We Need to Create Bi+ Spaces

3/11/2017

I love gay clubs. I love gay spaces. I love circuit parties and drag bars. I love going to Boy’s Beach in Provincetown completely naked. I love gay culture and the sense of community that comes with it.

But the thing about gay spaces are that they’re just that: gay spaces. They’re not geared towards lesbians, transgender folks, or bi folks. And in many instances, people who are not gay and male, particularly women, are shunned from existing and participating in gay male spaces.

Before I go further, let me clarify. I don’t want to call out all gay men for not welcoming other queer folks into their space with open arms. I get it. I completely understand their frustration. We live in a heteronormative society, and one night a week (or more), gay men just want to be in a place with other gay men. Where they are open to express themselves freely. Where they don’t have to hide who they are. They just want to escape the oppressive heteronormativity they experience on a daily basis. God knows I can’t blame them for wanting that. In fact, I want the same exact thing!

And I’ve been to gay bars where a swarm of bachelorette parties come in drunk, rude, and touching men without consent. They are not at all respectful about being visitors in a gay space, and they treat the gay men there like circus animals, there for their amusement. (I was a go-go boy in Provincetown last summer, and bachelorette parties literally became the bane of my existence.)

Obviously, with that happening so often in gay clubs, as a gay man, I would imagine you grow wary when you see a large group of women enter. I mean, which gay man in his right mind wouldn’t?

So I understand why I’m not the most welcome when I walk into a gay bar with a woman. I understand why I get dirty looks when I make out with a girl I’m dating. Yes, both she and I are bi, but still, it feels like we shouldn’t be there. The glaring eye rolls from passing gay men make that abundantly clear.

The answer to this isn’t to twiddle our thumbs. It’s not to play the woe-is-me card. It’s not to blame gay men. It’s to take action.

Like gay men have organized, creating spaces for themselves, so too should we, the bi+ community, create bi+ spaces for ourselves. The truth of the matter is, the rest of the LGT community isn’t going to do it for us. And while there are events that call themselves LGBT, more often than not, they’re really just catered towards gay men and (sometimes) lesbians. Again, that’s completely fine. It’s necessary that these spaces for gay and lesbian folks exist, but at the same time, we need to have spaces for bi folks too. For people who are interested in more than one gender. For people in different-gender relationships to feel comfortable and welcome bringing their partner.

So it’s time to rally the troops. It’s time to call up gay bars and ask if they can do a bi night once a week. We create a Facebook Event for it. See how many people are interested (I would assume a good number of folks would be interested, given that there’s currently a dearth of bi+ spaces), and then call up the managers to let them know that you can promise X people to come to the club on a Wednesday night.

That’s just one example of what we could do. Of course there are many, many more. The Bisexual Resource Center created a “Bi open mic night” in Boston. It was a place for comedy, spoken word poetry, laughter, tears, drinks, and of course, pizza. You can even just create a game night. Maybe it’s just my friends and me, but I feel like every single bi person I know is obsessed with board or card games. My house invites other bi friends over and we play Dominion all night long. It is freakin’ awesome.

amBi LA at Pride 2013

If you’re in San Diego, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Southern Oregon, or Portland (Oregon), check out your local amBi group. If you aren’t, think about starting your own local chapter.

Whatever it is, let me tell you now, it’s a good idea. Any idea is good if it creates a warm and welcoming space for bisexual folks to get together.

It’s time we make the effort to create bi+ spaces, because no one else will. Luckily, with the Internet, it really isn’t too hard.

Come on Bi+ folks! We can do this!

Zachary Zane
Zachary Zane a Brooklyn-based freelance writer, speaker, YouTuber, and activist whose work focuses on (bi)sexuality, gender, identity politics, relationships, and culture. He's a contributing editor at The Advocate Magazine, a columnist at Bi.org, and currently writes for The Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, Out Magazine, and PRIDE.