Why do women-only restrooms exist in gay bars?

by Isaiah Webster III

WEST HOLLYWOOD — I’m just finishing my short vacation in West Hollywood, and I’m slightly perplexed by various things that I’ll discuss in the coming days. But today I’ll rant about the one thing I truly don’t get — women-only restrooms in gay bars.

I should say upfront that I don’t believe women belong in gay bars at all. (I hinted to that fact in a post last year, which drew criticism from some of my female friends that read this blog.) But I will set aside that broader issue for today and focus on the restroom issue.

My friends and I were bar-hopping in WeHo on Saturday night and I was amazed at how many straight women were in the gay bars. In some cases, they were there with their girl pals, and in other cases, they were there with their boyfriends. It is a reasonable expectation to see gay women flocking to queer bars, but I should not have to endure straight people making out in a gay bar. That’s just fucking ridiculous.

After a few drinks, however, I was willing to overlook the fact that straight people were in every direction I turned. The unforgivable sin occurred when I finally needed to take a piss.

As I approached the restroom area, I saw the long line of men waiting their turn — this is not unusual in a busy bar. Once I got close enough, I could see two restroom doors — one labeled “men” and the other labeled “women.” Again, there is nothing unusual about that either. Most gay bars have a restroom labeled “women.” But here’s the catch — only women could use the “women” restroom in this WeHo bar. I’ve never heard of anything so ridiculous in my life.

As my hand stretched out to open the door to the women’s restroom, a male bathroom attendant stopped me and told me that it was reserved for women.

Why would you reserve an entire restroom for a group of people that make up less than 10% of your clientele? And moreover, since when have gay bars decided to justify strictly binary gender classifications by having a women-only restroom?

It is our culture that gay men can use any restroom in a gay bar. If the women don’t like that, perhaps they should go to a restroom in a straight bar. One would assume that if straight women love gay bars so much, then they must also love our culture, which dictates no gender-specific toilets.

I won’t even jump into the question of which restroom would the drag queens be required to use in this silly bar.

Part of the reason I was so bothered by this restroom foolishness is because it seems that gay bars are becoming indistinguishable from straight ones. If I have to watch straight people make out and piss in a restroom for men only — I may as well just go to a fucking straight bar!

The allure of a true queer bar is that none of the conventional bullshit exists. Our entire society should promote gender-neutral restrooms. And a gay bar should absolutely understand why such a simple concept is so profound.

The only way for gay bars to exist is to stop acting like straight bars. If straight bars were so much fun, the women wouldn’t be all in my way while I’m trying to get a drink at the neighborhood queer dive.