I’ve been thinking a lot about gay bars. About my first gay bar. About how my friend Jo took me there, and how it was before I’d realised that I was queer, and how the daring of it made my chest expand and feel tight all at the same time as I stood on the edge of the beginning of the real me. About subsequent gay bars–expanding on my sexual repertoire in gay bar toilets, to be precise. Following the devastation of Orlando there’s been a multitude of posts flooding the net on this topic. The importance of gay bars for our community. Myfirstgaybar hashtags, articles about how gay bars are where our community converges, connects, coagulates. And then I started thinking about the time the bouncer laughed and asked me if I knew what kind of bar it was, when I tried to get into Options [Sloptions], the resident Brisbane lesbian bar, because I looked “too girly to be gay”. Or the time the London bouncer quizzed me on who I was meeting inside, when I went to Ghetto for my weekly dance, because once again my femmeness rendered my queerness invisible. And then I started thinking about how now I have a kid, these venues just aren’t accessible to me anymore, and if bars are the pinnacle of my queer community then where does that leave me?
A while back I wrote a blog post about my new unfuckability as a pregnant queer: https://thecabbagepatchfib.wordpress.com/2015/10/12/coming-out-coming-out-in-honour-of-international-coming-out-day/. “Queer as an identity is based on fucking: who we fuck, how we fuck”, I said. “But where does that leave me if I’m no longer fucking?” Where do we go when we’re old; we’re parents; we’re sick; we’re poor; but we’re STILL GAY? [Edit: And what about those people who can’t access gay bars because they live in a country where it’s simply not an option, or those queers who can’t go to a gay bar because of their cultural background, or their religion?] Granted, there are plenty of LGBTQQI parent groups. In fact, the first place I heard about the heartbreaking Orlando shootings was through one of my queer parenting facebook groups. But how do you physically interact with your queer community when you’re single, but stuck at home with a baby? An absolutely incredible beautiful-as-all-hell baby, but a baby just the same. You can’t go to those gay bars anymore. You don’t even really want to. You just want a block of dark chocolate and an early night with a good book. But you’re still here. You’re still queer. And those people who just got killed on the dance floor on the other side of the world are still your family, even if you’ve been away from that dance floor for so long that everyone’s forgotten about you.