I’m always one to adventure out into the world of straight bars and clubs just to see what I’m not missing when it comes to nightlife. I remember my time in college at the University of South Carolina where my best friend would drag me out to five points (where all the college bars are), to “party” it up with my hetero counterparts. I was unimpressed during most of our outings but the eye candy from frat jocks made each evening a little more manageable. Still, to this day I can’t understand what is so special about standing around a crowded bar getting shit-faced drunk where you’re barely able to stand up. Don’t get me wrong, it happens at gay bars and clubs too, but there’s something uniquely nauseating when it happens at a straight venue.

Here’s where the story begins. My husband and I visited family a few weekends ago in a not-so-gay area of the southeast, but we managed to make the most of it when it came to nightlife entertainment. That Saturday evening, we decided to head out to meet Todd’s niece and her boyfriend at a local hangout spot. I had to “bro it up” a little just to fit in with the all-straight crowd. We entered the restaurant/bar and immediately headed outside to the patio area where we were greeted by burly bearded men playing cornhole and casually dressed women chatting around several different tables. I got into character when introducing myself; my voice deepened and I made sure my southern accent came out a little more. It’s unfortunate I feel the need to do these types of things especially during Pride month, but it’s what you have to do these days went entering into unfamiliar territory.

I quickly escaped to the bar where the female bartenders greeted me with a smile. I grabbed a drink, a few shots, and headed back outside to reunite with our group. What happened next caught me off guard and had me fuming from deep inside. Not even three seconds after coming to a stop at our table, a girl to my left throws a punch hitting me in my upper arm. It was then followed by the word, “BITCH!” And it wasn’t just any use of the word bitch. The girl emphasized the ‘B’ so strongly with a nasty tone that, for a second, I contemplated giving her a nice bitch slap in the face. I had to catch myself because those burly bearded men outnumbered me, and plus, I wasn’t going to put my hands on a woman even if she hit me first. Our entire table glared at this girl while her boyfriend next to her yelled at her, “What in the hell was that?” She muttered in a drunken voice, “I thought that was Brad.” Clearly, my name isn’t Brad and whoever Brad is, he must be an asshole for a girl to throw a punch like that intended for him.

I kept my composure even though my shot was half-full from the force of her punch. The girl approached me a few minutes later, again drunk as hell. She apologized profusely saying I wasn’t a bitch but instead, a queen or maybe even a king. It didn’t make sense, probably because she was intoxicated. I felt sorry for her actually. She sat alone for a short while, eyes closed, swaying a bit, all before she was guided to the parking lot into the passenger’s seat of her car. I was dying to be back in the confines of a gay bar or club where I knew I’d feel safer.

I know many of you may say, “Well this happens in gay bars and clubs too!” You’re right, it does. Instead of throwing punches, gay men and straight women abuse their intoxication and proceed with unwanted gropes. The difference is, I’m not afraid to speak up in my gay space and call someone out for disrespecting me or anyone for that matter.

Our LGBTQ bars and clubs are special, and they’re meant to provide a safe haven away from hetero drunkenness and intolerance that plagues many of the straight bars. It’s because of nights like what I experienced a few weekends ago that I strongly believe our gay bars and clubs should be reserved for us and our allies. The bachelorette parties looking to cop a few feels and leave shitty tips for our hardworking bartenders can head back to their straight bars and clubs if they can’t act right. While I’m all about inclusion and acceptance for our community as most LGBTQ folks are, instances of drunken straight girls acting out in their own habitat is further proof they don’t have a place in our bars and clubs.

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