because at my (smallish) university we have a tiny lgbtq center but it’s so gaudy with rainbows and unicorns covering all the wall space that a lot of people don’t feel comfortable there. Like there is a real problem of people not feeling like they are “gay enough” for the lgbtq center and it sucks. I’m basically trying to stage a hostile takeover of it over the next two years bc there are so many queers at my school but everyone thinks there are none bc no one wants to fucking go to the lgbtq center

    tl;dr i don’t want the str8s there but i don’t want to be interrogated about my sexuality ya dig

    • YES – I am 100% against straight people coming into queer spaces and being assholes, but I also really don’t like identity policing. Who gets to decide who belongs in queer spaces? Who is “gay enough”? As a femme-ish queer person who is not a lesbian, I am often hesitant to seek out queer spaces because I worry that I will feel unwelcome, because I’m “not gay enough”. Are bisexual ladies not allowed in lesbian bars? If they are allowed do they have to leave male partners at home? How do you know the people making out who appear to you to be cishet are not queer or trans? Several other commenters have mentioned that trans women are also frequently made to feel unwelcome in lesbian bars. I guess my position on this question is no assholes allowed, but let’s not try to determine who is “gay enough”/”woman enough” to be allowed in our queer lady spaces ok?

      • Yes! Let’s call people out for their behavior and leave their identities alone (because identities are fuzzy sometimes anyway).

    • I def wouldn’t want to be interrogated about my sexuality either, especially since so many gay people have made it clear to my face that they don’t believe in bisexuality. But for me at least, the point of saying “straight people should (generally, with exceptions) not go to gay bars” isn’t to make it literally, like, against bar policy so you have to somehow prove you’re queer to get in (how would you even prove that anyway). The point is, how should an ethical straight person behave if they want to support queer people? And do queer people have the moral right to be upset about straight cis people in queer bars? I don’t think anyone is seriously suggesting, like, carding people for queerness (again how would that even work?). BUT I also don’t want people to feel entitled to informally interrogate people about their sexuality either, especially given how many femme queer women are made to feel unwelcome in queer spaces, so I see your point.

    • I feel that not being gay enough for the LBGTQ center. The one at my school was called the Rainbow Resource Room and looked like it was decorated by a five year old who only believed in primary colors. It also had a large glass window/wall so it was impossible to be in there without every person walking on one of the major path’s seeing you. It was manned by loud, out and proud student gays who mostly got paid to sit at the desk and do homework because no one ever went in there. For someone trying to figure out why I felt about my roommate a little differently than my other friends, it was the least useful thing imaginable, and kept me in the mindset that I couldn’t actually like girls because I didn’t feel “queer enough” for any queer space.

      • You put into words exactly how I feel about the resource center at my university, in a way I definitely never could express. It’s fascinating (and incredibly sad) how a space that intends to be inclusive can be unintentionally exclusive.

    • Oh Mo, darling, I feel so hard. Femme invisibility is too real and all too often it reflects back from all directions. Unfortunately, it often results in not feeling queer ‘enough’. That feeling sucks. I have mostly all butch/moc gay lady friends and I sometimes don’t even feel queer enough for them. Suuuuuucks hard.

  20. The Country Club in New Orleans existed as an awesome clothing optional queer bar/pool for 20 or so year with no problems.

    Straight people started going there in mass.

    It’s not clothing optional anymore…

    • Not to mention the drugging and rape of a patron whose face got posted on a flyer after coming forward for “ruining” everything.

      • Well, that’s what I meant by subtly attempting to imply that straight dudes ruin queer spaces without bringing up the specifics of that woman’s horrifying experience. The victim blaming makes me ill and furious.

        I was trying to tread lightly because there are so many implications with this situation. I almost didn’t say anything about it because I wasn’t sure how to address it. I phrased my comment really poorly in a way that minimized the woman’s experiences, which was not my intention at all. Obviously every time straight dudes enter queer spaces sexual assault followed by horrendous victim blaming does not occur. And obviously sexual assault and victim blaming isn’t confined to straight dudes. This is just a really concrete example of straight dudes entering a safe queer space and making it unsafe.

        • I’m terrible at subtle and can maybe only tread lightly on my bare feet. Sorry if I’ve made you or anyone else uncomfortable.
          Yeah I think we all realise just mere presence of a cishet man in a queer space doesn’t mean sexual assault is going to happen and the baggage of rape culture has no confines.

          • No no. I was just trying to explain what I meant, or rather, didn’t mean.

            The policy change was going to happen anyway. People, yep straight ones, were romping on the sidewalk out front and in the neighbor’s yards. The bar itself announced that Jay Z and Beyonce were there. They had to know that as a business that is not conforming to code, no matter how ridiculous the code is, the last thing you want to do is announce that two of the most famous people on the planet were there. The assault didn’t have anything to do with it other than providing the city an absolutely terrible excuse to pretend that they’re stopping rape by bathing suits.

            I was talking to a bartender a while back, I can’t remember where he bartends, and he told me they don’t allow women at all sometimes because of the bachelorette party situation. It sucks for queers who don’t identify and or pass as male, but I kind of get it.

          • It’s also a shame that these people made fliers blaming a sexual assault victim for ending their public naked fun sexi timez when they could have maybe brought about positive change if they’d made them about the NOPD detective who closed a case on a two-year-old assault victim because the toddler was unable to disclose enough evidence. No, these dudes would have blamed the toddler for not knowing how to form sentences yet about horrible things that it has no concept of.

      • Sorry about that things have been cracking down around here lately. When I was in highschool (5 yrs ago) classmates went to bars, drank and partied all the time.

        As short a time as 2 years ago I could walk into someplace with a group of people and not get carded as long as didn’t order a drink a drink myself at the bar, but I could and did sometimes order a drink through someone else or have sip of another’s drink.
        Meaning a minor or underage adult could do the very same.

        Changes were needed just sometimes the crackdown is harsh and irritating.

        • Except my ID was totally legit – the only problem is that it was technically expired, but most places don’t check for that since the name, face, address all still check out and are hologrammed. They were just being persnickety about it for no good reason.

          • That’s what I mean, the crackdown has been harsh. Something small like that 2 years ago a bar, club, place that serves alcohol as a vital part of their business would have let that go but now nah uh. Cost a doorperson their job maybe.

          • A friend of mine got busted last week for serving someone with an expired id. It’s a huge fine etc. It’s been an easy money grab for a while now and my friend knew better but they were slammed.

            I’m old as hell and I get carded unless I know the bartender. It wasn’t personal.

            This reminds me, I think my license expired on my birthday…

  21. I am shocked that this article is the official response to how the previous article…

    sparked debate on the “not-queers in queer spaces”

    For me, the original article was upsetting because of how the yelp posts were used for humor. They were just listed and mocked…and the mocking dragged down a lot of queer women.
    As if no queer women have different bodies (#1) or feel the need to use the men’s room at some point(#4).

    A wide brush was used to draw the line between us and them. Ever date a guy and still want to hang with your queer friends, or have a different body, or feel the need to use the men’s room, then prepare to get mocked along with those clueless straight folks.

  22. No. Just…. no. Queer people need queer spaces. I don’t care if gay men are at dyke night or vice versa, but we need to have spaces where we can socialize and be ourselves and not have to worry about the male gaze and everything else that comes along with it.

    I grew up in a small town with one gay bar a town over and on any given night, half the clientele was straight. It was frustrating because there were dozens of other dive bars in the area that catered exclusively to straight people, yet they populated the one gay bar. When you are a young inexperienced baby dyke, it is hard enough to approach a girl you KNOW is gay. When there’s a fifty-fifty chance she may be straight and there with her boyfriend, well, it makes it damn near impossible so you just give up and approach no one (speaking from experience).

    As an adult, I live in Portland. I love the parties that go on during Pride and I love the camaraderie that I feel with people that are pouring into the streets and wandering around, holding hands, being out and open and social with complete strangers. People may think Portland is super gay but honestly, most days it feels really… average. During Pride, though, you see gay people and couples every where and it feels amazing and so uplifting. Getting to the relevant part here — two years ago during Pride, my wife and I waited in line over an hour to get into our favorite gay bar that usually has zero wait. This in and of itself wasn’t a problem (I mean, it WAS Pride), but the fact that we were in line directly behind two straight couples that were making it very obvious that they were heterosexual and just there to see all the freaks out for Pride was absolutely maddening. I was furious. I mean, do not stand there all wide-eyed and teetering in your heels and clinging to your boyfriends and whispering nervously and staring at all the fabulously outrageous queens and ripped men in tight underwear and girls making out in the corner like we’re on display for you. Like just don’t. And don’t make me wait to get into MY gay bar during MY Pride weekend because you and your straight friends think we make good entertainment.

    • This is kinda why I don’t really go to our Pride thing on the Sunday and instead just go to Dyke March on the Saturday before.

      Not that I always feel entirely comfortable/welcome there (though I haven’t had any *negative* experiences there), I do feel more comfortable there as it’s almost only “target audience” there – unlike at Pride where it sometimes feels like the vast majority are straight people down to gawk or to be seen being there, since queer is so trendy now.

      I guess it’s more comfortable/comforting to me to just sit there alone in the park, but surrounded by people you can very safely assume are queer women… even if they completely ignore me, it’s better than being gawked at by a bunch of heteros who probs don’t even realise what assholes they’re being.

  23. I think that having a safe space is important and while I feel like there are good arguments to be made for why those should exclude or restrict the presence of non queer or unaccompanied queer people I keep thinking about how the only lesbian bar in my fairly large mostly queer friendly city has had a very on again off again relationship with existing. In fact it looks like it may be gone for good now and we have one less queer positive space and one less queer owned business in the city.

    I don’t want to feel gawked at or like my safe space is being invaded but it feels like queer culture is being diluted to the point that without a boost from tourists/allies our spaces may no longer be able to sustainably exist.

    • yeah I wonder about that too — historically lesbian-owned lesbian-catered businesses usually fail, and bars are no exception. i’m determined to prove otherwise with this business, but damn, it’s hard.

  24. How do we feel about straight couples when at least one of them is trans, or queer at queer bar?

    I identify as queer and genderqueer. I’ve yet to start taking hormones, but so far haven’t had too much issues at lesbian bars/ladies nights. To be fair I was with all queer women, but did notice people hating. Though I did get odd looks(wearing breast forms and plaid shirt) from bouncers. I also noticed fair amount of gay men at such nights. It has me wondering there are other gay bars in the neighborhood, why come to bar dedicated to lesbians? Is it because you don’t want to another man to hit on your bf or you? Or are lesbians bars less packed/easier to get into?

