Written from the POV of a female bisexual.

I’ve been going to gay bars since my twenties, long before I questioned myself and came out when I was 30. Why? Because they are safe! I went with gay friends,  it was a good night out and they were super accepting of everyone. Plus, no hassles from weird guys getting hands-on or demanding sex. Although I did get asked out by a few girls and had to politely decline. Which, never caused me a problem.

When I moved to the Peak District, there were no gay bars or gay events. BOO!!!! So, I had to stop attending for two years. I moved back into the city last year (Sheffield) and also have a few trips to Manchester’s Village. The first time I went to Manchester, I messed up. I admit it. I had zero ideas up until that night, that there were Pride bars that accepted all, gay bars and lesbian bars. Nowhere I had lived had either. So, when I went to the village, I was wow where do I go? On my own, as I was up for the night to see a show, I walked down Canal Street and picked at random a bar that wasn’t too busy and had good music on, ordered a drink and sat down with it.

After a few minutes of funny looks, one of the bar team came over to me and politely asked if I knew what kind of bar I was in. I replied rather innocently, this is the pride village, isn’t it? I’m not straight, I’m bi and I just wanted to have a quiet drink. He smiled at me and asked if I was new to the area. When I said yes, he very nicely explained to me that certain bars on the street were for certain people, and I had walked into the wrong kind by accident. Horrified, I apologised and promised to finish my drink fast and leave. A few minutes later, another bar member came up to me and I told him I was sorry and I would leave in a couple of minutes. He handed me a second drink and told me that they had spoken to the guys there (and yes, bless them, they had asked personally every guy in there if they minded a like-minded lady joining them and none had) and I could stay as long as I would like. As they knew I wouldn’t try to hit on any of the men. In fact, more than one of the guys asked me to dance, until I eventually moved on to a bar with more open policy. Kudos for the bar, taking a bad situation and dealing with it in a non-offensive inclusive way.

However, not all Pride bars are like this. After that event, I have taken more care to stand outside the bar a few minutes. Check who goes in and out, and make sure that I don’t offend anyone by popping into the wrong place. I don’t even go to vanilla, as it is a lesbian bar and I don’t think it is right. Although I have been told I would be welcome. Lately, I am finding Pride bars are giving me an attitude of disgust. Even one I am a member of. The case or the glare up and down as I get to the door only to be told, This isn’t a straight club. Or told I pass for straight, so I shouldn’t be there. One night last summer, in bar pop with dozens of other women there watching the drag show. One guy decided to tell me to get out of ‘his’ fucking gay bar cause he didn’t want no straight bitch in there. He tried to hit me, and thankfully two gay guys defended me and the bouncers kicked him out. Thank you to those guys, I never did get your names. They stayed with me and danced with me all night.

I’m finding this whether I go to bars alone, or with a group of friends. I am constantly having to defend my sexuality and my right to be inside the bar. I understand since what happened at the Pulse Nightclub, that gay bars are tightening up security, but this is just insane. We are pushing people out of our community and our safe spaces!

Last night, I had a terrible experience in a local pride bar. I went alone, I should have been meeting someone who didn’t show up. Not a big deal, people are friendly enough there and soon enough I was invited to dance with several groups of people. I really do love how welcoming people are, or most of them are. There was a young gay guy there, who had also been stood up and was a bit upset his boyfriend wasn’t there. He was also young, (early twenties) and a little drunk talking to me. He asked me to dance for a while, so I did and we shared a few drinks and had a blast. Then he kissed me and apologised for it. I told him that it was fine, I knew he was gay and that it meant nothing.

It’s very much not the first time that a drunk gay guy has kissed me at a Pride or in a bar. I get on well with gay guys cause I give the banter back, I don’t mind dancing and the odd kiss, I don’t touch anything I’m not invited to, I don’t take it that a kiss means we are gonna have sex. I know its just friendly. Also, being a good ten plus years older than him, I felt kinda obliged to make sure he was okay, so when he got a little drunk I took him out for some air and he got some water. Kissed me outside in the smokers area, then he grabbed my hand to dance me back inside for one last dance before we both got (separate) taxis home. One of the doormen, who wasn’t a regular (and yes, I am in this bar enough I am a member and that the regular door staff tell me off if I haven’t been for a while) decided to shout at me that the guy I was with was gay, he was always in here with guys and that I should stop pressuring him for shit cause I wasn’t gonna get anywhere. I was just floored by it. I shouted back I damn well know that, and so what if he is gay we are just dancing. The guy shouted back at him too, but after that, I just felt too disgusted by what had happened to stay.

I am not straight.

I have a right to be in a Pride bar.

I have a right to mix with my community.

I have the right to make a new friend and dance with him without staff making comments I am to straight or trying it on with a gay man.

I am not a slut, I don’t sleep around.

Even if I did, what the fuck is it to do with them when it is two consenting adults?

And btw, what about the two lesbians making out on the dance floor?

What about the two guys almost having sex in the cage?

What is so offensive about two gay people dancing if they are a man and a woman?

Pride bars, LGBTQ* community, you have a very long way to go before the B is safe in your community.

A M/F bisexual couple is not a straight couple!

Just how gay must I look before you will accept me?

I am annoyed.

 

Sarah

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