We’re here, we’re queer – Daniel Craig get out
Izabela Wojcik explores the politics of queer spaces and discusses whether or not straight people should enter them.
Acclaimed James Bond actor Daniel Craig recently expressed how he would often go to gay clubs when he was young to avoid fights and the “aggressive dick swinging” of hetero spaces. He was quoted in this Guardian article: “[Gay bars] would just be a good place to go,” he said. “Everybody was chill, everybody. You didn’t really have to sort of state your sexuality. It was OK. And it was a very safe place to be. And I could meet girls there, because there are a lot of girls there for exactly the same reason I was there. It was kind of an ulterior motive”.
It’s easy to see how some people may interpret queer clubs as a safe space because that’s exactly what they were created to be, but Daniel Craig and straight women weren’t the intended audience. While it’s fairly understandable that straight people are seeking a safer clubbing space – especially women considering how scary clubs are right now – going with the primary or “ulterior motive” of flirting with the opposite gender is uncomfortable.
next time you decide to a gay club or bar, think about the repercussions of you being in that space
The discourse on TikTok around queer spaces started after the user @sophiamastt posted a video with the caption “Last night I asked 5 different girls if they were gay at a GAY CLUB and every one of them were straight AT A GAY CLUB I give up”. Another user, @elizahhh, responded with: “there used to be 200 lesbian bars in the US, now there’s 21″. Relative to the number of non-LGBTQ+ spaces available, this number is very small. As @elizahh explains, “Straight people have everywhere else, literally everywhere else, everywhere, and we want one safe space for us, then y’all take over […] Y’all want a safe space? So do we. And we have none”.
There is frustration within the queer community at the lack of queer space especially after the effects of the pandemic. Those remaining spaces are being taken over, as @julesbuet explains: “It is unfortunately the age old story of what happens to pretty much every gay club I’ve known. Gay bar or gay club opens, great, gay people go there, nice gay scene. Then straight girls learn about it and they start going to the gay club because they’re gonna be free from predatory men there… Then straight men realise there are a lot of straight girls at the gay club and they also start going there. Now its not a gay club or bar anymore, its just your regular straight bar with potentially gay servers or bouncers”. This lifecycle is scarily repetitive and leads to the erosion of queer spaces.
It’s easy to see how some people may interpret queer clubs as a safe space because that’s exactly what they were created to be
So what can be done? You can’t keep straight people out of queer clubs and certain gatekeeping can lead to actual queer people being denied entry into their own spaces. Rather, as other TikTok users have pointed out, it’s better to educate people. It’s okay to come along if you feel like the space is safe if you’re with queer friends, for example, but not in a large straight group. Don’t react badly to being flirted with by people of the same gender. Be aware that you being there could eventually take away a queer space, turning the club into essentially a straight venue (like a certain club in Exeter for example).
These TikTok users have spoken about similar solutions: “My solution is not gatekeeping, I don’t want to prevent cis and straight people to go to gay clubs, I just want to educate so that they know better than to, you know, organise a bachelorette party there. Gay people don’t exist for your entertainment so that you can feel some kind of thrill to be surrounded by queerness. So please if you want to be a good ally don’t go to gay clubs if you’re not invited. And if you do get hit on by someone of the same gender don’t react in a disgusted, outraged way. You are in a gay club after all.” @julesbuet
It is important for cis-het people to acknowledge that these spaces are not for them. They exist so that the LGBTQ+ community can have safe spaces where people can fully be themselves. If the club becomes majority-straight, that space is being taken away – a space that’s already dwindling.
So, next time you decide to a gay club or bar, think about the repercussions of you being in that space. And maybe take some queer friends along with you!