    • I feel really into straight-appearing couples where someone’s queer or trans or both. I think anytime we see the clear disparities in our larger community being enforced in our spaces we need to step back and reconsider. I have friends who are trans but unable to transition medically (a few are uninterested but most are unable due to money/legal issues). I want them to be welcome. I feel like if we only side-eyed when someone was behaving inappropriately in the space, instead of not matching our expectations about their appearance, we’d avoid most of the concerns here.

    • I think it very much depends on the intent of the couple and their behavior. For example, there was this couple i had seen in a dyke bar a couple of times and the woman would start dancing with other women and he would watch and then she would eventually go back to him and that made me uncomfortable. Because she was fetishizing us. She was using women who probably did not always get what was going on to basically perform for her boyfriend. And even if she is bi and also enjoying herself, that shit is not cool. There are already too many men who think that lesbian couples exist for the purpose of their personal fantasy and i don’t want to inadvertently perpetuate that view.
      But if you are a queer person heteronormative couple and you want to hang with other queers in a way that is respectful way, you shouldn’t be banned from your old hangouts because of the gender of your partner.

  25. “I think probably I would suggest that we all come back to my place, get stoned, play Scattergories and eat Pumpkin Spice Oreos.”

    100% best plan always. Maybe also explains why I never meet new people.

    I’m generally down with straight people in queer bars when they’re respectful/aware/behaving themselves. Hella not into having door policies of turning people away, because gender policing, cissexism, and etc. But I’m also not into queer spaces where we’re outnumbered by straight people…it seems weird to make it a numbers game, but after a certain point, it stops being a queer space and starts being queer-friendly.

  26. “I think probably I would suggest that we all come back to my place, get stoned, play Scattergories and eat Pumpkin Spice Oreos.”


  27. OMG, the bachelorette parties. Seeing a former classmate show up at a queer bar on a bachelorette party-tour made me feel like a deviant freakshow. If you’ve never been to the queer bar, don’t start by celebrating your straight friend’s straight wedding in a place that doesn’t have marriage equality yet. I think that should be self-enforced, though: straight cis people who are ‘progressively cool with teh gays’, please be the voice of respectful behavior in your straight cis friend groups.

    Big yes to not turning anyone away. You can’t tell by looking what someone’s gender identity or sexual orientation is. You have information about their gender presentation, though even that’s only one instance. I think there’s a danger of replicating transphobia and biphobia that way. If their behavior is transphobic and/or homophobic (hands all over their straight partner and preemptively talking about their super straightness, harassing women: definitely qualify), by all means, make them unwelcome.

    I have felt that poor service in a gay bar was unjust, as a queer woman, but now I’m questioning whether that’s justified or some kind of entitlement creeping up. I was at a gay bar during Pride, one that caters to men but hosts some Pride events (this was not during one of those). I had just finished working an event so I was wearing my Pride volunteer gear (and presenting androgynously), with a mostly gay male group of friends. When I went to the not-full bar, the bartender ignored me, served several men, cleaned up and loaded a rack of glasses, and then turned to take my order. I was studiously polite the whole time, because: woman in gay bar. When I got back, my friends were like, where were you? They got the rest of my drinks and were served immediately. I’ve never been back, even for actual Pride events. My feeling is that I can get treated like shit by men any day of the week; why the hell would I stick around for that in a queer space? I’m sure this is shaded by experiencing misogyny from white cis gay men, including in queer bars (seriously, keep your hands to yourself!). Anyone else have thoughts/feelings/experiences about this? Am I missing something? Failing to understand historical context?

    • I have no idea, but I’m sad to say that as a somewhat masculine woman I experience more harrassment from gay men than from straight men. I have also encountered misogynistic comments and lesbophobia from cis gay men. Once a guy came angrily to tell us to get a room when I was kissing my gf at a gay bar! It’s ironic that I have never encountered such comments in in straight spaces.

    • Not being interested in romantic or sexual relationships with women doesn’t mean they’ve ever exhumed their entitlement to women’s bodies or any number of other misogynist cultural messages they learned.

  28. I feel like much of the entitlement from non-queers in specifically lesbian spaces is due to the fact that they are female spaces. Both men and women, but men especially, tend to feel entitled to invading a female space. Defining women they hardly know, catcalling, inserting themselves into a conversation between women, because it “doesn’t feel complete” without a male presence…it’s nothing new. It is only made more alarming and dire because of how extremely limited lesbian spaces are to begin with.

  29. So, a few things:

    – just about every lesbian/queer/gay/trans space i’ve seen had allies who were straight, male, etc. Hell, even the L Word had ‘Lisa’ (who I still maintain is one of the most accidentally subversive characters in canon. Rachel, I haven’t forgotten about that article).

    – historically, these spaces have existed for people with no where else to go. Often, that means they’re visibly LGBT. But not always. but it didn’t matter if you fit some arcane definition. there was just an understanding that nobody showed up by accident. if you were there, it’s cause you needed to be, even if you didn’t look like it.

    – In fact, the only spaces I’ve seen that were truly ‘exclusive’ were privileged ones. The country clubs and gated communities. it’s a lot harder for communities on the fringe to do that, especially if their numbers are small. You just rely on the stigma around your group to keep out people who don’t need to be there.

    – which, come to think of it, relates to the ‘fair weather friend’ argument: with the stigma gone, there’s no defense against people exploiting these spaces, and taking them over. The only way to do so, short term, would be making these spaces more exclusive. But that would risk keeping people out who need that space, but don’t fit some rigid definition.

    – I tend towards inclusion, but that means knowing that inevitably, you’ll have to abandon the space to straight takeover and start again. but, given that choice, I’d rather have to keep making inclusive spaces than preserve a stagnant, exclusive one. The first one just acknowledges a dynamic world, where the definition of ‘outsider’ is subject to change. But that’s me.

    – also, off topic, but lesbians are perfectly capable of bro-bar behavior without men.

    • Not to get off topic, but Ilene said she got the idea of Lisa from an actual person she met at Lilith Fair. Personally think Lisa is non op trans, but we can’t make assumptions.

    • “– also, off topic, but lesbians are perfectly capable of bro-bar behavior without men.”


  30. I’m a lesbian and my BF is gay, so we know a bunch of lesbian/gay/queer/trans clubs, bars and such, we went together to many of this places, I even went to some bathhouses.

    And here is what I’ve learned: it seems that we have better manners than the mayority of straight folks.

    If you’re straight in a LGBT place and somebody comes at you (and I don’t mean aggressively, just the plain pick up shit that happens in any club or bar), why do you need to make an scandal or pick a fight about it? We do understand what “NO” means and probably we’re gonna look for “greener pastures”.

    Straight people should know that LGBT places are just that, LGBT places, they’re not freak-shows or zoos created for your entertainment.

  31. Keeping straight people out of those spaces ends up excluding bi and pansexual people, or trans queers who may pass and appear to be in a ‘straight’ relationship. Queer bars are often places we bring our dates and significant others, so if we ban a bi girl from bringing her straight male partner we’re essentially excluding her from our culture. Idk, just everytime I see these conversations happen about queer spaces it ends with bi people getting excluded and thrown under the bus. It is a uniquely painful experience to have a male partner and feel like you are no longer welcome in your community. You either have to stop participating or leave your partner behind at home. Most of the time when I was in ‘straight’ relationships I felt like I had to give up my identity, not bc of my partner but because the queer spaces around me wouldn’t accept me anymore. I’m all for policing behavior and acknowledging power dynamics but categorically excluding straight boys feels a lot like being told to ‘pick a side already,’ and I am so tired of hearing that shit in my community.

    • I don’t think it would be possible (or legal) to ban straight guys outright. I also understand the tiresome “pick a side” line. However, something you have to understand is this: queer women have so few spaces of our own, and as the “State of the Lesbian Bar” series has highlighted recently, they are getting fewer. Most women are not out at the girl bar to make friends with straight dudes. We can do that in any of the gazillion spaces, online and off, that cater to heteronormative culture.

      I just feel like we have a tight rope to walk here. We’d never attempt to make bi, pan, or trans people feel unwelcome. But, in attempting to be as inclusive as possible, cisgender lesbians and our needs are being forgotten about. Just having a bar/space for queer women is no longer acceptable, and became taboo somewhere along the way here, and I find that unfair, and even a bit threatening.

      We constantly police ourselves and our language, etc, because despite being othered in the wider world, we have privilege in this community…but I am beginning to think that said privilege means that our need for a space for queer women only will be ignored or even scolded because women in straight appearing relationships insist on having their cishet bf’s in tow wherever you go. Two sides to every coin and all that.

      • But people are at queer bars to socialize with their friends and partners and friends’ partners. For some people, that might mean different gender relationships.

        Also, your use of “our own” for queer women to argue against the bisexual woman’s perspective implies that you don’t think bi women are queer and they don’t need queer spaces. That is shitty.

        • Of course I don’t think that, at all. Bi/pan/[insert queer identity here] belong there. I thought I made that quite clear.

          • You’re explaining the need for queer spaces to bi women as if they don’t already understand that and need it too: “However, something you have to understand is this: queer women have so few spaces of our own”). The “you” is bi/pan women and the “queer women” means lesbians. The way you phrase your argument doesn’t include bi women as queer.

            Honestly, if you’re worried about spaces for queer women becoming fewer (often a result of finances) you might want to think about how so often they exclude (implicitly or explicitly) bisexuals, who are the largest demographic in the LGBT. If you want places to stay open, having them welcoming to as many queer women as possible makes a lot of sense.

        • Replying up here because your bottom comment has no buttons. Anyway, I in no way meant to explain that in an exclusive way. To me, a queer woman is a queer woman is a queer woman. Let me make that clear. I apologize if it came off otherwise.

          All spaces should be welcome to all queer women, regardless of identity. However, there are many reasons that inviting men in changes the space, even if those cishet guys happen to be the partners of queer women. IMO, saying they can’t come does not make it unwelcome. Straight men can go anywhere without being harassed or stared at. Queer women can’t. I just think that if a space wants to be queer women only, it should be allowed to be. I guarantee you, for ever space like that, there are dozens of others where straight men are perfectly welcome.

    • Thank you for your comment. Encapsulated a lot of what I feel, having a male partner, in a much smaller character count than my own comment. It’s so painful to feel shut out from a community I love so much. I’ve stopped attending Pride for numerous reasons (the Pink Pound, promotion of alcohol/drug abuse in a community with already statistically higher instances of such than straights, etc) but one of them is definitely the scornful looks I get from attending with my boyfriend.

