A girl’s modern guide to gay bar etiquette
There comes a time in every girl’s life when the glamour of going out begins to wear a little thin. You come to realize that clubs are not only sweaty and overpriced but that, no matter where you go, some random guy will follow you around all night. It’s a hard life when all you want to do is dress up and dance all night but some clingy boy monopolizes your attention.
If only there was another way… Oh wait, there is! The gay bar. Still sweaty, still overpriced, but you’re gonna get a heck of a lot less male attention. (And bonus points if you like your music with a side of noughties nostalgia)
For people who don’t often find themselves in queer spaces, heading to a gay bar might make them feel a bit out of their comfort zone. It’s worth getting a few tips in advance so you can make the most of the experience and enjoy dancing uninhibited by any feelings of self-consciousness.
As a queer gal myself, I’ve been to my fair share of LGBTQI+ venues and have a bunch of advice I’m only too eager to share.
Go with an LGBTQI+ friend
It seems obvious, but if you have any friends who fit the bill then ask them if you can tag along. They can show you the ropes and serve as your tour guide in the world of queer nightlife. For sure, they’ll know where to go and how things work better than you will.
And don’t feel ashamed to ask! Naturally, they’ll be pleased that you’re willing to go somewhere where you’re (probably) not going to get any cute guy’s number but which is a way more welcoming environment for them.
Dress for yourself, and let others do the same
While every subculture has its cool kids and its cultural norms, an LGBTQI+ space is a place where you should be free to express yourself however you feel fit — whether this is in glitter or baggy jeans. Furthermore, this is a space away from a lot of misogynistic ideas about what a women “should” wear, so feel free to embrace the halter top and hot pants combo without fear of slut-shaming.
Similarly, you have to know that it is not appropriate to pass judgement on what other people are wearing. This is true all the time (peace and love, peace and love) but especially true in the gay bar, where looser conceptions of gender allow party-goers to try out looks which might attract hate in a less tolerant space.
The bottom line is, do not bring the outside world’s prejudices into the safe space.
Leave your assumptions at the door, and educate yourself
A lot of people have a pretty fixed idea of the gay bar experience, gleaned from stray episodes of shows like Will & Grace or Ugly Betty. It’s true that some gay bars are run more like the clubs for cis, gay men which you see on tv, but there’s a whole range out there. From dyke bars, to nights with a bisexual focus, to queer spaces focussing on intersectionality and inclusion, there should be something for everyone on the gender and sexuality spectrums. As such it’s a good idea to read up a bit on where your going, to get an informed impression of what to expect and to make sure your don’t make any assumptions.
Not every woman is going to hit on you. (Don’t take it personally)
There may very well be women at the gay bar you go to, and a good portion of them will be bisexual, pansexual, lesbian… you name it!
Just as not all straight women are into all straight guys, don’t expect all queer women to be into you! Everyone has their own type and it’s not worth getting upset over if you don’t fit the bill, unless you really are into queer dating. Equally, don’t be an obnoxious asshole if some girl does hit on you — always remember to be polite.
Don’t be transphobic/homophobic/biphobic… any kind of phobic. Obviously
It boils down to this: you can’t come to the party if you’re not down with the cause.