The rise of queer cafes as the new LGBTQ safe spaces
There’s an interesting article on the net about the rise of queer cafes as the new LGBTQ spaces spaces replacing gay and lesbian bars, and we had to read it.
We’ve already lamented on the decreasing number of lesbian bars in cities (like the passing of The Lexington Club in San Francisco) and how these safe spaces help keep us sane when we were finding ourselves.
More importantly, is the rise of queer cafes the evolution of these spaces for LGBTQ?
Queer cafes: From alcohol to coffee
Samantha Allen, writing for The Daily Beast, noted that while she’s spent time in gay bars, she’s really more comfortable in queer cafes.
“When I think about where I have felt the most comfortable as a queer woman, it’s not a gay bar that leaps to mind but rather a queer cafe: the now-closed Rachael’s in Bloomington, Indiana,” Allen wrote.
However, this is because: “I drink rarely, mostly out of consideration for my health. I’m monogamously partnered so, although I want to converse with– or just be around– other LGBT folks, I’m not on the lookout for someone to bed.”
Moreover, she pointed out that: “The simple truth is that spaces focused on sex and alcohol– as important as they have been and continue to be for queer survival– are always going to be somewhat exclusionary.”
“The most obvious form of exclusion is age-related: LGBT youth can’t legally enter gay bars and LGBT elders don’t always feel welcome at clubs that cater to a younger, hipper crowd,” she explained.
“The result is that many gay watering holes are fairly homogeneous in terms of the age of their clientele,” she added.
Queer cafes: The problem with alcohol
She’s got some good points, we realized. After all, lesbians and alcohol have always had a love-hate relationship.
There’s a lot of statistics on the LGBTQ community having to deal with discrimination, homophobia, and hiding they are through substance abuse, which results in a number of health issues.
Gay and lesbian bars once served as safe spaces for the LGBTQ community, as well as a way to release stress. These places was where we could be ourselves.
However, as Allen pointed out, sometimes being in a dark, smoky, noisy bar may not be the best place to have a shoulder to cry on, or to get counsel.
“We don’t talk to each other enough as it is. When I first came out, I sorely needed the wisdom of those who had gone before me, but I had to go to conferences in order to seek out and learn from my transgender elders,” she said.
Queer cafes: Evolution of safe spaces
This probably proves the point of Sascha Cohen of VICE, who said the disappearance of lesbian bars is just LGBTQ safe spaces evolving for future generations of queer women.
But that’s not to say that Allen is saying we should trade in our beer for coffee instead. After all, cafes that serve as LGBTQ safe spaces have also always been around, both in the US and the UK.
Rather, she said: “It is vital for queer people to be able to go somewhere to secure a quick hook-up—or, who knows, kick off a more lasting relationship– but there should also be venues in which we can congregate where the vibe is less, shall we say, naughty.”
What do you think? Are you up for some beer– or for coffee? In meantime, check out Allen’s articlehere.