  32. I know this article is mostly addressing nonqueer people in queer spaces, but it did touch on men in queer women spaces. The article seemed to mostly point out issues with cis men, but what about trans men? I know this a queer women site and not a space for discussing mens issues, trans or not. But I am a nonbinary more masculine trans person who uses he/him/his so am generally seen as male. I’ve been on AS for years and gone to 2 a camps. I found AS when identified as a cis female lesbian, just cause my identity evolved, does that mean I have to leave this wonderful space I feel safe in? I’m not asking to be catered to, I just want to take part in this space because I still identify with it in some ways. Still I feel insecure about that and even though A Camp is the most beautiful, nurturing, open, space that makes me feel the happiest and safest I have ever been, I still question whether its okay for me to attend. Creating spaces along identity lines does discount shared life experiences that go beyond specific identities. I think there is value in having a space that is for people of shared life experiences, as well as identity.

  33. Last time I went to the “gay” bar in Tulsa there were two straight couples who came in alone and were the only ones making out on the dance floor. First of all, ew. Second of all, why are you even here?? Echoing the above sentiment, there are much better bars available for that. They can make out in literally any other space, why do they feel the need to bring that PDA to our safe space?

    I noticed a comment that mentioned bi or pan people could be bringing their straight partner along with them. That can be treading in murky water… Too many threesome offers have made me wary of straight couples in gay bars. Like, are you hunting for a unicorn? Does watching all the queer PDA do something for you both? Again, gross. Not here for that.

    • Yep. I mean, I would never, ever tell a bi or pan woman that she is not a community member just because she has a cis male partner. But, on the other side of that, let’s not pretend that there aren’t threesome hunting couples and voyeuristic men who get off on girl on girl action and stuff like that. It’s gross and the last place we should have to put up with that is in a queer bar.

      Hell, I just had to get rid of a woman on OKCupid like a week ago- the latest in a long, long line- who just wanted me as her thing on the side of her male fiancee, who was closeted, and when I pointed out how disrespectful and gross her behavior was, she didn’t understand it. So, yeah. Already get more than enough of that, and I am not even the least bit okay with it happening in girl bars.

  34. I guess where I draw the line is the “bro-culture” and straight bachelorette parties. I was at a gay club in my city a few weeks ago and the girls in this bachelorette party were being incredibly disrespectful toward the drag queens who were performing. One of them kept slapping the queen’s ass everytime she went by.

    This is a huge problem where I’m from – the rapid gentrification of the formerly queer neighborhood has led to a massive influx of frat boys, folks from the far-out-there suburbs, and straight people who in general do not respect the queer culture there and act like we’re there for entertainment, or worse (there have been several physical attacks).

    So: if a straight person fits the above description and also acts like an asshole, they are not welcome, in my book. The rest of it…I do think we need queer-only or majority-queer spaces. I like the idea of straight people needing a queer ‘chaperone’ to get in. But that does bring up the problematic issue of gender/orientation-policing, which I am absolutely against. Hmm…

  35. Great article. So many opinions on this topic. I think some of the issues with queer only bars is it can/most likely does create a culture of policing gender and sexuality. Because, you can’t just look at someone and know if they’re straight/if their partner(s) and friend (s) are straight unless they tell you so. Also, it lends itself to assuming people’s genders, and creates at best, an unwelcoming environment, and at worst, an extremely dangerous one. Also, for folks who are bisexual or pansexual, it’s fucked to say they can’t bring their partners if they are in what some assume is a heteronormative relationship. That gets into the messed up territory of being “not queer enough”. I also think it’s extremely important to have safer spaces for queer and trans folks. It’s also tricky because even in queer and trans spaces, systems of oppression exist, so there’s still going to be issues. But creating community is important, as well as having safer spaces for closeted folks. I also have experienced misogyny from gay men when I’ve been at a queer bar, so having a space away from men is also nice, but also like queer bars should be for all queer and trans folks, and not just monogamous cis gay and lesbian couples. So my main point is, well having safer spaces away from straight folks and men is important, it can seriously create a gender and sexuality policing space that ignores bisexual and pansexual folks, as well as trans folks, and their safety needs.

    • Also femme invisibility also can be a cause of gender and sexuality policing. There’s defs a lot of reasons why I avoid bars for the most part. And yeah, bachelorette parties seriously don’t need to come to queer bars. Straight people who come to watch and fetishize folks should not come.

      • Femme invisibility is a huge reason I avoid bars all together as well. It’s a little frustrating because I turn out to be the “straight girl” in the “wrong place”. I’ve got anxiety on top of being terribly shy so it’s hard for me to approach females/flirt/whathaveyou and that contributes to it. I’m completely against bachelorette parties…just…why?? I guess what I’m saying is it’s really hard to tell how a person identifies just on sight and I can understand that completely. Maybe if we had some sort of secret handshake? :D

        • Totally feel you on the anxiety stuff. Like, I think I might have the intimidating unapproachable femme thing going on cause people generally don’t come talk to me apart from for checkins and not to flirt. and because of the anxiety, that’s the reason I don’t approach others.

    • Thanks Bronwyn for bringing this one up.
      While having despised the straight harem tagging along with gay men (who where then super akward/rude if hit on by a girl) in a mixed club in town, and being seriously offended by straight men occupying lesbian bars and utterly misbehaving, I run into a whole new issue now I’m dating a (cis) man.
      Suddenly the places that I used to hang out are no longer mine, my partner is not welcome and there is an unwritten rule that I shouldn’t be kissing him.

  36. Some stories:

    1. My first birthday in Australia I asked my gang of girls – 3 super girly straight girls – to take me out to a gay bar, since I’d never been able to go to one. All three got hit on by other girls in the club. The one actual queer girl in the group? All I got was some gay dude leering on me and claiming that him being gay negates it.

    2. I’ve been asked point blank at a lesbian party if I knew this space was for queer women only – while someone who I knew for a fact was straight walked past us unnoticed. (I suspect it’s because I was one of a smattering of people who were Not White in super-whitewashed Brisbane.)

    3. I performed at a competition held at one of Brisbane’s biggest gay/drag bars a few years ago, and brought my then-boyfriend, a straight cis guy, along to help document the performance. Of course he gets asked by the resident queer media for a vox pop interview (and shows up in the magazine) while I go unnoticed.

    4. While walking back from having danced and marched in Sydney Mardi Gras with the Trikone crew, having started the day getting hounded by paparazzi every five seconds, random straight people would ask me for a photograph, put on a fake smile, and then gripe about us. I could not get into any of the clubs or afterparties because they were all full – even if all I wanted was to rest my feet. I had to walk all the way back to my hostel (roads were blocked, so no transport), nobody giving a shit about me after I stopped performing as their Bollywood Lesbian.

    5. Straight spaces do have annoying dudebros, but at least people believe me when I say I’m queer.

    • Oh I remembered another one:

      My ex-burlesque mentor, a straight woman, would get gigs to perform at the main lesbian party in Brisbane all the time. Yet she’d bitch about the attendees behind their back. (She was also, and still is, a huge racist.)

      A year or so ago I learned that the LGBTQ organisation I used to volunteer for (and who were pretty awesome) were hosting a fundraising burlesque show with her in charge. Of all the performers they could call, some of whom were themselves queer – her? Urgh.

      • I’m sorry people have been such total a-holes to you.
        I am continuously disgusted by what white people will say to me, thinking that I’ll agree, and considering this is supposed to be a diverse inclusive city, I can only imagine what it would be like in places that are less so.
        I did find that lesbian bars/events I went to had unspoken dress codes – when I would turn up in my normal (floor-length fuschia skirt and top hat, or dirndl and tailcoat, or corset and lollipops in my hair), I was invariably met with outright hostility. So much for diversity…. Obviously your experiences will have been much more so, seeing as I’m privileged by my skin colour.
        Did you find a better group to do burlesque with? It’s a big thing here in Vancouver, and I’m so inspired by the creativity in the shows!

        • I ended up moving to the Bay Area to get away from the racist Australian burlesque scene, but the irony is that I ended up moving away from burlesque altogether once I got here!

          • Well I’m assuming/hoping you found other fabulousness since you strike me as someone whose creativity can’t be contained (thank goodness!)

        • “in my normal (floor-length fuschia skirt and top hat, or dirndl and tailcoat, or corset and lollipops in my hair)”

          Oh wow that sounds absolutely fantastic! How could anyone react with hostility to that, I don’t understand – my first reaction to seeing someone with lollipops in their hair would probably be to grin, but then I’m a fan of creative self-expression.

          I’d love to go to one of the burlesque shows I see advertised… we’ll see, one day I might get over my trepidation. It’s like I’ve wanted to go check out the Terminal City Rollergirls for ages now too, but can’t get myself over the fear of a hostile reception, which is kinda the next-to-last thing I need.

          • Oooooh! You must be another Vancouverite! Yay!
            If you want to go to one of those shows with me and my lovely wife, PM me. We’d love to go together – I always thought the Rollergirls would be fun to go see too, and I’m def up for more burlesque, there’s some v. queer, diverse stuff going on!
            We are friendly and always up for meeting new and wonderful people…

          • (if you have the energy to check out the terminal city roller girls, definitely do, they’re an amazing/trans welcoming group. my dear friend broke her arm trying out for the league, and the same friend took me to my first bout. the girls are amazing. AMAZING.)

        • “(floor-length fuschia skirt and top hat, or dirndl and tailcoat, or corset and lollipops in my hair)”

          Please never change.

    • This is a really important perspective that gender and orientation policying often goes along with racism. Thanks for sharing!!

  37. I didn’t read all of the comments (yet, at least…) but I literally made an account just to comment on this article. One of the comments here mentions straight couples making out at gay bars: how do you know they’re not queer and/or trans? I identify as a femmey trans/genderqueer person but I can’t “pass” even when I want to. Which means when I’m out with my partner we’re read as a straight couple, and that sucks for both of us. Getting misgendered and feeling uncomfortable sucks when we’re somewhere that’s meant to be a safe space.

    Oh, and just scrolled through more comments before posting – really glad to see people against gender policing :) Glad I joined.

  38. Also lets remember that not everyone’s identity is immediately obvious. There could, for example be a bisexual woman, who came in with her male partner who still wants a space to feel comfortable with her identity and search for queer community.

    • I’m snickering because I kinda sorta maybe did that, but he was mistaken for some rando straight guy that was likely bothering me while we were dancing by 2 nice young ladies who wanted to make sure I was okay and if I needed help making him go away.

