Brian Tejada is a gay male following news, politics, and entertainment.
Why Do Gay Bars Exist?
Gay bars date back to the 1930s, and some of the oldest ones are in New Orleans. Such establishments provide gay men with a friendly space to gather and meet others like themselves. The average straight person cannot understand how difficult it is for gay men to meet each other outside of businesses dedicated to us. Gay people account for 1.7% of the population. Our numbers are small.
In these bars, a gay man can rest easy with the knowledge that the man he has been eyeing could potentially be interested in him. Gay bars also allow patrons to embrace and display the diversity of style reminiscent of the gay subculture. The flamboyance and dynamism of gay sections of towns typically attract lots of trendy and stylish people regardless of their sexual orientation.
In recent years, the welcoming atmosphere of gay bars has made the bars into popular venues for bachelorette parties for straight women. Straight people also tend to frequent gay bars when gay men bring both their straight female and male friends along for Saturday night outings. When this happens, it can be hard to determine who is part of the gay community and who is straight.
A young gay man's first visit to a gay bar is a rite of passage. It can be scary. My first trip to a gay bar occurred while I was visiting a friend in Ft. Lauderdale. I drove around the bar three times before going inside. Even though I was far from the familiarity of my hometown, I felt all eyes on me as if people knew me personally. I felt ashamed. Even though I had accepted myself years earlier as a teenager, the feeling that I was doing something wrong persisted. Back in 1994, I did not have to worry about straight people judging me for being in a gay bar. But a gay bar nowadays can almost conjure up the same uncomfortable feelings I used to feel at high school dances. Depending on who is in the space, I may feel at ease and welcome, or alone and uncomfortable.
The first trip to a gay bar is a young gay man's chance to experience the gay world up close. Forming a real world connection to those of the same persuasion is part of the normal maturation process. Gays can evolve into a competent and less inhibited people when they're embraced as part of a community. Gay bars offer spaces and opportunities to make gay friends and learn to maneuver through the potentially treacherous waters of gay social life. Adding straight people to that mix muddies the waters. Gay people will behave differently around straight people. It is inevitable. Minorities will naturally behave differently around those from majority groups.
Things to Consider
Previous articles focused on criticizing the (mostly) women who started coming to gay bars with their gay friends. Women are an easy scapegoat. While liberal circles claim to hold women in high regard, in practice women's equality has not played out so well. Recently the #Metoo movement left behind a body count of liberal darlings. Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, and Tavis Smiley have all met their ends. Even gays have been accused of being misogynistic. Gay men need to point the finger at each other. At this point if we want to reclaim our bars and nightclubs, we must stop doing what caused the problem in the first place.
1. Become more conscious of how your actions affect others. When you bring your straight friends with you, you are taking up space that a young gay man may need to begin his journey in life. If that does not matter to you, then you need to reflect on that.
2. There are bars in large cities that have flipped from being gay to straight. Gay men were replaced by the straight friends they had previously brought out. These are places that gay people have taken for granted since the inception of Manhunt and Grindr. Hook up apps, easily accessible from smartphones, provide a quick fix to satisfy sexual needs but are notorious for damaging gay culture. Do not be a cliche. Do you have to lose them before you understand what you had?
3. Gay ambiance is different from a straight one. That is perfectly fine and the way it should be. That is diversity and life on Earth. We would not want it any other way. That is why you have straight bars separate from gay bars. Straight male friends may be nice but strangers do not hold others in the same regard. Multiple straight men in an environment not built for them is a powder-keg. Maintain a balance.
4. Are you so insecure or co-dependent that you cannot handle going out by yourself ever? Do you understand that the more people you have around you the less likely other gay men will be to approach you? These factors can shape the rest of your life. Learn while you are young to stand proud on your own. Be brave. Good things do not happen to the squeamish. No one wants a clingy, high maintenance gay man who cannot go anywhere without his female besty. That stereotype is only cute on TV. In real life, it is a problem. That is why you are always going home alone or you are only hooking up with guys who approach you. You are going to end up old, bitter and alone.
5. You have fun when you go out. The bartender flirts with you. The dancers flirt with you. Everyone has a good time because it is a gay bar. When I go out to a gay bar, I want that gay ambiance maintained. Women should not be touching the dancer. When he’s at the gay bar, he’s gay.
6. Your female friends look up to you. They need your encouragement to be better people. Do not take advantage of their insecurity so that you can appear not to be alone.
"Often, the women who get labeled as ‘fag hags’ are overweight, insecure, or uncomfortable with the idea of frequenting straight bars where they could potentially meet men who are interested in them."
While you might feel like your female friend and you are the same, you are not. While both of you are attracted to men, she is a woman with all the physical differences that naturally make her modest and guarded around members of the opposite sex. It is normal. As a male, you have a 50/50 chance in a confrontation with another male. For a woman, the odds are not in her favor.
Many women want to have families some day . Their biological clocks are shorter than men's. Learn to enjoy healthier activities with your straight friends. If the bar scene is so central to your social life that you have to bring your straight friends with you just so that you do not miss a weekend at the bars, then you have a problem.
The dynamic energy that permeates gay bars and nightclubs does not just happen. That fun environment has taken decades to cultivate. Changing that ambiance to suit the higher ratio of straight visitors will ruin it. Less gay men will feel comfortable being playful and inappropriate with each other. Those are basic elements of a gay environment. Do not ruin that for us. Don’t deny it to those gays who will follow us. Be a man and leave your straight friends at home.
© 2018 Brian Tejada