Consent: Why is it still such a big issue in gay clubs?

Gaydar Insider

Gaydar Insider
01 March 2018

Consent is a problem in gay clubs. When it comes to going clubbing, as a gay man there’s a few things you’re almost guaranteed to experience on a night out.

You’re going to be stuck queuing at the bar behind someone ordering an unfeasibly large round of drinks, the crowd is going to do that awful ‘whoop whoop’ chant when We Found Love comes on, and lastly, you’re probably going to end up getting touched, groped or grabbed without consent.

While the former two are sadly just necessary evils, there’s no excuse for the latter. So the question remains – why has it become such a widespread issue in our safe spaces?

Whether it’s having your crotch grabbed while making your way across the dance floor, or feeling a stranger’s hand on your ass at the bar, we’ve all at one point or another chosen to shrug consent-related incidents off as something that we just have to accept on a night out. 

“For decades we’ve been portrayed as hyper-sexual deviants with insatiable sex drives”

Just like women and PoC in our society, gay men have been conditioned to believe that we essentially invite this kind of abuse. For decades we’ve been portrayed as hyper-sexual deviants with insatiable sex drives. In fact, a study from the University of Michigan found that a whopping 47% of advertisements that targeted gay men focused on selling materials of an explicitly sexual nature.

This unjustified reputation has become so ingrained in how the rest of society views our community as a whole, that it’s made it tougher for us to acknowledge or even recognise the abusive nature of an act without consent such as groping. 

“You wouldn’t accept a guy grabbing your dick while you’re buying a meal deal at Tesco”

Yes, gay clubs are highly-sexualised environments, there’s no denying that. But being in one doesn’t justify these unwanted sexual advances. You wouldn’t accept a guy grabbing your dick while you’re buying a meal deal at Tesco, and you don’t have to accept it when you’re a few drinks down and getting your life to a Britney deep-cut. 

The issue of sexual assault in gay bars, considered safe spaces to many of us, has become so woven into our nightlife culture that the mention of getting groped may illicit no more of a reaction than a quick shrug from a friend. 

“I’ll find myself trying to reason that in some perverse way I should just be taking it as a compliment”

From a personal perspective, I’ve lost count of the times a stranger has grabbed me without consent when I’ve been out clubbing, yet I’m able to list the times I made an issue about it on one hand. 

The way we view sexual assault as gay men has become so warped that if anything, I’ll find myself trying to reason that in some perverse way I should just be taking it as a compliment. 

It’s a dangerous way of viewing it, but it’s one of countless thoughts that rushes through my head alongside the likes of: “Well, I’m in a gay bar, so what did I expect?”

However, it’s this willingness to accept such behaviour and treat it as nothing more than an inevitable act that allows the cycle to continue. Not only that, but with rape and sexual assault being even more prevalent in the LGBT community, we’re eradicating clubs and bars as safe spaces for victims who may find themselves triggered by a grab without consent from a stranger. 

So do yourself a favour and next time you’re thinking about reaching out and grabbing the ass of the cute guy who’s brushing past you in the smoking area, give him a tap on the arm and ask his name.

No one wants to be with the creepy handsy guy, so cut that s**t out. 

Comments (23)

  1. Eddie says:

    been putting up with this stuff for decades and like the authour says.. was I supposed to feel grateful? I didn’t fancy them anyway..

  2. Eddie says:

    Still, on the other hand there was that feeling I’m fancied so I’m validated.. but isn’t that just a self esteem issue? We all need to think these things over.

    • Rob Curtis Rob Curtis says:

      Eddie – it’s interesting. Everyone gets a bit of a buzz from feeling attractive to someone else. There are lots of ways to make someone feel good though.

      • Eddie says:

        Yes like actually being interested.. in the person, in their achievements, their dreams.. I guess we’re all too busy at times to even notice.

  3. Heaton69 says:

    I used to wear a Kilt when going out.. Why is it funny when a group of women decided to:
    a] Put their hands up inside the kilt
    b] Think its funny lifting the kilt up so that everyone can see what ‘Your packing’ so to speak. If you did this to a woman you would be on a sex offenders list and in jail with a sex crime record for assaulting a woman.. Is it double standards?

