The Male Gay-ze: Why Are There No Lesbian Bars?
While celebrating Labor Day this year, I made the long (and boring) trek down to south Florida to visit a friend from college who’d recently moved there. We made time for the beach, a birthday party, a movie night, and even a horseback riding lesson. It was a packed three days, and we finished off the adventure by visiting Wilton Manors, a well-known gayborhood right near Fort Lauderdale.
I had never visited Wilton Manors before, and as an out and proud lesbian, naturally, I was pumped to see a city with a large LGBTQ+ population. I dreamed of all the LGBTQ+ couples I would see, validating my sexuality with the way they openly expressed their identities. With at least a dozen gay-focused bars, restaurants, and shops, stretching from one end of Wilton Drive to the other, Wilton Manors looks like queer heaven, like a Pride festival every day of the week. And so many rainbow flags! It was exhilarating.
But the first thing I noticed as wandered in search of a place to eat, was this: every bar and store was very male-oriented. Everywhere I looked, I saw men crowding the bars, men walking down the street, holding hands or kissing their boyfriends. In the time we were there, we saw only a handful of women, and even fewer who appeared to be with other women. I admit, I was shocked and a little disappointed. Where were my ladies?? All my dreams of getting the number of a cute Floridian lesbian were dashed, pushed out by all of the male-oriented spaces I saw. And this experience isn’t exclusive to Wilton Manors.
So where have the female spaces gone? Even in bustling cities like San Francisco and New York, queer female spaces are disappearing, according to Pride.com. The author of this article, Stuart Mcdonald, blames this on a number of factors, including dating apps, “male-driven gentrification,” and already-low percentages of lesbian-identifying women in cities.
This phenomenon has a clear pattern when you start looking into it. We live in a society that is still male-dominated, and as places gentrify, they push out lower income groups that can’t afford the changing economy of the area. This includes minority groups including POC, working class citizens, and queer women. And as the queer female population leaves, female-oriented businesses lose clientele and can no longer afford to stay either. It is a vicious cycle and accounts for the astounding lack of queer female spaces, even in large cities.
To add to the phenomenon, queer women are often the minority in largely queer areas, and as a result,
there are fewer spaces that cater to these groups in the first place. This explains the countless bars and businesses that are mostly focused on gay men. And as lesbian businesses fail, they are then taken over by even more male spaces. As a result, more and more queer women turn to online dating or apps like Tinder to find relationships, further eliminating the presence of queer female bars and businesses.
It’s disheartening, I know. As someone living in a majority heterosexual city, gay bars are impossible to find, and the (maybe) two that exist nearby are focused on gay men, meaning finding queer women here is next to impossible. I wish there was an easy solution to this problem, but what it comes down to is this: Because queer spaces are few and far between compared to straight spaces, it’s more important than ever that we do our best to support businesses focused on the LGBTQ+ community. If we don’t give them our money and presence, they will ALL cease to exist, and then what would we do?
TravelPRIDE is one such queer-focused company, and every like and share of our website and our articles helps gain us support and keeps our team functioning smoothly. We’d love it if you would comment your favorite LGBTQ businesses and where you can find them, to help the rest of our readers support them!
Originally published at TravelPRIDE.