Recently my friend shared an article she found online titled “The Danger of Allowing Straight Cis Men into LGBTQ Spaces.” It focused on a specific Hollywood nightclub that was being overrun by straight men. It gave an example of a man who made aggressive sexual advances to two lesbians. He would not leave them alone when they asked. When they agreed to let him take them home because they were too drunk to drive, he sexually assaulted one of them.
First off, there needs to be an article “The Danger of Letting Someone Whose Sexually Harassing you at a Bar Drive you Home.” I’m not blaming the victim, but that’s a much bigger issue than having straight men in gay bars. To generalize and say, “All straight men are dangerous” is projecting trauma of this specific experience and it’s not helpful to the victim to live in fear like that. Hollywood is a dangerous place in general; the focus needs to be on practicing safety when out anywhere.
I live in Philadelphia. It’s a very different world than Hollywood. The bars here in “the gayborhood” are also where I perform. When I’m doing a show, I invite out all sexual orientations of friends and fans (although most aren’t wheelchair accessible which is a different issue). The straight ones know they’re in a gay bar, and totally cool with it. Everyone gets along. I’ve had a few straight male friends and partners get hit on by gay men. I’m bisexual; I think that has something to do with why I’m attracted to feminine-looking men. Gay men are attracted to that as well. The “bear” types can get a little aggressive with flirting. My partners/friends have always been polite and respectful in turning down advances.
I also have not had any straight men coming out for a show hit on lesbian women there for it being an LGBTQ hangout space. A big factor is, “What are these guys there for?” If there’s a show or a DJ, yes, all people should be encouraged to come out. That’s business and income for performers. If there’s nothing going on and a straight dude shows up at an LGBTQ bar that isn't associated with anyone there who’s not straight, that’s a red flag. It could happen on accident. I remember as a joke once telling my guy friend to go to Sisters’ because we wanted to see how long it took him to realize it was a lesbian bar. Those guys aren’t going to harass anyone; they’re embarrassed and likely to leave immediately. If a guy says he’s there by accident but continues to flirt and make advances to lesbian women, it’s not an accident. Keep up your guard; stay away from anyone who seems suspicious.
It is also very important to value what these spaces are for. It’s not just a bar or hangout spot, it’s a place designated for a community of people to associate with each other free of the hetero-dominant society they have to deal with all the time. When that world gets in, it’s a cultural space intrusion. Any straight male (or female) entering an LGBTQ space needs to have 100 percent acceptance, respect, and understanding of that. Integration is key to a better and stronger society. There’s danger in putting fear first and grouping an entire population of people with the actions of a sex offender. It’s cool to not want straight dudes around in gay space though. They aren’t all dangerous, but they are all straight.