“Yassss, you better work!” a group of intoxicated women shouted out at me as I headed to the Pennsylvania 6 bar on Monday night. “I love the Gayborhood … you gays are soooo fierce … wanna be my gay bestie?”
“No,” I immediately said while speedily crossing the street.
“You’re no fun,” one of the women continued. “We just wanna escape, don’t take yourself too seriously.”
I never understood what catcalling personally felt like in general as a man. But as a gay man, I often encounter this uncomfortable concept of “gaycalling” that straight women often hurl at me aggressively.
This has not been the first time I have experienced such un-requested taunting. Go to any gay nightclub across Philly and many non-LGBTQ identifying women who make it a hotspot for their bridal shower after-parties and bachelorette bashes.
I won’t ignore some of the semi-sensible justifications for this. Some homegirls I have hung out with have found it more comfortable to party with men they feel will not flirt with them or possibly sexually harass them. A couple of married women I know find it fabulous to have a girls night out without the temptation of a straight male gaze.
Either way, a gay man’s social livelihood in Philly has once again been made subservient to a heteronormative expectation. Even when out of the social confines of oppressive institutional homophobia, I still cannot ignore the now exhausting role of gay Superman for women who I don’t know.
That's because instead of actively attacking sexism and the patriarchy, certain women would rather just hang with men who are not sexually attracted to them as a response.
The problem is that some of us, including myself, aren’t placed on Earth to fulfill voids that aren’t being addressed properly within this city. My sexual orientation shouldn’t be exploited as a resource for some women to simply feel empowered off of.
I am a human being with real feelings and self-dignity -- not an accessory.
As a proud feminist, I also recognize the intersectionality within this narrative. I support the equality of all sexes and genders, but not at the expense of mistreating LGBTQ expressions as a result of it.
If you are a straight woman entering a gay bar, please stop looking at us as a way to insert your own sexist ideologies within a gender-fluid space.
When you see me walking down 13th and Walnut with my denim satchel -- that isn’t some bold attempt at “wanting to be a queen” but me being comfortable with my masculinity enough to not give a damn what your gender norms are.
For all of the anti-slut shaming and street harassment protests for which I have advocated, it’s important that Philly gets serious in still addressing these issues full-time. But it’s also important that everyone, both men, women and trans, respect each other within their safe spaces.
The Gayborhood should be welcoming to all allies, but please don’t leave your manners at the door. For I will be waiting for you there, as usual.
This views and opinions expressed in this piece are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Metro US.