West Hollywood gay bar The Abbey recently decided to ban straight bachelorette parties. Their decision, according to Abbey owner David Cooley, is a form of political protest.
We love our straight girlfriends coming in to celebrate one of the happiest days of their life. But it's also a slap in the face to my customers and my life that we can't have that same celebration.
Here's what Cooley isn't saying — bachelorette parties at gay bars are fucking annoying.
It's nothing against straight people. Some of my best friends are straight. There's just something particularly insufferable about hosting a bachelorette party at a gay bar. And it's unique to straight women and gay men. Straight men wouldn't celebrate a bachelor party at a lesbian bar. I mean, they might try, but I'm not sure how well that would go over.
I think it's great that straight women feel comfortable around gay men, and vice versa. It's a singular relationship — one that far surpasses the outdated conception of a "fag" and his "hag."
But throwing a bachelorette party at The Abbey or any other gay bar isn't a way to celebrate that friendship: it's weirdly exploitative. It's not so much about the joy of having gay friends as it is about the essential novelty of gay people. When a group of women go to a gay bar to let loose for a bachelorette party, the gay men become props.
Which is not to say that women don't get objectified all the time. To that extent, I understand the appeal of going to a bar where the men can be sexual objects, and if you're a woman, no one's going to try to rub his boner against you. But it's especially insulting to go somewhere specifically to ogle people whose sexual preference doesn't include you.
I'll go back to the lesbian bar theoretical, even though — yes — women in general have it far worse when it comes to objectification. Straight men who decided to spend a bachelor party checking out lesbians would be regarded as gross assholes, and rightfully so. A bachelorette party at a gay bar is not as stigmatized, but it still reeks of shallowness and a failure to recognize gay people as, you know, people.
That might sound overdramatic, but for the most part, straight women who throw bachelorette parties at gay bars aren't considering the political context — the fact that they are celebrating their impending nuptials among a group of people who aren't legally allowed to get married. It sucks on that level, as Cooley contended, but on a larger scale, it's tasteless. It reduces gay men to unpaid entertainers. Background noise. Party favors.
The alternative is simple. If you want to watch a gay man take his shirt off, hire a stripper. They're also a lot cooler with you slipping dollar bills in their thongs, if you're into that sort of thing.
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