Gay bars are hot. I don’t mean literally, like the UpStairs Lounge tragedy, when a crazy terrorist set fire to a gay bar in New Orleans in 1973 and 32 men died, but with increased mainstream acceptance of genderfuck, it seems like more and more straight** people are visiting spaces created by and for queers. In light of this, and with the number of queer spaces in Montrose plummeting, we have come up with this list for folks who may be unaware that even though they are fun and pretty and spending money, their presence in these spaces is suspect, so they should tread lightly.
DO feel free to accompany a gay friend to her/his community space. You are friends and you should be happy to share different aspects of your lives, just be wary about going back to that space on your own; you wouldn’t expect to be welcome at a members-only club without a host, would you?
DO recognize the difference between a gay “community bar” and a gay “pick up joint.” If you are respectful, you may be welcome at the former, but don’t push your luck at the latter.
DON’T assume that every queer person of your same gender wants to get with you. Maybe they’re just nice or want to have a conversation.
DON’T freak out if someone of the same gender makes a pass at you — just politely say you’re not interested. You are in THEIR space, and if you can’t hang, leave.
DON’T assume that gay dudes know how to decorate an interior to meet your chintzy sensibility.
DO take a hint when someone doesn’t want to talk to you. Not all gay people are generically “FUUUUUNNNN!” and even the “fun” ones aren’t fun all the time. Sometimes people want to be left alone, and they don’t owe you their attention.
DON’T get too familiar. You have some gay friends who don’t mind you using slurs like “fag” or “dyke?” Good for you. Feel free to use those words around those people, but don’t think you have some kind of All-Access LGBTQ pass to act however you want around unfamiliar people.
DO buy drinks for your fellow patrons and even the bartender. Let’s face it — whether you’re into guys or girls, if you’re at a bar, you’re probably into booze (just DO be responsible).
DO tip well. This is a much better way to get stiff drinks than sending your hot boy toy to flirt with (tease) the bartender.
DON’T bring your bachelorette party to a gay bar. That’s just fucking rude. Do you realize gay people can’t get married in Tejas? Not cool. Pay for a stripper, go to La Bare, or figure some other shit out — this may be your “one” special night, but for the patrons of that bar it happens too often.
DON’T feel like you need to fondle and kiss your hetero partner every three minutes to alert folks to the fact that you’re hetero. That is obnoxious. Take that shit…ANYWHERE…you have that luxury, so why do it in a space for people who CAN’T do it everywhere?
DO help make straight spaces safer for everyone. Instead of taking your straight girl dance party to a gay club because men are too aggressive on “straight” dance floors, work with promoters, club owners, security staff, and your straight and gay allies to make all dance floors safer for everybody — for straight women AND for homos!
DON’T lead people on to get free drinks or to stroke your ego. There is a word for that, and that word is “tease.” Don’t be a tease. That’s cruel (and not in the good way).
DO dance. You get bonus points for dancing with folks of your same gender.
DON’T take up prime real estate on the dance floor. Those cages are not for you. The stage is not for you. The spotlight is not for you — not here.
DON’T shout. Nobody wants to hear you yell “Wooooo! That’s my jaaaaam!” We are dignified adults here. Doing jello shots and gyrating to Beyoncé. In our underwear.
DON’T cock-block your gay friends. They’ll ask for your help if they want it, but (especially man-on-man) courtship may happen quicker than it does in your life and that’s none of your business. Be happy your friends are getting some and stay out of the way.
DON’T stare. Stares often precede fights, so you might be freaking people out, and looks matter in gay space (cruising, glimpsing, admiring) so check the look.
DON’T back your car up 70 feet to smash your rear into another car, drive off without leaving any contact information, and then deny the whole thing even when you’re caught on video tape, especially if you’re a popular local conservative talk radio host.
* I use the term “safe-space” to mean it’s safe for gay people to be gay there, but let’s be honest, these are not consciousness-raising spaces; a lot of effed up stuff happens in gay bars, too, so “safe space” is used with that caveat.
** I don’t believe in “straight” people — they’re like unicorns. I think we all lie somewhere along an omnisexual spectrum, so I use this term with this caveat.
Devon Britt-Darby, Oskar Sonnen, Mark Tully, and three anonymous men contributed to this article.