    • Ni Neu says:

      I cannot disagree less with you!! Inverted sexism is applauded and not only we need to yield to abussive females, but even being grateful for that. Paraphrasing the opera aria “La donna e movile cual piuma al vento”, I mean their feminist thoughts about what seemed “natural” about men’s behaviour in the ye olde clubbing times are not applied to nowadays ” me too” vixens

  4. Mark says:

    We’re in danger of getting a bit precious here, I’ve had guys grab my crotch or try to stick their tongue down my throat when I certainly didn’t want it on a couple of occasions, yes it’s unnecessary, sometimes unpleasant and not to be encouraged, but if they’re going to be so forward there’s no reason to feel bad about rebuffing them sharply, firmly and usually that’ll be enough. If they still persist then there’s a genuine problem and possibly the owners of the establishment should require them to desist or leave. Gay bars and nightclubs aren’t Tesco, they are always going to be much more sexualized environments, if people don’t want that or to deal with it there are alternative options for socializing.

    • sam says:

      errrrr NO mark…. people should be able to go out and NOT have to deal with that stuff. The people who feel the need to grab and grope should be the ones to go someweere else! Like a brothel . Your just another one of these men who dont understand boundaries and the laws regarding the right to not be touched. Gay bars are NOT exempt!! Maybe your one of the guys who want to be able to grope before introducing yourself and asking to cop a feel before actually doing it!
      Just because its a GAY BAR…it doesnt mean we shoud accept that behaviour, WE DONT HAVE TO and its NOT those who dont want to accept this behaviour that should socialise elsewhere. You have no idea how WRONG you are LOL

      • Mark says:

        No, I’m not one of those guys who wants to, or has ever touched anyone before introducing myself. Other guys have done it to me, I haven’t liked it, but neither have I been so pathetic or precious as to run screaming into the corner or to the management, or believe there should be some kind of law to protect me from it. Depending on the way it’s done I form an opinion (probably negative if it’s unwanted and out of the blue) about the person and rebuff them with whatever strength is required to leave them in doubt it’s unwanted and should stop, as it always has. If genuine assault occurs, which this isn’t then the management should be informed. You are always going to get horny guys in gay bars and nightclubs, sometimes it’s nice to know someone finds you attractive, if people are so precious they can’t deal with it don’t go.

        • Eddie says:

          I think Mark makes a valid point, these can be hyper-sexualised environments with dark rooms, alcohol flowing and all sorts of high spirits happening, so is it any wonder *some* people, especially the young, can get carried away and lose sight of what’s appropriate.. in an arena of what could easily be construed as mixed-messages? Uninvited groping or close physical contact is never ok, of course it isn’t.. but I think it really depends on the strength of your personality how you handle these situations. A firm rebuff will send most packing – problem over. Persistancy though is bullying/harrasment and is quite another matter. Strangely as Heaton mentioned, it’s often been women in straight pubs who did it.. (I don’t think many gay men fancy me anyway lol!)

        • Ni Neu says:

          Mark, do you buy Health&Life insurance to cash the policy or to NOT needing the use the insurance? Who the hell are you to insinuate that denouncing ABUSE is hysterically sissi? Once I have been abused I do not care about the management, nor the police; I DIDN’T GO CLUBBING TO REPORT HAVING BEEN ABUSED, I WANTED JUST CLUBBING

          • Mark says:

            NI NEU, just to be clear I don’t want or expect bars or clubs to be like saunas or darkrooms, neither of which have ever been my thing in any case, but neither do I expect them to be a completely non sexual atmosphere like a supermarket. I don’t believe some slightly drunk (or maybe not) guy occasionally groping someone in a bar or club constitutes abuse, to say it does diminishes the seriousness of genuine abuse/rape and insults those who’ve experienced it. It should be classed as a nuisance, those who who refuse to take notice of a reprimand for groping should be expelled, and those who experience it should be less precious, grow up a bit, throw it off, it’s not a life changing trauma or physical harm as is genuine abuse.

