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.