I’ve a confession to make about my lesbian life… I’ve never been to a gay bar. Ever. Not once.
It’s not because I’m not interested in going to one. Well, I suppose that’s partly it because the gay bars here aren’t very gay. Gay friendly would sum it up much better because it’s mainly hen nights and fag hags that fill the bars here each weekend.
I must also tell you all that I can name at least five gay bars that have closed down throughout Ireland over the past few years. Why are they closing? Apart from the obvious answer to that question (lack of customers), I really don’t know. For whatever reason the LGBTQ community’s love of going to a gay bar has seriously declined over the past few years. Some might suggest that this is happening because we are more welcome to be open in most night clubs and pubs. Personally I’d totally disagree with that statement for so many reasons. I still hear of circumstances of discrimination and homophobia at least once every few months so surely there is still a gap in the market for the safe haven that is a gay bar? If you are actually lucky enough to find a gay gay bar.
The closest gay bar to me was over an hour away by car. I say was because it’s one of the ones that’s bitten the dust now. That hour would not be an easy or cheap trip for someone like me who doesn’t drive so to make this awkward and expensive journey to a bar filled with straight ladies that happens to have a pride flag hanging outside it just doesn’t sound worth it to me. If I could find a bar that fulfills the expectations I had for so many years after watching The L Word and Queer as Folk then I would be very impressed and I would definitely be there!
Dublin Pride was brilliant, in my opinion, but I was only seventeen when I was at it so sticking around in the hopes that I’d gain access to one of the clubs Dublin has to offer didn’t make sense back then. So if Pride can be so loud and proud with it’s numbers growing each year but gay bars are disappearing rapidly does that mean that our community is simply becoming more comfortable with the idea of fading away and blending into the background? Are we now satisfied with just having that one day to show our colours before we return to our daily lives? I was asked if it is even necessary to segregate ourselves from the heterosexual community with Prides and exclusive bars. Honestly, I don’t see it as segregation or exclusivity. I would love to see Ireland have a strong LGBTQ scene that includes a few good bars for lesbos like me who just wanna have fun! It’s still not fully accepted for a couple like us to actually act like a couple in public so until that day arrives I will happily tell everyone that I think it’s necessary for us to have gay bars and prides and festivals that allow us to be ourselves. It’s just disheartening to have to travel so far to actually get the opportunity to be ourselves but I still would hate to see that opportunity completely fade away even if it is only an opportunity to be in a gay friendly atmosphere rather than a full LGBTQ experience. I may go to a gay bar one day and if I ever do you can expect a full review! For now I’m fairly happy to be one half of the lesbian couple that seems to stand out so much in our small town but I’ll still be dreaming of a camped up, butched out, drag filled bar.