I’ve been in DC for about ten months now. A couple months ago I went to an area called “H Street.” I was told that this would be more of my scene compared to most parts of DC, which tend to be a bit more bro-ey formal, typically not my thing. We go to a bar there and it’s perfectly fine and I’m having a good time with my friends but all of a sudden I have this realization, I’m really not into mainstream bar culture and therefore say “I’m not mainstream”. This is a simplistic statement but that was the thought in my head. I tell my friend this and she says, “Sarah, are you just realizing this?”
This made me think about where I do like going out on the weekends both in Minneapolis and DC. My girlfriends and I in Minneapolis are regular attendees of the Gay 90s. One of my favorite places to go out in DC is a monthly lesbian dance night, “She-Rex.” Many, if not most, of my female friends identify on the GLBTQ spectrum but I don’t. Yes, these are my clubs of choice because I go with my friends but there’s more to it as well. These are the spaces I feel most comfortable in. I identify as straight and at times feel like I am invading spaces that were not created for me. Similar to this recent article in Gawker, I understand that gay/lesbian spaces were not created for straight Sarah even though that might be the space where I feel most comfortable.
With all that being said, I’ve begun to explore why this is the case that queer spaces tend to make me feel more comfortable than traditionally heterosexual spaces. I think much of it is that queer spaces, specifically with high amounts of women, tend to be more feminist spaces. (This is not to say there is not misogyny in the queer community. Check out this zine, “How Misogyny Hurts Queer Communities.” One of my roommates references it on nearly a daily basis.)
My experience however in more “mainstream” clubs include men grabbing me, feeling pressured to dance in a way that I am uncomfortable with and constantly being aware of my physical position to avoid random men from coming up to dance behind me. All of these things do not make the nightlife experience one that I want to come back to every week.
I find spaces to be essential in identity formation and self-confidence. This has been my experience in a realm of identities I possess. I’ve witnessed spaces transform and sculpt individuals. How do you see the importance of space? What venues are you most comfortable in? How do you feel about people of privileged identities “invading” spaces that were created to empower a more marginalized group?