      The point was tho to escort my baby gay friend and her crush during a Pride thing which was on my birthday not me looking to chill in a queer space (even though it was a temporary queer focused space in a friendly bar) dragging a non queer person with me.

      Though I’m not sure if it was their gaydar, my youthful looks or the fact he was brown and I’m white.
      I’ve gotten the dyke nod of acknowledgement while holding a giant box of condoms in Walmart and been mistaken for much younger so badly I’m happy when people mistake my age by 4 years because at least they think I’m a legal adult.

      So I really want to think it was their gaydar or misperception of my age compared to the bearded grown up looking person next to me because that night was awesome and inspired me to believe in other humans more than than I have since probably kindergarden.
      Still I can readily accept racism as the reason just the hope for better exists.

    • Whenever I date a dude, I don’t take him to queer spaces unless it’s a mixed function where partners are welcome.

      There are so many other places and bars where we can go together, and it feels imposing for me to rub my privileged relationship in @ a space meant for marginalized people.

  39. I’ve tried to be inclusive of straight people for a long time, I really have. I think as a community we need to start setting our standards higher, we’re so desperate for acceptance (particularly from the dominant cultural group) we won’t say no to anyone who wants our spaces or wants our time and its very much a case of give them an inch and they’ll take a mile. In my QSU we have one ally on committee and all she does is give out when people make straight jokes and try to muscle her way into closed spaces. She feels entitled to everything. Organizations which are suddenly so supportive of the community want in on everything, want to remove the requirements for certain things to be closed to LGBTQ and questioning people only. I saw a brilliant quote recently – that we’ve framed ally as an identity rather than an act or a process. These people aren’t our allies. They’re the same straight people they’ve always been.

    Back to the issue of clubs – my town only has a few LGBTQ venues and very few of them would be men only or women only. We have one womens night and its alright – there are some gay men but I don’t think anyone minds them, they mostly stay out of the way. People have a bigger problem with the weird straight men who come to gawp. As far as the gay nights go (especially those that were like fun and easy for like the newly out 18 year old set) – they’re overrun by straight girls who are loud and obnoxious, all the queer women have stopped going as a result. Its just not fun anymore. As well as that, straight women view queer women as bodies for ‘experimentation’ with. I’ve been seriously assaulted by a straight woman off her head on drugs because as a ‘butch’ person, she read me as hypersexual and up for anything. Straight people aren’t these harmless silly creatures who like our music and our cocktails, I don’t understand how we forget that.

    • “As far as the gay nights go (especially those that were like fun and easy for like the newly out 18 year old set) – they’re overrun by straight girls who are loud and obnoxious, all the queer women have stopped going as a result. Its just not fun anymore. As well as that, straight women view queer women as bodies for ‘experimentation’ with. I’ve been seriously assaulted by a straight woman off her head on drugs because as a ‘butch’ person, she read me as hypersexual and up for anything.”

      jesus. this sounds like ‘worst case scenario’ in action, i’m sorry.

  40. I’m a pansexual trans guy and haven’t been to a lesbian bar yet. I’m not sure if I would go because a) I don’t want to invade a women’s space and b) I would probably be misgendered anyways. I’ve been to a gay bar once and was constantly misgendered even after correcting people on my pronouns.

    I’m lucky enough to live in DC, where there’s a Happy Hour for trans* masculine guys once a month at different bars of the group’s choosing (some bars aren’t as friendly as others, and the admin takes those bars that are unfriendly out of the rotation.) I’d like to be able to find a queer trans*-friendly space to go to more often though.

    There’s a restaurant in the “gayborhood” that I go to with my (straight cis) Mom every once in a while. She’s noticed that they’re more attentive to me than her. She’s not upset but did say “Why do they think I’m straight? I could be queer! Do I look or act straight?! Do I come off as straight to you?”

  41. Meandering ill constructed thoughts:
    In the 90s a couple of lesbian bars down south in England had a “Lesbians and their gay male guests” only door policy. Don’t know how they policed it, in hindsight I suspect terribly, but to my newly out extremely bullied 15year old dyke brain it sounded great, like somewhere I’d go when I was 18. I am 31, I’ve never been and I heard that at least one closed down. The pink pound can’t keep all the bars open and restrictions like this can’t have helped.
    Incidentally I was required to have a male companion when going to a strip club for a work thing, (only female staff member of a group who had been made redundant and were blowing the party budget), granted this was also 10 years ago.
    My “local”, read a city over, gay bar has no gay patrons on weekends. Large events there have a very mixed crowd…mostly looking to get obliterated in a cool hip and trendy place.
    I have taken ally type straight friends to gay bars in groups of queers. Including boyfriends of bisexual friends. There are straight friends I have refused to take because they wouldn’t be respectful of the queer patrons.
    So the wishful part of me longs for a queer only space but the realist questions the financial ability of the community to maintain that. Also with such a diverse queer community how can one business cater to everyone, from my experience in towns and even large UK cities (not London or Manchester obviously) there are only one or two gay bars.
    Fully agree with embracing queers of all kinds and their partners in queer spaces. Disrespectful people of any kind do not belong.
    Would love a lesbian, pet friendly library/cafe to open in Yorkshire.

  42. Last night I was out at a LGBT bar with a gay man and another lesbian. Our space was invaded by a bunch of drugged up straight, white men and girls who proceeded to tell us loudly about their heterosexuality and then non consensually touched us all. Multiple times.



  43. My partner and I were discussing this article last night, and she made a very interesting (and I think valid) point: that as lesbians, when we go out to bars for gay men, we behave like guests. We don’t get mad when we’re not served right away, we don’t expect to see charming smiles on everybody’s faces, and we keep mostly to ourselves unless a group welcomes us – and then, we’re respectful of them and their boundaries.

    I do not think people (of any stripe) should be excluded from entering a queer space, but I do think that to be permitted to stay, they need to be respectful and behave. They are guests, visiting a culture that belongs to them, and they should not gawk, leer, pontificate on norms that are not their own, make out excessively, etcetera. If they become rude, or make someone whose safe space it is uncomfortable, then they need to leave.

    If one of us brings a straight friend or partner into a queer space, we need to be responsible for them and their behavior, and be willing to be aware of the rest of the community’s comfort level. Bi/pan individuals, I KNOW you want all aspects of your sexuality recognized, and I know it’s frustrating to be assumed to be something you’re not (trust me, femme invisibility is not much better), but the fact of the matter is that despite YOUR Queerness, if you are dating the opposite gender, you are functioning in a hetero (possibly hetero-ish) relationship, and that does make some members of out community uncomfortable. Be an ambassador. Introduce your straight partner, bring them into our space, but be mindful of everyone else’s feelings, too. You’re not being denied your queer community – we still love and welcome you, and are not about to ostracize you for your relationship, but you get to straddle both worlds, and we have just the one. Maybe a generally queer bar is a better place to bring your boyfriend than a lesbian-specific bar? And if he’s afraid of gay dudes hitting on him, then maybe you need to reconsider if he can be respectful of ALL of us, lesbian, gay, bi, trans, pan, and poly.

    • Where do you live where there are “generally queer bars” and “lesbian bars”? I think if there’s a space focused on queer women in most cities, there’s just one, which makes your suggestion for bi women in relationships with guys impractical.

      Also, some lesbians are “uncomfortable” with my bisexuality and my different gender relationship? Sounds like biphobia to me, so why should I cater to that?

    • Although I agree with a lot that you are saying, please note that we most often don’t “get to straddle both worlds” but rather are not completely welcomed or made to feel at home in either.
      I am defending my ass off all the time and everywhere!
      And yes I am very aware that I ‘pass’ as being straight a lot of the time and that this grants me a lot of privileges.

      But yes, be nice, be open, introduce your partner, and if he can’t behave (or is afraid of being hit on by guys in a general queerbar) reconsider if you want to date him at all. Yes be sensitive to the fact that some people might feel their (safe) space is compromised when a guy is there.
      But you also can’t expect me to suddenly ditch my Saturday night out with friends because I started dating a guy. If I bring the BF, I vouch for him and me being queer is/should be a good enough reason to be there for both of us (keeping in mind the things mentioned above).

      • I was going to say something about the “get to straddle both worlds” comment, but you beat me to it. So in agreement with this.

      • “If I bring the BF, I vouch for him and me being queer is/should be a good enough reason to be there for both of us (keeping in mind the things mentioned above).”

        I personally think that bringing an opposite sex partner in marginalized space is a little obnoxious and imposing- especially in a society where same sex relationships are not welcomed everywhere (unlike the former). There are plenty of places where an opposite sex couple can hang out together, and it wouldn’t kill you to hang out there.

        • That is like saying, you are only welcome if you are queer enough.

          I don’t want to go all cry-baby about how marginalised I feel at times in places that claim to be inclusive and safe places. But the reason these kind of comments really get on my nerves is because they do reinforce the idea that you are only welcome if you prove yourself to be queer enough.
          Which in reality means that I am welcome when I am alone or with a GF, but not with a BF, then I am dropped like a hot potato. I am not part of the group who decides who is welcome, I am a guest, someone you can welcome in or kick out. It is not my space.

          So I’m not truly welcome anywhere. If I appear to by queer I can go to queer (women only) places, if I appear straight I can go to straight/regular places. But god forbid they see the real me, all of me, a bisexual who clearly enjoys straight privileges (in a queer space) or in a straight/regular space enduring all the same cr*p lesbians experience with the heightened threesome-allert.

          It is also about assuming that I’d be truly welcome in a non-queer space. As long as a pass as straight: probably. As long as I’m al nicely wrapped up in my closet: yes. But do I really have to explain the problem with passing, and with closets?

          Trust me, I understand the problem with having people ruining a safe space by coming in with the wrong intentions. I’ve experienced it too.
          And I also don’t really have a one size fits all solution to this issue. However just ‘go somewhere else because you are part of the majority-group’ really doesn’t cut it.

          I keep to my original post tho: be sensitive, be open, and make sure the guy you bring isn’t a *ss.

          Also: I speak for myself here, some bi/pan folk might agree, others won’t but I’ve kept it personal for this reason and refrained from using ‘we’. Also like I said: I don’t want to go cry-baby about this. Because I think I am a lot less marginalised in queer spaces then like for instance many trans women are(as mentioned in some other comments). Also I think living in Amsterdam (the Netherlands) means there a plenty places to go to, women only, mixed or just queer-friendly, for which I am grateful.

          • But the reason these kind of comments really get on my nerves is because they do reinforce the idea that you are only welcome if you prove yourself to be queer enough.

