How to Avoid Being a Tool in a Gay Bar


Ah, the gay bar. That beacon of quality pop music and athletic dance moves, that sweet haven of rainbow-tinged joy and alcoholic merriment, that oasis in a desert of heterosexual meat markets. Where everybody knows your name, where nobody gives you shit for knowing all the words to Robbie Williams’ “Rock DJ” and you can bet your bottom dollar that you won’t be the only girl in the room with a number 2 short back and sides. The gay bar is a cultural touchstone of our community, where all of us, once, entered tremblingly, our eyes still adjusting to the glittery light of the world outside the closet, and like a baby giraffe learning to walk, built up the courage to dance awkwardly in the throng of gyrating queers. But, just like any nightspot, the gay bar has its own unique set of unspoken rules that ensure the harmony of this delicate social ecosystem. For those of you who are heterosexually inclined, or perhaps just unfamiliar with the unique milieu of the good ol’ queer-inclusive watering hole, here’s a handy code of conduct to keep you from making a dickhead of yourself next time you visit a gay bar:


This is really a general rule for anything anywhere all of the time. Nobody wants to be the one puking in a pot plant at the end (or beginning, for that matter) of the night. Know your limits and drink plenty of water. Then you can make friends in the line for the bathroom.


This is a general rule of the thumb that should be applied to all nightlife: don’t make physical contact without invitation. Butt and boob grabbing, unsolicited grinding and otherwise unwanted gropery is not cool. This should really be common sense, but it seems that a lot of eager Northbridge socialites missed the memo. Be a gentleperson and make a bit of eye contact or at least dance a bit and make your presence known to your intended beloved before you go crotch to butt. The importance of this is compounded in a space where people come to feel safe, and avoid the aggressive advances that frequently happen in straight clubs. Remember, the gay bar is not a place where women go to pick up dudes. Women in gay bars are either gay, or they’re just dancing and don’t feel like getting hit on that night. That’s why they went to a gay bar. Of course, one should avoid being a groper regardless of gender.


Your first time in a gay bar can be an overwhelming thing. There aren’t really any other spaces in which queers can go about their mating rituals so openly, and for the uninitiated this can be a bit of a shock, gay or straight. Such are the consequences of living in a world where queer relationships aren’t terribly well represented in mainstream media. I remember being but a girl of eighteen, making my first trip to the Court and losing my shit at the sight of two girls having a good old pash on the dance floor. We’ve all been there. But it’s important to remember that while you may find your fellow partygoers a sight to behold, there’s a difference between a general surveying of the atmosphere and having a gawk.


The gay bar should always be a safe space for people of all stripes. As such, don’t question anyone’s identity. The way you dress is not indicative of your orientation (unless you want it to be) so don’t cast aspersions on other people. As there is always contention within any community, a lot of people have very specific ideas on what is the ‘right’ way to be gay, or a lesbian, or trans*. A lot of people also have very specific ideas about which people should or should not be allowed in. The whole point of the gay bar is to be a safe space where you can express yourself how you wish. Everybody’s there to have a good time, gay, straight, bi or bright purple. Don’t throw shade.


As I said before, the gay bar is meant to be a safe space. There should be security that can help you should things get gropey or violent. If the security is ineffective, let the venue managers know. If someone’s a dickhead, they need to know that they are being a dickhead. They also need to know that dickheads will not be tolerated so that the overall population of dickheads can diminish. Stick up for yourself, stick up for your friends and let the staff know if shit gets serious.


If you’re a queer person in a city that only has so many gay venues, it’s inevitable that at some stage, you’ll run into your ex or your ex’s ex or that person you had a weird thing with that one time when you’re out on the town. Keep it classy and try to save the drama to a time and place where Beyonce isn’t playing in the background.

Sophie Joske

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