Anyone who is familiar with my work knows all about my gay guy pals, my preference for gay clubs over straight ones and my fondness for everything rainbow related. Most of my close friends are gay men and I honestly think they are the best friends a girl could have.
For the most part, my experiences at gay clubs, drag shows and places like Fire Island have been pleasant ones. The first time I stepped into a gay club, I expected one of two things: I would need my friends to save me from aggressive women who would delight in the challenge of trying to turn me out, or have to dodge the rolling eyes and arched eyebrows of gay men who were wondering, “What the hell is this chick doing here?” What I encountered though that night and most of the other times I’ve been to gay-friendly places is an embracing, open-minded community. Of course, you have your few snobs, but what group doesn’t? Plus, contrary to what many women believe, they don’t all hate us because they want to be us. In fact, most of them won’t hesitate to tell you how happy they are to be their fabulous selves. Most of what I’ve encountered are ”Will’s” surrounded by their many “Graces” who are there to flirt while their female companions just want to drink and dance and be surrounded by men that can appreciate fashion and beauty without thinking of a strategy of how to get them undressed.
Most gay clubs I’ve been to were mostly filled with gay men, not homosexual women, and the women that were there kind of looked like men any way. It’s always a friendly atmosphere that’s all about having fun and belting your heart out to some remixed Adele while drooling over the Adonises serving test tube shots in boy briefs. The first time I went I was told how fierce my hair and makeup was and an older guy even brought me and my straight girlfriend Blue Long Island’s before he took her to the dance floor so they could jump around to The Wanted.
Up until now, I never took the time to think about if gay men loved me as much as I loved them. I mean gay clubs are gay clubs for a reason. And all the reasons I love it, aren’t exactly what they are about. I mean guys come there to meet other men in an accepting, s*xy atmosphere without worrying about accidentally approaching a straight man, and here we come with our silly high-pitched squeals, awkwardness in the unisex bathrooms and watermelon martinis. Just when we thought we were busy being allies, are we actually annoying, or worse yet, offensive?
After polling some anonymous patrons with that very question, the response I discovered was a loud resounding, “No.” Most gay men couldn’t care less about being joined by the ladies as long as some simple boundaries were respected. And even I came up with a few rules for joining your friends in the gayborhood.
For example, I don’t usually hit up gay clubs unless we have a gay friend lead the way. I hate to think of my friends as the gay gatekeepers, but my friend and I have tried hitting up the club without them and it was just weird. After five minutes I was wondering what we were doing there and it seemed like everyone else was too. Another thing I realized after visiting a few gay clubs in NYC is that gay men aren’t the only ones who go to gay clubs, meaning you’ll also find some who identify as transgender, homosexual women, bisexuals and rarely some straight guys, and they don’t all walk around with name tags announcing their preference. The point is, don’t take it personally if you don’t get hit on. It’s not about you anyway (That’s the reason you’re going, remember?). We ladies are used to getting in free before 12 and men tripping over each other to buy us drinks. I quickly learned that wouldn’t be the case after a night that resulted in my gay friend being drenched in a collection of other men’s sweat (They were that hype to get at him). Meanwhile, myself and my straight cousin were virtually ignored besides the bouncer that told me I could come to him for any and everything I needed.
Also, as in any club, there’s about a 5 percent chance that the bartender with light-eyes or the guy serving shots in a g-string actually wants you. He’s flirting with you because he wants a nice tip, not because he wants to marry you. You are not the only one slapping his backside or grinding on him so get over the thought that you’re the finest chick to ever get a fluorescent wrist band.
Lastly, I’ll bring to your attention the unisex bathroom that freaked me out a little at first. Any good gay club in my opinion, doesn’t make a super big deal out of gender specific bathrooms. What you’ll usually encounter is a bathroom that’s open for everyone and there’s a good chance it will be trifling. If you’re really worried, take a friend to stand guard and be prepared to see a perfect stranger’s genitals. It’s not polite to stare. We’re all adults. Gawking at two men kissing is not only impolite, it’s immature. Make sure your friends are safe, but don’t expect to be introduced to everyone they back it up on for your approval.
It’s all about practicing respect and common courtesy no matter what kind of club you’re in and that goes for both boys and girls. If you’re lucky enough to truly have a friend that just happens to be gay, not some trendy Sex and the City inspired accessory, then your first concern will be that you all have a good time and not the hits you’ll get in Instagram because you’re life is so “diverse and cool.” Unfortunately, for every guy that throws some friendly glitter my way, there are always some who will feel like we are “invading” their space and should stick to our straight kind. And just like they don’t have to apologize for who they’re attracted to, I don’t have to feel uncomfortable for where I have fun. We’re not competing for the same men or beefing because we wore the same shoes, so what’s the problem? Let’s compromise. Ladies, it’s okay if you’re accompanying a few friends, but take the bachelorette parties to the local Chippendales. And guys, just remember, your faithful female friends will probably have your back a lot longer than the chronic lip-licker at the end of the bar. Play nice.
Need some additional guidance on how to not be the annoying drunk girl in the gay club? Check out Brian Moylan’s VICE article, An Etiquette Guide for Straight People in Gay Bars.
Have you ever felt disrespected in a gay club just because your gender didn’t meet the dress code?
Toya Sharee is a community health educator and parenting education coordinator whelping young women build their self-esteem and make well-informed choices about their sexual health. She also advocates for women’s reproductive rights and blogs about everything from beauty to love and relationships. Follow her on Twitter @TheTrueTSharee or visit her blog Bullets and Blessings .