            Which in reality means that I am welcome when I am alone or with a GF, but not with a BF, then I am dropped like a hot potato. I am not part of the group who decides who is welcome, I am a guest, someone you can welcome in or kick out. It is not my space.

            It’s not a point of proving one’s status, but being sensitive to the space where you’re socialising.

            For example, I am a WOC who dates interracially (ie- white people). I have never brought my white SOs to POC-intended social spaces. It’s not because I need to prove my “blackness”, but solely out of respect for the intentional safespace that I am entering.

            My friend (who is a mixed WOC) wanted to go to a black lesbian zine event last month. She is married to a very white, cishet male. They discussed whether he should come with her or not, and in the end, they both decided he should stay @ home.

            As much as I would love to bring a hypothetical partner, and even friends to some of the safe spaces I frequent. But I also am very mindful of my privilege as someone who has dated the opposite sex, and a WOC who is frequently associates with white people.

            If these spaces explicitly stated that partners/allies/etc are welcome, then of course I would bring them.

            So I’m not truly welcome anywhere. If I appear to by queer I can go to queer (women only) places, if I appear straight I can go to straight/regular places. But god forbid they see the real me, all of me, a bisexual who clearly enjoys straight privileges (in a queer space) or in a straight/regular space enduring all the same cr*p lesbians experience with the heightened threesome-allert.

            I don’t think anyone is ever going to see all of you regardless of your actions. People see only the parts that they *want* to see.

            Also do you really enjoy your straight privilege?

            It is also about assuming that I’d be truly welcome in a non-queer space. As long as a pass as straight: probably. As long as I’m al nicely wrapped up in my closet: yes. But do I really have to explain the problem with passing, and with closets?

            I can’t speak on that. I generally don’t care how people perceive me in public spaces, especially strange ones who don’t pay my rent, or bills.

        • Yes, there are plenty of (non-queer) spaces where mixed-gender couples can be welcome – but we will be assumed to be heterosexual in all of them, and they will not provide the opportunity to socialize with other queers and feel safe and welcomed among them that a queer/bisexual person might very naturally want.

          I wonder whether you might be misunderstanding what many relationships look like when many bisexual women date men – we don’t become heterosexual (I’m sure you know this one of course, but really, we don’t), we don’t lose our sensitivity to queer issues and culture, and we don’t (necessarily) lose our desire to be part of that culture. Obviously we need to be mindful of the partners we choose, and I would never bring a male partner into a queer space if he was going to be entitled or a jerk about it. But my own partner, for instance, is an amazing ally – he knows what’s up, and he’s unbelievably respectful and sensitive when he’s in queer spaces (may be we all be so fortunate with our partners!). He wants to celebrate my queer identity with me, because he understands that it’s a very real part of me and that my being with him doesn’t make me any less queer – and coming with me, respectfully and with appropriate expectations, to queer spaces sometimes is a way to do that.

          • Yes, there are plenty of (non-queer) spaces where mixed-gender couples can be welcome – but we will be assumed to be heterosexual in all of them, and they will not provide the opportunity to socialize with other queers and feel safe and welcomed among them that a queer/bisexual person might very naturally want.

            TBH, I can’t really relate to this as being a major issue. As annoying as being misread as heterosexual (or lesbian) is (and I get it all the time mind you), it’s not something that makes me lose sleep. I just correct the assumptions and move on/forward with my life. Sure, I’ve gotten ignorant responses due to that, but I learned at a very young age that I can’t control people’s presumptions about me.

            I wonder whether you might be misunderstanding what many relationships look like when many bisexual women date men – we don’t become heterosexual (I’m sure you know this one of course, but really, we don’t), we don’t lose our sensitivity to queer issues and culture, and we don’t (necessarily) lose our desire to be part of that culture.

            Don’t know if you read my original post- but I’m actually speaking as a fluid person who has dated men in the past.

          • Kanika, you said, “As annoying as being misread as heterosexual (or lesbian) is (and I get it all the time mind you), it’s not something that makes me lose sleep. I just correct the assumptions and move on/forward with my life.”

            Okay, so you can just move on, but not everyone can just get over the consequences of times they were misread. In a different comment sequence you dismissed my worries about trans people in a couple being judged not queer enough. You told me to read your other posts and so here I am.

            I don’t think you realize how you are setting yourself as the judge of who gets to belong, or how you are telling anyone hurt by this…to just get over it.

            I completely agree that everyone should be mindful of any space they enter, but people creating any space should be mindful of how they can hurt people as well.

          • @Emma– I didn’t dismiss your post. I originally referred you to my original post because it explicitly said that I felt that transgender people (regardless of orientation) should be welcomed in queer bars- because even if heterosexual, trans people do have a shared sense of marginalization.

            Also- I felt that your post came off a bit sarcastic and hostile. I didn’t feel like getting into it this early in the morning.

            In retrospect, I should have clarified myself by stating that I was exclusively speaking about cisgender people and in general.

          • And also @Emma– I explicitly stated that I can’t relate to that particular issue from the first.

            That doesn’t make me the judge of anything. My sole intention is to point out the various privileges that cisgender opposite sex couples in general society, and how to be aware of them.

          • Kanika, I hope I can explain myself without seeming too confrontational.

            First I need to address how you said,

            “…I felt that transgender people (regardless of orientation) should be welcomed in queer bars- because even if heterosexual, trans people do have a shared sense of marginalization.”

            It seems problematic to me to extend inclusion at a lesbian bar to all heterosexual trans women and gay trans men, if all other heterosexual women and gay men are unwelcome. It implies everyone can tell who is trans and it implies trans people who “pass” are under an obligation to prove they belong by outing themselves as trans. Heck, some straight women I know feel invalidated by being labeled as queer because of their trans history.

            I should explain that I am coming from three points of exclusion.
            -child of a lesbian (seen as a straight son)
            -transitioning at the end of my teen years (in the nineties, eek!)
            -adult bi woman

            Because of these three parts of my experience I see overlap between excluding straight allies (friends, family, children, significant others) and judging the identity of people based on their outward appearance.

            I see the isolation of bisexual woman as being a result of both the exclusion of their SO and because they are not seen as being queer enough.

            I see how trans, genderqueer and intersex folks get caught in the crossfire between lesbians and the straight men and women who rudely intrude into their space, both because they are seen as not looking queer enough and because their relationship doesn’t look queer enough.

            Lastly, I see how no young child of a lesbian should be made to feel unwelcome in the only space they know. Even if I was straight, I’d still associate thanksgiving with a dozen or so lesbians sitting around a wood fire, a friend of my mom’s ladling out mulled apple cider for all us kids. When children are raised in a community they will always feel like a part of it, even though as they grow up it is not an easily visible as part of their identity.

            As a white woman I cannot address similarities or differences between racial or ethnic spaces and queer spaces, but please take a moment and try to see a different perspective on this topic. (Or if it is too early in the morning come back and read this again after a good cup of coffee.)

          • @Emma:

            It seems problematic to me to extend inclusion at a lesbian bar to all heterosexual trans women and gay trans men, if all other heterosexual women and gay men are unwelcome. It implies everyone can tell who is trans and it implies trans people who “pass” are under an obligation to prove they belong by outing themselves as trans. Heck, some straight women I know feel invalidated by being labeled as queer because of their trans history.

            I see your point. Perhaps I should clarify a bit further:

            What I meant by this statement was that if trans people regardless of orientation (esp trans WOC) frequented queer spaces because perhaps they didn’t feel welcome in cisgender spaces, I completely understood this. I don’t feel they are obligated to disclose their identity, or frequent queer spaces if they don’t ID as such.

            I originally didn’t think of situations where presumptions (correct or not) are made, since I try not to make presumptions about people I don’t know based on their outward appearance (I get them wrong anyway). However, I get where you are coming from and why this could be problematic.

            I should explain that I am coming from three points of exclusion.
            -child of a lesbian (seen as a straight son)
            -transitioning at the end of my teen years (in the nineties, eek!)
            -adult bi woman

            Because of these three parts of my experience I see overlap between excluding straight allies (friends, family, children, significant others) and judging the identity of people based on their outward appearance.

            I see the isolation of bisexual woman as being a result of both the exclusion of their SO and because they are not seen as being queer enough.

            I see how trans, genderqueer and intersex folks get caught in the crossfire between lesbians and the straight men and women who rudely intrude into their space, both because they are seen as not looking queer enough and because their relationship doesn’t look queer enough.

            Lastly, I see how no young child of a lesbian should be made to feel unwelcome in the only space they know. Even if I was straight, I’d still associate thanksgiving with a dozen or so lesbians sitting around a wood fire, a friend of my mom’s ladling out mulled apple cider for all us kids. When children are raised in a community they will always feel like a part of it, even though as they grow up it is not an easily visible as part of their identity.

            As a white woman I cannot address similarities or differences between racial or ethnic spaces and queer spaces, but please take a moment and try to see a different perspective on this topic. (Or if it is too early in the morning come back and read this again after a good cup of coffee.)

            I’m a tea drinker, btw. Though the apple cider sounds good too. :D

            You raise good points, though…about presumptions of others (and who is welcome or not), being harmful to others. And yes, this rings true for the example I made above about racial safe spaces, because there are white-passing POC that face a similar dilemma because of their presentation.

            Also- I too, was speaking from a personal experience:

            On my 23rd birthday, I decided to organize a get together with friends at one of my favourite lesbian nightlife venues. The people come were a mix of male/female, and different orientations. I never went to straight venues back then, and had no interest in them, so I thought nothing of it to have my friends come to this place where I’ve partied tons of times.

            I met up with two cishet couples, and when we went to the door, the bouncer would *not* let us in. At all. They thought we were all straight people, trying to impose on *their* space (I am femme, and at the time identified as bi). This pretty much ruined my birthday, and I was butt hurt for a long time over it (as in over a decade).

            Years later, I understood *why* we weren’t allowed to enter the nightclub. I don’t think I was wrong (perhaps naive) to invite my straight friends to the club, nor was the bouncer inherently wrong for keeping us out. And therein lies my own personal conflict- while I am very conscious about certain privileges I carry, I too, always felt at home with the queer community and want to remain the a part of it. Yet, I feel excluded from the community because I am fluid, I date men as well as women, and have friends from all stripes (including yes, straight ones).

            Now here in NYC, they have mixed queer parties, which wasn’t a thing back in 2000. It would’ve made my life a lot easier if they did exist back then.

            The risk with keeping a safe space is that it will inadvertently hurt the very people the safe space is trying to protect (like the femme bride in the slog article posted below). I don’t know how can we make it possible to balance this out, or make it fair to all.

