When I first came out it was a scary time, I had made the leap to move from the rural countryside to university in London in 2003 and having just about mustered up the courage to go to my first gay bar in Soho I was completely unprepared for the final hurdle that awaited me before being able to mingle with the gay girls and boys....proving that I was actually gay.
We all know that the traditional stereotypical image of a lesbian, in heteronormative society, is a short haired, lumbar jack shirt wearing larger chugging butch - and we fight that stereotype as a one size fits all image. Gay women come in all shapes and sizes, races and religions so why was I now having to defend my femme appearance to a male bouncer working the door of a famous gay bar in London?
I was on my own that night and hoping to meet up with some people I’d met online inside. The test put to me by the bouncer on this occasion was to name three gay bars in the vicinity without having to think too long about it.
Of course I knew all local bars and their locations as they had been burnt into my head with all the research I’d been doing online in order to summon the courage I needed to actually make the leap to go out onto the scene.
I passed the test with flying colours but I couldn’t help but feel wounded that I’d had to defend myself and my sexuality to a complete stranger just to gain entry to the establishment then was meant to be a symbol of diversity and freedom to be yourself without justification.
It became a frequent occurrence that when going to certain venues, especially anywhere with a bit of a queue, I was made to try and prove my sexuality, even being ordered to kiss female friends who were with me if I wanted to go in. I’m proud to say that even though we’d probably all had a tongue session in the past anyways on those occasions we would all walk off in pure disgust.
Now we’re in 2011 and I’m a very lucky girl to have found Mrs right who I can call my wife so I don’t often find myself on the scene anymore. However, I am dismayed to hear from friends that this at the door interrogation still continues, now women are being asked to produce phone app’s as proof of their sexual orientation.
Now, think about it for a second. Are there issues here? Oh yes! Where do I begin!?
Firstly and most importantly, could you imagine what would happen if you wanted to go in a mainstream pub and were asked to prove your heterosexuality?
Secondly, what if you don’t have a fancy phone that has Apps?
Thirdly what if you’re not out to your friends and family yet and so therefore wouldn’t want such an App on your phone that you could be questioned about?
I could go on with all the reasons why it’s just not right. It's discrimination in its pure and simplest terms, against anyone who does not fit the stereotype or for the straight mates who want to support their friends on the scene, finding themselves barred due to their heterosexuality.
I’m a proud metaphorically card-carrying lesbian. How long will it be before it’ll have to be a reality so I can remain a part of the LGBT community?