Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Straight Bartender in Gay Bar

My boyfriend is straight and not homophobic and chooses to work in a gay bar as a bartender. What I can't understand is why can't some of the gay men there accept that my boyfriend is straight and not keep asking him if he's gay and hitting on him all the time, I mean, aren't gays supposed to be tolerant because they're discriminated against themselves, right? Some of the customers get angry when he says he's straight, and I know he doesn't like it when they think he's gay or even tell him he is and then even start to flirt with him. JP.

He doesn't like it or you don't? It sounds like you've got a few issues that your boyfriend may or may not share. Are you afraid if they customers flirt with your boyfriend he might flirt back?

Gay men are divided when it comes to straight bartenders in our bars. Some think -- who cares? He's just the person who serves me my drinks. Others feel mighty uncomfortable with straight-identified bartenders. They fear that even a gay-friendly straight guy always feels superior to a gay man. Then there's the fact that we live in a world where many MSM (Men who have Sex with Men) don't identify as gay or even bisexual because they're ashamed and are more or less leading a straight, closeted life. They have girlfriends or wives and children. Now it may seem unlikely that someone like this would work in a gay bar, but it is definitely not unheard of. I'm not saying that your boyfriend is one of these gay-friendly closet cases, as I call them, but you have to understand why gay men are often cynical about guys who immerse themselves in gay culture (and working in a gay bar is immersing yourself in gay culture) yet who claim to be totally straight. You and your boyfriend have to realize that it goes with the territory that most customers assume the bartenders in a gay bar are gay. If it bothers him all that much he probably shouldn't be working in a gay bar.

Why does he get angry if people think he's gay? Deep down does he think there's something wrong in being gay? Straight men who are truly secure and comfortable in their sexuality shouldn't get their noses out of joint if someone mistakenly believes they're gay. Especially when they're working in a gay bar! Some straight men who are assumed to be gay develop a sense of humor about it and others feel complimented by it but if your boyfriend gets angry it's sending a very negative message to the gay guys who are, after all, giving him tips and helping him make a living.

I get that you don't like your boyfriend working in this place. He may be a really cool, super-accepting straight guy (although the way you describe him makes me wonder) but he may also be a gay/bi man working through his issues in a homoerotic environment in which he may eventually come to terms with his sexual identity. It's happened before. I've met a few straight-identified guys working in gay bars and some of them did ultimately turn out to be gay or bisexual. Not having met your boyfriend I can't say with any certainty what the story is with him. In any case, if he's really straight, he's not going to "turn gay" just because some gay men flirt with him or make an occasional pass. You both need to get over it or he needs to find a new job.

One last thing. Where is it written that because gay men are discriminated against that means we have to be more tolerant? Certainly gay people shouldn't be racist or sexist or anti-Semitic and so on. But aren't we allowed to be human and have our own little prejudices? Mind you, I'm not saying that if a gay man prefers gay bartenders over straight ones that that makes him "heterophobic." I personally know a number of fine, friendly, entertaining straight men (although they don't work in gay bars) but let's face it: In gay bars, gay men are always a lot more fun than straight guys!


CupidsReviews Heidi said...

I agree; if both of you are as uncomfortable as you sound perhaps he should find a new job in a straight bar and let all of the girls hit on him. See who likes that?!

Bill Samuels said...

Ha, ha, good point!