            In a perfect world, all people should be able to move and converge wherever we like, but alas…

        • I must have missed when you mentioned you were fluid, Kanika, sorry.

          It sounds like we’re coming from essentially the same place here in we agree it’s both important and tricky trying to keep a safe space without hurting those it’s supposed to protect at times.

          I get that not everyone will relate to the issue of being bothered by being perceived heterosexual – and it’s honestly really great that you don’t mind! I guess I don’t mind all the time; if I got really upset every time I was presumed heterosexual, I’d be upset almost constantly. But it does wear me down over the long term, nevertheless. As a result, queer spaces are like this amazing vacation for me – these magical places where I’m seen for who I am by default. I love it. And so, as with all important and joyful personal experiences, I sometimes naturally want to share it with my partner. So for what it’s worth, that’s one part of my rationale for wanting to bring a dude into queer spaces at times.

  44. I think for me it all comes down to intent. Why are you (whoever you are, queer or not) coming into (what I hope is) a safe space? Are you here because you’re family and want to be around others who make you feel safe? Wonderful! Are you coming because someone invited you in? Great! Are you here because you feel like it’s a place where you can be yourself while also being respectful of others? Superb, get in here! Are you coming in because you just really want to bang a queer woman or because it’s “trendy”? Then you can GTFO. Like right now.

    The other thing that comes to mind for me is if you’re in a queer space and you don’t identify as queer in any way (gender-wise, sexuality-wise, etc.) are you going to be a good ally in this space? Are you going to be open to hearing others if you say something shitty and they call you on it? If yes, then welcome, I’d love to hang out. If no, then once again GTFO. [I feel like I should also add that even if you do identify as queer, I still expect you to be a good ally.]

    Maybe that’s a lot to expect from a social space that mainly exists to allow people to hang out together with alcohol and maybe some good music, but for me that’s my bottom line.

    • I swear I saw him on another post this week or last, and he was being a jerk there, too. I can’t remember which one, though, but the name is really familiar. Why do people want to come onto websites where people are just minding their own business and ruin it for everybody?

  45. Most of the time, I find it profoundly annoying when cishet people enter queer bars because the experiences I have had with them in these spaces range from the annoying to unpleasant…including that one time a creepy cishet white couple came into a bar looking for a third.

    I’m not opposed het couples with trans partners, or trans het people. Not bc I necessarily see them as queer, but because they have a shared marginalized experience and perhaps seek the same kind of safe space as I.

    And as far as bi/queer women in opposite sex relationships cis men…I feel like this- whenever my friends and I go to queer spaces, we leave the blokes at home (I’m currently single, but one of my close friends is married to a cishet male). It’s not necessary to take them everywhere, imo.

    I have mostly dated white dudes, and would never take them to a POC space, so same rules apply here.

    • Yes, I don’t understand why you would need to bring your boyfriend to the bar, per se? If you’re just going to the bar to make friends or whatever, I don’t see why you need to bring him. You’ll probably have more fun without him, anyway, I would think? Maybe that’s just me. I can’t handle being glued to someone.

      • Right? I really don’t need to bring my partner to every social gathering I go to (actually, I prefer *not* to).

        There are so many places that opposite sex couples can go to. It is not necessary to impose your privileged relationship in one of the few spaces where marginalized people can feel comfortable in.

      • True but please note that opposite sex couples have societal privileges that same sex couples don’t, regardless of orientation.

  46. I’m pretty much against straight people going into queer bars, BUT I don’t know what to say to my sister when she says that it’s one of the few bars where she feels safe. Like, there’s not much I can say to that? Especially when she wants to go out with her best friend, who’s a gay man, and he wants to go to a gay bar. Sigh. Maybe I do just feel like it’s more of an issue with bars for queer women then queer men though… I don’t know.

  47. “Maybe once upon a time you too were the ‘straight girl’ at the lesbian bar” gave me so many feelings. My friends and I, who were all straight-identified at the time, used to make trips out to the only remotely nearby gay bar in late high school and early college. And it always felt like home for me, way way before I was able to understand why. <3

    Perhaps relatedly – I tend to give straight people and men at lesbian/queer bars the benefit of the doubt most of the time, but not if 1) they are present in very large numbers, 2) straight cis men are trying to hit on us, 3) they are ogling/disdainful/stigmatizing/etc, or 4) they don't get that the space is not for or about them.

  48. I’m of the mindset that it is only appropriate for straight cisgender people to go to queer bars and clubs when they are the guest of a queer person.

  49. I’ll admit I haven’t read through all the comments, so not sure if anyone else brought this up already, but first off, I feel like the question of allowing men and/or straight people in bars can’t be handled so generally. If you live in a big city with a bustling scene, then you can afford to disperse into different bars, whereas in small towns where there’s only one gay bar in the entire tri-town area, then lesbians and gay men may have to intermingle a bit. So that’s what I mean when I say the context of stuff changes.

    Now, as to my own personal context and experience as a queer woman in New Orleans, I can say that I think there should definitely be a space for queer women and queer women only. The reason I say this is because in this city, we have NONE, and it’s directly related to the fact that gay men and groups of straight people are allowed open access.
    Basically, the patter here is 1.) Lesbian bar opens up and lesbians come 2.) Lesbian bar gains some attention in the general queer community, gay men start coming. 2b.) Straight people also come to get a glance at things. 3.) Clientele shifts, bar rebrands and becomes gay male club. The most recent example of this was that a tucked away, back door lesbian bar became a gay male strip club in the course of a year.

    The closest thing we have now to a lesbian/queer lady bar is a bi-weekly dance party, that has already had to change locations partly due to the fact that it becomes over run with gay men* and straight people who think it’s cool and trendy to go to a dive and dance with all the alternative looking queers.

    *For the record, gay men do not have this problem to such a large degree. While the scene here does have huge exclusion issues, there are at MANY gay bars in the city, including an entire section of the French Quarter.

    Ultimately, I suppose there’s no simple answer. Should queer spaces be all inclusive of at least every queer person, and still keep the same vibe and respect to the original intent? Yes, but of course in practice it doesn’t work like that. But policing obviously leads to its own issues, and sometimes in other places you just NEED to merge. So I suppose really, like most things in life, there’s no clear-cut answer, and things need to be handled on a more case-by-case basis in some ways.

    Anyway, sorry for the long piece of text. I just have lots of thoughts and feelings on this topic, even BEFORE I get to the point of analyzing the topic of trans woman inclusion in queer women’s spaces. Thanks to AS for hosting a discussion on it.

  50. Quite often I’ll see groups of straight people having a drink at my local lesbian bar, not being dicks, just totally normal like they could be in any other bar. I always wonder if they even know where they are or have noticed the rest of the clientele.

  51. Oh dear. When I read the original list, I was surprised to be as angry as I was at the entitled presumptions of the men/straight women who posted these bad reviews. My girlfriend cross-posted it a forum on Fetlife, Ask a Male a Question, to ask “why do straight men go to lesbian bars?” The responses we got were so hate-filled and vitriolic it was hard to read. The vast majority were hets complaining that lesbians being rude to them in gay bars was “reverse oppression” and “you want equality but you don’t practice it, I’ll keep that in mind when you’re asking for special rights!” A lot of straights admitted that they were curious and wanted to “observe” gay people in a a gay space for fun, that they wanted to “be a part of the atmosphere of equality and acceptance” (and were disappointed to find gays ‘”just as bigoted as everyone else”). More than one man said he’d go just to “watch the girls dance and make out”. Several claimed they’d stop supporting LGBT rights if treated badly in a gay bar. Most straight women said they wanted to go to escape being hit on by guys, and then one man said he’d go to follow the straight women who were purposely avoiding straight bars. My girlfriend was called a misandrist, a man-hater, a bigot, and accused of supporting “hate-filled segregation”; a few people suggested she move to Canada if she didn’t like the straight people here; she was accused of throwing her sexuality in others’ faces and “being a special snowflake who looks for oppression”; one woman even told her that to “get over” being oppressed she should “try feeling better about yourself” instead of bothering the poor straight people with her complaining. The thread was shut down and my girlfriend was banned from the group permanently with no explanation.

    These are the people I don’t want in LGBT spaces. I don’t want you here because it’s your kink. I don’t want you here because you wanna watch girls make out. I don’t want you here looking for a third. I don’t want you to treat a queer space as your therapy group or your entertainment or a side-show where you can observe the queers in their natural habitat to prove how “accepting” you are. I don’t want you here to prove that you feel entitled to any and every space and want to prove it. And I certainly don’t want you to react to coldness by using homophobic slurs, being a whiny martyr, and shaming others’ gender, sexuality, and appearance if you don’t get the attention you feel you deserve.

    These are not bi- and pan- people or femmes who pass as straight. These are not questioning people, or trans individuals who pass/don’t pass/aren’t yet out. These are not the respectful friends, dates, and allies of queer people. These are people who feel entitled to use queer spaces for themselves with no respect for the patrons, who react with hatred when they aren’t catered to. And they have no place here.

    • holy shit, kiah! that is some ridiculous shit, and sadly not even surprising. i don’t understand why people think reverse discrimination is a thing, how have they lived their entire lives believing this

  52. Here in Tijuana there are only three gay bars dominated by gay men. On occasion I’ve known of straight girl friends who go there to have a good time because they play good music and don’t get harassed. And over in Mexico City, my best friend friend likes going to gay bars with her male friends for the music (as a starting bar, then they end up in other bars). For these people I know there is no interest in offending, invading, or abusing the space, so I had never really considered it an offense or something to be annoyed about. Then again, I’ve never been to those bars, I really wish there was a gay women’s bar or I’d settle for a cafe!

  53. I think people here are taking the “no straight people allowed” thing a little too…literally? I mean, in my experiences, the people who do not belong in queer spaces are the people who very vocally self-identity as straight and/or voyeuristic to begin with. Privileged people who are very entitled are quite proud of the fact. Let the assholes self-select themselves out of entering our spaces. If you have straight friends who are being supportive and respectful – cool, they get to stay. If there are straight people who make a POINT of shoving their heteronormativity in queer faces, then those jerks need to leave. So, in response to those who are concerned about queer couples of different genders appearing – just be aware of how you present yourself, and how your partner fits in, and that should be more than fine. There aren’t going to be strict rules actually encoded about who can come in anyways, but we shouldn’t have to tolerate the assholes just to accommodate well-meaning and non-disruptive people.

      • Presence, not presentation. Like Riese said, recognize what space your in and how your existence in that space affects the demographic it is intended for.

