What is the etiquette for straight people in queer spaces?

queer etiquette

Opinion – Graeme Watson

What is the etiquette for heterosexual people visiting queer spaces?

Bond actor Daniel Craig recently raised eyebrows when, in an interview, he spoke about how as a young man he would often head to gay bars because there were less chances he’d end up in a fight.

“I could meet girls there, ’cause there are a lot of girls there for exactly the same reason I was there,” Craig told the podcast Lunch With Bruce. “It was an ulterior motive.”

I was invited onto the Drive program on ABC Radio Perth to chat about the comments a few weeks ago. Nothing more than some fun banter as people made their commute home.

Were people in the LGBTIQA+ community aware of this happening? Ummm, we’ve only been talking about it for last couple of decades.

Why has their been an influx of heterosexual people loving the all-inclusive pub and the queer club frequented by Perth’s LGBTIQA+ community?

Well, aside from the reasons the actor known as 007 noted, they’ve both had amazing renovations in recent years, have some of the best DJs in town, have drag shows – which have gone very mainstream thanks to Mama Ru – and basically word has spread that we had the best parties in town.

When I first started heading out to The Court Hotel, the windows were all blacked out, once you were inside you were safe, nobody could see you, I didn’t have to worry about someone from my workplace seeing me. It had clearly been explained to me that gay people didn’t often get promoted.

Now we live in very different times, The Court has very big open windows, my former employer wins awards for their LGBTIQA+ inclusive policies and practices, and the chances of me being bashed to a pulp in many of the city’s nightclubs for perceived gayness is dramatically less.

Now we face new challenges, some of our own making. I recall a friend complaining on a quiet night at The Court that the venue was “full of straight girls”. I looked across the beer garden and realised I knew every woman in the place, none of them were heterosexual. Maybe sometimes we are guilty of not recognising ‘our people’ when they are standing in front of us.

While our traditional queer spaces may be home to many new residents in recent years, it’s balanced by the outbreak of queer sporting clubs. A decade ago we had a badminton team and a swimming group, now we have a rugby, hockey, football, running, walking, water polo, and every-other-sport-you-can-think-of group.

Plus I haven’t heard of any 100% bona-fide heterosexual men turning up a Steam Works Sunday Session or The Bears regular gettogethers, there have been no reports of straight women lining up to join the Dykes on Bikes – we still have our gay spaces.

During the radio chat I was asked how straight people could be respectful in a queer space?

I think men entering a queer space should vow to never say the words “Ah no mate, I’m straight, I’m here with my girlfriend.” Imagine if you’re first guy another guy has ever plucked up the courage to speak to, you might set him back years.

“Making out with your girlfriend in the middle of the dance floor is probably not being totally respectful.” I said.

The moment the words left my mouth I could hear every bisexual friend and advocate speaking at once in my brain, I’d just committed the sin of bi-erasure across the airwaves – statewide. I felt ashamed. Coming up with guidelines is hard.

I’m not sure if Debretts have ever added a section of queer etiquette, but one would be useful.

Having a Hen’s Night in a gay venue, prior to marriage equality being achieved always seemed in extremely bad taste, now that I’ve walked down the aisle, not so bad.

So what should make the list? What are the etiquette rules in 2021?

Add your etiquette thoughts in the comments, tag us in social media, or drop us an email

Graeme Watson 


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