Ashleigh Atwell

Ashleigh Atwell: Cliques harming Atlanta’s women’s spaces

A couple of months ago, I went to a lesbian party by myself. I’m used to going out alone so I had no reservations about attending this event. Initially, I waited at the bar for more patrons to arrive before I went to the dance floor. As time progressed, I noticed that the environment looked less like a nightclub and more like a middle school dance.

The dance floor was mostly empty while the wall was cluttered with women staring into the middle of the club. They were sectioned off into cliques and those that weren’t in cliques were one half of a couple. There was little to no socializing. If I looked at someone with a smile, I got an icy stare in return. The most interaction I got was when I asked the bartender for a refill. I usually stay at a party until the lights come up, but I left early. I sat in my Uber feeling like I’d wasted my time and an outfit.

A few weeks later, I decided to try another lesbian party. This time, I met up with a few friends and had a fun time. Still, I noticed the same type of cliquishness. Everyone, myself included, stayed with their crew. No one danced or talked to anyone outside of their group. And like the previous party, there were numerous people leaning against the walls.

I’ve been to several mainstream gay events and I’ve never experienced this type of behavior on a large scale. If I stand around long enough, some twink will walk up to me and strike up a conversation. We might even dance to a couple of songs. For a lot of them, my Black girl existence is enough to elicit a “yasssss.” I don’t experience that in lesbian and women centered spaces.

If you Google the term “lesbian spaces,” a list of editorials lamenting the lack of women’s spaces will appear. Some of them even claim that “dyke culture” is disappearing. There are a variety of theories around this issue ranging from lack of economic power to the increasing acceptance of gender and sexual fluidity.

While it’s true that women’s spaces don’t get half the care or attention that men’s spaces receive, I can’t help but wonder if this herd mentality I’ve witnessed is part of the issue. Dyke culture, while beautiful, can be awfully rigid. Bisexual and transgender women are viewed as intruders. If you don’t subscribe to the strict masc-femme dichotomy, good luck on getting a date. Not to mention, women, regardless of sexual orientation, are conditioned to see each other as competition. I value sisterhood and hate stereotypes about women not being able to get along, so I desperately want to be proven wrong.

It’s Pride week and thousands of LGBTQ people will be descending upon Atlanta for the festivities. I hope my mind will have changed when it’s time for me to write another editorial. If you see me in these streets, don’t be scared to speak to me. I don’t bite, unless that’s what you like.

Happy Pride, family.