Gay Rights

My First Time At A Gay Bar

“I’m giving it my all, but I’m not the girl you’re taking home, ooh. I keep dancing on my own (I keep dancing on my own)…”

I remember my first time at a gay bar in DC.

Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own” was, unsurprisingly, blaring on the DJ’s speakers.

Other popular go-to gay anthems included “No Scrubs” by TLC and, of course, “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” by the late, great Whitney Houston (“How Will I Know” is the superior Whitney song, however. Fight me!).

Hearing these songs play in the background of my first gay bar was not only a great change of pace, but also a breath of fresh air.

My bar/club experience in the DC scene was limited to the predominantly straight spaces where songs foreign to my young, queer heart reigned supreme.

So, when the chance came for me to finally go to a party space made by and for gay people, I was utterly giddy.

I was excited to move how I wanted, talk how I wanted, and wear what I wanted without fear of judgement or harassment from others.

Prior to entering the gay spaces of DC, my knowledge of gay culture was limited to what I watched on RuPaul’s Drag Race and Jennie Livingston’s Paris is Burning.

These pieces of media showcased queer, trans, and gay folk who challenged societal and gender norms, wore outlandish, yet awe-inspiring, costumes, vogued the house down, threw shade, lip-synced for their lives, and wore their identities as badges of honor.

Photo Credit: Hotlanta Voyeur/ Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Most importantly, these individuals showed me the resilience of the queer and trans community, a community whose people have been and still are vulnerable and oppressed today, especially those of color.

Bearing all of this mind, I was ready to enter my first gay bar itching to (try to) death drop like Shangela (a former contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race), walk like Pepper LaBeija (the late house mother of the “House of LaBeija”), and serve “Pretty Girl, 1986” realness.

When I finally arrived at my first gay bar, I was disheartened by what I found.

Some people reading this may think that I was being completely naive to expect so much out of these places.

In hindsight, I understand that I was.

But, at the time, I could not help but hope that these bars and clubs would be like the “balls” I had seen in Paris is Burning or the exuberant people I had watched on Drag Race.

For many queer people, representation is so slim that the moment I got to have a first taste, I was excited to take a huge bite out of gay culture after years of imagining, hoping, and wishing.

Upon entering the bar, after the initial songs of excitement had waned, I slowly realized that what I expected paled in comparison to what was actually around me, and I mean literally paled.

Almost everyone at my first gay bar was white with the folks of color added in sparsely like sprinkles put on a vanilla cone by a stingy Baskin-Robbins worker.

Also, practically everyone was wearing the same thing.

It was either a snapback with a muscle-tank, shorts, and high-tops, or an unbuttoned button-up that revealed a chiseled body formed by countless hours at the gym.

I saw little to no displays of gender interrogation, scarce embracements of femininity, and little of the “diversity” that the mainstream LGBT community ostensibly champions.

Photo Credit: Hotlanta Voyeur/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

At straight clubs, I felt like I stuck out, and now at gay ones, I felt invisible.

Nobody looked like me nor at me.

Many argue that a large proportion of gay men do not find Asian men attractive due to racialized “preferences,” and that is true.

But, it would not have made a difference if the people there were interested in me.

At the end of the day, my feminine, gender non-conforming Asian self did not fit in with the white, snapback-wearing, masculine gay people of my first gay bar.

Though we did have similar interests, RuPaul’s Drag Race being one of them, it seemed as if their “feminine” inclinations were okay so long as their bodies were muscular and mannerisms of the macho persuasion.

Although my first taste of the gay scene in DC left my palette wholly unsatisfied, I did not allow myself to settle or conform.

Much like the fierce queens on Drag Race who worked for the crown, or the resilient people in Paris is Burning who reached for the stars, I, too, knew that my search for queer spaces was far from over.

I know that there is more to queer life than the ones readily accessible to me, but until then, I will stay true to Robyn’s words and dance on my own until I find the people I want to dance and feel the heat with.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

NOW WATCH: This Is The Oldest Building In The Western Hemisphere. We Bet You’ve Never Heard Of It 

Cover Photo Credit: Hotlanta Voyeur/ Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

“We… Will Rise Again”: Florida Politician Gives Incredible Speech After Orlando Massacre

North Miami City Councilman Scott Galvin has been featured on our site before.

But this time, it is for something really amazing.

