First Person

Why Straight Girls Who Hang Out In Gay Bars Can Be A Big Problem

10298847_339445356208868_3592885211451727652_nShe was beautiful, there was no denying that. A tall girl — just below my 5’11’’ eye level in flats — with white blonde hair. Her Brigitte Bardot-lashed eyes and perfectly glossed lips were set neatly and symmetrically in her heart shaped face.

And then she opened her mouth.

“You know you want me, all the gay boys do,” she said matter-of-factly, almost accusingly even, as if in my greeting I had somehow attempted to overturn a commonly known truth, like “the sky is blue,” or more appropriately in her case, “alcohol makes people drunk.”

The truth is, I didn’t want anything from this girl, not even the tip she assured me in that accusatory tone she would “be the first” to garnish my jock strap with. And as the evening grew on I found myself wanting even more “less” from this blonde-haired, blue-eyed she devil. I didn’t want her attitude; I didn’t want her light-up pom-poms she kept gesturing for me to grab (this was the Lower East Side, not the White Party circa 2001); and I definitely didn’t want her constant attempts to stand on the table next to my go-go box and keep dancing “at” me. 

10369895_342087589277978_4800189911144996973_nAnd then, finally, on her third attempt to shove the plastic handle of that goddamn pom-pom up my ass, I found myself thinking that dangerous, precarious thought: “I f*cking hate straight girls in gay bars!”

Now let’s pause for a second.

First, let me emphasize I actually don’t hate “straight girls” nor do I dislike females in general in any setting, bar or otherwise. In fact, I work mostly with women and have so since I first started stripping down in dressing rooms with burlesque dancers five years ago. Even in gay nightlife, I work consistently with a handful of “hetero-but-queer”-identified women who are smart, creative and simply fun people to be around. Furthermore, my favorite events to work are those “mixed” parties where crowds are composed of a multitude of genders and sexualities like some Kinsey-esque, United Colors of Benetton ad campaign. 

10300009_361060587380678_7371689381336509423_nWhat I can’t stand though is “that one straight girl” (and there’s always one) in a gay or queer space who not only demands attention but also conveys that you and I and everyone else within a 20 foot-radius have all been cast for her personal Sex-in-the-City-Will-&-Grace-Gay-Best-Friend bullshit fantasy. However, having voiced my concern, I also can’t overlook the truly enjoyable moments I’ve had dancing for women from gay bars to burlesque theaters to even bachelorette parties in apartment living rooms. I’ve even actually received some of my better tips from female audiences: ten bucks from the club girl at WestGay just to shake my ass for her for five seconds (I mean I was going to do it anyway); or the lady at Webster Hall who nonchalantly tucked a twenty in my g-string, whispering, “You deserve this,” over her bare shoulder—I got a former stripper vibe off her. Finally, outside clubland and on the web, I’ve encountered innumerable supportive and generous female fans of gay porn, especially the collective “Cocky Boys’ Fan Girls,” several of whom have even become sort of “porn mom” figures in my life.

10487485_375081009311969_8342392869699885978_nNo, I think if I really dissect this “straight girl in a gay bar” issue, the problem doesn’t revolve around a person’s gender or sexual preference as much as it does her (and his) sense of entitlement, the “dance for me monkey” attitude or “I love you gays” declaration that is just as counterproductive and homogenizing as “all straight girls in gay bars are obnoxious.” The reality is that most nightlifer’s from all parties of the spectrum have probably encountered both equally annoying female and male audience members. It’s just a given. The unceasing, blinding light of a recording cell phone or a reddening, tip-less slap on the ass are just as offensive no matter the parts of the perpetrator. For example, I actually had a “first” on the go-go platform — and let’s be real, I don’t have many “first’s” left. Recently, I literally had a guy try and aggressively finger me as he put a one dollar bill in my underwear! 

10525693_375081005978636_7342763932203041751_nNow, I know people joke all the time about finger blasting go-go boys, but I’m being serious here. That finger had gusto. And persistence, as in several attempts. And had I not clenched down the fortress walls, this man’s battering ram of an index would have undoubtedly forced its way in. Resisting the urge to stick my own finger in his eye, I firmly told this guy using so many choice words that his digit digging wasn’t “appropriate.” Embarrassed, he stumbled away only to come back later and slur, “I just want you to know I really respect you.” 

“That’s great,” I replied, “But what you should really respect is that I’ll kick your ass if you try that again.” Thus, it is scientifically proven that the “douchebag-making fairy” doesn’t discriminate among male or females. 

Chris Harder with Wasabassco Burlesque performers

If anything, I think the “straight girl problem” actually indirectly points to a much larger issue of how we (and I include myself in this) have been categorizing and sectioning off not just parties or bars, but sexual and lifestyle identities in general. The categories of “gay” and “straight” no longer indicate one’s sexuality and identity in the same manner as they did even ten years ago, much like the term “queer” doesn’t have to apply to one’s sexual preference. When I think, “God, another straight girl in a gay bar,” am I really reacting to her gender or inferred sexuality, or am I associating it with a larger, more mainstream “hetero-normative” identity that actually repulses me?

Pom-pom’s and fingers aside, it’s clear to me that barring all ladies isn’t going to create some utopian gay clubhouse. Instead of stressing the surface differences between “me and she,” I think we need to (gently) probe deeper into what it is we’re actually trying to keep out of gay and queer spaces, and even more importantly, why

For more info on Chris Harder, go here (link NSFW).