Girl On Girl: In Defense Of Lesbian Bars

It took me months to convince my girlfriend to go to a lesbian bar with me, and only five minutes to ensure she’d never go again. In her mind, there was no point because she thinks gay bars are only for hooking up and meeting people. I would always staunchly disagree. I told her, “We can be ourselves at gay bars because we’re surrounded by people like us. It’s empowering!”

She wasn’t swayed by my enthusiasm. But finally, I did manage to get her to come to my favorite New York lesbian bar—Cubbyhole—on a Tuesday night when they have $2 margarita night. But I messed it up, big time.I got there before her and decided to go inside. I don’t usually venture into bars alone, but I figured I’d do it just this once because I was thirsty and didn’t feel like standing outside. It turns out my girlfriend was running late. By the time she’d arrived, I’d had several margaritas and was talking to not one or two but three lesbians. They were really interesting and I thought we were just having a good chat, but the bar was loud and they had to lean in kind of close to be heard. One of them had her arm on the back of my chair. Oh yeah, and when I’m drunk I giggle. A lot. That’s not exactly the type of scene you want to be confronted with when you venture into a place where you never really wanted to be in the first place. So, naturally, my girlfriend was pissed. We left pretty soon after that and haven’t been back since.

Since this uncomfortable experience, my girlfriend and I have asked many of our friends—both gay and straight—if lesbian bars are more for hooking up or if they are fun, empowering spots to chill with girls like us. Everyone, thus far, has agreed with my girlfriend. They say unlike regular bars, lesbian bars are divided by sexuality and girls who go there are looking to meet other chicks, either for no-strings-attached hookups or a relationship.

While it’s true that there aren’t that many places to meet lesbians, I think gay bars serve other purposes as well. For me, I always feel that when I walk into a lesbian hot spot, I’m walking into a mini-sanctuary. I’m hyper-aware (maybe even too aware?) of my differences and how people look at me out there in the rest of the world. At gay spots, I don’t have to worry about drawing attention to myself or feeling different, because I don’t stand out.

I also like to hit up lesbian bars because I think it’s important to support my local gay establishments. In New York City, gay bars — i.e. bars that tend to be catered more towards gay men — outnumber lesbian bars by about five to one. I once interviewed a prominent lesbian New Yorker who said she and her significant other find that this city — and probably many others around the country — definitely caters more to gay men than women. I want to make sure the places we have stay open.

When I was making my rounds on the gay dating circuit before I was attached, I hit up lesbian hot spots at least once a week. My girlfriend and I have been together for almost a year and we’ve gone to a lesbian bar exactly once. This totally lends credence to my girlfriend’s argument that once you are in a relationship, there’s really no reason to go gay bar hopping. But what about men? All of my gay, male friends say the complete opposite. Whether they’re 21 or 51, the gay dudes I know who are in relationships take their BFs out at least once per week. They get drunk, have a great time, and then go home.

I think the dudes have it right. Sometimes I go to lesbian bars with my friends and we have a really good time. Girls don’t approach us and everything stays chill, fun, and relaxed. I would love for my girlfriend to come with more often. Maybe if more women made going out to lesbian bars about having fun with friends — and not just a singles’ scene — there would be even more activities specifically for gay women on the weekends. Or maybe I’m just hoping that my girl reads this because NYC Pride is this weekend and I want to go out!

I’d love to hear you opinion. Are lesbian bars just hookup spots or do they have another purpose? And straight readers, when you’re in a relationship, do you still frequent bars, either with friends or your significant other?

I’d like to take this opportunity to briefly address an issue that’s been brought up by commenters in a few of Nikki’s posts. She and I have discussed the situation and I have concluded that it was a misunderstanding, which I’ve asked her to explain in a little more detail below. I hope that addressing this situation directly will result in the issue being squashed for good, as I am not okay with commenting being used to spread misinformation about or for personal attacks on staff, contributors, or readers. If you have anything further to say about this situation, please direct your thoughts to me via private message. Thank you! — Editor Amelia

A while back, I posted on my personal Twitter account, “I love inciting rage in my (jealous and uneducated, possibly illiterate) readers. Mwahaha!!!!!!!!!!” It’s become clear that several of you think that message was directed at readers of The Frisky. It wasn’t. (I also wrote about this incident on my personal blog — a post which I have since deleted — that also has been misinterpreted as being about Frisky readers.) The back story is, a conservative blogger had posted one of my “Girl on Girl” columns on his site, and his readers descended on my Twitter feed, calling me all sorts of horrible slurs I won’t recount here. My Twitter message and my blog post were directed at them. I still shouldn’t have written that Tweet—it was a split second reaction—but wanted all of you to know that, even if you disagree with me with the opinions I express on the site, I respect and value the readers of The Frisky very much. I hope this clears things up. — Nikki