Last week, while an incredibly huge a**hole entered Pulse, an Orlando, FL, gay club, and started shooting down my fellow queers, I was thousands of miles south, enjoying a night of gay debauchery in Theatron, the biggest gay club in Bogotá, Colombia, and one of the best ones I’ve ever seen.
The entrance check is quite thorough there, it includes a full bag check and a pat down. These personally don’t make me feel safer and, as I entered, I thought to myself “I’m so glad we don’t need those in Europe or the US”. Ahem… Wrong.
Richard Kim, of The Nation, wrote an editorial in the wake of the shooting, in which he explains that “gay bars are more than just licensed establishments where homosexuals pay to drink. Gay bars are therapy for people who can’t afford therapy; temples for people who lost their religion, or whose religion lost them; vacations for people who can’t go on vacation; homes for folk without families; sanctuaries against aggression. They take sound and fabric and flesh from the ordinary world, and under cover of darkness and the influence of alcohol or drugs, transform it all into something that scrapes up against utopia.”
As a white woman from Paris, I guess I take for granted being able to kiss in a public place or being openly gay in a straight bar. In fact, I don’t even go to gay bars that much because I don’t feel threatened anywhere. But in the aftermath of this fucked up attack, and because I’ve been travelling in Central and South America for six months, a region where gay bars are definitely necessary and needed, I’ve come to realize that yes, gay bars are in fact sanctuaries.
Even if a straight bar feels safe, even if like the Folie’s in Belleville, it’s actually half full of gay people, it still isn’t a gay bar, it still isn’t the equivalent of a warm bed after a day in the rain. A gay bar is. Even if the gay bar is terrible, it makes you feel good just because it exists. You probably have nothing in common with 80% of the people there, but they all somehow feel like family. No kiss will be looked at with contempt, no one will judge your love, no gay men will be assaulted and no lesbians will be sexually harassed. We leave all that at the door.
Or so we hope.
One self-hating homophobic moron has taken the lives of 50 people just because he couldn’t bear their existence (or his), and in the process has desecrated our safe havens. I guess the best response is to keep going out to these temples, cherish them, and hope that more sprout like mushrooms!
Oh, and also, because this is the US: to f-u-c-k-i-n-g implement at least some kind of efficient gun control legislation! How many victims do we need for the NRA to stop pushing guns into the hands of people?! Orlando was only 1 of 11 mass shootings in that WEEK! But I’ll let Samantha Bee tell you more about it.