Metro Weekly

Lesbian TikTokers are calling out straight women ‘taking over’ queer spaces

One woman noted that straight people have "everywhere else" but choose to "take over" queer spaces instead

lesbian, tiktok, women, bars
Photo by Maurício Mascaro from Pexels

Earlier this month, two lesbians went viral on TikTok for criticizing straight women for taking over queer bars.

Sophia Mastrioeni, whose username is sophiamastt, posted her video on Sept. 2 and has since received more than 186,000 likes.

“Last night I asked five different girls if they were gay at a GAY CLUB and everyone of them were straight AT A GAY CLUB I give up,” Mastrioeni wrote in the text overlay.

In the caption she added: “They took [our] style and now they are taking our clubs. Anyways I went home alone lol.”

In the comments of the video, many LGBTQ people argued that keeping queer spaces for queer people is crucial to their safety.

Many straight women, however, countered that queer bars can serve as safe spaces for them too.

The next day, a TikTok user named Eliza, under the username elizahhh, weighed in on the debate, stitching her own video onto Mastroieni’s and earning almost 330,000 likes.

“Straight people have everywhere else — literally everywhere else — everywhere. And we want one safe space for us and then y’all take over?” she said. “If y’all are gonna be allies and stand with us until we actually tell you what we want and what’s hurting us and you don’t listen, then you’re performative and you’re not actually allies.”

Eliza also highlighted that there are only 21 lesbian bars in the U.S. During the late 1980s, there were more than 200, according to a 2019 report. Greggor Mattson, who teaches sociology at Oberlin College, developed the report using listings in the Damron, a comprehensive guidebook of LGBTQ places.

The Lesbian Bar Project, a collective launched by filmmakers Erica Rose and Elina Street, states on its site that “these bars are disappearing at a staggering rate and we cannot afford to lose these vital establishments to the fallout of Covid-19.”

Mattson found that gay bars declined by more than 36 percent between 2007 and 2019. The report also notes that spaces for women and people of color are most likely to close; bars for people of color declined by 59.3%, and those for women by 51.6%.

PBS reports that owners and general managers from 12 of the 21 bars attribute closures over the past few decades to “assimilation of queer folks, gentrification, the prevalence of dating apps,” and economic disparities faced by women and people of color.

Ally Spaulding, general manager of A League Her Own in D.C., told PBS in June that “the wage gap discrimination is a huge part of this.”

“Obviously, women earn less than men, and on top of that, Black women, Latino women, Asian women earn significantly less. So if you’re looking at the capital of white cis gay men versus the capital of white, Black, brown, Asian, Latina, queer women, the disparity is huge,” she said. “And therefore, it takes twice as much work for us to gain the capital because we are underpaid across the board.”

Spaulding and others said they have been able to stay open largely because of community fundraising and donations.

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