Walking into a straight bar sounds like my kind of hell, as a queer woman I can’t think of anything worse. No offense to all the hetro’s out there, but it’s just not for me. Naturally as a lesbian I gravitate towards queer spaces, those dedicated towards LGBTQ+ members and are known as “safe spaces”. They’re great, well… most of the time?
These experiences are of my own. If you can relate to them, well then, that’s where the problem starts.
I want to take you back to when I was baby gay, new to the scene and world of being a lesbian, it was terrifying. On the brink of an anxiety melt-down, I was waiting in the queue for the toilet to try to calm myself down. I only found myself having to listen to an older and much more intimidating woman proceed to tell me “you’ll turn back straight in a week, just you watch”.
It was here I learned how discriminative the LGBTQ+ community can be towards other members. I had been labelled a misfit by society and straight within the LGBTQ+ community, I didn’t know which one was worse.
Over the years, I had many similar encounters all echoing a familiar tune that I began to grow accustomed to. But everything changed when I was refused entry into a gay bar, because I looked straight. Whilst the words of others damaged my self-confidence, this physical act of being refused entry into a space dedicated towards LGBTQ+ members was a new blow.
It was soul-crushing, as someone who relies on these spaces to feel comfortable to be visibly queer, I was in complete shock that my apperance was a factor in entering these spaces.
A few months later, I was at a drag show with the main demographic being queer men. Sitting at the front, because I wanted the best seats, I became an easy target for the queen. They proceed to drag my sexuality because if you haven’t guessed by now, I looked “straight”. The humiliation and pure embarrassment I felt, all because I didn’t typically look like a lesbian.
We call LGBTQ+ spaces “safe” with the majority living up to this expectation and being the lifeline to the community. But as ever, there will be spaces that aren’t inclusive to all and we’ll run into other LGBTQ+ members that have their own biases.
I type this knowing I am extremely privileged and my experiences are the tip of the ice-berg when it comes to the wider LGBTQ+ community. I also know that many other queer women just like myself experience similar discrimination and it needs to be discussed and understood why we endure discrination from the LGBTQ+ community.
This article outlines my personal experiences and it calls for a wider discussion around LGBTQ+ spaces and the importance of inclusion.