There’s a tweet going around the internet that says something like “if you’ve never thought of a gay night club as a synagogue or church, you’ve never felt afraid to hold someone’s hand.”
It’s true. I spent almost every weekend of my life from age 16 to age 24 in gay nightclubs. I’m not exaggerating. I didn’t come out until I was 18 but even so there’s no place on earth – much less in San Antonio,Texas – that I felt safer than the Bonham Exchange, the Wild Club, Queer Nite at La Luna, or the Egyptian Room.
Which isn’t to say I felt safe in every gay club. In his book Bad Kid, David Crabb shares a horrifying assault on a mutual friend that took place in F/X, and I wasn’t surprised. Because in order to be welcoming to anyone who needs the safe space of a gay club, it means being vulnerable to people who show up in order to harass or assault. The history of gay night clubs in this country is littered with incidents like Orlando, though this was by far the worst, and it’s depressing to think it could still happen in 2016.
Gay clubs are where I first learned to be myself, where I felt free to experiment in all sorts of ways. The idea of someone violating that sacred space feels like just that – violating a sacred space. Fuck you to all the right wing bigots like Donald Trump who want to blame this on the murderer being nominally Muslim. He wasn’t religious, he was arrested for domestic violence, he was squicked out by two men kissing in Miami. This wasn’t an act of Islamic terror, this was all American anti gay hate. Take responsibility for your own violent, disgusting creation, America. And make it stop.