On Tuesday, Galvin gave a spellbinding speech about the resiliency of the LGBT community after the devastating massacre in Orlando that claimed 49 lives.


Read More: Does Orlando Prove Trump Right? Absolutely Not

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

This Facebook Post From Right After The Orlando Massacre Is Just Perfect

This Facebook post is republished below with the permission of the author. 

By Brian Gil

As someone that literally never goes out to gay clubs, gay pride parades, or gay anything. I have to say, I have never cried so hard in a single day in my life.

This shooting and the effect its had literally (49 dead) and metaphorically are the fucking worst.

Only a gay person will truly feel the pain today that comes with living a life subconsciously anxious about stigmas, prejudices, and whether or not people will just generally accept you for how you are naturally.

Only a gay person has had to wake up everyday before this event, and looked themselves in the soul to tell themselves they’re worthwhile,while the rest of the world questions your integrity.

Your gonna tell me, on top of carrying all that around, the single location gay people can convene and feel comfortable about themselves in our society has someone walking in with a rifle shooting and rotating the gun across the room? Kick them while your down why don’t you, piece of shit.

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While the past few years the gay community has seen several progresses (marriage equality mainly), it seems we’ve all gone complacent about how unequal gay people still are.

Employment discrimination is still legal in many states. Anti-LGBT legislation has been sweeping the nation in the news lately. Clearly someone feels unaccepting to the point where they carried out their prejudices into mass violence.

I wanted everyone to see how a couple (literally very few) progresses towards acceptance doesn’t mean the related bigotry in our society has gone away.

Just like racism – just because the civil war, civil rights movement, and ‪#‎staywoke‬ movement have improved our society, it doesn’t mean racism doesn’t still exist (post-racial narrative).

We have to do what we must as people everyday to be conscious of these problems so we can change our world to make future generations better so these types of tragedies stop happening.

How many innocent marginalized members of society have to die before they become accepted? My point is, theres a better way – which is simply understanding, compassion, and solidarity for other humans


RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Could Gay Rights Rip Apart Netanyahu’s Conservative Government?

On Dec. 28th, 2015, the first openly gay member of the ruling Likud party, and the third ever in Israel, was sworn into the Knesset (Israeli Parliament).

Amir Ohana took office, following former Member of Knesset (MK) Silvan Shalom’s resignation after Shalom, the then Interior Minister faced a barrage of sexual harassment complaints.

Ohana will take over as Interior Minister, replacing Shalom.

Noticeably absent from the 120 member parliament were 13 members of Israel’s right wing coalition, of which Likud chairs. All of the absentees were from the Shas and the United Torah Judaism (UTJ) parties.

UTJ admits that Ohana’s potential advocacy for the LGBT community led to their boycott of his swearing in, while Shas claimed ignorance of the event altogether.

Regardless of whether Shas is feigning ignorance to save face, this demonstrates one of the peculiar cleavages in the Likud led Israeli coalition.

Regardless of whether Shas is feigning ignorance to save face, this demonstrates one of the peculiar cleavages in the Likud led Israeli coalition.

Both Shas and UTJ are Orthodox Jewish parties, and thus inclined to hold more socially conservative positions than the secular Likud party.

Navigating between the secular and religious movements in the Israeli Right presents a strong problem for the coalition.

One such instance includes UTJ leaving the 1999 coalition  due to a turbine delivery on the Sabbath.

Israeli Knesset Building. Photo Credit: Chris Yunker/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Israeli Knesset Building. Photo Credit: Chris Yunker/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

These cleavages further present themselves in discussion of the Palestinian residents of Israel, and Palestinian Administered regions.

While UTJ trends against expansion of the Israeli state to encompass the West Bank and Gaza, Naftali Bennett of the Jewish Home Party (another right wing partner in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government) and the current minister of Education and Diaspora Affairs has inserted himself in several controversies related to the Palestinian question, including claiming there is “no problem” with killing Arabs, and banning a book from school curriculums about a pair of lovers separated by the Israel Palestine conflict.

This new exposure brought about by the swearing in of Ohana of these cleavages only reveal longstanding issues between various religious and Zionist flavors in the conservative coalition.

While this show of disrespect to the Likud party may be an isolated incident, Netanyahu ought to take care not to allow these instances, or growing instability in the PA, to break up his narrow majority in Knesset.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for you us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place. 

Cover Photo Credit: Nadav Shushu Siman Tov‎/Facebook

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