        • I feel like this comment implies that as a bi women I’m not included in the “demographic it is intended for”. There are also bi women with women partners whose presence isn’t questioned in queer women’s bars. So, bi women are welcome only if they’re single or with a woman?

          • You have grossly misunderstood my comment. It’s more in reference to the non-queer women who are entering our spaces. You, as a bi woman, belong in the space as an equal member. If you’re bringing a male partner or a straight female friend, they are guests, therefore they should act respectfully as a guest rather than a member. It’s a very simple concept that’s been echoed in a number of other comments. The “you” I was using initially was a pluralized “you” as in you should also be aware of how your guest is taking up space in a place that is not meant for them.

  54. I’m relatively new to commenting on this site and this post is both evocative and intimidating because the whole community has so many beautiful, strong opinions! Anyway, I remember being that ‘straight’ girl in the gay bar and feeling like i found my people before actually coming out so I’m def opposed to gender policing. On the OTHER hand, I’ve had numerous horrible encounters in LGBT spaces with straight cis men leering at me, touching me, and actually DEBATING my sexuality for me, trying to convince me that I’m actually not a lesbian-seriously??! Maybe I’m too nice to just ignore people but for fuck sake, that is last thing I expect in a queer, safe space.
    The BEST nights I had were at illegal, underground lesbian nights in basements! Great music, absolute comfort, and wayyy more gender queer and trans presence. The closest thing to heaven I’ve ever experienced!

    • “The BEST nights I had were at illegal, underground lesbian nights in basements! Great music, absolute comfort, and wayyy more gender queer and trans presence. The closest thing to heaven I’ve ever experienced!”

      Underground trans-friendly lesbian raves? I would travel for that…

      • Haha! Do it :) Yep, one of them was called the BBC (Bitches Be Crazy) and was held on the ‘wrong side’ ;) of Dublin’s city centre, another was in an artists studio (Moxy Studios) space on the South side.

        One of the things we as a queer community can count on is each other, especially in creating safe spaces that may or may not crop up in legal, standardised venues. I know we could argue that we shouldn’t have to go ‘underground’ but sometimes private, exclusive spaces are THE BEST :)

  55. This all seems excessively and unnecessarily complicated, but I think that’s why I prefer to join my bros at straight clubs and I have game night in with my lesbian friends. The gay scene is too messed up.

  56. One of my besties is a straight cis woman. I Bring her and occasionally other non queer, respectful friends to gay bars. She is the best wing woman ever. I wouldn’t go to a bar that she wasn’t allowed to go to.

    That said, I hate when bachelor parties, straight couples on dates or dudebros that get pissed when I say no invade queer spaces.

  57. i would just like to take a moment to appreciate how the folks at autostraddle continually succeed to wonderfully recontextualise stock images that were clearly designed for a heteronormative context.

    my opinion on the the actual topic…. i think worrying about what patrons sexual and gender orentation is is a bit icky. i think what’s important about queer bars is that they create a bubble within larger society, where the usual rules and cultural norms are very different. as long as patrons follow our customs, and our rules while in the space, (like a respectful guest, adhere to the pre-existing culture and customs, rather than bring your own) it shouldn’t matter if they are what ever.

    to cis/het ladies who who wish to enter the lesbian bar to escape being continuosly hit on by men, i say get in there, stat. this bubble should be a safe space and a sanctuary for all affected by the heteronormativity of the outside world.

    having said that, when guys try hit on you, or bachelorette parties, or treating y’all like a zoo, or guys oogling you while you try and kiss your girlfreind in what’s supposed to be the only safe place to do that… that’s not following the local customs/rules and those folks need to be called out /be made to feel unwelcome/ kicked out/pickpocketed/passiveaggresivley ignoored/ accused of mulletdom.

    in other words, its about what you do when in the space, not what you are.

  58. Years ago, one of the very first times I went to a lesbian bar was at the E Room in Portland, I’d been maybe two or three other times (and felt pretty unwelcome already as a very femme-presenting queer girl) but the third or fourth time I went was the last night the bar was open before it closed. Everyone knew it was going to be reopening as a straight bar under new management.

    On the night of the closing party I ran into an older, out lesbian coworker (with whom I’d never ever discussed my sexual orientation) and said hi, and she sneered at me “oh, I forgot they were letting straight people in here now”, and walked off before I could even respond. That sucked, and made me feel really uncomfortable and unwelcome at lesbian bars/nights/parties/etc. for a long time, pretty much until the first A-Camp.

    • My (arguably trivial in the grand scheme of things) first reaction to this, particularly bartenders ignoring people they think are straight/other queer folks, was kind of this. Disrespectful, all about them, straight, cis folks shouldn’t eff up queer spaces or make them less magical, but if we police queer spaces against them queer people are almost certainly going to be collateral damage in that policing. The same folks whose identities are erased in their day to day lives.

      Being told I “look straight” bums me the fuck out, but I don’t have any interest in changing how I present because of that policing. And I’m solidly in tomboy femme territory, so it’s sort of a crapshoot how I’m perceived.

    • UGH, I feel this. I posted below, but I tried coming out when I was younger and was told by all the dykes in our cities only lesbian bar that I looked too straight and wasn’t a lesbian, so I went back into the closet and didn’t come out again until I had a 4 year long failed relationship with a man. This stuff makes me so angry.

  59. I don’t know how I feel about this tbh because I don’t really go to lesbian bars – more like cultivated queer nights that happen in other places. But here is my experience:

    My friends were getting (gay) married and one of them wanted to go to a lesbian bar for her hen do. Her hens were probably half queer and half not. We all went, clearly a hen do, all in fancy dress, and our reception was… a tad unwelcome. We looked like a bunch of straight girls who wanted a night out that didn’t involve dudes grabbing our asses the whole time. I felt kinda awkward because I felt like everyone was looking at us with anger for being in the space, and making a bunch of assumptions about our ‘orientation’ based on how we were dressed. It made me really sad because there were so many hot people there and I would have liked to have made flirty eyes at some of them but they stared right through us because they’d made their minds up about who we were.

    I think this is relevant when talking about ‘straight’ people being in queer spaces. My point, in a very roundabout way is, how do you *know* the people you’re looking at *aren’t* queer? They might not look like what your idea of queer is but that doesn’t mean they’re not.

    • But, being mean is fun.

      Straight-looking queer girls should just get over it. If they want to be accepted they should look more queer. But not too queer, that would be worse (as was stated above by other commenters, facial hair = deserving harassment).

      And the friends and family of queer girls (including their children) should just accept being the target of mean spirited humor. Seriously, can’t anyone take a joke? We are all allies here, so be quiet.

  60. This is a toughie for me. I’m a bi boy who gets along with women far better than men. Pretty much everyone I know is a woman, cis or trans. Many are lesbian or bi. It may sound strange, but the little-known concept of the “male lesbian” describes me quite well. If anyone remembers Lisa from The L Word, I feel akin to that but less ridiculous about it.

    So, I used to and to a lesser extent do frequent the LGBT scene in my marginally left of center city. Never did I feel more accepted and at home than when I rolled deep with a crew of 10-20 lesbian friends, in a majority-lesbian space. Me being there seemed natural for them too.

    Anyway, with all that said I am not at all opposed if a lesbian bar wants to keep it queer women only on some nights, or full time. Actually, it seems healthy for a city to have at least one “steam vent” establishment for queer women to have all in as their own. Anyone pulling that “reverse racist/reverse sexist” shit can take their bad faith ass elsewhere.

  61. Lol wait what…? Are you serious? You entitled, ugly scissoring chicks. As a straight male; please don’t call me CIS, I don’t identify as that :); this is insane.

    If we straight dudes put up a “STRAIGHT ONLY” sign outside of a bar you guys would literally burn the city down… However you entitled pricks think you deserve your own “LESBIAN ONLY” bar.

    Shit don’t work like that fam. Thanks for this article. I’m now making it my mission to go to every Lesbian bar in LA with my frat bros.

    Imma get blackie, puke on the bar, piss standing up and grab as many asses as I can.

    This is american, you can’t keep people out.

  62. Its also important to realize that the “straight” couple kissing at the bar may have one or both people be bisexual, pansexual etc or be trans in some way.

    • Yes, but it doesn’t take away the societal privileges that opposite sex couples have. Opposite sex couples can make out at any bar they please, why go to the few spaces that same sex couples have to be themselves?

      • Yeah, a couple with someone trans can make out anywhere. Yup, all trans folk “pass” 100%. And young trans folk just starting out or folk who don’t want to (or can’t medically) take hormones, they definitely can just make out anywhere, no problems.

        I mean, in my first year of dealing openly with gender stuff, I never had anyone perceive me as a trans guy, or a gay guy, or a cis lesbian or a cis straight girl. And I definitely never had all four of those happen in the same day, in the same clothes, with no feeling of control over how I was seen. Nah, never.

  63. This is something I struggle with a lot, because I am very queer and currently very in love with a boy. I really miss gay bars and the general vibe of a bunch of queers in a queer space, but the few times we’ve been drunk enough to just go for it I’ve felt less than welcome and like a bit of an intruder.

  64. At my local gay bar here in Newcastle, we are more than welcoming of the straight community. They keep us afloat. There are often bachelorette parties there of a saturday night, and the venue also happens to be one of the best music venues in the city and will often be filled with the people coming to watch the bands. And many straight allies/supporters often come with their gay friends. All these straight people are usually respectful and welcome. And if not, they are quickly dealt with.

    However, after going out in one of the biggest gay clubs in Sydney the other weekend on the same weekend a big festival happened to be on, and the club was FILLED with straight people. I don’t usually mind, but these straight women were barging people out of the way, the shirtless straight men were hitting on us (CLEARLY MASCULINE OF CENTRE IDENTIFIED WOMEN, trying to grind and dance on us, and making us feel uncomfortable on so many levels. It got to the point where I started having panic attacks (I have men issues I will admit but only when they encroach on my personal space uninvited due to past experiences).

    So I guess what it comes down to is respect. I invite any straight identified people to visit our spaces, as long as respect for us and our ‘safe space’ is shown. We are supposed to be able to feel comfortable, thus being called a ‘safe space’.

  65. It’s really really complicated for me. Firstly I’m hardly ever read correctly in terms of gender – or in my case, lack thereof – so dependent on situation I’m read as a butch dyke, or an ‘alternative’ straight girl. I don’t mind the former and use the label ‘dyke’ interchangeably with a few others – I do feel ‘dyke’, whereas I definitely don’t feel ‘straight’, or ‘girl’.

