Okay, hate is a strong word. I don’t hate being a lesbian. We all know I love myself. But the lesbian “scene” or the lesbian community has some inherent problems that makes me not want to be apart of it. I recently ran across this article published in the Harvard Crimson (don’t ask me how) that got me thinking of ways to articulate my frustrations. I’m no expert on lesbians (see my post about lesbian lingerie as proof), but I also promised a friend that I would write a post about the Wildrose – so here it is:
The Rose is the only official lesbian bar in Seattle and I hate going there. I mean, I’ll be going there tonight but still, I hate going there. The first time I dragged a group of my friends (straight females and males) there, Eric and I immediately went up to the bar to take a jager bomb. We then went back to our table, where several of our friends complained that they weren’t invited to the jager bomb party. Obviously wanting to be accommodating, we went back up to the bar to order 5 more. The woman bartender looked at us, scowled and said, “You just had one.”
Excuse me? Aren’t you a bartender? Isn’t it your job to sell me liquor? Wouldn’t you assume that if we ordered 5, maybe they weren’t for us? And, moreover, we had just arrived! I mean, sure, my friend vomited on the floor twenty minutes later but there’s no way the bartender could have known that was going to happen! She showed up to hang out having already drank a bottle of wine and none of us knew! And we’re 90% positive they didn’t even see before we cleaned it up! So there! angry lesbian bartender!
The point is, my first impression was that this was not a place that encouraged fun. Upon more trips to the Rose, I found that the issue was more about my straight friends. The lesbians have their “safe space” in the Wildrose and don’t like it to be taken over by the people of the straight world. They like to be separated, which is something I wrote about when I published my article about Seattle Pride.
The Look of a Lesbian
I have been told that I either need to “butch it up” and get some tattoos or piercings or something OR I need to put in more effort to come across as a femme. This advice was given to me after ladies at the Rose continually mistook me for a straight girl. One even argued with me when I told her I was gay!
The truth is, lesbians can be hard to pin down. You don’t quite know whether or not some girls are gay. I think that’s why, at places like the Rose, they encourage you to look recognizable. The last thing any lesbian wants to do (except maybe me), is to accidentally hit on a straight girl.
Why not hit on a straight girl? I highly doubt she’ll be disgusted or offended, especially if she’s in the Wildrose. She’ll be flattered and turn you down. So what are we so afraid of? Rejection? Well, honey, she rejected you because she is straight, clearly that has nothing to do with you. Get over it.
But, the problem goes even deeper. You know that scene in I Love You, Man where the gay man explains that gays need only hold eye contact for three full seconds to know they are interested in one another? Lesbians are like the opposite of that. It’s commonplace to gaze hungrily across the room and desperately try to make a connection via eye contact. Then, when you’ve established that the person is indeed, without a doubt interested, only then can you approach.
Because most lesbians want to be the one approached.
Approaching girls too soon or too directly is too manly and confrontational. It’s an immediate turn off to lesbians. They don’t flirt like that and you are instantly written off as a “player” or just flat out crazy.
The gender roles entrenched in our society remain entrenched within lesbians, leaving them paralyzed. They can’t directly flirt with a girl because that is a masculine, threatening act. But, the other girl can’t do it either. So who approaches whom?
Neither. They sit in silence and steal glances at one another all night. I wish I was making this up.
The Wildrose (or Jabu’s after a Storm game) can often feel unwelcoming because everyone knows everyone else. Not only are they all friends, or enemies, but they have probably all hooked up at some point in time. The messy web of lesbian hookups and exes can be extensive. The Seattle lesbian scene already seems small to me and I’m largely on the outside. I can’t imagine how small it seems to the single girls trapped on the inside. You can’t date anyone because everyone is either an ex of some type or an ex of your best friend. Lesbians are difficult to find/ identify outside of the lesbian world, so why not date the girls you know? I guess…
Okay, I’ll be at Taco Tuesday tonight but it’s a good example of how awkward the whole Wildrose experience can be. Every single week, they bring in a DJ for this event. There are cheap tacos for the early part of the evening and at some point, the DJ booth is set up and music starts blasting through your pleasant dinner conversation. Now, remember, the people at the Wildrose don’t encourage heavy drinking, so girls are mostly sober and sitting around tables in the front room. The “dance floor” is in the back room and always empty. The only girls who ever try to dance are the ones who have gotten sneakily wasted or the girls doing some sort of interpretive dance by themselves. At any given time, there are four people on the dance floor… max.
The last time I went, my friend Jen asked me if we could promise to never go again. I’m obviously not keeping that promise.
Because where else am I supposed to go? Technically, that’s my “community.” Those are the Seattle lesbians. As a single one, how else am I going to meet girls? I have zero trouble flirting with a girl I like, but she’s almost always straight.
So, I bring my coupled-up friends with me. And we’ll sit at the tables and talk for a while. Then, the music will start and we’ll try shouting over the music for a while. Then, we’ll feel awkward and leave.
Because that’s how us Seattle lesbians do it.