Mariantonia Mejia | Staff Writer
There are 27 remaining lesbian bars/clubs in the United States. None of those are in Florida. As a newly out lesbian, I admit I was a bit naïve to think that finding community would be simple.
Much of the media made by and for lesbians, which is not a whole lot, paints the picture of a lesbian bar on every corner and every baby gay greeted by a friendly group of lesbians to introduce them to the brand-new world of sapphics.
Unfortunately, the truth of the lesbian experience is much lonelier.
Unless you have the privilege of living in New York or California, you’ll be hard-pressed to find lesbian-focused events. Only a few businesses cater solely to a lesbian or sapphic clientele.
Though lesbian bars, and even the lesbian coffeeshops of the 90s and early 2000s, have a deep history in the queer community, existing since the 1800s and booming in the 1850s, many factors contribute to the decline in lesbian spaces.
The gender pay gap remains one of the most glaring issues with keeping lesbian spaces alive, as many (if not all) lesbian business owners are lesbians themselves, meaning they are more disenfranchised than the queer men creating male-oriented spaces.
Not to mention gentrification pushing out underprivileged people everywhere is bound to affect lesbians, particularly when we have never had lesbian neighborhoods akin to the “gayborhoods” of the 70s and 80s, like the Castro District in San Francisco or the Village in New York.
A search for the lesbian bars, clubs or events near me in South Florida garners one-time events happening multiple counties away or a plethora of businesses focused primarily on the gay male experience.
Despite the dangerously homophobic and transphobic time we are experiencing in Florida, Miami has, for years, been considered a mecca for the queer community.
Not only do gay clubs litter the city, from Twist to R House, but we are also one of the few places to have a chamber of commerce specifically for the queer community, the Miami-Dade Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.
Despite this, it feels like lesbians are an afterthought. We are all thrown into the big “queer” bucket and expected to participate in and enjoy spaces geared towards a subset of our community that we may be familiar with. But we don’t align with 100% of the time.
This is not to say that lesbians and gay men have not formed a community with each other or that we should reduce the amount of gay-male-centered spaces. Still, the importance of having a safe space where you can meet other lesbians and participate in aspects of lesbian culture that simply do not have a place in gay bars is vital.
Not to mention that gay men are still men.
Their lack of sexual attraction to women does not change the fact that lesbians may still feel unsafe in the presence of men. We deserve spaces where we are the majority, like gay men in their respective bars.
Further, bisexual men frequent gay clubs, and, like any men, they are very capable of harassing men in these environments.
An outing I had with friends to Twist on South Beach was a harsh reminder. A man attempted to grind on me and would not stop touching me despite multiple attempts from my female friend and me politely declining. Only when his attempt to dance with our male friend failed did he leave us alone.
It took the intervention of a man to keep myself, as a lesbian, safe in a space meant to believe is a safe space for all in the queer community.
Over time, the isolation lesbians experience, not just in Miami but in so much of our country, can get exhausting. It can seem that if you want to make lesbian friends, you’ll have to move to one of the two places in the United States that are slightly more lesbian-friendly.
However, I believe it is our responsibility as a new generation of lesbians to create the spaces we want to be a part of. That said, straight and non-lesbian queer folks also have to support and give what they can to these spaces when they crop up. Otherwise, there will never be demand.
The opinions presented on this page do not represent the views of the PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.