Hi everyone! Let’s talk about being femme in a gay bar, shall we?
So you’re all dolled up, you’ve planned ahead for the perspiration and pain involved in dancing in sky high heels, and you’ve managed to find a gay bar hosting a lesbian night. (None of these things are easy.)
You walk in, and the music may as well screech to a halt – you’re the only femme in the room, and there’s a skeptical scowl on the face of every lesbian there.
Queer spaces are few and hard to come by; queer women-centered spaces are even more elusive. So I understand the cynicism that may be directed at a woman who appears straight in a gay bar. Every other club in town is a “straight club,” so I sympathize with the instinctual sense of infiltration that may be felt by the gay community when a straight person enters our space. (Not that I necessarily agree with it; I mean, eventually the goal is for everyone to be able to hang out in the same space without killing each other, right?)
But the thing is, queer femmes aren’t straight. And that assumption coming from my own lesbian community hurts me more than the thousands of heterosexual folks I meet in my daily life that make the same inference.
Shouldn’t a gay bar be the one place in the world where you are assumed queer until proven straight?
But, as I’ve said before, I’m not going to change how I dress or present myself to be more recognizable. For one thing, that’s not fair. Also, I’ve tried it, and I didn’t feel like myself. It’s hard to have fun when you aren’t being who you are (as any closeted person can tell you). Lastly, there’s no way in hell I’m giving up my lipstick. (Just you try to take it away. Go on, I dare you.)
So, short of wrapping myself in a rainbow flag, I’m not sure how to communicate my queerness to other lesbians in a gay bar. But I think it’s time to broaden perceptions of what a lesbian looks like.
What are your experiences of being femme in a gay bar? Do you have any solutions for combating femme invisibility within queer spaces? Have you ever presented more masculinely in a gay bar to feel more comfortable?
- Femme: The Invisible Lesbian”>Femme: The Invisible Lesbian
- Girl in a Gay Bar: A Femme’s First Time
- Girl in a Gay Bar: Femme Fashion Edition