The Cincinnati Enquirer ran a story this week about Cincinnati Guerrilla Queer Bar, a grassroots effort to mix among straights in their house. The story went up on the web Monday night and it currently has 772 comments – that’s the most I have ever seen on an Enquirer story.
A lot of the comments are negative and are a lot like these ones:
“Do you think that gathering for one night at this particular place is really going to make a difference for your cause? Is there any difference between this and the KKK doing their thing in the streets of Oxford every year?”
“Most in the Tri-State area do not think one way or the other about your sexuality and that just pisses off the ‘hey look at me’ segment of the homosexual community.”
“I’m a gay guy, and I think thisGuerilla Queer Bar is ridiculous and embarrasing.”
“I am an openly gay man living in Cincinnati. I go to gay bars, I go to straight bars. Being gay is only a part of what makes me the person that I am. I don’t hide my sexuality, but I don’t flaunt it either. I think the biggest statement that I can make is to live my own life, not someone else’s. I personally don’t understand the point of gays overtaking straight bars. There’s more to life than being gay or straight or somewhere in between. I think that this kind of action and the associated publicity is intended to be provocative and contributes to the negative image that many people have of the gay community.”
“I too am gay, and this entire article is embarrasing to me. Cincinnati Guerilla Queer Bar? All this does is make us look like fools. I, for one, would never support this or any similar group. Go to a bar and have fun … Why must it be ‘overtaken’?”
Well, quite a few people view this outing as a positive experience. The bars love the extra 200 patrons, and the queers love being somewhere new and different with other queers. CGQB events are always highly attended by queer people and we have the time of our lives there. We are in a straight space that is queered by our prescience.
Here are a few testimonials from CGQB event attendees:
A. M. — 20 years old
“This week, CGQB focused on gender. Members of the bar were invited to question their perceptions of gender, as well as their comfort levels with different ideas of gender. One specific story pops out in my mind:
“I was waiting in the women’s bathroom, and a young gay male started to wait in line too. Security confronted this man, and told him to leave and join the line to the men’s bathroom. The young man asserted that he did not identify himself as a man, but instead identified himself as a woman; therefore he was in the correct place. The security guard had never been confronted with this type of gender identification before, and for quite some time he was speechless. After checking if everyone was okay with the situation, he left.
“I think this example is the perfect demonstration of how CGQB allows people to struggle and rethink their ideas of gender. Using bars at the setting for this type of work is perfect, because it catches people off guard and allows for a true representation about how they think and feel. Classroom type settings that promote this type of gender education often create artificial environments that do not always translate to behavior in the real world. CGQB is the perfect forum for social change.
“As a business major, I think it is also important to notice the financial and marketing power CGQB is building. Bar owners notice how much revenue this group can bring in, which may lead to making bars across Cincinnati more gay friendly. This would be an even bigger step for the gay community (and it supporters) to really assert their prescience in the community.”
G. H. — 29 years old
“As a Cincinnati native and downtown resident, it’s great to see such positive energy! Glad to know I’m not the only one. Thanks – and I hope I can make next month.”
J. M. B. — 31 years old
“My Cincinnati Guerilla Queer Bar experiences have been extremely liberating and provocative. The energy that people bring to these events cannot be matched because – for once – we are experiencing a public space (which equates to a straight space) intentionally together, in great numbers and with a sense of purpose and pride. As a group, we enter the straight bar and face the heteronormative pressure to conform that we experience on our own every day, but facing it as a community with a mission to raise awareness and have a safe and fun night has inspired numerous conversations with our fellow CGQBers about consent, safety, allies and gender.
“For one night, we form a small coalition that challenges not only the place of gayness in society but also the severe constraints on gender expression. Challenging gender stereotypes is something other mainstream LGBT organizations do not explicitly do and is thus an essential aspect of why GQB must exist in Cincinnati. Queer people face different kinds of sexist discrimination, but this is never addressed by in most LGBT activism.
“The blog entries of those of us who attended the very first CGQB were full of ideas about how queer women and men dealt with different tensions — not to mention those of us who blurred the gender binary enough to utterly confound the bar’s sexist policies of no men on the stage. These discussions must continue. I hope more people from older generations can experience CGQB with us and join in these vital conversations.”
T. V. — 22 years old
“[CGQB] was so much fun, and it really made me think that I was pressing some boundaries and that felt really good. I look forward to more!”
The next CGQB event is tonight at Cadillac Ranch, downtown. No cover if you say you are with the group, and dollar drafts on the back patio. To stay in the loop on CGQB, visit the Facebook group.