      • Tuca says:

        Not even brothels, Sam. Even at saunas, I hated when a guy would just come up and start caressing me without any eye contact. Even at those places where you’re expecting sex, people need to understand consent as well

    • Ni Neu says:

      “if people don’t want that or to deal with it there are alternative options for socializing.” Do you, Mark, mean FOR THE ABUSERS or for the ABUSED?
      Gay CLUBS are CLUBS where NORMAL PEOPLE go CLUBBING, Mark. If YOU or your likes long for FURTIVE UNSOLICITED ENCOUNTERS head yourselves to a DARK SAUNA ROOM. Neither at Tesco’s, NOR at so called Str8 CLUBS that PREDATIVE attitude shall be tolerated.

  5. Duncan says:

    I was raped in the Comptons a good few years back when i was new to the scene. I was followed into the cubicle by a guy who locked the door behind me and fucked me. He then left. I was the norm at the time. I do not go there anymore.

    • Gaydar Insider Gaydar Insider says:

      Hi Duncan. Thank you for being brave enough to share this story. We’d urge anyone who experiences anything similar to what happened to you to report it to the police as soon as possible.

  6. Ricky Moore-Daniels says:

    that’s because most of us gay poofs hang out at the clubs where pawing is the norm ^^ y’all stay Fresh!

  7. Mark says:

    Exactly, it’s only happened to me a few times over many years, I’m not so attractive many people would be inclined to grope me anyway, but when it did I was mildly flattered, took it in good humour while letting the person know I wasn’t interested and it stopped as it will in 99% of cases which can be left at that.

  8. Brian Shea says:

    I’ve always called this the “Gay Greeting”; instead of a handshake, you get grabbed in the crotch or the ass! I had a guy once, at work(it was a gay bar and grill BTW) stick his fingers up my butt as we were ascending the stairs. What gets me, is that if you object, even with a “What the hell are you doing!?!” kind of look, or say something, they act like you are odd and have a problem. Like “What they hell is wrong with you!?!”

  9. Ross says:

    Not sure why the author of the article uses the all-inclusive “we’ve all experienced …”? I’ve never been touched up in a club or pub (saunas, yes), chance would be a fine thing for older guy like me! What this really demonstrates is a bias towards younger people’s experiences, that gay equals youth, an incomprehension that there may be (heaven forbid!) OLDER gay people! If somebody touched me up, I’d judge the touching in its context (who, where, how, how hard, etc) & react accordingly. If I didn’t like it, I’d say so politely. I do not understand why men feel they have no agency in these matters.

  10. FERRARA ROSARIO says:

    TOO CONFUSING ARTICLE… even if “overpushing”, a proposal is still just a proposal, not a sexual act…
    Of course consent is necessary since the “second step” of a relationship, but is to be supposed in the “first step”…
    There are many gay places, real or virtual, where to meet up, and different ways to approach.. but the only UNPOSSIBLE THING IS that a man enters a social or a pub not to have any form of contact…
    So, in certain cases and locations, everyone may freely touch me to approach me, but have the same way the must to respect my “stop it” if i say it…
    Cheers all from sicily!

  11. paul says:

    I think people are making too much of this issue. we live in politically correct days, so touching anyone up is unacceptable now. wish we were back in the 1970s when I was young and everyone had so much more fun.

  12. Andy says:

    The following analogy is incorrect:-

    “Yes, gay clubs are highly-sexualised environments, there’s no denying that. But being in one doesn’t justify these unwanted sexual advances. You wouldn’t accept a guy grabbing your dick while you’re buying a meal deal at Tesco, and you don’t have to accept it when you’re a few drinks down and getting your life to a Britney deep-cut. ”

    The gay clubs are specifically gay clubs so you have to expect that sort of thing but not from the opposite sex! After all, if it was not to be expected then drop the monicker “gay” which related specifically to both sex and same sex.

    Regarding Tesco’s that is way off the mark. Gay clubs are where you go to meet other men because of both their sexuality and gender and yours with a potential sexual overtone. Tesco’s is where you go for the goods which are and you want to see if the goods appeal and that often includes touching it. In gay clubs you go for the men and as in Tesco’s you might want to see it or feel it to see if it meets your satisfaction. If somebody gropes you then what if he doesn’t? He might insist on you showing your tackle before going with you or worse still be polite and get off with you for a complete waste of time and travel when you both get undressed at his place or yours and he makes his excuses. Given the choice between a quick exploratory grope from someone or wasting over two hours on night buses for a false hope I know which one I would rather suffer.

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