Continuing the best queer week ever was the bimonthly Cincinnati Guerrilla Queer Bar event held at Sully’s last night, Friday, April 3, with the theme of genderfucking. Sully’s is the epitome of a straight bar: Sporting events were displayed on the TVs, KISS 107 FM was there spinning and broadcasting live, there was no dance floor and ladies drank for free for an hour of the night.
Of course the place was crowded and the only people dancing were the queers. There was no actual dance floor, but in true guerrilla fashion, any relatively open space was cultivated for cutting a rug, such as the hallway or dining room.
Sully’s has a bar in the middle of the main room that was constantly surrounded by queers and straights alike, but at the VIP room bar, which had been set aside specifically for the CGQB event, it was impossible to get a drink. This is because queers know how to party. I really don’t think Sully’s was prepared for this. In my experience as both a straight and queer person, queers always beat the straights when it comes to throwing a shindig. Straight people looked like a deer caught in the headlights: Butches were dancing on the bar (this privilege is reserved only for women, after all), men were kissing other men, femmes were wandering around with mustaches drawn on their faces and drag queens were taking advantage of the free drinks for ladies.
Overall the evening was great, the only real issue was the regimented heteronormativity promoted in the bar. At 11 p.m. it became ladies’ night and the KISS 107 DJ announced that the first 10 ladies to get up on the bar and dance would receive a shot courtesy of the DJ. Straight and queer women alike began hoping up on the bar, as well as a few gay men and men in drag. Immediately security was dispatched and ordered the men down from the bar, in which case the queer women came down too in a motion of solidarity. The queers booed at the security guard, but not much was done because of it. Oh, and the ladies who got up on the bar didn’t receive their free shots until they talked to the manager.
As soon as I heard the announcement that offered a free shot to ladies who danced on the bar I was thinking “Really? Is a shot actually worth this objectification?” Straight men cheered at the announcement, and women happily obliged. The funny thing was that about half of the women on the bars were queers and actually had very little interest in the men who took pleasure in their dancing. Some men even approached the dancing queer women in a “hey girl, hey” manner, and the men were just ignored. Thus they were subverting the patriarchy and heteronormativity.
And this whole free alcohol for ladies business is a hot mess as well. (Okay, so technically the drinks were a penny for ladies between the hours of 11-12, but they didn’t charge us anything for the drinks.) Of course I took full advantage of the opportunity, but the whole purpose of this is to get women drunk for the benefit of a man, and that is wrong. I had forgotten that things like this actually go on in the world.
The only other real issue was the bathroom situation. We queers are accustomed to using whatever bathroom we want when we go out to a bar, but the gendered bathroom norm hasn’t been completely eradicated for us either. The people we are interested in sexually are relegated to the same bathroom as us anyway, and overall I have noticed that most queer women don’t really mind washing their hands next to a drag queen or man. But gender norms reared their ugly heads again at Sully’s when it came to using the restroom. Several gay men almost got kicked out because they were going to use the “wrong” restroom. The doors to the bathrooms were kept open anyway due to the line, and the bathroom was full of stalls. Why does it matter who we pee next to if there are stalls?
My favorite moment of the evening was when Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” came on and gay men erupted in squeals of delight and danced their hearts out. Why is it that a song about single women brings them such pleasure?
I also heard an inkling of Cincinnati Youth Group restarting. CYG was formerly run out of the gay and lesbian center in Northside, but it is now defunct. Seeing the value of a safe space for GL teens in Cincinnati, some people are talking about restarting the group.
Overall CGQB was entertaining and fun. Everyone seemed to be having a good time, and there was fairly little drama with Sully’s. I just wish the establishment would have been a bit more cooperative with their heteronormative policies: A lot of our genders are fluid, people! But we did pack a straight bar full of queers and had a gay ol’ time, and that’s the point, isn’t it?
The next CGQB event, where the queers support an under utilized queer bar, will be GLSEN Prom on Saturday, April 18, at the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center.