Is There Such a Word as ‘Heterophobia’?

John Hale
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Society in Britain is a very different place to what it was 5 years ago, never mind a decade back. Gay marriage under a Tory government to name one of the most significant changes. We’re moving toward a more tolerant society, if you base your opinions on Hansard and legislation, but in reality, things have seldom changed.

There are certain industries that seem to attract men who like men. Dominantly so is the world of fashion, but media and PR are also stalwart appearances on many gay CVs. Retail allows me to flirt clandestinely unbeknownst to the customer. It’s one of life’s true pleasures to be able to stare at the male form, whilst being paid for the pleasure. Socialising is a totally different experience though.

Many assume that gay people all hang around with each other. This isn’t exactly true. When first hitting the gay bars and clubs etc it is comforting that you’re surrounded by fellow gay enthusiasts. However, the more socially experienced you become the more diverse the people also become. Viewing many of my friends Facebook updates and check-ins many of them party at the weekend and also on a work night, Seb, Millard and Packer to name but three.

What do these three people have in common? They socialise with gay people in gay bars and straight people in straight bars. However there is a common trend that is now becoming a social norm. They would now socialise with gay people in straight bars and straight people in gay bars.

It would seem that the swapping of sexualities in different environments is causing a stir. Those three friends and I have no problem socialising with gays or straights in a gay or straight environment, but it seems that what was once a niche part of the gay community is starting to have their voice become louder.

There was an incident recently where a gay guys straight friends were not allowed into a popular London gay venue because they were straight and holding hands. They were unceremoniously told to fuck off. Incidents like that have happened to me and a few others too. At that same venue only a few years before I waltzed in (obviously looking gay) and then my friends (all girls) were stopped at the door (one was a lesbian FYI). They didn’t know what to do, so I switched on ‘Queeny Mode’ and this time minced over and squealed that they were with me (lesbian included), slightly flirted and they were let in. A good night ensued.

However on the flip side I was once in a straight club in Nottingham with my gay best friend at the time (before the Horsemen) with his gay friend and the atmosphere was indeed tense. We obviously dressed differently, with style, drank like fish, not pints and to the horror of the straight men in the club, danced. On the dance floor. With each other. The horror!! To be honest the gay friend, Smelly Mike decided to make matters worse by hitting on a straight guy. We left abruptly as we knew trouble would undoubtedly happen.

Nowadays though with work environments being so diverse many straight people would accompany their gay colleagues for after work drinks. Because the gay community is so obviously fabulous and welcoming it’s no shock that it would draw many more straight people into it whether it’s because of location, cheap drinks or general fabulousness.

Times have changed since the incident in Nottingham. Even though I don’t live in Nottingham any more when having drinks with straight friends or gay friends in straight places I’ve never felt uncomfortable. The same cannot be said for a gay club. There was a period of time on either a Friday or Saturday the number of straight people would outnumber the gay people, in a GAY club! It made if positively ghastly when trying to hit on someone. Were you going to a) get lucky, b) get knocked back or c) punched…the luck of the draw.

This is where I am on the fence. I really don’t know if what the doorman did in London was a good thing. Some have commented that it may alienate the gay community further, yet others will say that gay venues allow gay people to ‘be gay’ without the fear of repercussion which one might get in a straight environment.

To rewind slightly to the gay club in Nottingham, I had come up with a theory. Nottingham is a haven for Hen nights and Stag parties. When I mentioned that straight people outnumbered the gays that would be the amount of straight women that would flock in. I am quite nosey so I did eventually find out that these Hen parties and later groups of straight women would frequent the gay club because they saw it as a place where they felt safe. they felt safe from the letches, the spiked drinks, the constant harassment. They could simply have fun. Ironic? However ‘Straight Men’ are not stupid. They had cottoned on to this and then followed them – much to the annoyance of the habitual gays. We were getting harassed in our own environment – which is why gay people flee the gay clubs and frequent straight clubs?

Though through my ramblings there’s one final thing I’ll leave you with. Now this is just what I’ve been exposed to and backed up with experiences from friends of mine, if in today’s society more and more straight places are becoming more and more mixed with the clienteles sexualities surely it’s right that gay bars and clubs do the same? Though I’m still not sure.

About John Hale

I'm John, I'm 32 and my current guilty pleasure is re watching Buffy from season one. I currently work in fashion management which is a fancy term for saying retail management. I'm a book & movie junkie, I party, holiday and play lacrosse and had 2 bikes stolen in Cambridge.