Bachelorette Parties at Gay Bars

Check out the above link for the story. The Abbey’s decision has incited a thought-provoking debate. Some believe that the policy is fair, others suggest that it’s counter-productive. After I posted this link on my Facebook, one of my straight female friends questioned Cooley’s move, claiming, “What will banning bachelorette Parties in WeHo accomplish? I just don’t understand excluding people to further an agenda of equality. Period.” I thought my admittedly long-winded response was worth reposting here:

The Abbey’s policy is not necessarily about specific, measurable political ends. It’s symbolic, a move to get some of the heterosexual people who have largely co-opted/poached the space to recognize the irony in their choice of location/celebration. Worse, many of these women come to the bar and treat gay men like we’re exhibits in a zoo. Their lack of self- and cultural-reflexivity is truly abhorrent.

I do not believe these women are the ones voting against marriage equality. My argument is about their lack of cultural reflexivity, how this particular sort of celebration perhaps unwittingly spits in the face of the very people they objectify (i.e., the gay zoo) when they take over gay bars, puke on our sidewalks, push gay men out of the way as they stumble to bathrooms, burn cigarette holes in our shirts, and spill drinks on our clothes. It’s hard to have an abstract, philosophical debate about this if you haven’t been to The Abbey or even to West Hollywood on, say, Halloween. There’s a lot more going on here than just attitudes about marriage equality.

If women were not allowed to vote in this country. I would not expect male voter registration to take place at the women’s auxiliary or a NOW convention, especially if women were in the midst of an epic battle to secure suffrage. You may not understand or appreciate the centrality of gay bars within the gay community. Straight bars to heterosexual people are not analogous to gay bars for LGBTQ people. The WORLD is your straight bar. Gay bars are, for many (if not most) LGBTQ people, one safe sanctuary, a place were they can congregate, to escape, to come together. There’s something ritualistic, even spiritual, about that coming together. The Abbey’s policy aims to honor the sacredness of gay space.

One need only look at the Civil Rights Movement to understand the complexities and importance of the symbolic, silence, exclusion, etc. The symbolic tends to be the very thing that incites cultural reflexivity. It’s telling that many of these women don’t see the paradox in celebrating nuptials in a place designed for people who are denied that right. In the same way that boycotts, sit-ins, and the like are modes of consciousness raising, so too is this policy.

I’d have no problem with bachelorette parties at The Abbey if marriage equality was federally recognized. FTR, I don’t attend the marriages of my straight friends and won’t until I have that right. I’m not okay with bemoaning inequity while taking advantage of and flaunting privileged access to the very institution one suggests he or she takes issue with. You can’t have your (wedding) cake, and eat it, too.