Do LGBTIQ+ activists focus “too much” on the laws?
Many activists and LGBTIQ+ organizations around the globe focus their time and effort on the legal aspects surrounding LGBTIQ+ rights. There are many things that need to change and be implemented when it comes to LGBTIQ+ rights. Therefore, it is necessary to advocate in that direction. A few years ago, I was questioning the need to focus on laws, especially considering that these laws and rights are rarely respected on a day-to-day basis. I understood the necessity of fighting against systemic oppression and discrimination towards the queer community, but I found it difficult to realize how laws help the fight against oppression within society, in public spaces, etc.
In other words, I couldn’t understand the need for legal protection, if the queer community wouldn’t actually use it. I mean, there are many instances of injustice and attacks against LGBTIQ+ people that don’t get addressed for various reasons. Consequently, it was very important for me to focus on the freedom and confidence of the queer community and its members, rather than focusing on some laws (formal ones, most likely) that wouldn’t help the queer community directly.
Hypothetically, I was doubting the importance of having a law that would allow same-sex marriage or would recognize same-sex partnerships if you wouldn’t get to see queer couples (or other non-traditional relationships) in the media or in public spaces.
But seeing so many conservative leaders around the world making decisions against LGBTIQ+ rights and making the lives of LGBTIQ+ people even harder, I understood how important it is to have laws that protect you, even in a society that doesn’t believe in such laws. I understood how important it is to have a place where you can address any form of discrimination you face and to have every right you need to have! It’s very important to have laws that protect you and your right to wear whatever you want to, love whoever you want, have complete autonomy over your body, marry who you want etc.
We definitely need laws! Not only does advocating for laws and rights empower the LGBTIQ+ community in the present, but it also makes it easier for future members of the LGBTIQ+ community and society. It’s a very important step towards equality and social justice!
The laws exist, yet the queers aren’t safe! What about it?!
As I mentioned, it’s very important to be protected, respected, and even recognized by the laws. Unfortunately, laws won’t make it easier for queer people to walk down the street. I have many friends who don’t follow gender stereotypes and challenge social norms of how a person should look (based on their sex/gender).
The stares they get, the “WTF” facial expressions, the threats, and offensive homophobic/transphobic comments they get, are a living proof of the oppression towards the queer community.
Not only do those homophobic/transphobic people make it very uncomfortable for you to walk down the street and go where you’re going, they also make you concerned for your safety. They make you question whether there’s something wrong with you or with the way you look. They make you “celebrate” your survival.
It’s concerning to see people expecting you to fulfill their expectations of what you should look like and what you should put on/take off your body. For them, even the nail polish on your nails makes you less of a person. All the comments and stares make the oppression towards the queer community obvious. The unequal share of public spaces exists and unfortunately the queer community knows it best! If you’re not a white heterosexual rich cisgender man, public spaces for you are limited and unsafe.
It is almost unimaginable what queer people face when in public spaces! There’s a huge probability that they will be harassed, commented on, and even attacked for just being themselves. It’s challenging, consuming and tiring to hear people comment on you and the way you look all the time.
The inequal share of public spaces and the risk of existing in public spaces, make it necessary for queer people to have a safe space where they can be whoever they want to and be with whoever they want to. That kind of oppression and discrimination makes it needed for LGBTIQ+ people to go to a bar in which they won’t be stared at or commented on. It makes it needed for them to have a place where they don’t have to feel scared nor unwanted.
So basically, the need of LGBTIQ+ people to gather in a safe place has created places like “queer bars” and “queer-friendly bars”. But,
Do we need a gay bar? Do we need a queer bar?
The answer is very simple, even though the reasons aren’t.
There are many reasons why I’m asking this question which I want you to think about.
Having a gay/queer bar deep down means you’re separating yourself from the rest of society. It also means that you’re asking for other people’s permission to go to a bar.
In other words, if you refuse to go to a “regular bar” because of the people there and the stares you’ll probably get, it means that you’re asking for their permission and their comfort with you, as a queer person, to be there. But, does that happen intentionally?!
Has the queer community separated themselves or has society separated them from itself?
Do the queers need to question their safety all the time?! Can’t the queers just enjoy a day/night out and not get stared at and/or commented on?!
And there you go, you already have the answers!
So, the simple answer is: YES! YES, GAY/QUEER BARS ARE MUCH NEEDED!
Oppressed people need safe spaces where they can be themselves and not worry about anything else! The queer community needs a place where they can be fully and freely themselves! The queers need a place where they can approach someone they find cute and not have to worry about whether they’re going to get beaten up. You don’t get to tell oppressed people what is right for them.
If society wouldn’t separate itself from the queers and wouldn’t make their lives miserable, there wouldn’t be places like “queer bars”. If people would mind their business and not give themselves the right to tell other people how to live, there wouldn’t be such things as “queer bars”. If the oppression and discrimination towards the queer community didn’t happen anywhere, there wouldn’t be places like “queer bars”.
But honestly, I’m so happy that queer bars exist. The atmosphere, the very lovely, friendly, and kind people that go to such bars and the idea that you’re loved and welcomed there no matter what, is very much important and special!
If you still have questions about the laws, LGBTIQ+ rights, queer oppression and the need for queer bars, make sure to ask a queer person about such things.
Nobody knows better what oppression is than an oppressed person themselves.