Charlotte's Web Thoughts
Charlotte's Web Thoughts
What We Need You to Understand

What We Need You to Understand

Queer bars are essential.

(The dance floor of the now-closed Town Danceboutique in Washington, D.C. Image credit: Wyatt Westlund // Washington Blade)

[Hey there! This blog will always be free to read, but it’s also how I pay my bills. So, if you like what you read, please consider a paid subscription.]

The first time I presented publicly out-of-the-closet was at a queer spot in town, here in Washington, D.C.

In fact, it was Town itself -- "Town Danceboutique" in its formal name, as it was known to out-of-town newbies. My first night out as my true self was seven months before it closed.

That space made it easier for me to tip-toe into public life as my authentic self. It was a safe space to fill my own skin at a time when I was genuinely terrified of what lay ahead for me, even in a moment that was joyful for the long-savored liberation it offered.

I was afraid to go into broader public spaces early on. It took me time to get more comfortable in them.

Even now, I don't feel entirely comfortable in any public social setting outside of queer bars. It's not necessarily that I feel unsafe, but I am on guard. I have my head on a swivel. I am not able to simply relax and exist in spaces that aren't predominantly queer. Given my work, I spend most of my time in such spaces.

And I've gotten used to that. I understand what to expect in broad public spaces. I know the score, and I can get in an okay mindset before entering one. (Not that I should need to, but it is what it is.)

But with a queer bar, I can walk inside and let my hair down. I can be myself. I can be free. I can exist as God intended.

Gay bars, lesbian bars, queer bars -- these don't simply exist for social entertainment, although that purpose is quite cherished. Their primary and most important component is serving as an oasis of personal dignity and safety.

They are lifelines of supportive community. They are gathering places for organizing and advocacy. They are home and hearth for chosen family. They are nurturing desks for the drafts, rough and final alike, of queer artistic brilliance. They are a place to laugh and cry and breath freely. They are given to the fluency of free souls so often cloistered within spaces that purport to be free but fall far short of it.

They are ours. They are us.

Yesterday, five people, including at least one trans man, Daniel Aston, walked into a queer bar in Colorado Springs with that same expectation, and they were brutally murdered. 25 others were injured.

The shooting could have been so much worse, and I know we're all grateful it wasn't, due entirely to the heroism of patrons who overtook the gunman.

But I guarantee you that millions of LGBTQ people around the country are going to be more on edge moving forward, knowing there's always a chance some hateful bigot, motivated by the onslaught of violent anti-LGBTQ rhetoric from conservative politicians and charlatans in recent years, could show up to our spaces and open fire.

That is terrifying and people who are not LGBTQ need to understand that.

We need you to understand that.

Charlotte's Web Thoughts is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.

Hi, I’m Charlotte Clymer, and this is Charlotte’s Web Thoughts, my Substack. It’s completely free to access and read, but it’s also how my bills! So, please do kindly consider upgrading to a paid subscription: just $7/month or save money with the $70/annual sub. You can also go way above and beyond by becoming a Lifetime Member at $210.

Charlotte's Web Thoughts
Charlotte's Web Thoughts
Charlotte Clymer is a writer and LGBTQ advocate. You've probably seen her on Twitter (@cmclymer). This is the podcast version of her blog "Charlotte's Web Thoughts", which you can subscribe to here: