Straights in Gay Clubs – The Argument For Equality

Jonathan Pizarro
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Today Vada is debating whether the door policy exercised by some gay clubs of denying entry to straight individuals is a positive or negative step. Read Aaron Holloway‘s argument against here.


Injustice Anywhere – Would you turn away Beyoncé?

It’s official, gay is cool. Macklemore raps about it, footballers are wearing rainbow laces and James Franco is desperate to be gay (or win an Oscar). Z-list singers are coming out and dancing on ice, putting their nipples on the cover of Gay Times as a way of revitalizing their careers, when once upon a time they feared it would have killed them. It’s a brave new world.

Things aren’t perfect, but they are certainly better than ten years ago. The dialogue is on the table, and it is a proud moment to look back a decade and see that we have actually achieved something. We got somewhere, all of us together, by refusing to change who we are.

Marriage bills are grand gestures, but it’s the small acts of everyday rebellion that I truly believe have changed life for the better. It’s the communication and openness some people have been willing to engage in with others who may not seem as understanding. Those moments when you think “Today I’m going to kiss my boyfriend goodbye on the street, I am not going to be scared”.

Visibility is the key to shining a light on the monster under the bed. Once upon a time gay people were demonised. We were the murderers, the perverts, the child molesters. What we couldn’t do in public, we did in private. It led to a vicious cycle where men were being caught in public toilets trying to express their sexuality in the only way they could under a pressure cooker of institutionalised homophobia. Once arrested, it simply proved a point. Here they were, skulking about like predators. It was only right to catch them, and cut them up.

I like to think of history as human, every aspect of it belonging to everyone. Everybody is responsible, and everybody is invited. When Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, it wasn’t a massive political statement. She’d just had enough. Her action transcends colour now, she is a testament to everyone who has had enough. Black, female, gay, trans*, poor. It doesn’t matter what you are, we’ve all been under the boot.

It’s interesting to hear of moments when gay bars and clubs refuse entry to straight people, simply on the basis that they are straight. What is shocking to me, is the permisiveness I have heard, where gay people seem to think this is okay. I hear people say they are “our clubs”, refer to them as “safe space” or that “the straights have their own bars”. Imagine those words reversed onto gay people, imagine gay people being refused entry somewhere.

I can understand that you don’t want to be gawped at while enjoying yourself on a night out, that maybe the gay scene has turned into a little bit of a zoo where straight women think it’s fabulous to go on hen nights and hang out with all the glitter and gays, but I don’t see how a blanket ban on all heterosexual, or heterosexual looking people cures that. Surely it should be a defensive approach on anyone causing trouble and not an offensive on an entire sexuality.

I don’t see how self-segregating cures this either. You want to be tucked up inside your cotton candy bar where the real world can’t hurt you, then go back out into the real world and expect them to give you equal rights? If you want those rights in the world, then you need to live in it, and take everything that comes your way including things that may offend you. It’s a tough life but we’re all on the same journey.

Unfortunately it seems we’re flavour of the month right now, but if people saw that not every gay relationship is an episode of Drag Race, things would cool down. You can’t expect someone to fight for your right to sit at the table, then refuse to offer them some of your meal. You’re just doing exactly what you complained about in the first place.

I’d be mortfied if I went on a night out with friends and we decided to go somewhere on the scene, and my straight friends were refused entry. They mean as much to me as my gay friends, and I want them to share as much in my life and joy as anyone else. What’s more, how wonderful to be at a moment in life where we can go to straight and gay bars, bouncing around from one to the other with no hint of tension or awkwardness. If this is what the scene is representing, I don’t want to be a part of that circus.

I have a friend, Kathryn, who tells me she went to a gay bar with a straight friend one night, and they were refused entry because the doorman thought they were straight. They weren’t out to cause trouble, they weren’t a large group of rowdy people, just two girls on a night out, one of who actually happened to be a lesbian.

“Well I’m a lesbian”, Kathryn replied. “And my friend is bi, now what?”

It’s interesting that you would even have to lie about your friend’s sexuality, just to be let in.

The doorman apologised. “We’re just a judgment-free club” he explained.

Kathryn laughed. “Clearly, I can see that”.

It will be a happy day when there aren’t “gay clubs”, but places with a rich history of alternative sexuality where everyone mixes easily with each other out of a love for music and common bonds, like the jazz clubs of 1930s Harlem where gay people and black people mixed and danced and drank and sang. It means we’ll have won the biggest fight of all, one of acceptance, where we shouldn’t have to run and hide behind a disco-ball fantasy.

If we all keep living our day-to-day lives exactly the way we intend, if we keep holding hands on the street and building lives together, living in the real world with each and every person in it regardless of race, religion, and sexuality, we’ll be going towards a much more beautiful and happier place. Instead of fighting for the supposed right to sit at the back of the damn bus.

About Jonathan Pizarro

The illegitimate child of Jack Kirby and Coco Chanel, this small town boy made good after his home planet exploded. He loves Aretha Franklin and hates missing the last train home. Follow him, or Rylan will sing at all your birthdays. @misterpalazzo

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