    Secondly my partner is a cis guy, and I’ve basically started receiving straight privilege – walking around with him, interacting with people, we get read as a straight couple, when my gender isn’t female and my sexuality is queer as heck. It’s totally different to prior to our meeting, when I was seeing women and femmes pretty exclusively. And because we’ve been together a long time, and in my eyes long enough to know I’m gonna be with him for the rest of my life, it’s weird to feel like I’m viewed as assimilated, basically.

    I don’t go to queer spaces anymore because honestly? I’m pretty certain it wouldn’t be any more a progressive space than ‘straight’ spaces. The misreading of my identity is prevalent wherever I go simply because a lot of people are still unlearning gendering strangers, and presuming their sexuality.

    I’m respectful of my community, and I’m aware if I went into these spaces with my partner, I would almost certainly look like one of those awful straight couples who make out everywhere inappropriately. Going to clubs/bars has no appeal without him, he’s my best friend and I feel uncomfortable without his support; I’m a non-drinker, and quite introverted, so my issues with bars are usually more to do with noise and crowds, and he helps me cope with these things so I can have a good time.

    I’m also usually careful about how much physical affection we show in these spaces, just to avoid the ‘awkward gross straight couple’ thing. No one likes it – having worked in a women-only sex shop (where men were allowed if with a woman), I’m aware it’s really gross to see straight people act out their foreplay in a space which is one of the few safe spaces for queer couples to be openly affectionate with one another.

    I would love to go to these spaces and build community, make friends who are similarly minded to me, talk about the issues that we still face. I do think the more important conversation here is ‘how can we make gender-variant and transgender people more comfortable in these spaces?’, in particular the plight of trans women who are still made to feel unwelcome in spaces which are rightfully theirs, and perhaps address the rampant bi- and panphobia in these spaces while we’re at it. A lot of these problems are to do with outdated ideas of what straight and gay look like, and/or what cis or trans looks like. We need to accept the queer community is still guilty as hell of cissexism and biphobia.

    Straight people co-opting safe queer spaces is definitely a problem, but please let’s stop pretending our spaces are all that safe to begin with. For some, trans women definitely being the best example, even queer spaces are a battle.

    • My feels on the fact most queer or LGBT spaces involve drinking or drug-taking (or a combo of the two) is another rant for another time. Also probably I needed to differentiate between ‘queer’ and ‘LGBT’ spaces better, because not all LGBT people ID as queer, and queer often implies a political stance that may not be present in LGBT spaces. Please read my comment with that in mind – I’m talking about LGBT spaces rather than queer.

  66. As a super straight looking lesbian, I partially blame this kind of exclusionary mentality at bars for why it was SO hard for me to come out. Shit, I even have a super liberal and supportive family, but I just felt SO rejected by the lesbian community, I ended up stuffing my feelings deep down inside. When I was younger and finally started accepting I might be a lesbian, I went to the only lesbian bar in my city, only to be greeted by a chorus of dykes who told me I looked “too straight” and “wasn’t really a lesbian”. They pounded this message into me so hard it truly made me doubt myself and I DID go back into the closet, and didn’t come out again until after a failed 4 year long relationship with a man. While I can appreciate not wanting straight folks or men invading the space and feeling entitled, I think it goes too far when you are judging folks based on appearance alone.

  67. So many good thoughts and conversations in these comments!
    My gripe is small and semantic, but it bugged me:
    ” femme straight women could use a break from harassment, intimidation and unwanted sexual attention as well”
    Nope. No. Femme straight women do not exist. Feminine straight women? Absolutely exist and are due a break from sexual harassment.
    But femme is a term describing lgbtq people, not straight people.

    • Hey just wanted to agree with Kay, and the semantic slip she picked up. And I just wanted to add that I think queer language is important because it’s a trigger point for identity. When the ubiquitous “I’m gay” is used, the word lesbian vanishes from language and from our social fabric. I feel that people can self-identify with any word, but if there’s a word that specifically is about women and being gay then let’s use it.

      • Interestingly enough it wasn’t that long ago that I was reading a discussion on ths subject on a Hungarian-language lgbt forum regarding some women referring to themselves as “meleg” (which historically refers only to gay men) as opposed to “lezbikus”, and the opinion of a fair few others that this is somewhat inappropriate. Interesting (to me) that this should be a question that crosses linguistic boundaries.

  68. There’s a lot of reasons straight people and/or men should be allowed into lesbian bars, most of which were listed here. I think the most important is that bi/pan people may have straight and/or male partners. Excluding them is excluding us. We are part of the LGBTQIA community and we need access to safe spaces regardless of who we are dating at the time.

    Outright excluding men and/or straight people would cause a lot of problems, not the least of which is figuring out who is straight and/or male. How many people would be misgendered or told they’re not really gay?

    I think it would be a much better idea to have rules all patrons are expected to follow. Straight guys keep hitting on women that aren’t interested? Kick them out. Straight girls making homophobic comments when a woman displays interest in them? Kick them out. And so on. Make it clear what’s expected and that LGBTQIA patrons are to be respected and given priority.

    Keeping these spaces safe can be done without barring entrance to certain people. Trying to keep men and/or straight people out could actually harm some members of the community. You may be excluding someone’s partner/s or close friends (thereby making them unwelcome), misgendering a trans person or scaring off people that are questioning or in the closet.

    • I don’t think that was the idea of the article. I didn’t interpret this as a “who should we let in” thing and more like “i wish these people could figure out for themselves that their behavior is inappropriate” or “I really don’t like it when ______ people do_______”

  69. I’m not entirely against straight people in gay bars… but lately some of the straight women in my friend group have been complaining about straight men going to the one gay bar in town- because it violates that safe space to just dance and have a good time without worrying about creepy guys. But don’t seem to see how they’re attendance violates our safe space too

  70. This has already been stated above but that post was ignored so I’d just like to restate it.
    Unlike the first above commenter, who is agender, I’m genderfluid but I believe I have a similar point to this person (I don’t know this person’s preferred pronouns so I’lol avoid them altogether, if that’s okay).
    I’m AFAB and identify as gynesexual, and have a girlfriend. And I’m usually read as female because I don’t have access to binders or masculine enough clothing (which is a source of dysphoria to me but not relevant here).
    As I am usually read as female we are read as a gay couple, as she’s a cis woman (sexuality undetermined as of yet) but in reality I guess our status changes with my identification.
    I always thought that gay/lesbian/queer/ect. bars were safe spaces for people for whom hetero/cisnormaty has caused issues. From what I’m hearing here it doesn’t seem that way as much- am I misconstruing something? Honentry I just want a space where I can be genderfluid without having to constantly educate people on the gender spectrum and how the gender binary is partially only a western ideal.
    I really like autostraddle- you guys seem cool but I don’t know if as only sometimes a girl I belong here. I feel like this could be a safe space but… yeah.

  71. Thanks for the article and comments. It was super helpful. I’m a big, very masculine presenting cis-het white dude. I’ve been invited to a few pride parties in my city (relatively new to me) this weekend and am trying to gauge when to proactively excuse myself when my presence stops being fun or at least ignorable and starts making people uncomfortable. I don’t want to put the onus on folks who invited me to choose between limiting their celebration to x bats/clubs/parties and feeling like they’re unfairly excluding me.

    Aside from personally abhorring the US’s mainstream sexual culture in general— tbh I think I’m more demi sexual, though happily married— I’ve always hung out in local goth spots which were always either nights hosted in gay dance or drag clubs, or bigger ‘alt’ clubs with different rooms and a good amount of commingling on the dance floors and within the social scenes. While all the straight folks I know from that scene act very respectfully in those lgbtq-focused environments, I think many are too comfortable sashaying into other lgbtq spots and acting like the spot was made for them… like being part of that scene was some king off hall pass. Also, they tend to move in groups, and while the creepy sexually aggressive straight dude count was a fraction of most straight crowds it was absolutely more than zero.

    I know just like anything else in life it 90% boils down to “don’t be a dick” but this discussion helps me distinguish between insensitive, proactive, and paranoid. ❤️

  72. Well there are certainly many of us straight single guys that really do blame the lesbians for still being single today, and many of us aren’t single by choice at all either. And the reason why i say this is that there will be times when we will approach a woman that we would really honestly like to meet, and then they will even Curse at many of us for no reason at all when we will just say good morning or hello to them to hopefully get a good conversation going. Well gee wiz, what is that all about anyway? Yeah, no wonder why so many of us guys are still single now. And i know other single guys that had the very same thing happened to them too.

    • Dude. Being single is frustrating, and getting into a relationship isn’t as easy for some as it is for others. I get that and I feel your pain. You’re describing most of my adult life.

      But you can’t just dismiss someone’s humanity— their basic sexual agency— for your benefit. Try to take a step back and really think about the ethics of that. Do you bear any responsibility to repress your heterosexuality for the benefit the single gay men in the world? Of course not, and they’d be insanely self-absorbed to think you did. Beyond the ethics, what you’re saying just doesn’t pan out logically. Not even close. On average, 47 out of every 50 women you’ve spoken to are unambiguously heterosexual. Think about that. You’re blaming just over 2% of the population for your being single. Do you really think that little bump would be the defining change in your love life? Really? When pew says that about 30% of American adults say they’re single at any given time? I mean come on, bud.

      It may not be your “fault” that you’re single, but it’s nobody else’s “fault” either and it’s absolutely nobody else’s responsibility to change it for you. The internet is a tornado of blame and self-pity if you peek in the right dumpsters and jumping in the dumpster with them makes it a guaranteed self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s comforting to think it’s all other people’s fault, and lots of people have made some astonishingly but I guarantee you that wagging your finger at gay people, women, et al on the internet yields a 0% chance of improving your lot in life. Resist the pity party and take some responsibility for your life situation like the grown adult man that you are.

      A good first step is reading articles written by Harris O’Malley (AKA Dr. NerdLove.) He gets folks unwrapped from these blaming self-pity axels and gives real, usable dating advice for people who aren’t rich, pretty, fit, and effortlessly charming.

      • * It’s comforting to think it’s all other people’s fault, and lots of people have made some astonishingly elaborate explanations to say why it is. But, I guarantee you that baselessly wagging your finger at gay people, women, et al on the internet who never have and never will have anything to do with you in any way yields a 0% chance of improving your lot in life.

  73. Well unfortunately since so many women are gay nowadays which explains why so many of us straight single guys can’t meet one at all.

  74. Gee, men demanding something from women and getting riled up/violent if they don’t get it? What’s new anyway?
    When I came out I wanted to stay as far away from men as I could.Being a lesbian was a + + for me. I don’t think I’d like the gay bar scene these days. Women ain’t your comfort animals boys

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