On a night out, everyone has their own set of rules to follow for survival: don’t drink tequila, don’t walk home with your heels in hand, and to always have a glass of water and paracetamol waiting on your bedside table for your return.
However, being gay requires a whole new set of rules. In the present day, you should be able to comfortably walk down the road hand in hand with your same-sex partner, only with the rare comment. Yet, in non-LGBT+ exclusive nightclubs and bars, it is a very different story. It is rare for my girlfriend and me to go on a night out and not receive some sort of harassment from drunken men and occasionally women. It has gotten to the point where we are reluctant to go to certain nightclubs with our heterosexual friends.
It is true to say that LGBT+ movements have made great progress in Western societies in the last decade. However, during a night on the town, the LGBT+ community are more vulnerable to sexual and gender discrimination.
Nightclubs and bars cannot refuse your entry due to your sexuality, and they have an obligation to be aware of your safety, however, is enough being done?
I had never received any type of homophobia or sexual discrimination before I went to university. Students and teachers have always been respectful towards my sexuality, however, there are an uncountable amount of instances of sexual discrimination which I have received on nights out. My girlfriend and I have been circled and demanded to kiss each other like some sort of spectacle, we’ve been approached and asked for threesomes numerous times, we’ve had men take pictures and film us, as well as received a range of horrific comments. Not only are we constantly sexualised as a lesbian couple, but we are not regarded as a serious couple. When my girlfriend is approached by men asking for her number, it is rare for them to recognise us as a couple or see me as a threat.
This is not to say that same-sex couples should stop going on nights out, or should hide that they’re a couple. Besides, the LGBT+ community hasn’t gotten to where we are today through hiding. Maybe it is reasonable advice, however, to not give your partner a lap dance in the middle of the dance floor! If you do receive a few comments, try to stay composed and walk away, show that you’re not interested or phased by their ignorance. There is always security, if not managers present with your safety in mind, therefore tell them if you receive any level of harassment or homophobic comments. It is not you who’s being unreasonable, therefore it is not you who should be removed.
Everyone has the right to let their hair down, have a few bevies, and make good memories! But most importantly, everyone has the right to feel safe when on a night out, no matter your gender or sexual orientation.
You can find information about your rights as a sexual minority on the LGBT foundation website.
For those affected by issues raised in this post, there are online and over the phone support networks, including the confidential Switchboar LGBT+ helpline, available 10am-10pm every day on 03003 300630.