It’s all about the Benjamins
Straight-friendly establishments are an economic paradise, progressive hell
Can’t Think Straight
A few weeks ago, my partner, upon telling one of his friends that he was gay and in a relationship, was asked the question, “So which one of you is the boy and which one is the girl?”
My partner responded aptly with, “There is no girl. We’re both boys.”
You could almost see the light go on in his friend’s head as she realized how much sense that made. In a culture so inundated with heteronormativity and the idea that the heterosexual union is the norm upon which all other unions will be compared, it’s easy to forget that not everything is based on the notion of heterosexuality.
Take straight-friendly establishments and spaces, for example.
On the surface, it’s a really interesting idea and one that seems incredibly progressive in every sense of the word; it flaunts the seeming normativity of heterosexuality and starts from the premise that queerness is the norm at these establishments and that straight folk, being the minority in the situation, are allowed on the premises.
Seems pretty cool, huh? There are loads of straight-friendly establishments in North America. The OUT NYC hotel just opened up in New York City and Saskatoon has been host to the 302 Lounge and Discotheque, Saskatoon’s only straight-friendly bar, since 2010. Regina doesn’t have any venue that proclaims itself to be ‘straight-friendly.’ though it’s not like the GLCR to deny any potential straight patrons entry. Money is money, after all.
And this is the problem with straight-friendly establishments: they tie queerness inextricably with economic prosperity. Straight-friendly establishments create positive spaces for queer folk – there’s no denying that. It’s just unfortunate that these have to be consumerist spaces and that queer identity becomes linked with consumerist culture, a culture that is arguable single-handedly destroying what is left of our free and democratic society in favour of more wealth and more material goods.
Perhaps surprisingly, many of the only spaces queers can meet in North America are spaces that are connected to markets. Where’s the only place in Regina queer folk know they can meet other queer folk in the city and know that the majority of folk around them will be queer? The GLCR, the city’s only gay bar.
And how do queers express their queerness to the world in public? Well, if it’s not just by holding the hand of your queer partner, it’s by buying lots of goods and material items so you can show the world that you don’t fit into their essentialist notions of sexuality and that you’re queer.
It’s great – admirable, even – that folk are exploiting heteronormativity. It’s just too bad they have to fall squarely into an economic system that has propped up heteronormativity for as long as we can remember.