An Integrationist Agenda? Lessons from the Bar Scene
There’s a group of gay guys in Dallas that call themselves the Gay Bar Guerillas. Each month, this group (growing in number) meets, en masse, in a local straight bar. They act like themselves. They mix with the locals (straights). They laugh, drink, watch TV, eat popcorn, etc.
They show that they are people.
Yes, they get some anger, and some ugly comments. But who ever said life was a guarantee of pure, sweet, love anyway? If personal animus and opposition is going to be the basis to self-segregate (which, I fear, things like gay amateur sports leagues, Olivia’s Lesbian Housing Project, and, to more of an extent than most will admit, gay and lesbian bars do to us), then we would never have had Dr. Martin Luther King, the Montgomery bus boycott, the Edmund Pettis Bridge, the March on Washington, Suffrage, etc.
I think this is great, actually. I think we, as Queers, need to ask ourselves just what it is that we are fighting for. Do we want equality of opportunity, inclusion, and being allowed to exist as a people - no different than any other people? If so, then I think sometimes, we need to make the first move, take a leap of faith, and hope for the best.
I got a lot of blow back on my op-ed about the D2 Gay Men’s Softball league and their rules around straight membership on teams. But I wonder what would happen if all those who are just so damn sure the straights in this world hate us so much that they would never let us be open and ourselves in a “straight” softball league took a lesson from the Gay Bar Guerillas? What would happen if the commissioner of D2 approached the straight leagues and sought a merger, on the following terms:
- No disrespectful comments or acts allowed. Violations result in forfeiture of game;
- Direct marketing to gay men and women for inclusion on all teams;
- No limit to the number of straights or gays or bi or transgendered people on teams;
- Direct outreach to gay and straight businesses to sponsor teams;
And so on.
I would like to think it might work. I would at least like to think we, as Queers, have enough faith in America, and have a clear enough vision of just what it is we want from America, to give it a try.