Earlier this month, BBC News’ Elizabeth Hotson posted a silly little article entitled, in a mildly insulting snarky little tone, Do gay people still need gay bars? It was clumsily written and badly researched. Now I’ve been suspicious of the BBC’s coverage of LGBT issues ever since 2009, when they posted an article about gay executions in Uganda with the gobsmacking byline “Should homosexuals face execution?” I KNOW RIGHT?! I FUCKING KNOW. In fact whenever they cover LGBT issues (if they cover them at all, which they often don’t), they’ve always seemed to me a bit sour and a bit grossed out by it all.
Anyway, the approach this article takes is that, with growing social acceptance our community has shed its leather harness and put on a nice sweater, in a seamless assimilation into mainstream society. Rendering gay clubs redundant. “Now, in 2014, with an equal age of consent for gay and straight sex and same sex marriage, is it still a relevant to have specifically gay spaces?” asks annoyingly gushy Elizabeth Hotson.
Well no of course it’s not fucking “relevant” Elizabeth. Nothing’s relevant. Topshop’s pretty bloody irrelevant, but they’ve made millions of pounds, euros and dollars by underpaying sweatshop workers to make Aztec-print leggings (although I do really like Topshop actually, I’m wearing a Topman dolphin t-shirt as we speak. Ten quid. Bargain).
Do gay people still need gay bars? No obviously not. We can have a dance and a drink in our own living rooms, and we can get sex via Grindr or by, like, socialising and talking to people out in the world. But we want gay bars. They’re insane and overpriced and superficial and debauched and they’re brilliant.
I think the question we should be asking here is “do straight people still need straight bars?” Well do they? All the straight people I know go to gay bars, because the music’s good and the atmosphere isn’t so hostile and misogynist and trashy. Well gay bars are really trashy actually, but they’re fun trashy; in a drag queens falling over sort of way, not a Superdry Jacket, overpowering stench of Lynx, Essex girls pulling each other’s hair out sort of way.
But what is a “straight club” honestly? I don’t know if they exist anymore. The last time I went to one was around four years ago when I’d just moved to London. It was a student night at Tiger Tiger in Piccadilly and Ms Dynamite was performing. She got up on the stage all embarrassed at around 1.a.m and said security had told her to say everyone had to leave because there’d been a stabbing. Awful.
To be fair to stuffy old Elizabeth, I can see the point she’s trying to make. She’s saying it’s a good thing that we’re becoming more entwined in the nuances of the mainstream, because we’ll be less ghettoised, more understood and more respected.
But you know what, I don’t know if I want to be assimilated into mainstream society. What does it have to offer? I hate sweaters, they make me itch. I much prefer leather harnesses.