Queer spaces are difficult to find as it is. Not here in Los Angeles, but in many places queer spaces are shared with heterosexual neighboring spaces, and it can lead to some problematic scenarios. A majority of the currently existing queer spaces are designed to be visited in the evening, bars, and restaurants lining Santa Monica Boulevard here in West Hollywood, and the bars in Hell’s Kitchen of New York. A brunch spot on a Sunday is as close as we get to a daytime outing that is specifically queer. Add Drag Queens and all you can drink mimosas, and you have one of the hottest spots in the gaybourhood.
These spaces for decades have been the cornerstone of queer lifestyle. bathhouses, sex clubs, bars, clubs, and restaurants have all been a constant in our history since the sexual revolution of the 1960s and the disco era of the 1970s we have had these special places that allowed for the use of alcohol and drugs openly, creating spaces for a free expression of sexuality. Some of these are a mix of hetero culture with homo culture, and others exclusively queer, but bringing with it, the risk of police intervention. Today the norm has shifted, straight women and men come to our spaces since they tend to be closely associated with the newest trends, and very welcoming. The problem with this is that we lose spaces that are exclusively our own. These spaces also tend to be problematic for inclusivity.
The clubs in Hollywood alone are much nicer and have TV shows made of them, and lean toward appeasing a clientele that is slightly affluent at times, white, and young. Yet, thirty minutes away in Long Beach, which houses the third largest pride in California, the bars are closing. The Hamburger Mary’s hardly has more than fifty people in it, and these areas tend to provide more to people of color with latin nights almost every other night. let’s not begin to say that these spaces do not tend to cater towards LGBT with disabilities. They don’t in particular try to cater towards sober living in our community either.
This brings to light the importance of a sober space. Look around, how many cafes exist that are designed with the heterocentric society at its core? How many art galleries house specifically art made by queer individuals?
By not having these spaces readily available in our community we allow for stories to die. We allow our culture to revolve around creations of other people. We become complacent in a world dominated by heterosexual storytelling as the norm. We can learn so much from the inclusion of people of color in predominantly white spaces. The stories of LGBT with disabilities are so often muted and voided, we must remember that accessibility is more than just ramps and elevators. The community must be behind accessibility.
The answer to this is not to scrap the alcohol and club scene, the idea is to allow that to continue, but in the day have a different personality to our culture. Cafes, book clubs, art galleries, theaters, clothing stores with a focus other than underwear, something that more people can have a part in. something that allows our community to expand breaking stigmas and stereotypes and become something that truly is equal to a heterosexual society.